Day One: Saturday, May 28, 2016
We are currently on day two of our 8 day, 500 mile journey for HIBM. It's a very early and chilly morning at Half Moon Bay beach and I'm working on day one blog post while we pack up and prepare for a long 100 mile day ride ahead of us. Just note, these daily posts will be available the day after they happened. The day is filled with much action and everyone is tired but I try to do these as soon as I can. Last night I was too tired to write, plus I kinda just wanted to enjoy the night with my friends.
Bike for Kam 2016 started off like every other prior Bike for Kam: San Francisco to Los Angeles ride with jitters, preparation, riders pouring in at different times and pictures at the bridge.
Early Saturday morning I woke up to lots of laughs from the living room. I rolled into the living room and it was nice to see everyone greet each other, some new friends, some old, with the usual inappropriate jokes while sharing the excitement of one last Bike for Kam ride. The day before Jason, Markham, Sara and I carpooled up to San Francisco to Wyatt's home. Wyatt offered to host everyone and make his home the Friday meeting spot before our Saturday departure. After work Andy, Viet, Mel, CP and Ben carpooled from LA and didn't arrive in Oakland until 1am Saturday morning. Jason picked them up from the Oakland airport so by the time they arrived to Wyatt's and got situated it was 3am. By 6:30 Saturday morning most of us only had a few hours sleep.
Despite the lack of sleep we quickly hauled ourselves, gear and the bikes to the bridge by 8am. And while most of it seemed like business as usual the obvious caveat was the rig. This year I wouldn't be saying goodbye to my friends as I sent them off on a 500 mile bike ride. This year I would be riding along with them. With such a huge addition to the ride, the rig and me being on the ride would in many ways make this ride feel like new, forcing everyone to learn and adapt to new dynamics.
As we took pictures in front of the bridge I started to get a little nervous and I wondered if anyone else was too. As we took off it all became very real. This was happening, my friend managed to build this thing and now I am doing this ride. And now I could see what my friends saw all the bike rides before.
But it soon turned into a struggle. Not even a half a mile out we were met with some decent hills in Presidio of San Francisco. We chose Andy to be the first to pull me. Andy is a veteran Bike for Kam rider and strong with a lot of endurance so I thought he would be a great person to start us out. So seeing him struggle made me quickly realize how difficult it was going to be to pull me along, not to mention how much I would slow down the group. But Andy stuck with it, he struggled for a good half mile and had to stop every few minutes just to catch his breath. A few times he was near his breaking point so it was all mental at that point.
It was then I started feeling what I suspected I would feel...guilt. I suspected I would feel guilty having my friends, on what was already a difficult challenge, pull me while I sat there and did nothing. But Andy being the kind and sensitive individual he is repeatedly reassured me that I in no way should feel guilty during at any point during this 500 miles. They were glad to do it. Markham and I would cheer him on and Andy did his best to push through it. Markham built the rig, it's his baby so he knows its capabilities and he hung back with us to monitor the rig's limitations and progress. But seeing Andy struggle only brought out everyone's supportive streak. Viet broke out a tow rope and tied it to Andy's bike so now both Viet and Andy were pulling me out of Presidio. This move relieved Andy from some of the weight and strain. And Markham, while on his bike, was behind the rig pushing me from behind, so what we had was a human bicycle chain. To me it was a great moment. I love seeing people coming together to complete a task and witnessing everyone push through and affirm each other made it a really proud moment for me.
In previous years I blogged the team's daily adventures based on what they told me but experiencing it firsthand was something that could only happen because of the rig. Comradery was always a frequent word my friends used but witnessing it firsthand was very different. I was a proud "momma".
As we progressed it got easier for Andy and we were able to breeze through the park. Lots of people and tourists watched us go by, and feeling the wind in my face, beautiful weather and great friends is a great way to start any morning.
We made our way into Richmond district heading toward the PCH. Now we were in a busy city area with lots of traffic. Another way I experienced their comradely is through their communication. Bikers have to constantly be communicating with each other to warn of possible dangers ahead, moving cars, stoping, lights and turns especially in a busy city. I don't know why but I just loved listening to them speak together in unison on the road, another thing I could only experience because of the rig. On the tough hills Ben, Viet and Markham would push behind the rig as Andy pulled me. And on the downhills they let go so Andy could soar down them. Unfortunately I don't have any pics of that because I was too scared, with hands tight to my arm rests to take any ;).
Now even though I have skydived and paraglided, I don't like heights. And I dislike them even more when speed is associated. So going down these hills was scary...but it soon become exhilarating (but still scary;)). It felt like I was in a rollercoaster and I hate rollercoasters. But Andy was a phenomenal navigator and I soon realized in order to get through these hills I have to trust the biker and I have to trust the rig. It's all about trust.
After we got to the coast we needed a break and I needed to go to the bathroom, my greatest nemesis especially in situations and routines that are completely new. Jason, my husband, had been following us in our support van and met us near the bathrooms. I had a lot of fun in the rig but I was already beyond tired and moreso weak. I just needed time to adapt to the rig. I also think it was because throughout my time on the rig I did my best to capture videos and pictures for our final video and daily social media posts, after all this is a charity ride and it is my "job" to get us out there. I try my best to relay our experience to our friends and supporters but I soon realized I have to limit that or else I won't really be able to enjoy the trip like I want to. This is a charity event but also a once in a lifetime experience. I want to capture all this footage for our final video but I also want to feel present and have fun with my friends. It's a hard balance because you're always seeing potential great shots, footage and moments but I hope to have that figured out throughout the ride.
While I was in the rig I often held up my camera (while using the arm rests to support my elbows) but it soon became exhausting. I was cold and my fingers could barely operate. My arms could barely raise and in these moments it's just very frustrating. These and more are all cues that I can't handle the same as I could the year prior.
Jason came to my rescue to take me to the bathroom. We didn't want to go through the whole laborious ritual of putting me into my wheelchair just to transfer me again in the bathroom and I just couldn't move my arms or hands. So everyone pitched in to help. One of the bathrooms became vacant so we had Sara guard/reserve it because once Jason lifts me he can only hold me so long and has to move fast. Markham quickly removed the arm rests, Jason lifted me while Sara held open the door and Viet cleaned up the stall for us to run into. It felt like an operation and just another moment of being so proud of my friends for caring so much.
We ended up cutting Saturday much shorter than expected. We completed half the miles and decided to retire at beautiful Half Moon Bay Beach. Markham pulled me for the last stretch and I really enjoyed this part...biking through the neighborhoods and the beautiful fields that led into Half Moon Bay camping area. We were extra lucky because we arrived just in time and locked in a great camp site.
It was a day of figuring out the rig, the dynamics and addressing unexpected hurdles. We ended the day with campsite, sunset and amazing organic pizzas that Viet and Ben had picked up bicycle style.
We have had some wonderful reactions to the rig. People were curious about it/us and love the idea of the rig and because of it we made many connections at the campsite. One of those examples was a lady we met at Half Moon Bay Beach. She was very intrigued by the rig and shared that her daughter has Cerebral Palsy. She actually tried to build a rig to connect to the front of her bicycle but it didn't work out well. She loved the idea of our rig and wished it was on the market so she could take her daughter on bicycle rides...yes, that would be wonderful. Disabled or not everyone should have the means to go outside and enjoy life like an able-bodied person...
Well that is my long rambling. Apologies for all grammar errors and nonsensical rambling. I'm writing these from the road and between everything that is happening. Thanks for following us, if you feel inspired contribute to our fundraising goal! 500 miles is a lot for the team. xo