I had heard about Pedal the Plains through Elizabeth Norris, a new friend in Denver. And at the time, I was working for First Descents, a nonprofit that offers free outdoor adventure programs for young adults with cancer. Elizabeth managed to get two entries to PTP donated to a First Descents auction, and as luck would have it, the winner ended up not being able to ride and gave me the entries. Free!
I roped in my friend Sara Distin from Boulder who had dabbled in road biking but thought it could be fun. We did a couple of training rides and somewhere along the way, I decided to use PTP as my summer challenge for First Descents. It was longer than I'd ever biked before, and as a professional fundraiser, I thought I could use this challenge to raise funds for First Descents. I set a goal of $1,000.
I hit that goal in 24 hours. So I upped it to $2500 and I surpassed that goal too. I started writing long-winded emails laced with humor and self deprecation about my horrid cycling skills (I still struggle with changing a flat) and sent them to all of my friends and family, asking them to support this crazy challenge. I took pictures on all my rides, even of my falls, and shared those photos with a lot of humility and even more pride for what I was managing to accomplish.
In the end, I rode with my friend Britte in mind. She is a cancer survivor who I met through First Descents, and the year prior, we had run a marathon together. She was my beacon of light. When I knew I was feeling down, I'd think about her, and everyone else I was raising money for. On day three, I woke up to this email from Britte:
Ok, so I'm sure you're not feeling awesome this morning with miles in front of you so I have to tell you my secret...There was a time during my chemo that I was in such unspeakable pain, really feeling like my entire body was on fire...Burning from the inside out that I actually did not think I was going to make it through the night. I even got to that momentary point in time where I was almost giving in and thinking that this was it...within the same moment I had this "ah-ha" moment...."bring the mother f'n pain" because I can feel it, and if I can feel it, I know I am still alive. So bring it... And when it came I smiled, and dared it to keep coming...which it did...and every wave was a reminder...I'm alive. So when you're out there today feeling, tired, sore, exhausted f'n smile and say BRING IT...YOU GOT THIS!
And so, we did. It was fantastic. And I wanted more than anything to be able to do it again in 2015, but life and work travel and an injury stopped me. But I'll be back in 2016!
TVP Member and 2015 Sponsor