I love to ride my bicycle. This one morning in late October was no exception. And I could not have asked for better weather. The sun was shining, the temperature was warm and there were no head winds. Perfect biking conditions. I strapped on my helmet, hopped in the saddle, clipped into my pedals and took off, eager to ride as quickly as possible because ultimately that is what I love the most about riding.
As I rode, I noticed there were more cyclists around than I normally encounter on this quiet path. There seemed to be organized groups with some wearing matching colored jerseys. They appeared to be part of some kind of cycling event and huddled together in groups. I remembered that the MS ride was this weekend yet thought I read that the finishing line was in Encinitas. I paid little attention and continued my cadence. Tick, tick, tick. I gained speed and rode on, wondering all the while if it was possible that the Bike MS cyclists would end up on this quiet path 30 miles away. Hmpfh I rode on.
I only rode for two more minutes before approaching one of these groups. All members of this club wore orange jerseys, MS orange I might add. The group was resting on the sideline, seemingly finished for the day, so I stopped. I asked if they were riding for the MS ride. Yes, they were. I told them that I live with MS and one rider asked some questions about my diagnosis. We talked about what type of MS I live with, for how I’ve had MS and a little about my cycling. I was touched and I thanked them for riding that day. I clipped back into my pedals and continued riding with a new motivation. Riding for a cure. I am, I can, I will.
I clipped away and I slipped behind the stream of another cyclist. It was just the two of us for a moment or two, yet he, being a more experienced rider, took off, leaving me to ride alone. The chain, crank, cog and pedals ticked away, kept me company as I cycled along the path. I took on a small incline and as I climbed towards the top, pop! A flash bulb went off. To my right. Flash! To my left. Another pop! Directly in front of me. Flashes went off as my picture was taken. “Oh dear,” I thought, “I am no longer riding a quiet path.” I felt famous and gave a thumbs up to the camera as the last flash went off. Pop! In the distance, I heard a crowd begin to roar.
|Thumbs up to the camera!|
It was at this point that I realized this IS the Bike MS event and thought I should get off the path, not wanting to get in trouble. Yet I felt forced to follow the route that was now outlined with orange ribbon. MS orange. There was no escape. The path had narrowed and had no exit point. Besides……my fans showed up so I couldn’t leave.
It was like riding the Tour de France and racing towards a stage finish, or the big finish, in my case, of Le Tour de Christie. The crowd escalated. The cheers roared louder and propelled me to ride faster and faster. Yet I rode with a slight pang of doubt because I wasn’t supposed to be there. I didn’t have an event number on my back. I reasoned with myself, “It’s okay. You can ride, you have MS.” The crowd grew denser and louder as I continued on, motivated by their support. Whistling fans waved flags of orange from behind the route markers and I heard the race announcer’s voice piping through speakers in the background, congratulating the riders. As I approached the finish line banner, I was out of the saddle with a huge smile on my face. “Oh yeah. I am doing this. I am taking the yellow jersey.”
I crossed the finish line, with my hand proudly held high in the air. “I have MS and I just won the Bike MS ride!” Well, not really. But it sure seemed like it. It wasn’t even a race. But I won my own tour. Tour de Christie. I proved something to myself that day. I am. I can. I will.