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Best Laid Plans… not so much.

August 31, 2009

I’m sure everyone is eager to hear about the Ride to Cure Diabetes that I participated in over the weekend. But, as many of you know, things didn’t go quite as planned. Sometimes even when you do everything right, things can go horribly, horribly wrong.

It wasn’t anything I did. In fact, I put the blame squarely on Hurricane Danny, who brought a horrible system of continuous rain that ruined the Ride for many people. Although there were many people who struggled through the rain and completed the Ride, I was not one of them.

But let me start from the beginning.

I drove up to Vermont Thursday night in a car I rented from Zipcar. It was a nice little Toyota Matrix that fit my bike perfectly. I arrived, six hours later, a little delirious, but managed to hang out with a few members of my Ride team before crashing in my own rented condo. On Friday, I woke early for breakfast and to attend our morning Ride meeting where we discussed safety and the impending doom – I mean rain. Friday was actually a lovely day, weather-wise, and it’s disappointing that our Ride was not held on that day. One of my team members, Jeremy, recommended a little town not far from Killington that was a cute place to visit. Not having any plans, I drove out there to do a bit of accidental touristing and made a point to pick up some real Vermont maple syrup while I was there. On Friday night we had our big kickoff dinner, and the wonderful Moira McCarthy Standford, one of the lead national JDRF volunteers, spoke to the crowd. And she even mentioned me in her presentation! And then she had me stand up. In front of 300 people. And wave (well, waving was optional, but I felt it was the right thing to do). That’s a lot of people.

Saturday was the big day. I could barely sleep the night before, from a combination of nerves and the fact that somehow setting my room’s temperature to 72 degrees meant 85 degrees to the thermostat. My bed was also ridiculously uncomfortable, but I managed to get a few hours of sleep on the couch before I had to wake and get ready at the lovely hour of 4:00 a.m. We weren’t sure when we were going to leave, as the weather was atrocious. Rain was pouring down and nobody could figure out if we were leaving at 7:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m. or somewhere in between. Staff finally announced we were taking off at 8:00 a.m.

We wrapped ourselves up as best we could. I wore four layers of clothes, including a sturdy Helly Hansen rain jacket, tights, bike shorts, and socks wrapped in sandwich bags (which were good in theory, but did absolutely nothing in practice). I had my helmet on over my hood and braced for a very rainy and windy day.

The Ride started off at a ski lodge. Guess where ski lodges are? AT THE TOP OF BIG HILLS! Rain = wet cement ; cracks in the road = opportunities to crash and die; hills = lots of speed. Wet cement + cracks in the road + lots of speed = A VERY FREAKED OUT ALLISON

I was the LAST person down the hill (OK, maybe not the last, but one of the last). Seriously, nearly had a heart attack. Lucky for me, a coach by the name of Terri met up with me and talked me down the hill even when I was certain I was going to go careening of the mountain at any moment. Terri and I actually biked together for awhile, before she went to help someone else and I kept going. The first 10 miles or so of road was absolutely terrible, and there were parts of the road where there was no usable shoulder because it was so crumbly. A few times I had to bike on the inside of the white line, in the lane of traffic. For the most part, everything went fine and I was zipping along, feeling pretty good about surviving that massive descent.

And then I got hit by a car.

Well, kind of.

As I said, there was a portion of the road where I needed to be inside the lane of traffic. Apparently, some people in Vermont have not heard that cyclists have the right of way and that YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO DRIVE RIGHT NEXT TO THEM. Because, you know, YOU COULD HIT THEM.

But the next thing I knew, there was a large SMACK, the back of my left arm erupted into tiny, painful pinpricks, and a green minivan passed me.

Did I just get hit? I thought. I was still upright, biking along the road. But as I watched the van drive away, I saw their passenger sideview mirror was now tilted inwards.

Oh my God, it hit me! And I watched it drive away into the distance, not even slowing down.

Minutes later, Terri came up behind me.

“Hey girl!” she said.

“I got hit by car,” I replied. (I couldn’t really think of anything else to say).

“WHAT?” she cried. “What happened?” I told her about the van and how it hit my arm. “Do you want to stop?”

“No!” I yelled back, “I don’t want to stop in the rain. Let’s stop at the rest stop.” We kept peddling away, my arm sore and burning. When we got to the rest stop, Terri told a few people what happened and they examined my arm. The head medic, Brock, had just left, so they radioed to tell him what happened. My arm, amazingly enough, was still attached to my body. I still had full range of motion and my fingers felt fine. It just hurt. (Edit: While my arm still hurts quite a bit, so far from what I can see, it works just fine. I was checked out by Brock the medic later that evening and he said it just appeared bruised. I have some pain in my hand, but my fingers still work just fine. I wrote this post, didn’t I?)

On top of that, my socks and shoes were soaked, my tights were soaked and I was pretty miserable biking in the rain. I was nervous that getting on the bike and putting weight on my arms would aggravate whatever happened, so I decided that, having just been hit by a minivan, that I was well within my right to stop for the day.

And I was PISSED. When I got back to the condo, I called Erik and cried. And cried and cried. I was SO ANGRY at the weather, at the minivan, at the stupid hilly loop that I picked as my first Ride to Cure Diabetes. What had I been thinking? I lamented. This was horrible. All that training, all that fundraising, all that excitement and anticipation FOR A TWELVE MILE RIDE IN THE RAIN.

It was all for nothing. Or was it?

Here are some important lessons I learned from this weekend:

Lesson #1: I am stronger than I think.
OK, yes, I only biked 12 miles, a tiny fraction of the overall number of miles other people rode. But you know what? When I started biking this summer, I was lucky to eke out six miles! I was ridiculous! Last weekend, Erik and I biked 25 miles around Bergen County, New Jersey, the furthest I have ever gone in my whole life. Even though I wasn’t able to complete that length on the actual course, I have still greatly improved my overall physical fitness and THAT’S WHAT COUNTS.

Lesson #2: I have wonderful, generous, awesome friends.
As of today, I have had 69 people donate a total of $3105 to cure a disease that I have had since I was 8 years old. This is the most money I have raised for the JDRF at one time. Previously my highest fundraising effort was $2200, for the Walk to Cure Diabetes the fall before I moved to New Jersey. They include my family, friends, parents of friends, parents of kids I babysit for, co-workers, health bloggers, diabetes bloggers, mommybloggers, tweeters. These are people I spend a ton of time with and people who I have never met before in my life. But they support me and they understand why this is important. Regardless of how far I biked, this money is important and valuable and will be going to a great organization that will use it for good use.

Lesson #3: In bad things, there is some good.
I am really, really pissed I did not get to bike as far as I wanted to in the Ride to Cure Diabetes. But I am really, really happy that I reached my fundraising goal with the support of loads of awesome people (see #2), I got a day off of work, enjoyed an afternoon in a cute Vermont town, AND I BOUGHT MAPLE SYRUP. YUM!

Lesson #4: I am well-prepared for next time.
Ohhh yeah, that’s right! Ride to Cure Diabetes, I WILL BE BACK. Though probably somewhere, uh, a little warmer. And drier. And if a minivan comes anywhere near me, I WILL lay the smack down.

  1. August 31, 2009 1:09 PM

    Great lessons. Hope your arm is better soon.
    No matter what, you did great, you were a part of something that means a lot to you….

  2. tmana permalink
    August 31, 2009 1:20 PM

    I think all of us were very sorry you didn’t get to complete the ride you trained for and worked so hard for… I’m glad there is (besides the funds raised and fitness achieved) some good to have come of it.

    On TuD we’ve been discussing the ADA Tour de Cure’s “Red Riders” program. The next ADA ride in our area (Basking Ridge) will be on my 50th birthday — so The Other Half has challenged me to do 50 (miles) for 50 (years)… It’s a bit far ahead to think, but I like the idea of doing something meaningful and active on that day…

    So (understood that your fundraising is aimed squarely at JDRF), you’re in some way inspiring me to go forward with cycling as well…

  3. August 31, 2009 1:34 PM

    Ohhh, I feel your pain. Getting hit by passing mirrors/vehicular protrusions is definitely Not. Fun. But congratulations, I’m sure most people wouldn’t even think of going out in the rain, much less riding a bicycle in it!

  4. August 31, 2009 1:59 PM

    Nothing to be ashamed about here.
    Biting off more than you could chew? (check — this is a good thing, really)
    Improved health through training? (check)
    Showing courage when you were scared? (check)
    Getting hit by a car and living to tell about it? (check)
    Raising $$$s for a good (great!) cause? (check)

    I’m sorry it didn’t live entirely up to your expectations, but… like you said: Next Time.

    Keep riding!
    Be safe!
    Keep advocating!

    You’re still a rock star.

  5. August 31, 2009 4:25 PM

    Hey Allison,

    Sorry it didn’t go exactly as planned, but I still think you’re awesome for signing up, doing the training, raising a HUGE amount of money and then toughing it out it what sound like horrendous conditions. And you’re going to do it again. Hell yeah – awesome!

    Hope your arm feels better soon.

    (And also hoping I have better luck with the weather when I run for JDRF in October!)


  6. August 31, 2009 9:46 PM

    Congratulations on making it through as you did and for raising the money you did and for learning the stuff you did.

  7. August 31, 2009 9:49 PM

    just like you and everyone else said, you still went out there and tried and raised a hell of a lot of money for diabetes!!

    sucks that you got hit by that van, what did they think they hit?? I can’t believe they didn’t stop!! feel better soon!

  8. Betty J permalink
    September 1, 2009 5:41 PM

    You will always be AWESOME ALLISON! Having made the effort and persited is what counts.

  9. September 6, 2009 11:13 PM

    Allison, all that you did both on race day and in preparation for race day was awesome. You had a LOT of crap stacked against you come down to it (rain, crazy vehicular road hoggers, steep and slippery mountain roads). We’re all very, very proud of you!

  10. Colleen permalink
    September 18, 2009 12:37 PM

    This is a very belated comment, but I just want to say congratualations!! You raised so much money and overcame so many obstacles, you’re truly inspiring! I for one would not have had the guts to start down that hill. The most wonderful thing is that you won’t let this Ride set you back, you’ll be back again and I know you will kick some butt!!

  11. dkasama permalink
    October 26, 2009 7:17 PM

    I’m thinking Tucson would be a good choice.

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