Team Polka Dot rolled into Austin last night after rocking another century to pass the baton to Team Green. We got really lucky with the weather last night. As we neared the transition with Team Awesome, we ran into a torrent. The lucky part is it lasted less than 10 miles. Team Green was not as lucky as they ended up riding through some horrendous weather for nearly half of their shift. For them it was a serious challenge to ride in those conditions.
We’ve all faced challenges throughout this journey from Greenville to Austin. All teams had a significant challenge with the cold temperatures in the beginning stages. They also had the challenge of long hours with little real sleep (more challenge for some teams than others due to the way the shifts worked out). Some teams were challenged with a climbing stage early in the ride. Most were challenged because they were also dealing with these conditions while riding in the dark.
I was talking to Ed the other day about the challenges presented by this year’s route. He was concerned that if the ride was too challenging, there might be difficulty in recruiting riders for next year. These adverse conditions, besides being difficult for the riders, could also present safety and health issues. This was perhaps his most important thought during the discussion.
During this time of year, it was inevitable that we were going to have some cooler temperatures in the mountains. Ed’s concern was the safety and security of the teams as they moved through this terrain. We were very concerned about Jeni after being pulled from the ride with borderline hypothermia (just to reiterate – she is fine now). Ed was also concerned for the well being of the entire team – we were all feeling the effects of the cold.
This discussion really got me thinking about the challenges we were facing during this journey. That Monday morning ride with the climbing and the cold weather was a significant physical and mental challenge – for me, and I think for just about anyone. I’m very proud that Team Polka Dot made it through those challenges. I think all of the P3C3 crew is proud of the way they were able to persevere through the adverse conditions presented to them during their rides.
As we rode the Natchez trace the following day (through simply incredible riding conditions I might add), I reflected further on how each person responds to a challenge. Everyone is going to respond differently to a specific challenge, and what is a challenge to one person might not be a challenge to another.
Most people in the United States voluntarily put themselves in situations in which they will be challenged. This is a luxury that we are very lucky to have. Unfortunately, there are many who find themselves challenged without having a choice in the matter. Nobody knows who will be diagnosed with cancer next. It seems too many already have been. I just found out about a co-worker who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
When I think about the challenges we have faced on this ride, I realize they don’t compare to the challenges ahead of someone who is diagnosed with cancer. On this ride, I always had the option to get on the bus or in the van. I didn’t have to keep riding. For someone with cancer, they only have one choice and that is to fight.
On this ride there are a number of warriors, a very high number of survivors and the rest have a personal story about someone they know and love who is or has fought the battle against cancer.
What I’ve seen from this P3C3 crew these last days is each person responding to their individual challenges with strength and courage. Collectively, we have responded to the Challenge to Conquer cancer with that same courage and conviction. I’m proud to be involved with this group of excellent people.
jd – Team Polka Dot