When my buddy, Dan signed up for the “Go the Distance for Autism” charity bike ride, I knew that I wanted to support in some way. Just this past year, one of my all time favorite dance students was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, so the cause was pretty close to my heart. Since I didn’t own a bike, nor had I ridden one in decades, I was all set to donate until I saw that there would be a Flash mob dance at the finish line. A donation just wouldn’t suffice. I was going to ride … and DANCE!
On the day of the race, I met up with Dan close to the starting point. The ride organizers provided breakfast as well as last minute bike tune-ups. It was here that I began thinking, “How the heck am I going to make it through 25 miles?” In lieu of training for the ride, I had been in the midst of “research” for Chocolate Week, here at the blog. (“Research” included a diet full of chocolate truffles, cookies, and the like.) It was too late to worry about that now as we began to line up to start, about 30 riders at a time, and then…
“On your marks, get set, GO!”
The first half mile was deceptively easy. In our group of 30, we rode leisurely and I thought to myself, “What was I scared of, I could do this all day!” Until Dan, turned back from his bike and asked me, “Can we go faster?” (For those of you familiar with the male ego, you know there is only one way to answer that question.) Feigning athleticism, I replied, “Oh yea!” and then we kicked it up a notch.
I quickly learned that you just can’t stay in a lower gear and glide through the entire field. Dan cautioned me that I was pedaling too much and would burn out my lungs that way. Shifting gears certainly did remedy that but it took about 10 miles before I learned how to shift gracefully. For the hilly parts of the ride, I gave myself an internal pep talk, “C’mon Jarrod! Don’t Stop! Don’t Stop Now!” Until one big hill when the pep talk became vocal. I am pretty certain at least one other rider heard it.
When I was wasn’t motivating myself over hills or shifting gears awkwardly, I was really enjoying the ride, hard work and all. It was a gorgeous day and there was something about zipping along with the wind at my back that I found incredibly peaceful.
Dan was indeed capable of leaving me in the dust, though we only separated for a short while before he allowed me to catch up and asked how I was doing. All was great until I heard someone say that we had just crossed the seven mile mark. I preferred the blissful oblivion of thinking that I must be halfway done but when I heard “seven miles”, my bubble burst.
Thankfully, whoever said that was wrong. Before long, we were at the official half way point. Here was a rest stop for all the riders with water, Gatorade, snacks and a restroom. We had made decent time to this point so Dan and I didn’t rest long at all before hitting the trail to finish. (I was nervous that I would enjoy this rest a bit too much and catch a cab to the finish line.)
Knowing that we were halfway done made the rest of the ride a breeze. Believe me, it was still hard work but my fear of the 25 miles had turned to confidence. When the finish line was in sight, confidence turned to pride. I smiled when I saw the staff members waiting to congratulate us as we crossed the line. We had done it!
After finishing the ride, Dan and I put our bikes on racks and headed into the activity area where vendors, giveaways, and lunch awaited us. After a short while, we met up with Dan’s fiancée, Kim who skipped the race but was prepared for the FLASH MOB!!!
Dan played camera man (and occasional vocalist, if you listen closely) but here’s a taste of Kim and I in our very first Flash Mob performance to the Glee Cast version of “ABC”!
The final tally of money raised that day was a whopping $996,888! I want to thank Inti Araya, Lori Fleissner, Denise Meisnest, Eddie and Valerie Nunez, Noel Tantuico, Jen Furer, Susan Orsini, Marianne Deczynski, Jamel Powell, and Corrie Pantow for helping me reach my fundraising goal.
The website for “Go the Distance for Autism” will be posting details for the 2013 ride very soon. Will I see you there?