I am actually having trouble putting into words what the Ride For Missing Children meant to me. It was truly one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. Riding 100 miles was physically tiring (and all the padding and cream did not keep my butt from being sore), but I know that the pain I felt that day was nothing compared to the pain that families of missing children feel each and every day.
We started our day with an emotional opening ceremony. Family members of missing children as well as recovered missing children spoke. It was inspiring and humbling.
As we rode, people lined the streets in their communities to cheer us on, clapping, ringing cowbells and holding signs. My riding partner and I joked that we felt like rock stars.
Here’s a little moment one of the many spectators was able to capture:
We stopped at several schools along the way to rest, refuel and use the restrooms. Kids were screaming, bands were playing, DJ’s were cranking out tunes. The halls and buildings were decorated beautifully and they were all very gracious hosts.
Along the route, we had three silent tributes. Nearly 500 riders rode in silence. This one took my breath away. As we rode up the hill, uniformed police officers were standing at attention by the trees adorned with a pink or blue ribbon, holding the hand of a child. Bagpipes could be heard in the distance.
With all the emotions came a lot of fun and camaraderie too. And no ride would be complete without some mechanical issues. My biggest worry was getting a flat tire or my chain falling off. (By the way, if that does happen, you just pull off to the side and someone will pick you up, put you in a truck and fix your bike. You’re good to go at the next stop. These people don’t mess around!) Thankfully I got through the day with no major mishaps. I did have a few minor ones though. I really should have practiced taking a drink from my water bottle and then replacing it. It’s not as easy as it looks, especially when there are bikes braking in front of you. I dropped my water bottle. My favorite water bottle. And there was no turning around to get it. They just kick it to the side and it’s gone. I loved that thing. (Camelback) So if you’re in the area and you see it, could you let me know? It has my name on it… Luckily we’re required to have two water bottle holders on the bikes, so I didn’t go without.
I also made friends with the guys in the mechanics truck! (There it is in the background-red and white. Check out all the bikes parked near the yellow barriers-it was like a parking lot…I seriously had trouble finding my bike at each and every stop!)
At one of the stops I had trouble unclipping and nearly fell over. Luckily I clipped out in time, but my cleat had lost a screw and completely fell off my shoe. For the rest of the day I had to ride with one screw and then go to the truck at each stop to have it tightened. Nothing major, but I was saying a little prayer as we reached each stop that I would be able to unclip without falling over in front of everyone. Lesson learned: Always carry extra cleats, screws and tools!!
The day ended with a wonderful cheering section at our destination. Family and friends lined the streets and cheered for us as we neared the home stretch.
A brief closing ceremony after the ride confirmed that we had raised over 260,000 to date.
After a quick bite to eat and a nice hot shower, I was never so ready to see my bed. It was a beautiful, emotional, physically challenging, but wonderful day!