In less than 10 days, I’ll be riding 45 miles on my bike in the Philadelphia Livestrong Challenge. Up until February of this year, I hadn’t really set foot on a bike pedal in almost 10 years. And it wasn’t until May that I actually began riding regularly again… But I guess that’s why they call it a challenge!
Those who have watched me begin to cycle know that I am NOTHING of a cyclist. In fact, I probably am an embarrassment to the cycling community. Currently, my ride is my father’s (fondly known as Dennis to all my friends) old bike from the 90s. It is blue and has a really sweet sticker on the crossbar that says “Free Spirit”.
So I ride around on this crazy bike, and the seat is HUGE and comfy (thanks for the upgrade, Dennis!) with shock absorbers… and also rusted into place about 6 inches taller than it should be. So I can only mount/dismount off of a curb or stoop or extra step most of the time. I am also paranoid about my shoelaces getting caught in the gears, so I refuse to wear anything other than my $5 canvas flats while riding. Oh, and those gears? I meant GEAR – because old blue doesn’t really switch speeds anymore. BUT I have a sweet helmet with teal highlights that accentuate my eyes and keep my skull safe.
Now that you have a proper picture of the complete one-woman-circus that I am on a bike, let’s go back to the part where I am biking 45 miles next weekend, clown-bike style. And I could not be MORE excited about it!
The Livestrong Challenge is an opportunity to challenge yourself personally in biking and/or running (I’m doing the 10K as well), but it is also a way to raise awareness and support for the global fight against cancer. Livestrong not only contributes to cancer research, it supports families and provides programming as well.
I’m riding this year for two amazing guys: in memory of my friend Drew, and in honor of Dennis.
Dennis was diagnosed with prostate cancer right after I graduated from college in 2010. Later that summer, he successfully had surgery to remove his entire prostate, and has since made a full recovery. During that time, I was still a beginner at being a postgrad, and trying to figure out what I was going to do next. Dennis was a beginner of sorts, too – recovering from major surgery and re-learning a lot of basics. When I look back now, I feel pretty lucky that we got to be beginners together that August. There were a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches, redbox movies, and naps – but there were also some awesome hours spent together as a father and daughter. I feel so unbelievably lucky to call Dennis my dad, and even more grateful for every day that I get to share with him.
Drew was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumor in May 2011. He died on Valentine’s Day earlier this year. Drew was an amazing guy – just ask his wife, Lorie – or anyone who came into contact with him for that matter. Drew began riding for Livestrong several years ago, and this year a team of over 40 individuals has come together to ride for him. Drew was never afraid to be a beginner, and over the past year it has become more evident than ever that he inspired others to do the same.
Being a beginner is hard, as Emily A once described with running. Life throws us a lot of chances to be beginners, though, and this is one challenge that I’ve enjoyed. Sure, I’ll probably look allllll the part of the beginner next weekend, in my purple shoes and high-crossbar men’s Free Spirit bike – but I am so excited to be a beginner for Drew and Dennis, and I’m pretty sure that of all people, they’d both appreciate how crazy I look.
Part of the Livestrong Challenge is also fundraising. Unfortunately, I’m just beginning at fundraising as well. It’s funny – I do fundraising for my job all the time, yet when it’s something personal I have a lot more difficulty asking family and friends to donate. However, devoted followers – if you, per chance, would like to contribute to my epic journey as a beginner, please click here and leave me some love (and moneyz) over at Livestrong. I’ll love you forever for it, and the difference that each little bit makes really is significant.