This week, among many commitments, I’ve been checking road conditions and finalizing water stops for our fundraising bike ride in June. What bike ride, you ask? The one-and-only Coast of Hope, Saturday, June 16: www.coastofhope.org. (Please like and SHARE this on Facebook to spread the word!) Yes, we put together a metric century (100k/62mi), half-century (50k/21mi) and family-distance ride every year.
We pull this event off with lots of help from many willing hands! It’s a labor of love, to support the cyclists who ride and raise funds. And when I say labor … I do mean labor. Lots of physical work and mental gymnastics, for the weeks and days leading up to, and right through the end of the event, to make sure everyone’s safe. Phew!
And then there’s the amazing feat of the athletes who ride, regardless of distance. Heat. Hills. Equipment challenges. Unexpected detours (er, that’s polite speak for getting lost). Exhaustion. Wind. Mental fatigue.
I applaud and laud our riders. Wow!
But don’t think I’m a bike ride snob. Though we spend lots of time organizing our own ride, we also support many causes through other rides during the year. (Okay, I admit it, I’m using the royal “we,” because I’m taking credit for the miles and energy of other athletes in my family who ride. I’m strictly an on-the-ground volunteer or cheerleader in other rides.)
My family participates in several fundraising bike events during the course of the season. Chris and other friends start with with the ADA’s Tour de Cure (Diabetes) ride in May, then Chris and Sarah and lots of friends ride in our own non-profit foundation’s Coast of Hope ride. (You’re invited, please join us.) Chris is entering the Prouty Ride in NH in July for the first time this year (benefits hospitals in NH). Chris and Sarah and some friends will ride the Pan Mass Challenge (PMC) in August, and Chris and other Rotarians will participate in the ALS ride in September.
As I admitted earlier, I volunteer at a few rides, like the ADA and PMC. Or ring cowbells and shout from the sidelines at others.
And for our June 16th Coast of Hope ride? Well … I coordinate … um, everything. Yeah. Every last little detail.
Every year, several people ask me (with straight faces) if I’ll ride in the Coast of Hope? Truth? No. Not possible … someone’s gotta stay on the cell phone all day long. Answer the questions and establish order (or chaos) for about 50 volunteers. Keep things moving. And worry and run around until it’s all over. That would be me. Think of me as something like a wedding planner. Except for cyclists.
By the way, the funds raised by Coast of Hope support pediatric cancer programs at Childrens Hospital Boston and Dana Farber’s Jimmy Fund, as well as other institutions. We also provide some direct support to North Shore families living with cancer or other life-threatening challenges.
(As an aside, don’t try to hold a meaningful conversation with me on that day … unless it’s directly associated with the ride. And when the ride’s over, I’ll be in bed. Zzzz. Talk to me on Sunday, June 17 if you want me to make any sense.)
And right now? This week? Lots of details are still up in the air, or just being settled. It happens every year, around this time. (This is our fourth annual ride, and maybe that sounds modest, but we’ve learned alot in the past few years … then something new and exciting crops up every year.)
So I’ve been out scouting routes and contacting communities or organizations for confirmation about setting up our water stops. And guess what? As of today’s scouting trip, I think all the main details (especially for routes and water stops) fell into place!
We stopped and rang bells, knocked on doors, talked to administrative staff, made phone calls, filled out forms and seemed to confirm just about every part of the water stop logistics that was flapping loose in the wind earlier this week. Phew!
Do you know how many times I tell the story of our family’s odyssey through childhood cancer, in a single day, just to set up this ride? Alot of times. It’s exhausting, and moving.
Then when everything works out, and people’s eyes light up, and they want to be part of what we’re doing, even if it’s by supporting this event as a host location for our water stops … well, it feels just right. And sometimes, just like last Saturday when I was riding the routes, checking road safety conditions and re-mapping part of the course, I’m pretty sure I have a passenger riding along. Maybe Jessie’s nudging events … helping out from her end … I like to think so.
Days like this? I’m pretty sure she helped.
So there’s something spiritual about the work of preparing for this bike ride. About the necessity of asking strangers for their help, and sharing this story, and inviting them to be part of our adventure. It’s all part of a bigger journey we’re all making.