Well I did it. Last Sunday (August 10th) I got on my bike and I rode 105 miles. It took me 8 hours. It wasn’t a race but on some levels I was racing – with myself and with those who said I couldn’t do it. The event was Obliteride and I raised $1600 for research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. It was the best day I’ve had in a long time – warm, sunny, and a beautiful bike ride.
Packet pickup was on Friday evening at Gas Works Park. It was a great party – great entertainment, amazing food, and perfect setting. The park was showered in orange and bikes. A huge sign was stationed in the middle for riders to put who they were riding for. I ride for my YSC friends, I ride for those that survived, those we’ve lost, and not to sound selfish but I ride for myself. I’ve participated in a lot of fundraising events but this one was off to a great start. The folks really made sure to appreciate every single rider – no matter the distance they signed up for.
Once I got my packet, I rummaged through it and found my jersey and an envelope with a number for my bike, for my jersey, for my helmet and for the back of my bike. The one for the bike was just my name – there were actually two – one indicating that I was just Rebecca and one indicating I was Rebecca, survivor. Hmmm…do I want to be just Rebecca for a change or do I want to be Rebecca the survivor. Interestingly enough, I ask myself that question a lot but that will be for another post. I opted for the survivor – since this event was benefiting research at Fred Hutch, the place that made me a survivor.
Sunday morning came quickly, I can’t say I wasn’t a little nervous. As with any event I do, I always have nightmares the night before – you know, getting to the starting line late, forgetting a key piece of equipment that I need – this time the dream was forgetting my helmet. I got up early, fueled my body and had my hubby take me to the starting line at Magnuson Park. My nightmare didn’t come true – I had all the gear I needed and I wasn’t late. In fact, it looked like it was going to be a perfect day.
As with the party Friday night, the starting line was equally amazing and didn’t disappoint. There was plenty of bagels, banana’s, breakfast burritos, and coffee. Since I was nervous, I only ate a banana. The bike repair station was up and ready to help anyone who needed it. I was good to go.
At 7:10, I headed into the corral to listen to the Obliteride speakers. One told us about the route we would be taking – and politely apologizing for the extra 5 miles due to construction. They thanked us for raising funds and the impact it will have and they told us to ‘climb with purpose’ – a phrase I feel will stick with me much longer than just this route. We listened to a story of survival and another story of loss. Everything was inspiring! It was hard not to be excited about the 100 (or 105) miles in front of us.
We left Magnuson Park and headed south around Lake Washington – all along hearing everyone cheering for each other. I was glad I had put Rebecca the survivor on the back of my bike. My pace was steady so to make sure I could save my legs to last all day. I’m not a fast rider anyway. The route was clearly marked with signs to turn and a nice touch was signs for those survivors riding. I kept an eye out for my name and finally found it mid-way through the day.
Somewhere around the lake, I ended up meeting up a with another survivor. Turns out she was a 15 year breast cancer survivor. 15 years! As we briefly chatted, I started to imagine my life 11 years from now telling someone else I was 15 years out. It still seems a little surreal at this point. She opted to stop at the first rest stop but we agreed we’d meet back up somewhere down the road. I kept going through Renton and to the first hill – slow as usual up the hill but I remembered the phrase ‘climb with purpose’ and I just kept repeating that phrase in my head.
I opted to stop at the second rest stop to prepare for climbing up and around Tiger Mountain. Rehydrate, fuel, and a quick stretch and then I was off again. Climb with purpose. Climb with purpose. Climb with purpose – I chanted over and over in my head. Turns out, the hill wasn’t as bad as I imagined – I had done some training rides with equally challenging hills. An unexpected spectator, a deer, was at the top cheering us on. He twitched his ears and I swear he was smiled at me as I passed.
After having the large hill behind me, the route took us through Issaquah and north on East Lake Sammamish road to Marymoor Park for lunch. I met back up with my new survivor friend and we decided to ride the rest of the route together -down the west side of Lake Sammamish back over to Lake Washington. Typically I ride by myself but it was a nice break to have someone to chat with along the way – we shared our stories and talked about other rides and events we had done in the past. It was a good way to pass the time.
At the last rest stop, I stopped only to text my hubby – letting him know I’d be about an hour from finishing so he could meet me at the finish line. Unfortunately, there was a slight headwind and wasn’t going as fast I could have or maybe my legs were just tired or maybe I was distracted and slightly jealous of all the people swimming in the lake.
I finally crossed the finish line 8 hours after starting and I’ve never felt stronger. I celebrated my ride in the beer garden with my new survivor friend. We earned it! What and amazing ride! I can’t wait to sign up for next year.