Yesterday we all enjoyed a very much needed and relaxing rest day in Delta. We cleaned our bikes, hung out at the pool and in general had a great day. Early in the day I saw Jeff and his family chatting outside one of the rooms, leaning against some brick pillars at the hotel. I asked Jeff what he was going to do that day, and he said “I’m already doing it.” A good friend and fellow Bountiful Mazda team member, Margaret Douglass, is also a massage therapist. She traveled to Delta on Friday to do massages for some of us and everyone emerged from their massage with a slightly glazed over look. VERY relaxing and helpful on sore muscles. A HUGE thank you to the owner of the Dessert First bakery, who made cupcakes specially for us!! If you ever in Delta and want an amazing cupcake, go there. Right on main street a few blocks east of the car dealership. We gathered in the courtyard at the hotel and chatted, as more of our friends showed up in preparation for the final day of the ride. As I started my evening ritual of preparing for the ride the day ahead, I had mixed emotions. While I was excited to see the friends who were joining us, I knew that the dynamic of our ride would be very different. I have been living with the 10 other riders and their families along for support for the last week, and in a very short amount of time we all became very close. Lots of miles on the road and in the car lent themselves to long conversations and we were all so invested in each other’s success that very shortly into the ride, all the support drivers were assisting all the riders – and on the road all the riders were looking out for each other all the time.
After a minor issue involving a HUGE spider in my hotel room this morning, I was on my way to the car dealership for the ride start – half looking very much forward to rolling up to the doors of Huntsman and half not wanting the journey to end. Most of our support drivers went ahead today, because the ride was fully supported. I definitely missed having them with us on the road today – although the Hunstman 140 crew took great care of us.
The big group got split up on the hills coming into Eureka, and I spent a lot of time alone (thank you for the motor pace, Holly!) – probably the most amount of time I had spent alone on the road all week. This was a really tough part of the ride for me – it was windy and hot it seemed like I was never going to get to Eureka. Finally the road curved to the right and I knew Eureka was just around the corner. I will let you all in on a little secret! If you are wearing sunglasses, no one can tell if you are crying! Nor why you are crying 🙂 So many emotions of the morning combined with feeling beat up by the wind got the best of me. Fortunately, I had my trusty sunglasses! haha. I headed down the hill solo and waited for the group at the bottom of the hill. A few minutes later they came down the hill and I met up once again with lots of the Reno riders and a few familiar faces from the Bountiful Mazda club as well. We made our way up the west side of the lake and into Saratoga for lunch, where we were greeted by lots of the other H140 riders who had started at Hunstman. The pains of the day seemed to fade as I heard so many people cheering and encouraging us!
Just like last year, the UT Pork Producers provided an excellent lunch for us and we were shortly back on the road. By the time we came over the top of the Camp Williams hill, I could SEE the finish line. As we made our way closer and closer to Huntsman, people kept saying things like, “20 miles left” and “12 miles left” and numbers that small seemed surreal. People in cars kept rolling their windows down at stoplights and asking us what we were riding for. The energy seemed to build, the closer we got. We got to the U – and then we got to the start line of the Echo’s Mile ride. The beginning of the very last mile of this life changing journey.
The majority of the riders today had gathered there, and were waiting for us when we arrived. We watched Echo climb on her bike and ride!! Echo is a young girl who has lost part of one of her legs to cancer. She was READY to ride when we got there!! With a huge smile on her face – seeing her excitement at just getting on her bike and pedaling reminded me that the one other thing that united all the riders today, besides a commitment to helping fund cancer research, is that we all think riding a bike is fun. When we got in the parking lot, Echo got on her bike and we all followed her, into the cheering crowd filled with family, friends, and loved ones. Once again I was very glad for the sunglasses!
There were lots of hugs and pictures and then headed upstairs to a fabulous party. I can’t quite remember the name of the lady who was speaking, but she said in a few sentences what the essence of the Ride from Reno is. In effect, she said that research represents hope, to cancer victims, and this ride raises funds for that research, so in effect, every one there today had contributed something that would provide hope to someone. We are already making plans for next year’s Ride from Reno. If this is the mechanism that I can use to give someone else hope when they need it – then this is what I will do!
Back at home I was greeted by family and pets and then went to get some take-out for dinner. I had to actually remember that in a car when you want to signal a change in position on the road, you use a blinker…you don’t point to a spot on the road! As this part of the journey comes to a close, I am once again SO grateful for the new found friendships I made on the trip. Thank you so much to the 10 men I rode with. Each of you has made a lasting impact on me. The journey for me is definitely not over….stay tuned for next year!