SEATTLE CENTURY 2012:
WHAT A FANTASTIC RIDE!
Enough cannot be said about the fun and pride that I had captaining the LIVESTRONG presence at the Seattle Century this year. In every respect, the ride has grown for our local grassroots LIVESTRONG group - in terms of rider numbers, presence during the ride, and generosity of the event organizers - but especially so about the people: the upswell of support and kindness and community of riders and non-riders alike. We are gaining momentum and team spirit - and will continue to work on building our group and LIVESTRONG presence in the Seattle area community. That's a promise.
That said, let's talk about the ride!
I must admit, I was a little tentative early in the morning: I had emailed all of the people from the past months about the ride, and hoped that they would all show up. Some I had met before, others I had "met" virtually, and others were strangers who were planning to ride with us, as part of a group of friends. Some were locals, and others drove or flew in to participate in this ride - from Oregon and Nevada.
And show up they did - in all, we had TWENTY people (yes, twenty - I had to count everyone on my fingers and toes) ride with us through the day. While keeping together on the initial flats, and separating into smaller groups during the hill climbs and pacelines, we did regroup at the rest stops and especially at the finish line festival.
Items of note throughout the day:
1. The Start:
|Only part of our gang, getting ready for the start!|
2. The LIVESTRONG Rest Stop
|Nina, Ron, Patrick, Paul, Rob, Amanda, Stefan |
and Anthony at the LIVESTRONG rest stop!
New this year, we worked with the Seattle Century organizers to have the first rest stop be 'sponsored' by LIVESTRONG: we provided volunteers (thank you, Nina and Kevin, as well as Claire and Michelle from Camp Kesem who were there at 6:15am!) as well as decorated the stop with our LIVESTRONG banner and handed out LIVESTRONG wristbands. Many riders were delighted by our stop, let us know they were survivors, and shared their stories.
After the initial flats, reality hit quickly (Novelty Hill) with the introduction of what Seattle rides are infamous for - hills! Novelty Hill was the first, but definitely not the last of a series of epic climbs. Each was a great challenge ... making the last smaller climbs feel 'epic' on our tired legs.
|Ron and Patrick enjoy ... PIE!|
A close runner up behind LIVESTRONG as the reason I participate in the ride is the food. While the ride is challenging, riding with a food coma is even more so. The Seattle Century is known not only for being "all about Seattle", but "all about food": There is a sandwich stop within the first half of the ride. There is a strawberry shortcake stop in the last quarter. MOST importantly (according to me) is the PIE stop mid-ride - in the middle of a farmer's field - serving the freshest and best pie imaginable (according to me again).
5. Stefan and Paul
|Rob (far left) and Bill (far right) enjoy a rest stop with |
the father-son power duo of Paul and Stefan.
One of my highlights of the day was finally meeting - and riding with - two cyclists who joined us from Portland: Stefan and his 14-year-old son, Paul. I am in awe of a father-son relationship that includes cycling to support a cause (rather than, say, sitting at home playing Wii or Playstation). Both Stefan and Paul actively raised funds for LIVESTRONG through our grassroots webpage, and I was in awe of their email campaigns, relating that they were riding in honor of colleagues and teachers who were cancer survivors. Great people.
Stefan is an accomplished rider, and this was Paul's first long ride. We were all amazed by Paul's determination and tenacity on the ride - he basically kept up with us the whole way! I can hardly wait to see how he rides next year (he may be pulling us most of the way, I just know it).
|Patrick and Amanda at the start. I think that's the only|
photo we have of her that's not a blur ...
I met Amanda back in March of this year, during the LIVESTRONG Assembly in Austin, Texas. Being from the Northwest, and working for Nike-Livestrong, we naturally started chatting, and struck up a friendship. Amanda decided to join us ... and only two days before the Seattle Century, was informed that she would be competing in Ironman Kona in 2-1/2 months' time.
With that competition hanging over her head, Amanda related that she would need to turn up the heat, and would likely be pulling for most of the ride. And pull she did! It was like watching a blur ...
7. The Scenery
|Snoqualmie Falls - beautiful, majestic ...|
|... speaking of beautiful and majestic:|
Bill, Meredith, Patrick, Kenny and Ron at the falls!
The route for the Seattle Century was perfect, highlighting both the great urban trails and well as rural road routes around the Seattle Area. We passed through forests and small towns, alongside lakes, viewed mountains, saw abundant wildlife ... a ride where locals pinch themselves at their luck for living in such a beautiful and diverse area. Challenging uphill climbs were matched by "woohoo!" downhill descents. Loved it.
And did I mention we had a stop at Snoqualmie Falls? Not a bad "bonus" for completing the 100-mile course!
8. More Food
Enough cannot be said about the food stops. Did I mention the pie? A cyclist-architect colleague of mine, Bill, who was riding this ride for the first time, remarked at the first stop, "There's food like this at every stop? I don't think that I could eat at every stop!" But eat he did, as well as everyone else ... with room to spare for the food-climax: the finish.
9. The Finish
After the long ride, long hills, long stops for food (did I mention the pie?), floating bridges, amazing scenery and great downhills, we finally arrived mid-afternoon at the finish ... to be greeted with - you guessed it - more food! It was the infamous grilled salmon feed and (open) beer garden, complemented with salads, rice dishes, grilled asparagus, cheesecake ... and the list goes on.
The organizers supplied us with a reserved LIVESTRONG section which we fully took advantage of, and we spent a few hours together, swapping stories, growing our friendships and finding how cancer had all touched our lives in one way or another.
10. Old and New Friends
I am humbled by all of the people I met, and the support that we received as part of "Ride for LIVESTRONG Seattle" this year at the Seattle Century. During the ride, every rider in our group commented at how wonderful the other group members were, and that they would love to ride together again. What a HUGE compliment.
Yes, I would love to ride and meet up with you all again, too - and invite like-minded friends to join and be part of our cycling and cancer-fighting LIVESTRONG community. We have more rides, and other events in the cancer community - such as LIVESTRONG Day (end September/ beginning October), and the Austin LIVESTRONG Challenge (October).
To Kenny, Claire, Meredith, Patrick, Stefan, Paul, Ron, Rob, Nina, Kevin, Anthony & crew, R4C, Amanda, Bill and anyone I might have missed (my apologies) - thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support and participation.
Let's keep this great group together - along with our other riders who could not make it - and I look forward to more adventures in the future. You can always reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Team Captain, Ride for LIVESTRONG Seattle
Senior LIVESTRONG Leader