With less than a week to go, I'd be lying if I said I was as prepared as I'd like to be. Between back recovery, timing between jobs and other obligations, and unpredictable weather, I haven't been commuting as much as I'd hoped. Every morning I've woken up to ride to work, I have either overslept, been told by the weatherman that it will be treacherous in the afternoons, or the back is most unhappy with me. Even this morning, after a long night of dishes, laundry and post-camp straightening up with the kids, my back was not going to let me do much of anything.
Not to worry - that won't stop me from riding. Knowing what little things are throwing my back off, I may have to modify plans and attempt the 90, but be willing to settle for the 75 mile leg. But I'm determined as ever to be there and ride hard.
The fact that Lance, himself, will be at the Challenge, of course, makes bailing an impossibility. And I wouldn't think of not going after the fundraising I've done.
But that's not what has made it do-or-die for me to ride it, regardless of lack of prep. It is because of MySpace.
Well, not entirely MySpace. But thanks to MySpace.
3 years ago or so, I created a MySpace profile. It was, initially, to experiment for work, try out marketing ideas for Mary Kay etc. I chose a professional headshot as my profile pic, and something interesting happened. All of a sudden, random men started requesting to be my friend. Some even bought Mary Kay - so much so to the point that, for a time, the majority of my clients were male. I was onto something.
Then I got a most unlikely friend request. It was from a gentleman in Delaware, single, not my usual type, covered in makeup a la the band KISS, with fake blood on him, playing the electric guitar. But, he was also a nice Jewish boy, and, despite photos and the names of his bands, seemed like a nice enough person. So, I accepted his friend request.
While there weren't any sparks, per say, we struck up a really lovely on-line friendship. We were both divorced, going through relationship struggles, parents, and nice guys/girls often mistaken for doormats. There were times when we'd IM and chit-chat frequently over the course of a few weeks, and then there would be a lull, until one of us needed something or just wanted to chat again. And we'd strike up the conversation.
This has been going on for the past few years, and when we last spoke, we were both on the verge of some big, wonderful relationships. Since then, it turns out, both of our situations changed drastically. Mine fell apart, and fell apart hard, and I ended up getting back with someone from my past (that I always kind of new was who I'd end up with anyway). Strangely, he ended up doing the same, and reconciled with his ex-wife.
But that's not what brought us together in conversation again.
A month or so ago, I saw something on Facebook that was jarring. I saw his name and cancer in the same sentence. And, after reviewing wall posts I'd missed in my stream, I learned he'd been fighting cancer.
This past Thursday, he left the hospital after treatment, and rang the bell on his way out.
Well, Ryan lives just outside of Philadelphia. So, I'm dedicating my Philly Challenge to Ryan. And, I've promised him, if I qualify with my fundraising to earn 2 tickets to the pre-Challenge dinner, which will be attended by Lance Armstrong himself, I will bring him with me to celebrate.
So, for the first time, I'll meet this friend of 4 years, and we'll celebrate his survivorship together.
Ryan, I apologize, I don't think there will be any death metal cover bands this year. But, maybe you can talk to Lance and see about performing next year.
You fought hard, Ryan. Now, LIVESTRONG!
To make sure that Ryan and I get to celebrate together at the Challenge Dinner, please consider making a donation to http://philly2010.livestrong.org/ricarockstheride.