As the weather begins to warm up I think of pulling the bicycles out of the basement and start training for this summer’s bicycle races. I want to share with you a story about a bike race my husband and I competed in last summer where we collected donations for cancer research. Getting involved really just happened all of a sudden. For me it was just the thing I needed to focus on so I would not be so sad all the time from losing beloved family members. We started training seriously in May with a training schedule provided by the race organizers. There was a training workout assignment every day for six weeks leading up to the race. First, we began with an easy bike ride for a mile or two, just to warm up. Then, we included a walk or a run on alternate days to build up endurance. The training schedule also had rest days, those were my favorite. Eventually, we realized if we were going to be serious about riding twelve miles, all at once, we needed to step up the training pace. My husband, kids and I would dedicate each week to one or two rides. We would start out enthusiastic, but forget to fill the tires with air or not lock the wheels properly to the bike rack. As we continued our training we found some kind of order and began to be less and less clumsy. We found different metro parks to try new trails with hills or flat paths to develop stamina and distance endurance. It turns out I enjoyed it! I learned that when I ride a bicycle, memories of past rides with my friends come over me, as if I were a teenager. I feel joy.
Finally, we get to bike race day and of course it is the hottest day of the summer. We manage to get to the starting line of the race, line up and then off we go. On the road I met a woman who was actively going through clinical trials for cancer. We partnered up and talked the entire twelve miles sharing our life stories. My husband wanted to ride ahead and so we met up again as he was coming out of Progressive Field, the Cleveland Indians baseball stadium. It turns out, that as a special treat for the riders, we got to ride the track around the ball field. “Slider”, the Cleveland Indians team mascot was available to cheer us on and pose for pictures.
We still had the last mile to ride before the end of the race and I could not believe we finished it. In that heat, riding that distance and raising the money for cancer research made last weekend a truly special day. In our swag bags we were given blank stickers to wear and write why we were riding this race. I read many heartfelt reasons that people shared. Cancer was just one reason people were riding. Mostly the reasons were to honor friends and family that were taken too soon. This experience was a good first step in remembering those we miss, but also an opportunity to wipe our eyes and take that next step back to the world of the living.