Event report: Ride for Roswell, Grand Island edition

I fell over at the start line.

Yep. I was that girl. Amped and ready to ride my bike 50 miles, I played with my new Garmin (which I could not get to switch from run mode to bike mode. I see a video tutorial in my future) and anxiously waited for the pre-ride speeches to finish. Standing at the start line with my right foot clipped in, ready to go and a bit impatient, I lost my balance and tipped over to my right side. Unable to clip out fast enough, I went down (gently) into another guy’s spokes. My first worry was about the other dude’s bike (it looked rather nice and he looked rather fast and serious) but he checked the spoke and wheel and said it looked fine. I had one tiny scratch on my arm. I already knew I would never win a “most graceful” award but somehow my embarrassment quickly abated and soon enough I was off on the Grand Island Ride for Roswell.

Participating in this event was nearly a game-time decision. I had done the Ride for Roswell, a bike riding fundraising for Roswell Park Cancer Institute, several times. In the last few years, they’ve added ancillary rides to their main June event. As past participant, I’m on their mass email-list and on Thursday opened up the latest blast which included a reminder that Friday was the last day to register for the Grand Island ride. Hmm. Sunday’s workout called for a long bike ride and this would fit perfectly. And although I am always up for a good catered and SAG-supported workout, there was a more compelling reason for me to participate: My friend and co-worker Al.

My reminder for the morning ride.

For some time now, Al has been a resident at Roswell Park, fighting the leukemia which took a nasty turn a few months ago. Reports seem to indicate improvement and there is great hope and optimism from Team Al officials. While participating in the Ride for Roswell didn’t help Al and his family directly, at least in any quantifiable way, here was my school of thought: All positive energy makes a difference. Some call it prayer. Others call it intention. I wanted to help create some healing energy for Al and his family. I am a writer and an athlete. One of the things I “do” is ride my bike. So that was how I intended to send positive vibes, to say a prayer, for Allen — I would ride my bike in his honor.

I grabbed a friend who was volunteering, put a Sharpie in her hand and asked her to write “For Big Al” on my forearm. Through the two loops of Grand Island I had a constant reminder of him. And I smiled. I hammered much of the first loop, even though this is not a race, before the rain hit. I ended up in a long stretch of road by myself, in the rain, comforted by the frequent circling of official Ride for Roswell vehicles. It was a bit cold and very wet. If Al can survive a freakin’ breathing tube I can ride 15 more miles in the rain, I thought. And then I went back to smiling. OK, so once the rain cleared, I put my game face on, resuming the areobar position and hammering to the finish line. But I was smiling on the inside. Because the morning was about sending prayers and intentions and good energy to a family I love while doing something which (regardless of weather) brings me joy. I believe that is one definition of win-win.

Attempting to show off my Sharpie markings at a rest stop.

I knew I hit the finish line when a “good job” themed cheer was aimed at me by a group of high school cheerleaders. That’s how low-key the event was. To be honest, the simplicity was kind of nice. My dad met me at the end and took me out for pancakes. (The Youngstown Village Diner. Blueberry pancakes. Can I add another win?) There are plenty of personal life lessons when someone you know is sick or injured or having bad times. There’s plenty of perspective that shines a light on your own perceived problems. But to be honest, Sunday’s bike ride wasn’t so much about perspective as it was about energy. There’s enough good stuff to go around — for me to give to Al and to still have for myself. Living in my own joy and holding those I love in good thoughts, well, I for one believe that makes all the difference in the world.

And we close this blog on a fundraising note: If you wish to donate to my Ride for Roswell efforts you can still do so (even though the event is complete!) Just go to my fundraising page at http://giving.roswellpark.org/amymoritz

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