Half 100 Miles of Nowhere
Winner of the U23 Female Indoor Texas 50-Miler category!
Unable to ride on the appointed day, I saddled up the Felt on the trainer this morning and set out – on a full stomach of coffee and peanut butter toast – to do 50 miles for the Fat Cyclist, cancer research and sheer insanity.
Before I started, I made the mistake of reading race reports on Fatty’s Web site. Many people did the ride with friends and family support. They made special events of it; filmed it; went to restaurants as breaks from riding circles around a park. Many people looked like they had fun. As for myself, I got on the bike, alone, and had to face a window framing a beautiful, blue sky, taunted by the fresh air on the other side.
This morning was, by far, an excessive cycling overload from which I need a reprieve. I started by watching the last 40k of the Giro d’Italia, then moved on to my bottle of Gatorade and the movie Breaking Away. Watching things about cycling was intended to spur me on, get me in the mood and give me goosebumps when someone triumphantly crossed a finish line. Instead, watching cycling while cycling prevented me from getting my mind off the bike and blocked the state of serenity that comes from finding a good rhythm and forgetting you’re spinning on a trainer.
The ride sucked, but cancer sucks much more than a raw tailbone and three hours of a high-pitched whine in my ears. Besides, the ride wasn’t about me at all; it was about making whatever small contribution I can and doing something because I said I would. It was about freely giving up my morning off so that – hopefully – someone with cancer can get well and be able to enjoy their own mornings again.
Working for a non-profit, I know how hard it is to get other people to relate to and care about the problems you witness day after day. Succeeding doesn’t mean dampening spirits, just broadening horizons. More experiences equal greater empathy. Sometimes it’s just as simple as reminding people how good they have it. I may be frustrated these days by the stresses and hurriedness related to getting married and moving, working and grad-school hunting, but I was grateful for this morning’s reflective saddle time. I am lucky to have my health. I was more than happy to ride for those who need a little help with theirs.
WIN Susan and live strong!
- Katherine Stump