I am setting out Saturday on a rather wild adventure.
I am participating for the first time in the City-to-Shore ride for MS. My leg will comprise a 75-mile bike ride from Cherry Hill, NJ, to Ocean City, NJ. Riders can choose more mileage than that, including a whopping 150-mile ride in which, after arriving at the Shore on Saturday, they turn around and ride the same 75 miles back on Sunday.
There is also a 25-mile loop along the way, in case any riders want to log a full 100 on their odometers.
I'll be content finishing 75, thank you very much.
I am participating as part of a team. The captain, a good friend of ours, has made this ride maybe four or five times in past editions of the event. We have supported her in the past (the ride is a fundraiser, after all), but this is the first time I've ridden with her.
It is something I've thought about for a long time -- yes, it is a "bucket list" item -- but I never quite mustered the courage to try before.
And now, I'm questioning my sanity.
I have had all summer -- jobless -- to "train," an activity I engaged in with regular outings on my bike. During the summer swelter, I would dutifully pedal a couple of miles, grateful for the breezes that cut the humidity. And best is when Claire, our middle button daughter, would join me.
At my best, I traveled 30 miles in one ride. I took the nearby Schulykill River Trail 15 miles toward the city of Philadelphia, turned around, and came back the same 15 miles. I fell into a groove of pacing myself, and frankly, the test wasn't as bad as I had imagined it.
But looming in my thoughts is the knowledge that that ride represents less than half of what I'll face on Saturday.
I'm dreading failure. Being still without full-time employment has made me very sensitive about failure. I feel like I've let down my family in the fact that I was let go from my former employer in the first place. I have also felt the sting of rejection in the numerous job interviews that resulted in nothing -- no offer, no job, no hope.
So failing at this ride will leave me very deflated.
I am therefore making every effort to cross that finish line.
I was discussing all this with Eileen, and she brought me a new perspective. She's good at that. One of the reasons I love her so deeply.
She re-framed my outlook by pointing out that this is a fundraiser. For a charity. To benefit people with MS.
In that light, it's really not about me at all.
And then there's this. Owing to the generosity of friends and family, I have been fortunate enough to raise a considerable sum for this outreach. Each rider is required to raise $300 to be able to participate. I began trolling for donations back in may, and to my utter shock (and deepest gratitude), I've amassed more than $1,000 for MS.
A generous outpouring from friends. Friends who believe in me. Friends who are there for me.
My favorite film of all time, It's a Wonderful Life, hinges on the message that George Bailey finds written in his copy of Tom Sawyer at the end:
No man is a failure who has friends.
It rings in my head as I consider this ride and my ability to finish.
No Man Is a Failure Who Has Friends....
In that respect, I've already crossed the finish line.