I Ride For: Eric
Oh boy, this is a tough day to ride. I know that in every long distance event there is a time when it should not be tough, but it is. Today is that day for me. (I was expecting it yesterday!)
There is the natural let down. We had the long day two days ago. We had the short day yesterday (made even shorter with the energy around riding with Jack). The distance today is about the same as the first day, but without the energy, it felt like “the first day.” Today is just a normal 70-mile day.
Also, there is the fatigue of the routine: get up, pack everything, ride, stand in lines, ride, eat, ride, search for the campsite, set up tent, team meeting, eat, talk, go to bed, and repeat. My muscles are sore. And, even with 3,200 miles in this year, my butt is sore.
And there was just a fantastic campsite and facilities last night. I found a Starbucks. We were able to set up tents in the shade. We had teammates cook ribs that were fantastic. And, I found an Anytime Fitness only a mile from camp. I got my own shower and there was no one waiting for me to get done. There is no way our campsite tonight can top all that.
All this is bundled with a cloudy, cool day with misty weather. Kind of a downer.
Eric is in a spot that is more than a “kind of” downer. He found out last month that he had cancer. He had other plans! He just bought a new camper to tow all over Australia with his wife. But now, he needs to deal with cancer. Fortunately, he has a persistent wife who pushed for all the options on the camper. Next month, Eric will have a robotic surgery that has had very good results for others.
I know this “downer” attitude will pass in an hour or two. The sun will come out, or a good song will play, or something completely random will help me snap out of it. I hope that this new surgery will help Eric. I hope that in a couple months he can enjoy the summer with his new camper. (Our winter is their summer!)
SHINE! The Road Rider
I Ride For: Michelle
Today I rode for Michelle and I cannot decide if she got the short end of the stick, or if she got the long end, because I’m only doing one flag today. It was a short (51 mile) day, the roads were packed, therefore the towns were packed, therefore there was very little quiet space in the shade. In fact, there was none! Hahaha. My first quiet space to write was 2 miles from camp. So, Michelle is it today.
With the way the day started, maybe Michelle was just the right choice. See, we started the day with a Mom honoring her promise to her oldest son. Here is the super short version: In a moment of vulnerability (in front of all TeamLIVESTRONG) Jack asked his Mom last year, “When will I get to do RAGBRAI?” “Next year, Jack,” came Jen’s response. “Oh crap!” I thought. “That’s gonna be a tough one.” Due to his treatments over the years, Jack cannot ride a bike and heat is very bad for him.
I bet Michelle can relate. She is a single mother of 4. What parent has not done exactly what Jen did many times. Only it is more like, “Mom can we get ice cream?” “Sure, as soon as we are done at the store.” And most of the time we honor this promise, but once in a while we forget OR something else comes up and we cannot honor this commitment.
Well, today Jack did RAGBRAI. The team pulled together from all over the country (Jack’s Dad did 98% of the work) and gave suggestions for logistics, offered drivers, built the bike on site, and then took turns peddling it the first 15 miles today. The entire team stayed together for that 15 miles and cheered Jack on – including Jack’s younger brother, Ben. As a parent who has broken a few promises to all my kids, it was very cool to know this promise was honored.
Also today we honored Katie (my first flag of this trip). Today is her birthday. I kept meaning to ask how old she would have been, but Tina (her Mom) was so engaged in Jack, Jen, Marty and Ben that I never got a chance. At this stage of the game, Michelle and I can only imagine what it would be like to lose a kid.
And then to top it all off, I looked at my map about a mile from camp and out pops a Starbucks.
Michelle, despite all this other stuff going on I did think and pray for you all day today. Carrie let me know that you have a checkup in the next week. I hope it comes out even better than you hope! While Iowa is a very beautiful state, I just had to take the picture of your flag at my only quiet resting spot of the day. I sacrificed and ate a Double Chocolate Brownie and drank an Iced Venti Coconut Latte just for you.
SHINE! The Road Rider
I Ride For: Terri
Thank you for an awesome day. The weather was fantastic. I’ve never ridden 100 miles with so little wind. While it was abrupt, the reminder this morning at the 1-mile mark is exactly what I needed. You know better than anyone that I do not do hints. That attitude after the cable break could have only come from you. Maybe Brandon suggested a “what the heck?” moment to you.
I do have a question for you tonight. Why did you send me around the lake and then not use me to help anyone? The one person who did need help, I could do nothing for but wish him luck. Did I miss something? Seems like such a waste to send me on that 32 miles and know that I’m willing to help anyone and send me no one. I know that I am generally very selfish with my time. Obviously you know it too. My test will come tomorrow or the next day or next week when it is less convenient. I wish I could have paid for today…today.
And then there was that last 10 miles. I know you know everything so I should not be surprised when you reveal something about me that I did not know. The “I Ride For” flags were a good idea, thank you. They keep me focused on something outside of myself. Out here in Iowa they slow me down in towns I would usually blow through. I have never, however, ridden for so many people who had run out of time, like Terri, in such a short period of time. I knew writing these journals had been tough, but I had no idea the toll they were taking on me. My reaction to Amy Grant earlier, should have been my first clue.
But as you know, clues do not work on me so you hit me with another much more obvious song: Point of Grace “You will never walk alone.” (You know how I would react! Don’t you think that was a little dangerous? With the tears again streaming down my cheeks, I could have crashed and hurt someone!) Even now, as I sit in the McDonalds with Jack and Jay right behind me, I am tearing up. I know the words to this song and you know that I believe them. What makes me sad and makes be cry is that others do not. AND even when they do know and believe they still feel alone. It sucks! (I know that you know this but it makes me feel better to write it.)
So, I have thanked you for the fantastic day – the easiest 100 miles I’ve ever done on the hilliest course. I questioned not your judgement, but my understanding of the purpose of that extra 32 miles. Now I need your help. Will you please allow someone who reads this journal to know when they close it that “They will never walk alone”? I don’t need to know who or why. I trust you completely (even if I usually do not understand.) I just want someone to know and feel your presence. They need it more than I do. Thank you in advance.
AMEN! The Road Rider
Chorus “You Will Never Walk Alone”
You will never walk alone
As long as you have faith
Jesus will be right beside you all the way
You may feel you are far from home
But home is where he is
And he’ll be there down every road
You will never walk alone
I Ride For: Ed
Well, the attitude was in the right spot and the bike was in good shape, but I still had not figured out if God wanted me to do the extra loop or not. At the 30ish mile mark I thought I had the answer. I was starting to get cramps in my sides and feeling a little queasy. (I never get cramps!). It was also tough to get any water down. So I stopped, filled my bottles and wandered aimlessly. I saw watermelon and bought two pieces. That never worked before but nothing else was working either. 15 minutes later I was back on the road feeling 100%. Where did that come from?! Uh oh! Maybe he does want me to do the loop.
Another 30ish miles go by and now I have my speaker going and I’m feeling good. Still no super strong message to go for it or not. I was riding for Ed and knew he is an Elvis fan so that was the sign I was looking for. In 6,000 tracks I have a dozen or so Elvis songs. If one of these came up it would have been a clear sign to go the long way.
The sign finally came, but it was not Elvis. It was completely unexpected. The sign was Amy Grant “Oh How the Years Go By.” The entire song gets me anyway but when the chorus came on the flood gates let lose.
“Oh how the years go by. Oh how the love brings tears to my eyes. All through the changes the soul never dies. We fight. We laugh. We cry. As the years go by.”
So as the odometer ticked past 59 miles and with tears streaming down my cheeks, I headed off for the Karras loop.
Why the tears? (And yes, Mudget, when you came up next to me I had just been shown the choice. Sometimes mirrored sunglasses protect me from more that the sun. Hahaha). There are lots of reasons, but there is one that surfaces to the top. I have this opportunity to fight, laugh, AND cry and so many others do not. Some only get to fight and some only get to cry (nobody only gets to laugh). Ed and others may get to do all three but spend most of their time fighting to survive.
So I cried because God reminded me once again just how lucky I am. And I cried because I was thinking about not doing the loop when I knew I could. And I cried because others would love to do what I did today and cannot.
So Ed, it was not Elvis that sent me around. Sorry! It was also not your cup of tea like going to watch the Blue Jays or Maple Leafs. But this loop was for you! #fightlikehell
SHINE! The Road Rider
P.S. The first song on the loop was Big & Rich “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.” The crying was over. It was time to “RELAX” and I did for the first time on this trip so far. Fastest I’ve gone in a month. What a ride! I think this road sign was talking to me, but I did not listen!
I Ride For: Angaline
On our last day of being up north for the 4th of July, I went into the local coffee shop for my usual Iced Coconut Milk Latte. In the past, they have had great scones and brownies with my favorite being the Almond Joy Scone. Wow – it was the best. But none so far this year. Well, when I went in on this last day they had an entire plate of them. I bought TWO. When I got back to the house, I showed Jeri my picture of the scones and said, “How could this not be a fantastic day today?”
Why do I write this while on RAGBRAI? Because at the first town a mechanic, named Jeff, FIXED MY BIKE! The gears now all work. I already had an attitude adjustment on the first 15 miles and now my bike works. “How could this not be a fantastic day today?”
Between these two towns I rode for Angaline. She had been married for 67 years when she died from cancer. She left behind 6 kids, 19 grandkids, and 52 great grandkids. There is no doubt that cancer in her life was crappy AND with that kind of family, “How could it not be a fantastic life?” With that much procreating at least it must have been fun. The fact that her Grandson, Noah, asked me to do this flag means she left a heck of an impression. It does not get any better than that.
At about the 70 mile mark, I needed water and pulled into this little bar. It was fantastic. I had the place to myself. In honor of Grandma Angeline, I had a grilled cheese.
SHINE! The Road Rider