I did it! I finished my 5th AIDS LifeCycle Ride and it was hard as hell! Not only did I suffer physically from lack of training but I was challenged emotionally and spiritually everyday. Before getting on the ride I gave myself permission to stop if I ever needed to, without judgement. I’m competitive by nature but have begun to really cultivate self compassion after being introduced to the idea over the last few months. So I figured this was the perfect time to practice some of this self compassion. But I had to be brutally honest and mindful with myself, permission did not mean giving up. As you’ll read in my ride recap below, I was put to the test. In the end I’m grateful for all of the support I got from everyone who supported me in this journey, I couldn’t have done it alone that’s for sure.
To my donors and all those that donated to the cause, thank you. Together we raised over 16 million dollars!
I posted these updates daily on my facebook page so you may have caught them there but I wanted to compile my bike life lessons here as well as a reminder of what this journey taught me. #bikelifelessons
Day 1 ✔
The first day is in the books with 82 miles of scenic coastal views and a hilly terrain. Thankful for family and friends who supported me along the way, and to my awesome bike bestie who gave me a short pep talk before hitting the road and cheered me in at the finish with a cooler full of coconut water.
What stood out for me most is the many people that came out to the streets to cheer us on and say thank you for riding, a reminder of the awareness and impact of this ride.
This year I’m becoming more mindful of cycling, on the surface it is a physical activity but underneath are dozens of life lessons waiting to be uncovered.
I fell today, not a big fall, but a fall nonetheless. I had good momentum but then something out of my control happened ceasing all motion and taking me to the ground. I got up and got back on and kept riding, at first a little shaky and soon back into my groove… Ain’t that the story of life…
Bike Life Lesson #1: We all fall at some point, getting up and riding on when we make progress.
The second day was the longest day of the ride with 110 miles across flat plains and in windy conditions, it’s also the most humbling day. It was the day I crashed 2 years ago and my fear was palpable, but all I could do was trust myself and keep moving so I did.
I rode through agricultural lands where people were hard at work picking strawberries and packing them in boxes… the very same boxes that end up in our local grocery stores.
I stopped on the side of the road to quickly eat some leftover bacon in my pocket and one of the workers started chatting with me in spanish. He was amazed at what we were doing and expressed how hard it must be to ride a bike that long, I was amazed by what he was doing and how hard it must be to work in the fields, I said thank you and carried on.
Made it to camp #248, clearly I wanted to get this day over with and kick off my shoes. It was a tough day for me and more than physically it was emotionally tough.
A long day with miles of head winds, bumpy roads, and gravel. On top of that 2 years ago on this day I crashed and although I finished the ride that year, I didn’t trust my ability, my bike, or the road much after. I anticipated that point today and at mile 62 I faced the exact turn and for a brief moment relived the crash and regained my confidence. I said this before and I say this again this ride is more than a movement it is a teaching of life. Glad to be done with my hardest day.
Bike Life Lesson #2: Fears live in our mind and body, going through the physical motions shifts our emotions.
Started with a little climb called quadbuster and ended with miles of riding in triple digit heat. Typically today’s one of my favorite days because I’m chasing treats along the way – Burgers for lunch courtesy of the kids and staff at Bradley School, then a moment of silence with Jesus Christ at Mission San Miguel ending with ice cream at the fairgrounds and an amazing wine dinner in paso. I say typically because it the temperature rose up to 103 for the last 10 miles ??? making it another tough day but happy to be done and ready for a cold shower.
Bike Life Lesson #3: there is no goal or dream too small.
Day 4 ✔
88 miles done! After yesterday’s heat, today was pleasant. Seems as if the last 3 days of “training” are paying off, I fell back in love with riding today. Made it halfway to LA, stopped off in my favorite sleepy beach town for lunch, cookies, and to say good bye to my cooler and confidant. Then was immersed by ocean views, strawberry smells, and nuns on my way from paso Robles to Santa Maria. I finally regained my confidence as a cyclist as I flew down the the evil twins hill at a speedy 40 mph, enjoying every second of it. The ride ended with an encouraging note and a great hotel find. Aside from the Warriors losing, all in all a good day!
Bike Life Lesson #4: Slow down and go at YOUR own pace
Day 5 ✔
One of my favorite days of the ride, a short 42 mile celebration ride as we dress in red and resemble a ribbon of love weaving through the streets from Santa Maria to Lompoc. The costumes were once again amazing and the scenery breathtaking. I did manage to have a small bike fail which ended me up in a sag vehicle, enjoyed the ride and appreciated Cannondale for quickly resolving the issue so I could ride the few miles back to camp.
What sticks out for me today is the little girl I saw while stopped at a light, she was standing in her window waving to us and blowing us kisses as we rode by, it melted my heart and reminded me of the impact we make in this world.
Bike Life Lesson #5: We all have super powers and whether you know it or not your actions inspire some little boy or girls hopes and dreams.
Day 6 ✔
88 miles, and our last full day on the ride, a fantastic day of rolling hills and ocean views from Lompoc to Ventura, but it’s always bittersweet because the end is near. Ironically I finally feel ready to ride! There’s so much of this love bubble I’d like to capture in a bottle and take with me- even though this is my 5th year riding it’s a new experience with new memories.
Bike life lesson #6: Life is constantly changing and every moment is jam packed with possibility.
Day 7 ✔
Starting the day with a very special message from the iconic Chicken Lady:“Like a prized rose, we’ve remained a tight bud in our “Love Bubble”. As we come to the end of the ride, we have now blossomed. Let’s finish the ride in full bloom, filling the air with the essence of love, compassion, and community.”
Things aren’t always how you expect. Our last day was supposed to be a beautiful sunny ride into Los Angeles, instead it rained the first half of the ride and my fingers were going numb from the cold. I was miserable and I wanted it to end. Although I knew I could jump into a sag vehicle and get to the finish, I knew, for me, that the only way out was to go through.
Bike life lesson #7: The only way out is to go through
545 miles ✔
When I crossed the finish line I broke down into tears not because I was exhausted or tired but because I finished it.
After 7 days on the road enduring triple digit heat, winds from all directions, rains, roads, hills, mechanical issues and falls… I made it across the finish line in Los Angeles with wet socks and a smile on my face.
I did it! In the end I persevered and felt proud to cross that finish line. I felt alive to complete something I set out for. I felt honored to be a part of a community who raised over 16 million dollars. I felt humbled by the forces of nature. This ride is no easy feat, I am proud of everyone who has been on it and truly grateful to be a part of it.
Bike Life Lesson Bonus: Believe in yourself. Strive for completion. Celebrate every milestone.
Now I want to hear from you! What are some big life lessons you’ve learned? Post to comments…