Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.
Been down, isn’t it a pity,
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city.
Ok, now that you have The Lovin’ Spoonful stuck in your head, it is a reminder that summer has, at long last, arrived. Along with summers arrival is the 30th anniversary of RAAM. The 2011 race starts today. Solo Women on June 14th, Solo Men on June 15th, and Teams on June 18th. In exactly 12 months, we will be toeing the start line in Oceanside. We will be trained, we will be prepped, and we will be shaking with anticipation of what could be one of the greatest adventures of our lives. I, for one, cannot wait.
I am being careful, however, not to wish away an entire year. I am enjoying all that summer has to offer. The long-awaited warmth, the longer days, swimming and watching the sunrise as I alternate between watching the black line on the bottom of the pool and the dawn creeping across the sky and illuminating the mountains, and – you guessed it – getting on my bike. I do my best thinking while riding, which probably says a lot about the level and depth of my thought process. Thoughts can only be deep enough so as not to take my mind totally off the road and can only last long enough to blot out the sound of my labored breathing and pain of straining muscles. So, short and shallow. Huh. I am pretty short . . . .YIKES!
Today I was thinking about RAAM. I had just received a call from Marie, one of our stupendous crew members from The Denver Spokes 2010 edition and soon to be just as stupendous in 2012, even though she doesn’t know it yet, who was at the start line in Oceanside. I could feel the excitement mounting in the background from her call and I began remembering and fantasizing about what 2012 will be like for all of us on RMR. My first thought is that we definitely need better speakers for our van. Oh yeah. Some big, thumping, gigantic speakers, so we can actually hear the directions being shouted at us from the crew watching our derrieres. We are all over 50 – ok, average age is over 50 – ok I’M over 50 and I need to hear directions. Sorry about that. But I also really want to pump some tunes through those big, thumping, gigantic speakers so I can feel cool. There it is. Short and shallow.
Last year, as I was feeling a teensy tired, our crew chief (Lark) called my youngest daughter and put her on the loud-speaker to shout words of encouragement (minus any obscenities) to me while I was riding. It threw me into such a tizzy that tears sprung to my eyes and I couldn’t see the road. Let it be known that my youngest daughter isn’t exactly a baby; she is nearly 23 years old. It didn’t seem to matter. I heard her tiny voice through those stupid, miniscule speakers and suddenly, I became aware of the enormity of the challenge and of the people I love best in my life. Sometimes loving people the best is the biggest challenge out there. So zooming down the highway in somewheres-ville (Mexican Hat, perhaps?) with my daughters’ voice encouraging me from behind was something I could have never, ever anticipated experiencing in my lifetime. Ever. Nope. And even though it was for a very short time (but not shallow), it will make a longstanding memory. Let it be known, Lark didn’t do that one twice.
So, I have decided to live in the moment, make sure we find some enormous speakers, and get my girls to work making enough mixes to get us across the country. Sometimes short and shallow isn’t so bad.
We rode together for the first time yesterday. Our first $5 Friday Ride. And though it wasn’t the first, first time together… it was, for me, the first of many rides toward RAAM 2012.
I am excited about our Friday afternoon rides, and I can’t wait for the next one on June 17th. A chance to celebrate friends, fitness and team building. $5 Fridays are, for me, a step away from my “normal”… and that is what I love about RAAM. As an endurance athlete, I spend all, seriously all, of my training time alone. I put my gear on and I go. I focus on the task at hand, do my work and then I move onto the next part of my day. Little time for chit chat and little time, quite frankly, for distraction and “taking in the moment”.
When we finished RAW 2009, I told Julie that I wanted to prepare for RAAM, but that I wanted to do it differently. Not that I would change my personal preparations for the event, but that the next time, I wanted to “bring along” others in the training process. $5 Fridays are a part of that process. We ride together as a TEAM… not just 4 women and 10 crew… but everyone who has even the smallest interest in what we are doing, is invited to come along for the ride… and to be part of our team.
In preparing for RAAM 2012, I’ve made a promise to myself that even when I am training alone, that I will never really BE alone. THIS time, our training, our cause, our journey are bigger than each of us individually… and that is also what I love about RAAM.
One year from now Rocky Mountain RAAM will be leaving Denver and heading to San Diego. The preparation, the training, the fundraising… will be done… and the RAAM 2012 Start Line will wait for us on the pier at Oceanside. Maybe the “start” will be on a Friday… or maybe not… but it will for me, be another “$5 Friday Ride” shared with friends and teammates… a “first” ride toward the Finish Line in Annapolis.