I can’t wait for the time to come when I can just show up for a ride. Saturday morning was not one of those days. After getting in bed later Friday evening, I was up again by 5:30 AM to start getting ready for the Ride for Mike.
I kept remembering one thing and then another that I needed to get done. It wouldn’t have been so bad had I not had such a busy Friday. However, this is what was and I finally decided to load up and then adjust as we went.
It is different when you are in charge — or I should say responsible for — a ride. You aren’t just thinking about what is. You are thinking about what you might be missing and what might happen. It is more of a mental issue than anything else.
It didn’t take long for all that to change. When I arrived I saw that most of the riders were there and getting prepared to roll out. The other riders arrived soon after I did. We were ready to roll by 8 AM. Though I hoped to be rolling by that time, I was happy that when the group started down the road it was only 5 minutes after 8.
There were riders from multiple levels of abilities. We were prepared for that as we had various distances laid out. Here you see Beth, Mike’s daughter, and her friends, Alexandra and Brigitta. We called them the “Pinkies.” I never learned if this was intentional because of Breast Cancer Awareness month of if they just like pink. The finished their ride with us at the end of the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville.
There were only four of us planning to do the entire 100 miles. Here you see Mike and his friend Pepper from Memphis. Of course, Mike was the key person in this ride. We were all here to help him get his first century ride. However, this would also be Pepper’s first century.
The third member of our 100 miler club was Scott. He was riding his first 100 miles after only being on the bicycle for 3 months! Of course, he is a runner and that helps, but I was really impressed with how he finished as strong as he did.
I was the fourth of the team that would start out from Travelers Rest and ride out to Woodruff and back to Tim Ketler’s house. Tim also joined us along with my Greenville friends, David McQuaid and Brent Honshell. Tim’s daughter rode along with the Pinkies.
We rode out along Roe Ford Road to the base of Paris Mountain and then on to TR and the start of the Swamp Rabbit Trail. We were riding along in 48 degree weather, but the day promised to be beautiful. I could handle a bit of cold knowing that the sun would soon bring those temperatures into the low 70’s.
Things went smoothly until we arrived in Cleveland Park. Annette met us with the car at A Children’s Garden. I mentioned to Mike that I was going to stop at the restroom along the River Walk. As I talked with Annette about our next plan, Mike and Pepper went ahead to stop before we arrived at the restroom.
When we got there, Mike and Pepper were nowhere to be seen. We waited for a bit and then I figured they must have gone on without us. Mike had mentioned that he was wanting to get to our first official start and change into some cooler gear. We started out to find him.
In Cleveland Park we came upon a charity walk. It was hard for me not to be frustrated. Not knowing where Mike was (we could not raise him on the phone) and then hitting this delay was concerning me. I then was struck with the realization that THIS was exactly the reason why we were starting the I Do It For Foundation… to help groups like this. It changed my perspective.
When we got to the first stop. Mike and Pepper were not there. My big fear was realized. I had already failed at my main job. I had lost Mike!
Not knowing what else to do and unable to get Mike on the phone, I started out backtracking to find them. I prayed that I could come upon them soon. Thankfully, before I even reached the main park, I came upon the two riders. They had stopped at a different restroom than the one I intended. They then were not sure where to go once they got in the park. Thankfully, someone gave them directions.
Now we could get back on track after this short delay. From that point forward we had no other trouble with the route. Even the delay was a blessing because when we reached the Millenium office park, we arrived just as the road was opening after being closed by a second charity walk.
Soon we were on our way and after only one more stop at the intersection at Five Forks, we were on our way to Woodruff. The day was beautiful and I had to remind some of the riders (including Mike) not to go too hard. They might be feeling good at this point, but they would need that energy for the way back!
In Woodruff, Brent’s wife came to pick him up. However, we also picked up two more riders as Lisa, Mike’s coach, and her friend, Shannon joined us. They would ride back with us. Both of them did splendidly. It was obvious it wasn’t their first rodeo.
We had only one issue at this point. I had hoped that with additional miles getting from Tim’s house to the trail, we would be at 50 miles in Woodruff. However, in the middle of the ride, I adjusted some turns to make the ride a little safer. This put us in Woodruff with only 45 miles.
We could wonder around the streets of Woodruff or we could start back on 101 and then pass 146 and continue along 101 for five miles. We could then turn around and return to 146. That would put us back on track for 100 miles once we returned to Travelers Rest. We decided on that option and it worked great.
As I expected, the next 50 and especially the final 20 miles were tough. Within 15 miles we had two riders fall over in different situations. Muscles were weak upsetting balance and minds were tired and unable to respond quickly enough. My little band of riders was learning the truth of the final 10 miles of a century ride!
We reached the end of the trail and then headed back along the streets of Travelers Rest to Tim’s house. We just kept talking about how much we were looking forward to the spread that Tim was preparing for us. We just kept pedaling along knowing that each turn of the pedal would bring us closer to the finish.
It was pretty emotional when Mike made one loop around the neighborhood to get the Garmin to tick over to three digits. I felt a little bit like a mother hen with her brood. I had led them safely home. I’ve done dozens of century rides in my day. Still, it is always exciting to see someone cross that barrier.
This one was especially sweet. It was better than any bicycle accomplishment to have Mike grab me in a bear hug and weep on my shoulder. I knew part of it was due to the fatigue of the ride, but I knew it was a lot more than that… this was for Michael T. and it was also a physical transformation for Mike. Knowing I had a small part in those emotions was the greatest gift Mike could give me.
Before we separated, we spoke of our plans for next year. The 2013 Ride for Mike will be in Memphis, Tennessee and will include a 2013 Run for Mike. Perhaps we will also have a “pre-ride” here in Greenville. Right now, I’m turning my attention to the objective of this year’s ride — the I Do It For Foundation.
Thank you all for your support. We have raised $30,000 to use toward the creation of the foundation. We’ll start the ball rolling this week. Monday, we will begin working to launch the initial IDoItFor.org website and sending in the papers for incorporation. We are also making our plans to start Team Low Cadence.
For now, I think I am just going to eat.