Yesterday I participated in the Prouty, a 100 miles ride that takes place near the Connecticut river, in New Hampshire and Vermont. It was a great event with tens of people participating. This year Enrique was riding with me and I was kind of happy I was going to ride with a good friend. It was also his birthday. I never biked that long in the States even if I have experienced longer rides during my fourth year of college.
Things did not go quite right. After about 20 miles I realized that I wanted to go my own pace that was not Enrique's pace. The climax of the ride was the Mt. Cube climb. Despite not being an unmatched climb, I wanted to try my best. After all it was not a race but when you ride your bike it is still nice to race against yourself and this was really a nice occasion to do it. So I left Enrique, despite it was his birthday. I hope he will be able to forgive me. I kind of understand now better why my college friend Valentino always left me behind and teased me about my slowness.
After the climb I started drafting behind different groups. It is a perfect way to keep you motivated and concentrated. Although, every time a steep uphill would show up, I could not sustain the pace of the group and so I would have to wait for a new one to come and give me a lift. Overall it was a lot of fun. I stopped at five of the food stands set up for the event and I ate tons of bananas. I also met a math professor at the third stand I stopped in. We had a nice conversation about biking.
In the end I started dragging a lot. It always comes the moment when the forces abandon you and the muscles give up. You can still bike but every small effort becomes a titanic one and what before looked liked a moderate climb now looks like a wall. It was comforting to see other people dragging too. After all, in the end it does not matter how long it takes.
When I arrived at the last stand I took some time to rest, eat and stretch. I really wanted to be done with it but I knew there were still 10 miles left. I smiled at the idea that it was almost over. But I wanted those 10 last miles to be the best. I thought back about how good it was to be there and why, to begin with, my passion for biking started. And then I thought at the people biking with me that last stretch. I wandered what their motivation was, where their energy comes from.
The whole purpose of the event was to raise money for the research against cancer. More than $2 millions have been raised this year. I also made my little contribution. I confess, I was mainly biking for the fun of it. Some people were riding with a yellow ribbon. To honor those that of cancer have died and those that are fighting against it.
It is weird because I admit that I do not believe the fight against cancer makes a lot of sense. Because cancer is a way to die, and death is a natural part of life that cannot be avoided. But somehow, I felt like there is something very noble in it and I felt like I wanted to honor those that believed in the fight. For them is this day most than any other. And that, to my surprise, gave me the motivation to bike those last miles at my best. Light as a leaf in the wind. To honor those that have fought and are fighting.