You know the five stages of grief? Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance?
I've decided that there are five stages of BikeMS too. And they're kind of similar. For example, this blog post occurred to me while I was in the denial stage of BikeMS, which I basically live in most of the year. Let me explain.
Denial (mid-May through September and also all the time)
I know, I know. Same as grief, right? Well, that's because when you know you're going to have to go through a trauma, you don't want to believe it can happen. This sets in mid-May, several weeks after the euphoria and pain of the last BikeMS's ride has passed and about the time you realize that you're going to have to do it all over again next year.
Except, no you won't. Because you're in denial. Maybe next year I just won't ride! I've done it eight years already; I don't need to. Yep! That's what I decided! Never doing it again! Phew! That's a load off my mind.
Except, then there's the next step.
Coercion (September through October)
This is a sneaky one. The staff at the MS Society and captains of the BikeMS teams may seem really sweet, amazing, and wonderful, but really, THEY ARE CULT LEADERS.
Just one sip of blue Poweraid, they whisper. Don't you remember how amazing the blue Poweraid is? Because it is. It is SO AMAZING. And you get all the blue Poweraid you want if you just ride again. We even have a discounted registration today only! Fifteeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnnn dollars! Fifffteeeeeennnnn!!!!
(That last part was done in a ghost voice in my head, and for some reason I'm thinking of that Winnie the Pooh episode with the flood and the Heffalumps and Woozles where they're all creepy, you know the one?)
Anyway, you sign up. Because they are all wizards who lead you unknowingly to the next step.
Unbridled excitement (October-December)
This feeling is I how I imagine people end up with more than one child even after experiencing childbirth.
Remember how very very tiny she used to be? What a wonderful time that was? Don't you want to do that again?
The NMSS staff have planted this feeling in your head with their dark, dark magic (and their pep rally-like end-of-the-year awards banquet), and now all you can remember is HOW VERY VERY MUCH FUN YOU HAD LAST YEAR and HOW MUCH YOU ARE HELPING PEOPLE WHO LIVE WITH A TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE DISEASE!
THIS YEAR IS GOING TO BE BETTER THAN EVER!
Panic (January through April)
This is when your thoughts will stay in the ballpark of "OH SWEET GOODNESS THERE IS JUST SO MUCH TO DO AND OH MY COW WHY DID I SIGN UP FOR THIS AND WHEN AM I GOING TO ANSWER ALL THESE EMAILS FROM MY TEAM AND WHEN'S THE NEXT TEAM CAPTAIN MEETING AND WHAT TRAINING?"
Feelings of dread and panic will intensify as the ride gets closer, especially when you realize that you are going to have to get on a bike you have barely touched in months and ride it 155 miles (this method of training not recommended).
During this time, it is expected that you will slip back into the denial stage many, many times.
Euphoria and pain (Weekend of the ride + any time you get a donation)
Ahhh, the actual event. There's nothing like it. People are cheering, upbeat music is playing, and the cult leaders announce your team through the big loud speakers. A drumline plays an upbeat rhythm as you slowly turn onto the Tollway in a sea of 3,000 other bikers, most of whom will be passing you "ON YOUR LEFT!" within seconds.
There's really nothing like that feeling.
But then the next feeling comes - PAIN. Your legs, your back, your arms, your feet, your crotch. OH MY COW, YOUR CROTCH.
WHY IN THE WORLD DID YOU SIGN UP FOR THIS AGAIN??
And then you see the lady parked on the side of the road in her wheelchair, holding up a sign that says "Thanks for riding for me."
And you'll smile and wave at her and pedal on, thinking about the thousands of dollars you raised to get her the medicine she needs and to help find a cure for her disease.
You'll cross that finish line seeing so many more like her, so many people from whom this disease has stolen so much. So many people so thankful that you're willing to fight for them. To shamelessly beg for donations for them. To get on a bike despite every natural desire in your body (and your crotch). You'll look into their faces, and into the face of your mom, who can still walk because of the medicine that the cult leaders' organization helped create.
And you'll remember how it's all worth it.
That's what I'm doing this weekend - what are you doing? Can you help make all of this worth my dread and pain and denial by making a donation to the MS Society on my behalf? You can do that (and see why I ride) here!