Thursday, September 20, 2007

How did I get here?

In March 2007, I signed up to join Lance Armstrong's RAGBRAI* Team LIVESTRONG and was accepted. One responsibility as a team member was to raise a minimum of $1000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Of course another was to train so that we could actually ride part or all of each day as part of the team.

*RAGBRAI is the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, held the last full week in July.

July rolled around. I had surpassed the minimum individual fundraising goal, had done sufficient (but could have done more!) training and was in Rock Rapids, Iowa, ready to ride.

Our team: 147 riders
Our goal: $100,000
What we raised: $340,000 and counting

Serious withdrawal followed the weeks after RAGBRAI. 147 strangers met on Saturday in Rock Rapids and by the following Saturday in Bellevue we were family... even though some teammates I still only knew faces, but no names. Spending a week of vacation with 10,000 fellow vacationers might sound like an escape from reality, living in a bubble. And maybe it is, but I feel like the person I was during that week... that's the real me. And the person I am, now, back in the "real world" of work, bills, housework, etc, that's the bubble.

Out on the road among countless riders, my teammates, other teams, individual riders, when you ride "alone" you're never really alone. Even when the rest of my team rode faster, someone would ride along and chat, or if I stopped on the side of the road several someones looking out for me asking if I was okay, and thousands of friendly faces to sit with and have lunch.

We gathered some of the team together to attend the unprecedented Presidential Cancer Forum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A reunion of sorts for us. An historical event for the Lance Armstrong Foundation -- getting presidential candidates on record committing to making cancer a national priority.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation invited attendees at the Forum to also partake in some supplemental activities -- a focus group, to make any improvements for the next Presidential Cancer Forum; and Advocacy Training, to share how one person can do things to be part of the fight. I attended both and am even more committed to the fight.

The Long version -- how did I get to the point where I even thought of joining Team LIVESTRONG for RAGBRAI 2007? STILL TO COME...