Happiness is a choice. That was the first thought I had as I woke this rainy Saturday morning. That was a little odd for me. Happiness is a choice? Where did that come from? As I sit here tapping away I realized it has come from 50 years of life. Very simple.
I turned 50 yesterday and told myself I would roll into the 2 half of my life with a smile and that I did. Yes, I rode a little bicycle ride but I did something that I never really did before and I think it carrying me through. I smiled. I smiled a lot. It wasn't a big smile but just a grin more or less because I was happy and I chose this happiness. I was surrounded by family and friends and I was trying to make a little difference in the world.
I then celebrated with a room full of family and friends last night. What a day… what a day!!!
I know I know, you want the bike ride write up. So here you go...
I slept good the night before, well until about 4am. I woke and was ready to jump up and hit it. I stayed in bed until almost 5.
As we enter into a epic event in our lives we seem to forget things. I forgot the most import things until the very last second you know the normal day-to-day things that you must do. No, I did brush my teeth. I got to the car and was actually backing out and something was missing. My cochlear implant!!! Terri was laughing at me. I had the hearing aid on but wanted to wait until the last moment to put the CI on so I would get the longest run from the battery. It was a good plan and it worked.
We got to the hospital and I got to meet Jennifer Thorpe. I call her a CI queen. She is a great CI spokesperson. I always thought she would be a fun person to know in "real" life not just cyber. I was not wrong. She is a great person to know. Very sweet and her and Terri seemed to have become friends as well. I also met her brother David. He came to ride and man did he. Super strong rider who seemed to never tire. Jennifer's son was also out there and it was great because you could tell they are a tight family. I loved this.
I also met a new ride named Rob. This guy had lost 50 lbs and was in great shape. He did some super pulls during the morning. Once I looked down and we were cranking a 20mph line. We got to the bridge and I said to myself, "This is crazy! I have to slow way down or I'll blow this afternoon." I let them go ahead.
Just as the ride was about to start a car pulled up and Van got ready. Van s one of those very smart and practical riders that is always good to have in the mix.
As we got to the bridge the first time I also met up with Matt Covington. Matt is one of those folks I out high on the list. He has to use a walker sometimes but that doesn’t stop him for what he likes to do which is ride. He is also considering an implant and that’s how our paths crossed. He has this cool like trike-bike and the guy can roll.
There was wind but wind is wind…
This is the moment of the ride that I hooked up with another Rob. I really respect this guy. He came out to ride the River to River ride a couple of years ago and is a Cycle Zydeco rider. Very smart rider. We talked for a few and it was sort of weird. It was almost as if I was talking to an older brother. We rode and rode and rode. He pulled and pulled and pulled. We locked in on 15mph which is the speed I had hoped to roll. He finally had to go home and he said the words that stuck with me the rest of the ride. "Don't let them pull you too fast." I was like those words were branded into my mind for the rest of the ride.
When I had a rider pulling to fast I was simply slow down. I was crazy at first because I love the 18mph pace but I had to go the time distance and not the length distance. It's a different kind of animal. Boy is it a different animal.
Terri, Emmy and a few others were stationed at one of the pavilions that would be used for the family picnic later and they kept us in food and drinks. Terri was awesome because she knew the perfect things to say to me every time I rolled in. She had seen me go down on the R2R ride and she knew how I had it in my heart that no matter what happened this time I was not going to have a “DNF” (Did not finish) mark beside my name.
I had taken my watch off and that was another excellent idea for riding a 24 hour. I had no idea what time it was for a lot of the ride. We were rolling along and here comes Mike Moore. He had said something about getting out there around 1. Was it 1pm already? It felt like about 10:30. I was giddy. Serious it’s like 5pm on Friday afternoon sort of giddy. Again I chose happiness…
Mike was an event super puller who pulled a lot until he rolled past a century mark (105 miles was the last length I heard him say and he was still going). He has a heart of gold.
Dan Herrington and Mike’s son Collin also jumped on the train that afternoon. I got to know Collin a bit more when we took a break during the family Picnic time. He’s a good guy. And Dan, Dan is one of those guys who is always smiling and looks for the good in everything. He has chosen happiness.
We got another surprise while we were riding that early afternoon. Yale! Yale is one of my favorite folks in the world. I don’t say that lightly. He was a great rider and super nice guy. He has had a rough year and we haven’t seen him much so when I spotted him I almost wanted to unclip and bear hug the boy right there in the middle of the ride.
There was a big picnic and we took families up the trail and over the bridge. I really enjoyed that. The picnic was a big success and thanks to everyone who came out and for all the volunteers who took time out of there busy lives to put it all together.
The sun was beginning to set so I knew it must be getting close to 8pm. That’s when Lance jumped on the ride. Lance was another in the super pull category. He lives next door to Matt and Mandy. He rode until around midnight I think. He is really nice guy with a mini cooper that he actually got his bike in.
Jump back a couple of hours and Chris Irons, David Wonn (an Ironman and the ultimate go-to guy for all things Tri!) and Chris Lyle appear on the bridge. It was great to see them! I knew those three would keep us going and they did. David had this super beam light that was a life saver. It was like having a Coleman lantern at a campsite. He does a lot of training in early morning hours (I think) so he had the right equipment for nights. Thanks David. Chris’ light was the same way. Mine was OK but I kept turning it off in case I needed it later. I did a couple of times.
So we are riding along and I see a rider coming toward us on the road smoking fast. I’m thinking man, that guy is rolling. His helmet light is coming to us abut at the speed of light. Oh man it’s Mooney!!! Yes! Robert Mooney is the State Champion rider. This guy would probably ride right up to Armstrong say “Hey bud!” then drop him. Mooney is a complete riot. He has chosen happiness. Always smiling and cutting up. He and Bethany are the sweetest couple. There is a photo that was made of them last fall I think and it’s one of my favorite. The photographer (oh crap I can’t remember if it was Bob or Jonny who took it) really captured the moment.
Any way so now I have, Dwonn, Chris, Chris, and Mooney. Talk about laughing. Sometimes I could hear them talking but I’ll be honest, most of the ride was a bit of a roar that grounded out the voices. Anyway, some of the things that were talking about were a riot!
Chris Lyle finally has to leave. Thanks for the pulls man! I appreciate you!
It’s now about 3am and we are doing a loop then stopping for about 10 minutes. I realized at that time I had made it to the final quarter. Each quarter would hold something special.
Only a few folks had known that I had put this into quarters. The first was my warm up quarter. I knew I was good for that one. The second 6 hour quarter was going to be my make it or break it quarter. I knew this quarter would be my hardest. 9 hours of riding is about when I start to break down. Did it happen? Yes. Did anyone know? Terri may have. I stopped to eat a PB&J sandwich and the first bit almost made me barf. I was actually looking for a hiding place in case I did because we are at the family picnic and the last thing you want to see is someone puke just before the hot dogs are served. HA! It was the sweetness that didn’t take too well. I remember a Sunday or two ago we had lunch we friends and Doug Kilgore has rode a 24 hour ride on the CAC track to raise money for the school. He was talking about the sweet stuff and how I wouldn’t like it through the whole ride. No kidding! I finally settled back down and was good once I was riding again.
Rebecca Irons shows up and swaps or with her husband Chris. So now I have Dwonn, Mooney, Rebecca. I’ve never heard so much laughing … and uh, singing going on. They were singing on the way up the bridge (which is a mini mountain sometimes) and since the wind wasn’t blowing I could hear them and got so tickled.
DWonn has to ride back to his house a “do a little work”. Then we got back to the hotel and Mooney had to leave. He was so funny. He looked at his watch and said, “I have to get up in thirty minutes and go to work.” It was so matter of fact like something he does all the time. He said before he left, “Geo do you realize you only have two more laps?” My mind was blowing.
I have my first caffeine. About half a can of Dr Pepper. Now this is the first caffeine other than a little bit of chocolate in 3 weeks. That was the coach’s orders. Holy smoke Batman!!!! That rocked my system. I was wide awake and charged. It also made me wonder about me drinking as much caffeine as I used to. Maybe it’s not such a great thing after all. I learned that I could get steamers with favor shots at coffee places that satisfied me just fine. They are a lot cheaper too!
Just about that time Jo shows up! Now if you put Jo and Rebecca on the same ride you are going to be laughing and having a good time. Jo is one of my all time favorite people to be around. She’s just one of those down to earth folks who is easy to be around. Actually most of the people I enjoy the most fall into that category.
I start talking sunrise. It’s what I am longing for. Just let me see the sky starting to lighten. Sunrise is my favorite time of the day. I love to be in our kitchen and watch it getting daylight. There is just a Noah’s Ark sort of hope to each new day. It’s a new day, clean slate; it’s yours to make it what you want.
We make it back to the hotel for the next to the last time. Keith Moore and Kim Cossey jumped in we rolled along. I told Rebecca this lap was sort of like the end of the Tour de France. The work is over and the last part is sort of just a let it soak in and enjoy the moment. We did! We stopped on top of the bridge and looked around.
We were riding back towards the bridge again after getting to the turnaround and up roll Mariann! I’m so excited. Mariann is an Ironman several times over. She is gold. Wife, mom, friend to everyone, always smiles, writes very inspirational things on her blog and she has time to train for Ironman. Yep, she has it all together. I was so excited to get to ride with her.
Well it’s time… time to roll to the hospital and close the 24 hours. The crowd was out there and we rolled it on in. The waved and clapped for us then sang happy birthday. It was a moment that will be with me to my last days.
There are so many people who made this event happen and inspired me and cheered me on. The biggest of these is Terri. She pushed me out the door on training days. Pulled me up when I was down. Knew what to say and what not to say. I still can’t believe that more than have of my life has been spent with her. She my fiends is far better than gold.
And Emmy, thank you so much for cutting up and making me laugh. You are the most beautiful daughter in the world.
Tyler, oh man, talk about cutting up. I know you fell out of the basket the stork was carrying but I’m so glad you landed in our house!! You are and amazing son who I am so proud of.
Last but not least by any means… my friends. There are too many to name them all. As cheesy as this sounds, I love you guys! Ok, honestly not cheesy… completely sincere. I really do love you all.
Speaking of cheese… I smell something really good cooking… more later today and photos.
Life is good… choose happiness!