I am one of those people that need a legit set in stone event to get me motivated enough to prepare/train. I bought a beautiful black cannondale road bike and signed up for a 66.5 mile bike ride. I practiced inside and did two 20 mile bike rides in preparation, but I still really wasn’t comfortable on the bike. Before I knew it the morning of the ride arrived and I was feeling anxious. I strapped on my gloves, camelbak, and helmet headed down market street in Philly.
I coasted into the crowd of 3,000 participants and immediately felt empowered by the first few bars of the Rocky soundtrack. I looked at my team which included my mom and dad (divorced, there together to support me, and not cyclists). Finally the crowd began moving forward and we pedaled over the first part of the Ben Franklin Bridge. At 6:30 the sun was already beaming down on us, I realized that the next 66 miles were going to be rough.
My mom riding on a beach cruiser was flying past seasoned bikers. I struggled to stay in eyeshot, pounding my pedals downward. A helpful tenured cyclist road up along side of us as we all pedaled furiously on an incline. His bike seemed to be floating effortlessly up the hill, “shift down on the inclines, all you want to be doing is pedaling, don’t work your legs to hard on this,” he offered his wisdom. We all began shifting gears trying to figure out what he was talking about. The first 20 miles were extremely difficult, my dad was surrounded by med staff when he couldn’t get up a hill and my girlfriend fell injuring her elbow and knee. Dispite the exhaustion I was feeling in control of my bike for the first time. There was only one down hill where I lost control of the pedals and almost fell.
As we made a quick left into the halfway point rest area, I suddenly became aware of off hot I was. I became so nauseous I couldn’t even talk. Unsure of what to do I headed toward the food station, started picking at a half of a bagel and taking shelter from the sun under a tent. My legs were weak and I was beginning to doubt my ability to finish. Somewhere inside my mind I decided that I would beat this course and finish. The bagel helped, I jumped on my bike and started out again.
40 miles to 58 we were all just going through the motions, trying to keep a decent pace because we knew we were really close to the cut off time. The second to last rest stop was where everything changed for me. My bike on its kick stand I walked over to refuel on watermelon and bananas, then as I looked back my bike was on the ground. This part of jersey had become so windy that the wind literally blew my bike over messing up the brakes and my tire. Racing over to the bike repair tent I begged the kid to fix my bike. He said he could fix the brakes and straighten the wheel enough for me to finish, he went to work quickly. “Wow your tires are low, I’m gonna pump them up, yo your gonna blow by everyone now,” the kid said as he was grabbing the pump. My mom laughed, she was having not trouble and acting as if she was cruising on the boardwalk. “Good I need her to be fast,” she said elbowing me jokingly. I thought the kid was nuts and that he must not have realized I had already biked 58 miles. I got on my bike and my entire world changed. I rode easily up an incline, smiling and in disbelief I rode ahead feeling weightless. So total ROOKIE mistake I had been riding the entire race without air in my tires!
The rest of the ride was fairly easy for me, we made all the cutoff a and were able to finish the race at the AC Boardwalk together as Team Bingo! Completing my first event was amazing. I feel like I am on the road to recovery and that I may actually be able to do a triathlon. My leg and back were sore but not terrible pain the next morning (which was a miracle to me).
Betty’s Bikers also known as Team Bingo participated in the American Cancer Society sponsored bike ride Bridge to Beach from Philadelphia PA to Atlantic City NJ 66.5 miles.
This race was dedicted in loving memory to Mom Mom Steel.