Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Giving Back

Giving back. To a cause - any worthy cause is the greatest gift one can give to his brothers and sisters. And, in some strangely selfish way, one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself.

You might wonder why, I certainly did. It was about a year ago that I was in final preparations for a life changing experience. That experience was the Palmetto Peleton Project's Challenge to Conquer Cancer. Last year was the 2nd annual, so of course this year it is the 3rd annual.

Because of other personal commitments, I opted out of the experience this year, but many of my friends have dedicated themselves to the cause. They have worked tirelessly to raise awareness as well as funds to meet their individual goals. The riders - the ones with the easy job - had to raise $5000 each while the Team Managers (a much more fitting name than 'support' as they have been called in the past) had to raise $2500.

I have missed many of the training rides for the C3 team this year, participating in only a few. It is amazing to me that so many people of such different backgrounds can gel as completely as this group of incredible individuals. It shouldn't be, as I've seen it first hand.

Riding with them a few weeks ago, I could feel the sense of purpose they had. Each individual is motivated in different ways, but each individual has been affected in some way by cancer. Some are warriors themselves - currently battling the disease. Others are survivors - those who had their major battles years ago and came back as a stronger and more determined self. Others have lost loved ones - maybe a relative, maybe a friend, but always someone for whom they cared deeply. All of them now working together with a common goal, a true sense of purpose.

It's that sense of purpose that brings all of them so close. They are a family already - the training, the fundraisers, the meetings have done that for them. As they depart on this awesome journey, those bonds will form into an unbreakable chain. They will forever be linked together by their shared experience and passion.

Its funny how things work out that way. You can try many things over many years to find that sense of belonging. You don't find it in individual pursuits - things that most likely benefit only yourself. You find it when you take yourself out of the spotlight and bring that worthy cause to the forefront.

This is the strangely selfish part of giving back. A group of individuals came together with a common purpose to give everything they can to knock out cancer. What they gain is a tremendous family. A family that will welcome them and love them for the remainder of their years.

So I have to ask then, what better gift can you give to yourself than to join in giving back to a cause for which you have great passion?

Follow along on the C3 ride at www.ridetoaustin.com
Don't forget, if your hectic schedule doesn't allow time for participation, you can participate by making a donation. Pick a rider or just give to the general fund. It's a great cause, and you'll become part of the team.

I couldn't close this post without wishing that family (my family too!) all the best for their upcoming voyage. All of you are an incredible inspiration. You'll be in my every waking thought until you are safely returned to your homes. Enjoy the experience and PLEASE write about it. I'll be living vicariously through you! Safe travels to each of you.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

visiting an old friend

It's been a long time since I saw this old friend of mine. I don't recall the date of our very first meeting, but I do recall it was love at first sight. She was really hard on me that first time, treated me like a complete rookie. Stripped me down and beat me - like the bad boy that I thought I was. It was a little different today though.

How was it different? Well, mostly because I knew all of her tricks. I was not going to be so easily seduced by her beauty this time. She wasn't going to leave me breathless and spent when we finally met at the peak. This time our satisfaction would be mutual.

It all started innocently enough - I drove over for a relatively early morning rendezvous. She likes it early I think - she is fresh in the early morning. Later in the day, the tempests rise around her and she is not as accommodating. Arriving around 9am, I thought things looked perfect for us to find the bliss we both needed so badly.

After all I've written about bicycling, you'd think that is what I'm talking about. No, in fact, this is another mistress completely. It's been a long time since I had fallen to her seduction, but today was the day for me to make it up to her. I was ready - you don't know how ready I was.

After 6+ grueling hours at the six gap century last week, I was feeling the need to mix things up a bit. With many mistresses to serve, you'd think it would be a difficult decision, but she was not to be denied - I'd been dreaming about her for a couple of months lately. It had to be soon or I would burst!

As I made the drive over to her place, I reflected a bit on our shared experiences. She's taught me a bit about myself, and she's punished my body when I deserved it most. She'll do that to you because she can. She's a demanding bitch sometimes.

As I got closer, I glimpsed her in a new light. Yes, I've seen her over the years since my last visit, and I've felt the guilt of not paying homage to her. Today, I would do my best to make it up to her. She and I would become one once again.

Today I saw her in a new light. I hadn't ever seen her this way. It was kind of a surreal experience. She exposed herself to me and it left me breathless. What kind of mistress was this who could demand such a reaction? On such a fine autumn morning, she welcomed me as if I had never strayed.

Yes, Table Rock is the mistress I served today. She and I had an incredible experience that left both of us fully satisfied. She gave to me those things I had been missing since I'd last seen her and I gave to her my heart, lungs and legs. As I lay spent, relaxing in the late morning sun overlooking the Piedmont, I found myself content. While she demanded my best, she gave to me her very best.

At the overlook, I had 30 minutes completely to myself. Ample time to enjoy that late morning sun and to watch in wonder at the birds on the thermals. It was so peaceful. It was a visit that was a long time in coming, but as with any old friend, it was as if no time had passed at all.