July 28, 2013

The Day it Starts

It's early in the morning.  About 5:30, when I started typing this.  I'm sitting at my desk drinking coffee, and in a few minutes I'll go and put on my official bike rally jersey, and my ridiculous spandex shorts, and fill them full of the cream that's supposed to prevent soreness, and I'll strap on my cycling shoes, and I'll head out the door and ride to Queen's Park. That's where the rally starts. 

I think I've done everything I'm supposed to do. I feel like I trained a lot, I feel like I know my bike better - and I think that's obvious because I'm not a walking scab like I was last year. Overall, I feel more prepared and more ready and that's why I'm surprised to feel the knot of fear at the bottom of my tummy.  I thought that knowing what it was like would make me less nervous, not more, but here you have it.

Jen and I were talking the other night about how the thing with the rally is that it's expensive. Not just expensive financially - although it really is that. The bike, the shoes, the shorts... there's a ton of stuff you have to pay for. Then there's the time. If you work for someone else, the bike rally is a week of vacation time that you're giving up, and if you're self-employed it's a week you have to save for, and that doesn't even count all those mornings that Jen and I went riding for hours before work, and it doesn't count all the weekends where one, or even both of the days went to riding.  It doesn't count the meetings, and it doesn't count the time spent fundraising, and it doesn't count the time soaking in an epsom salt bath because you're 45 and this is crazy.

Then there's how it's expensive in terms of family.  This is all time away from our families, away from our responsibilities, away from our children and spouses,  and those job and relationships don't just disappear. My Joe and Jen's Jason have stepped up to the plate in amazing ways, supporting us, covering for us and doing some of our jobs (and for the next week - all of them) so that Jen and I can do this. We've done our best to make it up to them, but... well. It's expensive. 

I'm not even ready to talk about how expensive it is physically and emotionally and spiritually, because on no level is this much riding comfortable. Let's leave it there. Last year I remember crying in my tent at night a few times, and once or twice on my bike, and when it was over last year I collapsed for two days and wasn't right for a week. 

At some point, while a woman is sitting at her desk, drinking coffee and getting ready to wrestle herself into a sports bra and spandex to ride 660km - all while pondering how expensive its been and is going to be, you have to wonder why she's doing it.

That part is easy, I think.  I'm doing it because I believe in the cause, because I believe in real, decent help for people with AIDS that's delivered with respect, and I think that PWA does that better than anyone else. I can tell you that I think that it's good for my daughters to see their mum engaged in a big thing, and putting her effort (and money) where her mouth is. I'm doing it because I've seen what can happen when we engage the most powerful community that anyone has ever seen, and that's you, and I'm so grateful, and I'm so amazed every time I see what you all can accomplish, and I'm just so unbelievably proud of our community of knitters. Every time knitters come through this way, I love how it shocks people, forces them to break down their stereotypes and think of us in another way, and really... is there anything more appropriate for a ride like this?

I can admit, too, that I do this because I am a sucker for an epic. There is something amazing, wondrous and stunning about watching a lot of people come together to make something happen, and tomorrow I'll leave Toronto with more than 400 other people, and we'll all sweat and strain our way to Montreal, and we'll be so dirty, and so tired and so proud of each other, but it will be something not many people get to accomplish, and that's worth it in a way all its own. 

I am 45 years old. I am not an athlete, I am not remarkable in very many ways that my friends, family and peers are not.  I am a writer, and a mother, and a knitter, and tomorrow, I am going to start doing something amazing, and the only reason that it counts for anything is because you guys got behind me.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Me riding my bike to Montreal does nothing to get money to PWA. Nothing. You guys are the heroes here, and I'm so impressed that I can't tell you.
Right now,  my fundraiser tally comes in as the 2nd highest of all time.  The only person who has ever beaten me, was me - last year, and today I explained to about seventy people that it's not me.  It's you.

It's not my fundraising. It's ours, and you guys are amazing. Knitters are amazing, and what we do when we pull together is something people can't ignore, and it changes the world.  Thank you for everything.  I'm going go try and earn the faith you've put in me.

A little housekeeping.

- I haven't forgotten about prizes, there are still a ton to give away, but I can't do it until I come back.  I'm sorry. I ran out of time when I tried to do 30 hours of things in only 24.  I won't forget.

- I know one of you will ask - last year my tally by the end was $60 000.  I started riding with $50 000 in the can, and you guys blew me away all week. My goal for this year was $50k, and we're there. Everything from here is gravy, although gravy for a good cause, and wouldn't it be nice to beat last years? Just saying - although I'm grateful, fulfilled and thrilled.  My goal is totally met.  None of that stops you from sending the link to your friends though, and besides, it's just so much fun to watch the bike rally leaders try to figure it all out.
Donate here.

- Yup. Yarn on my bike. Yarn on Jen's bike too.

- A few of you have asked about our route. Details are here and YES PLEASE, to coming out to cheer us on.  Be aware that we can't often stop, but the signs by the side of the road and random knitter sightings last year blew me away and one particularly difficult afternoon, was just about all that kept me on my bike. 

- I've set up my phone so that I can blog from the road, if I can. I'm on Instagram too and twitter,  if you want to follow me there.  Sometimes that's the easiest way for me to  update quickly.

- I love all of you. I mean that, and I'm not just saying it because I'm scared.


Posted by Stephanie at July 28, 2013 6:09 AM