After a delay of about four months due to multiple knee surgeries, I was finally able to take part in my charity century ride for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (Team in Training).
I traveled to Salisbury MD with Jan, one of my buddies from Blacksburg VA. Jan is one of the top volunteers for TNT in Virginia. In fact, this century ride was her 19th event for Team in Training. She, like Rick, lost her dad to myeloma (one of the blood cancers we are hoping to make a thing of the past).
We arrived in Salisbury with barely enough time to unload out stuff before the Inspiration Dinner. The dinner is one of the highlights of the weekend (and a definite tear jerker). We met the rest of the Virginia team as well as teams from as far away as Nebraska and San Diego. We listened to a man describe the battle his young niece has waged with Leukemia. She is (thankfully) considered cancer-free after three years of treatment. I also had a cancer survivor pull me aside to thank me personally for raising funds to help her. I was speechless because she is the real inspiration.
We went to bed fairly early so we'd be well-rested for our 100-mile jaunt around the eastern shore.
On Saturday morning, we met in the lobby to head over as a team to the start. We left around 6:30 a.m. to ride our bikes in the dark to the start. That was a little freaky as I have no lights on my bike - but I managed.
The Sea Gull is an incredibly popular ride with somewhere around 8,000 cyclists taking part in either the metric or the century ride. I have never in my life ridden with so many other cyclists. I definitely had to keep my wits about me at the start as there were bikes weaving all over the place. I did see about 5 (yes - 5) crashes along the way. One crash looked like something from the Tour de France as an entire paceline went down in the middle of the road. We won't talk about how rudely they were riding...but anyway...
The ride itself was really lovely. The route was incredibly well-marked with great traffic control at all the major intersections. The rest stops had plenty of snacks, water, etc. It did live up to its reputation for being very windy, especially the second half of the ride. I especially loved riding over the bridge to Assateague Island (home of the famous wild ponies).
I ended up riding the bulk of the century with four of my Virginia teammates. It was great to have a friendly crew around me. Alas, I did have one flat tire, but some of the San Diego Team in Training crew came along at that moment and helped me out.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience. Most importantly, this single day of cycling raised close to $500,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.