I have to say that I really couldn’t have attained this kind of mileage without all of my friends.
It’s not that any single friend rode 4,000 miles with me, but some people (like Michael) have done 2,500+ miles with me. Some people (like Diane and Jeff) have done as little 15 miles with me. It doesn’t matter how many miles a single person did with me; each one of you contributed by spending time with me. Just having someone to talk to while I ride or keep company with is enough to make a ride a hundred times more enjoyable than it would otherwise have been. You helped motivate me when you didn’t even know I needed motivation.
Sure, I’ve done a lot of rides by myself–commuting to work, the MS 150–and I don’t mind it at all on most days. I used to ride by myself all the time because I didn’t know anyone who wanted to do the miles with me. I thought I would always ride in solitude. Until I found my place with the Akron Bicycle Club. It was with ABC that I found more rides and more people to ride with. It really changed my cycling intensity. Some would say for the worst; I say for the better because even though I don’t look with my beer gut, I’m probably healthier now than I’ve ever been in my entire life. And I’ve gone places, climbed hills and done rides, I’d never even knew I could do.
XOBA was a real turning point for me this year. I’d never ridden the nearly 500 miles in one week that that ride required. I pushed myself 72 miles with a knee that was determined to inflict pain on me. But I did not give up. Ironically, that is the day that I rode alone and very well could have jumped the next SAG wagon without an ounce of guilt–no sidelong glances from a friend as he/she watched me quit. No, I found it within myself to push onward, to put the pain in a small compartment in the back of my mind. Determination. I think my life–all that I’ve been through–is proof that I have determination to surmount any pain, whether physical or emotional. Pain I never knew–never dreamed–I could survive.
Survivor. That’s what Mike used to tell me I was. And he was too. I never really fully believe that I have the strength I do until I push myself beyond what I think I can handle and then, when I come through okay, I am surprised. I like to test myself and push. I hate giving up. That’s what makes me a good athlete. If you can call what I do athletics. For some reason, I always downplay my riding. People have called me athletic and I’m aghast. My elementary school gym teacher–Mrs. Meers, that evil hag–used to tell me I was defective as an athlete. She wanted my mom to have my legs broken and reset to fix a problem I have where my legs splay out when I run. She told my mom I would never have athletic prowess. I wish I could see her now.
The girl without athletic prowess has run in more 5Ks than she cares to remember. The girl without athletic ability rode west to east across the state of Ohio–496 miles by her calculations–and she did nearly 100 of those miles on an injured knee. The girl who was told she never would do anything physically spectacular just rode a bicycle 4,000 miles in one year! Who doesn’t have athletic prowess now, Mrs. Meers?
Of course, I know that there are many people who do a lot more miles than I do. Some who do a lot more miles in a single ride than I’ve ever done in a day. My accomplishment looks minor to some and impossibly huge to others. I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I ride for myself. I ride because I like it. I ride because I can. And for me, 4,000 miles is a personal accomplishment. I’ll take it. Everything happens in baby steps. I remember when I didn’t ride more than 100 miles a year. I remember the first time I did the MS 150 (on a mountain bike, ugh!) and only completed the first day of 75 miles. Back then, 75 miles was a major accomplishment. I never knew I would become a total bike-a-holic and complete not only one 100 mile ride–which was something I thought I would do once, someday–but eight in one year. Who knew?
I still contend I could not have done this many miles without friends. Besides my injury day, I had friends riding with me throughout XOBA. I had friends riding with me all year. If I didn’t have the many options of rides to attend in Ohio or with my bike club every week, I don’t think I’d be as inspired to ride because I’d be tired of all my own routes. And I’d be somewhat lonely. It’s nice knowing that on a day when I feel kind of like riding, I’ve got some friends whom I can join. It’s nice that when I get to the top of a really hard climb on a ride like the Fredericksburg Library Roll last week, I’ve got a friend waiting for me at the top. I can do a lot of riding and I can do it alone but it’s nice to know I don’t have to.
So thanks, everyone! Thanks for keeping me going! Here’s to many more great miles!
By the way, it was Beau who pulled me over to 4,000 on this very chilly Wednesday night. Whew-hoo!