Tim Making His Way Down the Hill
As I have not kept a journal of my experience to date, I find it an easy task to remember my every mile ridden towards completing this mission - to bring awareness to the Challenged Athlete's Foundation while personally overcoming the challenge to bike 620 miles from San Francisco to San Diego in 6 days!
With only seven (7) weeks of training left until our journey, I reflect, with words, to try and describe the journey thus far:
Commitment - As I so hastily volunteered for the chance to make this ride, I quickly realized the commitment needed to complete this task. "I don't have a bike"," it's impossible to ride that far"," maybe I could back out while it's early" were certainly some of the thoughts going through my mind at the time. Thankfully, and as my mother used to tell me, I have a "hard head"! I truly felt, and continue to feel, I can really do this! And as the weeks grow smaller, although I am nervous, my training has been excellent and I've made great strides to succeed. This IS going to happen!
Progress - With commitment, you hope and expect some level of progress. From the first time I got "in the saddle", it felt, well, just like "riding a bike"! I still remember my first ride outside of the CAF group. I decided to try and conquer Black Mountain Rd. to Hwy 56, then over to Sorrento Valley then home to Mira Mesa. The 27 mile ride took me close to three hours (which I must say now would take me half the time!). I rode halfway up Black Mtn. Rd. pedaling one-legged because, after stopping at a red light halfway up hill, I wasn't quit experienced enough to lock my cleat into my pedal! My second ride took me up/down the same route, except somehow, I rationalized that riding up Torrey Pines wouldn't so bad! Yeah right! I nearly passed out when I got back home. I quickly learned after joining the weekly CAF rides that you should always drink at least one bottle of water every hour! On that particular 3+ hour ride, I had just finished my first bottle when I reached the house.
I've amazingly come a LONG way since that first ride! I "attack" those hills (well most!) and draft like no other! The knowledge and experience I've gained from riding with groups of avid riders is priceless! The knowledge that wearing a yellow jersey is NEVER ok to wear as a novice (apparently, you have to earn yellow!?!?) or it's always a must you shave your legs before each ride, which I'm still trying to get a straight answer. The experience knowing that several beers the night before a big ride WILL cause you extreme pain and suffering! One of my favorites though is not to "flip-off" or yell at an angry motorist. They tend to get angrier! But SERIOUSLY, things like hydration, pack-riding, hand signals, flat changing, and door zones are all part of my weekly riding. Even knowing to change gears BEFORE you get to that hill tends to be extremely helpful.
Pride - Certainly, as I've progressed, I've experienced the physical benefits of riding 70-100 miles a week. I've lost weight! I'm stronger! My health has improved! But most importantly, my overall attitude has changed. One of my goals was to be inspired with hopes that I could be an inspiration to others. You know the old "If he can do it, I can do it" phenomenon. I ride with several challenged athletes every week that inspire me. There's Shelby, who's all of 4'5". Not only can she talk your ears off, but she can climb hills like a crazy woman (while talking!) then scurries downhill just as fast! David Lee, who's one of the fastest para-cyclist in the world, is another example. I ride with David a lot but one weekend ride in particular coming back from Oceanside to Solana Beach, David and I broke from the group. At an average speed of 22-23 miles per hour, remember this guy is pedaling with his arms; we arrived back at our starting point in record time. What made this particular ride so special was after a typical dude "knuckle-pump", David lets me know how much he appreciates ME participating in this year's event. Are you freaking kidding me! That defining moment reinforced my feelings that this ride and this organization is something special. John was right to get himself and SKLZ involved with CAF. I am certainly proud of my ongoing training accomplishments but I am especially proud to be a part of CAF and this year's Million Dollar Challenge ride. I can only hope to inspire others as I have been inspired.