Tuesday, August 23, 2011
LiveSTRONG: Ride for FIVE Prologue
On Saturday, I arrived at the LiveSTRONG Expo center. It's an easy stop, and I walked through the various booths, checking out the scene en route to picking up the packets for Team Fish's riding cadre. This year was the most organized it has ever been, and the volunteers were, as they always are, anxious to help and incredibly friendly. I have been in a lot of events like this, and the volunteers are what make it, from the people staffing the tables to those guiding people as they arrive and those handling the parking lot. LiveSTRONG is very well organized in this respect, I have to say.
I passed out the first BUTNZ! to the two women who helped me gather the bags for Team Fish. Five bags is a lot of swag, so it was quite a bit to pull together, and they were so appreciative of the BUTNZ! It also led to conversations about team Fish and why I ride; which I thought was pretty cool. They were quick to congratulate me on 5 years as a survivor.
I also was able to visit at the Caring Bridge booth. Caring Bridge is an online website that enables people fighting cancer to keep in touch with friends and family about the ongoing treatments they are going through. It's a fantastic site that Collin, the 2 year-old boy who passed away from Lymphoma, used, and it was also the site my buddy Doug used to keep us apprised of his situation. I was able to plant a couple of flowers in the garden in their name.
This is the Trek Tent.
I visited the Trek Tent and was able to ask a question that has plagued this generation of cyclists like no other. While philosophers ponder whether existence or essence comes first and scientists wonder what the ideal number of wolves is to ensure survival of the species, our question is simpler, more esoteric, yet no less important. "Does Trek make good bikes?" I asked and was told, unequivocally by the representative from Trek, that they do indeed make good bikes. Very good bikes, in fact. I feel like I can sleep now, knowing that.
I always make it a point to visit the Wall where you can post the names of survivors and those who have passed. I made a point to include this year's Team Fish. In past years, this has always choked me up, and it still did, but it was different. This year feels more like a celebration for both those who have survived and for the memory of those who have passed. Based on the conversations I had with Team Fish, I know we carry them with us, and no matter how much we miss them, they are, in so many ways, still with us every day.
So, I packed up the Team Fish swag and schlepped it over to my friend George "The BUTNZ Czar" sister's house. She was kind enough to host us for dinner and I had a great time hanging out with George and his family. George and I also took a brief 15 miler just to keep the legs active. I was also grateful for the steak dinner, which was delicious! We swam for most of the night, and discussed economic philosophy, then I headed for my "home".
I stopped for some takeout Chinese food on the way back, as a friend had suggested not only carbo-loading but also aiming to increase my calorie count the night before. It was good advice because I always find it difficult to eat the morning of an event. I always stay with Mrs. Fish's mom (Gram Fish?) and this year was no exception. She has had some health issues and is in the process of moving into assisted living, but her apartment was still open, so I was free to crash there. I realized this would be the last year I would be able to stay here, and it brought on a melancholy I wasn't prepared for. I brought it back to the room, ate it, set my alarm for EARLY and hit the proverbial sack (in this case, an air mattress). I fell asleep immediately.