When I was a young child, I loved riding my bike. I grew up in a small town in the “country” so saying I rode through the neighborhood is stretching it. My first new bike was a 10-speed. I rode that thing everywhere. As soon as I would get home from school, I would jump on that bike and ride EVERYwhere.
When I graduated from high school and went off to college, I started running; running was my stress reliever and a way for me to get away from everything. For the next 15 years, my life revolved around running. Luckily, I never experienced any injuries. I would jump on a bike from time to time, but running was my sport.
Several years ago, I heard about AV200 but never thought it was something I could do. Run marathons, yes! Ride 200 miles… no way! One fall day in 2011, Chris Bess and I were eating lunch and all he could talk about was “the RIDE.” I honestly thought to myself there was no way I could possibly ride two hundred miles, but training for such an event would give me the push I needed to prepare for a triathlon. I went home that afternoon and signed up for the AV200 and as they say, the rest is history!
I must admit my initial intent was not just about AV200 and cause, but merely a way to get in better shape. The thought of fundraising scared me to death, and then actually riding alongside tens of riders petrified me. Riding alone was one thing, but heading out with so many other riders just wasn’t something I was prepared to do. After a few training rides with Chris and a few others, I decided it was time to invest in a better bike and gear — I had to look good, right??
In no time, I was hooked on riding and raising money for such an incredible cause. I would find myself out on my bike and my mind would think about all the many men, women, and kids who couldn’t ride the 10, 20, 30 miles I was getting to enjoy. Finally I was finding a way to combine things that mean something to me — exercise and doing good for others. While I didn’t meet my goals the first year I participated in the ride, I collected more money than I imagined possible for someone that wasn’t comfortable asking for money. I was amazed at how many people wanted to be part of my journey — inquiring about my training rides, the scrapes on my legs, and opening their wallets!
There are so many incredible moments from my first AV200 experience. I have made some incredible friendships with people I would probably have never met had it not been for AV200. The one memory that will play over and over in my mind is that overwhelming feeling riding back from Decatur to Emory on Sunday. The feeling of exhaustion, a sense of accomplishment, actually riding 200+ miles and a connection with 200 of my “closest friends.” I can’t wait to ride again in 2013. See you out there!