So I'm not the most athletic person. Really. Mom and Dad tried to get me to exercise every weekend for years. Tried being the key word. We once did a 5k charity walk (in high school) and I think I dragged it out twice as long as it needed to be, and I'm sure it felt like a million miles for everyone around me for all of the complaining I did. Sure I did ballet and have spent a few years in yoga classes, but anything that involved stretching didn't feel like something so tedious and awful as the word 'exercise'. I mean listen to it. It's like the word 'work'. With that kind of boring and taxing connotation, it's doomed to attract people from the get go.
When I heard my uncle, a man who is about to begin receiving his social security check, was going to attempt the 270km tip-to-tip ride for Africa on his bicycle, I thought 'gosh, he's nuts'. In three days, this group of crazies ride 8 hours a day on their bicycles, from one tip of PEI to the other. They ride on trails that were converted from the long gone train tracks. In the back of my head though, I couldn't pass this nagging urge that I would be doing it too. With my history of failed attempts at jogging and all other brands of exercise, I thought this couldn't be intuition or interest but just a combination of chemical reactions in my brain that created this odd thought, kind of like when think about how good peanut butter spread on pie might be, then realize how random and gross that is. ( Credit for that last image to paul blart, citing the only funny line in that terrible movie).
A month later I was talking to my mother on the phone and she asked an odd question. "Do I need to sponsor you as well for the tip to tip?"
"What!?" I asked? How could she possibly have known about that random thought that just wouldn't go away. A thought which caused me to give in to curiousty and follow my uncle one evening after supper for a bike ride on a borrowed bike, where I discovered that biking also falls under the category of stretching and is not as awful as exercise, so long as I stretch before and after, obviously. A bike ride that took less than an hour and at the end I was informed was a distance of 17km. Huh. I began to rationalize some scary thoughts. "The tip to tip would really only be about 5 hours of biking a day at that pace. Wow that doesn't sound too taxing. Oh gosh what am I talking about! 270km. You hate exercise!" This inner monologue was going back and forth solely in my head as I let the idea simmer, until my mom brought it up. We had never discussed biking or anything of the sort, but in a way only mothers can, she knew what I wanted to do before I even did. Apparently distance doesn't squash that super power as my mom was 3000 miles away in Texas.
"Um, yes" I responded, "I guess you do". Woah. I said it, and now I only had a month to train. I was sure that 4 weeks would be sufficient time to whip my flimsy sticks, which were quite flexible, but had questionable strength, into lean, wind-resistant cycling machines. Now I had to get to it, and not just on the bicycle, which I did not currently have. What I consider the most taxing part of this decision is that I have to spend $200 of my own money, and fundraise $600, just to participate! Okay lets think this through. I'm unemployed, living off savings, and I now need to shell out over $600 for registration fees, aquiring a bike worth sitting on for hours at a time, and of course appropriate clothing. Oh...and convince all my family and friends from the life I had just left behind that they'd like to sponsor me as well. Super.
Well 3 weeks have gone by. I have a killer bike, which I got at half price for the end of biking season. (Oh and I got it a week before anyone else did, I assume because I asked nicely, but it could also be because the shop owner was a man and I had a cute biking outfit on. Who knows though...there have to be some perks to being a young woman, especially if you don't go to bars any longer). I have gone on tons of rides, including a few along the trail I'll be on in one short week, and I realized cycling isn't all bad. Most of the rides were 1-2 hours, but I successfully completed two 5 hour rides. Also due to the generosity of a few individuals, I am more than 1/2 way to my fundraising goal. (Thanks Mom, Opa, Kendall, Jim, Amanda & Megan!!). So I am feeling good. Everything is on track for next weekend, including my wardrobe. I have 3 cute outfits picked out, which it turns out, I already owned! How fortunate!
I was quite surprised to hear on the phone last night my dad mention something about 'if' I go on the ride. What!? If?? I'm a week away and he thinks I might not go?? I've already racked up well over 300km on my bike, and he thinks I might not make it?? Thanks dad. Super encouraging. Then the story came out. It gets worse. My normally supportive, encouraging, sweet father, made a bet with my mother against me. He bet one month of lawn mowing that I wouldn't do the ride, I'd just sign up. How weak is that?? He admitted that he made that bet before I had bought a bicycle, and now having thought about it all day, the introductory paragraph to this blog probably supports his case. I just hope for his sake I don't get to decide which home he goes to. If my mom needs one, she'll have a swanky one....but he needs to redeem himself before I consider whether or not Shady Pines is good enough for that fateful day.
Wish me luck! If you're interested, the site is www.tip2tip4africa.org. The cause really is a good one. It's for building schools and water sources in Kenya, as well as medical missions. Tomorrow I'm going on a training ride with the group for the first time. We'll see how well I play with others. Hopefully they won't mind that I travel in a curvy path and occasionally do 'no hands' to test my balance. It's more fun that way!