Firecracker 5k

“I don’t feel like a finely tuned athlete,” commented my husband recently in regard to RTR. I don’t either. I have actually caught myself thinking on more than one occasion that I will get into shape ON THE RIDE. Of course I know that is not how it works.
The past month has been dedicated to one thing, fundraising. My husband Doug and I are on a team with 29 other riders who aim to raise $150,000 for the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s.

That money doesn’t fall out of the sky. Actually it kind of does, in that wonderful and generous people simply hand it over. But, it isn’t exactly that simple. What I am getting at is that pulling in donations takes legwork.

My husband and I hosted a benefit dinner and silent auction on May 18th, which involved said legwork. In the month leading up to the event I pounded the pavement, not covering much pavement on bike, to turn up silent auction items. I canvassed the entire greater Cleveland area, far and wide asking for donations. Local businesses were very generous and so were the guests at our event.

“Salads for a Cause” -- like a bake sale only healthier and more filling.

“Salads for a Cause” — like a bake sale only healthier and more filling.

I also hosted a fundraiser at work with the help of my generous co-workers called “Salads for a Cause.” It was like a bake sale only healthier and more filling.

A co-worker promoted the event with a tale from my Ride The Rockies 2012 experience. I described to her meeting a man on day one, who was in tears after taking a lift from the sag wagon. The mountain bike he was riding had the largest tires I had ever seen on a bicycle. It was obvious to me why the ride was so challenging for him. In my co-worker’s version of the story I am a super woman who was able to complete a ride so tough that it left grown men crying on the side of the road. I saw no reason to correct her version, especially if it compelled people to make donations.

Back to the benefit dinner…

The event was geared towards the local Parkinson’s community and featured a talk from Doug’s neurosurgeon. Last year Doug underwent deep brain stimulation surgery to help manage his Parkinson’s symptoms. The surgery involves implanting two electrodes deep into the brain and connecting them to a stimulator device implanted in his chest. Doug has greatly benefited from the surgery.  He wanted me to point out that while he moves more smoothly, it hasn’t (and indeed it should not) made him stronger. Interestingly enough, Doug has alluded to the same thought of getting in shape on the ride itself. His philosophy is that all long-distance riding involves pain, and you have to combine mental and physical toughness. He says that after a certain point, increased physical training contributes nothing. I asked him if he thought he was at that level.  “Heck no!” he said. I didn’t think so.

Relying on muscle memory from some summits in 2008.

Relying on muscle memory from some summits in 2008.

We are relying on muscle memory. Ride the Rockies 2012 wasn’t that long ago and the following year we returned to Colorado and road the Copper Triangle. On a cross-country ride in 2008 Doug climbed Loveland Pass fully loaded with 20+ pounds of gear. Our bodies are familiar with the challenges that lie ahead.

If Ride The Rockies were a race we wouldn’t join. We are riding for a cause and while a great deal of “legwork” is needed to power the bike, a lot of legwork happens off of the bike.