From the Back of the Pace Line – Tour de Pink
By Amanda Schul
Some people make fun of the “t-shirt” rides. I quite enjoy them. Usually a good mix of people, nice rest areas, good food, fun, and most importantly, the post ride beer! During the busy season there are usually several great rides every weekend, so then you have to narrow them down to which one can you participate in. My usual deciding factor is what charity or cause it supports. After finishing a ride and basking in the adrenaline high, you feel 1000 times better know you helped out a great cause.
Unfortunately I cannot convince my co-workers, friends, and family members to get second jobs to support my cycling habit, so I’ve had to make some choices as to which rides to do. For September I chose the Tour de Pink ride, which benefits Breast Cancer. More specifically, it helps provide mammograms to women who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them. Since I am preparing for that 180 mile ride in October, for Bike Around the Bay, I’ve been increasing my mileage. So I decided to go for my first Metric Century (63 miles).
Through the great interwebs of the Houston Bike Clubs I discovered several of my bike friends were also participating, and we formed a team. This was the furthest that two of the three of us had ridden. Sunday morning we made the 70 mile trek from our side of town to Prairie View A&M’s campus where the ride was taking place. I showed up in my pink polka dot bandana, pink ribbon socks, pink bike jersey and hot pink shoes. Boy, I should have thought this through. There were men and women wearing pink feathers and head dresses on their helmet, pink boas around their necks, and even had their bikes decorated. At least I know more for next year.
As we geared up and made our way to the starting line, all of the parking lots were filling up. I am not sure how many thousands of riders were riding but it was incredible to see. The starting line at 7 a.m. was the most enthusiasm I’ve seen. People cheering, loud music, the sea of pink, I was excited and ready to get this ride going. Oh did I mention that Houston had its first cold front of the season the day before. So instead of being 81 with 100% humidity at 7 a.m. it was 65 degrees. There was some misting but overall I was excited to ride in the crisp weather. Rolling through the starting line, you see all the people wearing different shirts, honoring people, remembering loved ones lost, celebrating being a survivor, I was honored to participate and I hadn’t even ridden a mile yet.
The course was well marked and well supported. The rest stops were well maintained and had a wide variety of items to refuel with. I don’t know if it was the fall-like weather or riding for such a great cause but everyone was super friendly on the ride, chatting as you passed or as they passed you. One volunteer at a rest area said she had goose bumps when we rode in because she was so honored that we were riding for such a great cause. That brought tears to my eyes, because really I was the one who felt honored to be supporting a great cause.
I have been very fortunate to not have anyone I personally know that has been affected by breast cancer, but I have a co-worker whose sister within the past year was diagnosed and undergo major surgery. I asked him if it was okay if I put her name on the back of my jersey and ride in her honor. To say that he and his family were tickled would be an understatement. Another co-worker recently lost his mom to breast cancer. When I told him what I was riding in you could tell he was happy I was doing so but he was very humble. I asked her name and if I could put her on my jersey. He said I didn’t have to, but I wanted to honor both he and his mother. I added her on my jersey as well to honor her memory and sent him a picture.
The ride itself was designed that had this been a typical Houston weather day we would have had a head wind the first 25 miles and then a tail wind home. However, we had a tail wind for 25 miles and a head wind for the better part of 38 miles. The scenery was beautiful, but the 15+ mile climb with a 10+ mph head wind was not enjoyable. At one point I thought my legs were going to boycott and fall off if I pedaled any further. Finally I rode up to the finish line, the crowd was cheering and my mom (Bike Team Support Mom) was there to take my picture. It was the most satisfying pain I’ve had yet. I wanted to finish at a 15 mph pace, however, due to the head wind and all the climbing I was able to pull off a 14.5 mph wind. Kari says that with all the wind our mileage should count as double. I second that.
This ride I had a 14.5 mph pace with more wind and more climbs and hills and 5 minutes faster time. So I am improving, getting stronger, faster and better; we cannot let ourselves be our worst enemy. I spent all of this time worrying and thinking of worst case scenarios that I almost ruined it for myself. Just have to shut the brain off and go as far as I can as hard as I can. A friend said “Our greatest weakness is giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try again.” Go as far as you can, then next time go further.
So what’s next? Trying my first century ride with my club SCCC (Space City Cycling Club) on Saturday, this group is way faster than me and this is way further than I’ve been. Going to tell my thoughts to stop, and see how far this pony can go, and enjoy the ride. Tune in next time to see how far I made it.