Team in Training has been such an incredible experience. I am going to be encouraging everyone who has ever thought about taking up cycling to join throughout this year and train with me to complete the Little Ride around the Big Lake in 2013.
There were people on our team who, when we began, hadn’t been on a bike for up to 30 years, but wanted to do something in honor of or in memory of someone who had cancer or some other disease for which there is not yet a cure. Others just wanted to give back or simply decided now was the right time to get off the couch.
Some people didn’t even own a bike. They rented or borrowed for the first several weeks. Once they decided the team was for them, they went in to full research mode and worked towards determining which bike to get and how much money they would need to set aside for the new ride.
There were people of all different shapes and sizes and ages and backgrounds representing our team in Tahoe. And all of them made it over that finish line! Some of them completed the ride in a matter of a few hours, while others (like me) took meandering to a different level. Sure, finishing quicker allows you bragging rights and first dibs on the post-ride libations and festivities, but who needs that, really?
We meanderers were better able to savor the route. I think I even saw a lady bug scurrying about on a clover at one point. My comfortable pace allowed me to note the clover had 3.5 leaves. I cannot account for the other .5, as I felt lucky enough and did not go searching for the missing greenery. Instead, I kept pedaling.
As instructed by our coaches, I kept the lake on my right. I spent a fair amount of time staring out at its beauty and was able to keep my bike upright and moving. I would not have had that opportunity had I been speeding along as if I were in a time trial. I surely would have fallen over and probably slid down into the lake which, admittedly, would offer a much closer view.
Chances are I would have taken a few of the other participants with me. I’ve heard this is frowned upon.
Throughout our team’s training, there were people who, with their health backgrounds and/or weight issues and/or age or personal setbacks should just not have been able to do complete the rides. It just wasn’t logical.
But they did.
It was amazing to watch the progress of everyone on the team. Although I couldn’t tell you most of their names and I might not even recognize some of the faces on the street, there were many of whom I watched throughout the process. I followed their journey and found myself rooting for them.
There was someone who was determined to do this ride with TNT and she needed a bike. She walked into a local bike shop and told them her story. She let them know her goal was to ride around Lake Tahoe with Team in Training in 2012 and she was told by shop personnel they would not sell her a bike because she would not be able to complete that ride.
Even as I type this, I am still amazed it is true.
Naturally, most would feel shot down and depressed by this turn of events. Many would crawl back to their Couch of Comfort and settle into its arms; allowing it to offer solace and ease.
Not this girl.
After the shock, she picked herself back up and went to other bike shops until someone found her a bike she could ride.
And ride, she did!
Still another rider wrecked her knee during a tumble on one of the training rides. The mishap put her in the emergency room and, after some weeks of recovery, she was back on the bike and gingerly riding alongside her group.
She, too, crushed the Lake Tahoe finish line.
Though I don’t know them all, I’m sure many team members have their stories to share. Tales about someone telling them they would not be able to do it, or doctors telling them they shouldn’t do it. For some, it might be a voice that comes from within; a voice that is bred by doubt.
Obstacles, for sure, but not barriers.
So, I will tell my TNT stories to those who ask. I will assure them they, too, can complete the TNT training and goal ride, should they show interest in doing so.
As I tell them this, I will no longer accept the response of “I can’t.” or “I’d never be able to ride 100 miles, anyway.”
That was me only a few short months ago. I’m a wiser woman today.
Now when I hear those things, what I understand is “I don’t want to.”