Well, it's over. It kind of feels like I should throw confetti and yell "Happy New Year!" because after BikeMS, what else is there? It's time to start over now, I guess.
Except that I still have $401 to raise before I meet my goal.
This year's ride was... picturesque. The way I'm remembering it right now is much the same way I imagine new moms remember childbirth. Yes, there was pain. A lot of pain. I remember being in pain. But that part's all fuzzy in my mind today.
What's clear and sharp is the memory of the perfect weather, the feeling of relief when I saw the rest stops in the distance, my awesome bike speaker cranking upbeat music (BEST INVESTMENT EVER!), the taste of the blue Powerade (someday I shall write a post about my deep love for Blue), and crossing the finish lines on both days to loud music and cheering crowds, some of whose members were in wheelchairs.
(This is my friend Jimmy. This was his last year as our team captain because he's moving to Florida. He's one of the best people I've ever known. You would like him. Because everybody does.)
This year was a little rough since I had strep the entire week before the ride and went into it on only my second day without a fever. I was pretty wiped out. Having eaten nothing but liquids all week probably didn't help me any either. I knew that I would have to take it easy and ended up riding 75 miles, which is about half. I was a little disappointed after having trained so long, but I'm also satisfied with not having pushed it more, especially since my lungs didn't appreciate that little stunt one bit and have been punishing me ever since with a very menacing cough.
But I can get past all that. This ride is never about riding for me. I will never be one of the super-fast riders who finishes by 10 a.m. or one of the riders who skips rest stops (I needs me some protein every ten miles!).
Sometimes I don't pedal and gain as much speed as I should when I'm going down hills because I'm too busy taking in the beautiful scenery around me. Sometimes I even stop to take pictures.
I don't mind spending a little extra time at rest stops because I get to see other riders arrive with that same look of relief on their faces that I had when I finally got there.
I don't mind struggling up hills because it gives me an opportunity to remember the people with Multiple Sclerosis who struggle to get out of bed every morning.
Every time my muscles ache, it's an opportunity to remember that people living with MS can't always control theirs.
Every time I have to take a SAG van to the next rest stop, it's an opportunity to remember that there are those living with MS who have to ask for help going to the bathroom or getting dressed.
And even the times I can't clip out fast enough and face-plant onto the concrete is an opportunity to remember that people with MS can't react or move as quickly as they'd like to sometimes. (Thankfully, I didn't fall during the ride!)
I suffer two days a year for people who suffer every day of their lives. And my hope is that one of these years, those people won't have to suffer any more.
One of these years, we'll be riding to celebrate the cure instead of riding to find it.
And I have a feeling that that ride won't be painful at all.
You can learn more, donate, or watch the video about my mom's MS here!