They had already gotten ahead of me – tires spinning on the concrete, the smell of pine flying by my face at fourteen miles per hour. I could see the three of them rounding the corner, my two uncles and my cousin – legs pumping on their bikes, charging through the New Hampshire back-roads as I struggled to catch my breath from the last hill. They were going to drop me, obviously. I hadn’t trained in years, nevermind months; and as I looked down at the frame of the Cannondale bike, as I felt my calves burning from the over-under pull, as I heard my breathing catching in my throat, scraping in my lungs, I was wondering why I had decided on mile ten to do fifty, instead of the twenty, or the thirty-five I had registered for. But then as I looked up at the surrounding mountains, as I crossed over the bridge and looked down on the river below, I remembered:
Because the pain in my legs is nothing compared to the pain that Jay had as he tried to sit up straight and joke with us only months before, even though he had lost weight, and the pain couldn’t be reduced by the medication. Because the wheezing in my lungs is childsplay when I think about Jean, struggling to walk up the stairs to her bed, needing to drain her lungs of fluid every few days. Because I can push just that much harder, I can go up one more hill because my “struggle” is nothing when I think of those I loved that had to go through so much with this horrible thing called cancer. My legs, are fine. My feet can do one more turn, my heart can do one more hill for them. Becuase I am healthy, I will ride for those that aren’t. Because I can push myself, I won’t stop when I am “tired,” I won’t complain that I am “sore,” I won’t refuse to ride because “my butt will hurt.” More will hurt if I don’t. My soul will hurt. Because nothing I do, no pain that I go through riding a bike, will ever compare to the pain that I saw in their faces, to the pain I felt when I could do nothing to help them. So I will ride until my legs give out. I will ride until my lungs can’t take it anymore. I will push myself up over that next hill, and the next, and the next. I’ll go that extra mile because I can and they couldn’t. I won’t quit. I’ll never quit.
For more information on The Prouty, you can follow the link! Thank you to all who have supported me in this ride, as well as my past – especially the Pan Mass Challenge. Everyday, we’re closer to a cure!