A Note from Fatty: Thanks to the $21,000+ Team Fatty raised for Young Survival Coalition — and because I couldn’t go myself — I got to assign a person to represent Team Fatty at the Tour de Pink last weekend. Heather S seemed like the perfect choice, and after reading her ride report, I feel that way even more strongly (plus I want to participate in the ride next year). Enjoy!
I have never written a ride report before. I am not even sure where to start.
Before being offered the honor to ride for Team Fatty and Weiser’s Army, I had planned to ride the one day option in Tour de Pink. No problem – 62 miles in a day. I trained for that.
It was in January of this year I decided I was not going to let cancer take my dreams. Matter of fact, those things I was afraid to put on my bucket list were not only going on my bucket list now, but I was going to start planning their completion.
First on my list: Disneyland 1/2 Marathon. Although I was in the middle of chemo I signed up; I think my friends thought I was crazy because no one would sign up with me. I had several months to work toward that run since it wasn’t until September. Chemo finished, and some complications (an extra surgery) pushed my radiation treatment completion date to June. I trained as much as I could through treatment because there was no way I was backing out.
I think it was about then that I heard about Tour de Pink. I decided to add the one day century ride to my list of things to complete this year. It was an entire month after the Disneyland 1/2. Plenty of time to train, right? I ran and ran and felt pretty good going into my 1/2 marathon. I finished in much less time than I expected, and was happy. I now had about a month to train for a century….so I thought.
As Tour de Pink drew nearer, I was not getting the training in that I needed. Feeling a little defeated, I decided to opt for the metric century – which I knew would be no problem to complete. With 2 weeks left before Tour de Pink I told Erik – “I wish I would’ve signed up for the 3 day ride. I feel like I am going to be missing something about this experience. Oh well.” At this point it was too late – I hadn’t raised enough money and childcare etc. would just be too difficult to figure out. That is about the time that Erik got in touch with Fatty and nominated me to ride. You know the rest.
The point of this is: I was way undertrained.
In looking at the online profiles for the 3 day Tour de Pink ride, I thought it would be a piece of cake. Sure, I had never ridden more than 60 miles before. These 3 rides looked relatively flat, though. With a bike I love and a great attitude: piece.of.cake.
We arrived in Thousand Oaks the on Thursday night, notreally knowing what to expect. We registered, got what we needed, met a few people and listened to the ride director talk about the ride for the next day. In the morning we would be headed from the hotel to Giant Headquarters in Newbury Park and leave from there. Some steep down hills as we leave Newbury Park, blah blah blah.
Day 1, Friday
We congregated at the hotel, rode to Giant Headquarters. We were greeted with such smiles and enthusiastic support! The short introduction included a few thank you’s and be carefuls and we were off.
The director was right – some steep downhill switchbacks getting out of Newbury Park. After that, some pretty flat road and decent scenery. Erik rode with me most of the time; however, he stopped several times to help cyclists with flat tires and would later catch up. Total cat and mouse.
The group was great. While I have never participated in “speed dating,” I would think it compares. I would ride along side a new friend, chat for bit, get to know him or her. One of us would move ahead or fall back, and a new date would take the place. Since this was the first organized ride I had ever been on with more than, say, 15 people, I found this fascinating and so much fun!
By the time we hit the first rest stop at mile 20 or so, I had broken away from the group and was riding with one new friend and was quite proud of myself. We had made pretty good time through the flat veggie fields and towns! I knew it – piece.of.cake.
Little did I know, the next leg of the ride would take us to Lake Casitas – which also meant over 1000 feet of steep climbing, some parts of the road at around 10% grade, and 100 degree air at the top. This was not what I expected. It was NOT a piece.of.cake for this undertrained recreational cyclist. I remember thinking several times “this has got to be the end of this hill, right?”
I made it up and over the mountains. On my bike nonetheless and with my pride intact.
No matter how tough that ride was, I remember thinking how happy I was that this day would not conclude my Tour de Pink 2011 experience; I was not ready for it to be over and luckily we still had 2 days to go.
Pulling up to the magnificent hotel we were staying in on the beach in Santa Barbara was such a great feeling. 72 miles down, 2 days to go. We showered, checked in, visited for a while with our kids who were there to meet us, and then joined the rest of the riders for dinner. We had time to mingle, eat, and prepare for Saturday’s ride which presented a choice: full or metric century. Both looked like challenging rides but the full century had an extra (and significant) hill just past the 70 mile mark. I decided the shorter ride would be the smartest route for me.
Erik chose to ride 100 miles, and we agreed he would ride at his “normal” pace which meant way ahead of me. Turns out, his pace was ahead of most everyone.
Day 2, Saturday
We left the hotel and headed toward Carpenteria. I teared up when we rode by my daughters Annabelle (4) and Genevieve (2) yelling from the sidewalk “GO MOMMY!!”
Past Carpenteria we rode in to the back hills of SantaBarbara and Montecito. While the views certainly didn’t compare to day 3 (more to come), the ride through country hills was awesome. It was so peaceful – not what most people think of California. The houses were magnificent. I had been through these hills before by car, but it doesn’t compare to the serene mindset that came with being on my bike.
I spent much of this day’s ride by myself and most of it just thanking God for the opportunity to participate in Tour de Pink – that just out of treatment my body was capable of riding this distance, and the stars would align so that I was lucky enough to ride for Team Fatty. I felt thankful for my husband, who was thoughtful enough to send an email to FatCyclist and for my beautiful daughters who would be waiting for me when I finished that day’s ride. In all its cheesiness, I was feeling thankful to be alive (and kicking ass!).
That evening’s dinner and ceremonies included some very inspirational speakers – it was this night I started to really recognize the love in the room. YSC is not just an incredible organization, but a family.
Day 3, Sunday
Bittersweet for sure. While I was feeling anxious to get the last day’s ride completed, I was a little sad the entire event would be over. For just a couple days, the world stood still and we got to just ride and bond. I was relieved, though, that this ride really was flat and might be a piece of cake – or a little easier than the previous rides anyway.
Not only was my body tired, but I had also lost my voice by Saturday morning and probably had bronchitis. None of that mattered; the 52 mile ride on Sunday was indescribable. My family drives along Highway 101 and the Pacific Ocean often, but its nothing like following the ocean on my bike – the views, the air, the life.
The weather was perfect. The route was perfect. The ride was perfect. A perfect end to a perfect Tour de Pink.
I mentioned before that the Young Survivors Coalition holds a special place in my heart. After being a part of Tour de Pink, YSC holds a much larger place in my heart. Through meeting so many amazing people and seeing from the inside what YSC is about, I realize that YSC is not only anorganization, but a family. A family that Erik, Annabelle, Genevieve and I will always feel welcome in. That kind of connection is priceless.
Piece.of.cake? Deciding that Tour de Pink will be a longstanding tradition for our family.