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Riding on ambition (60 days till “The Ride”)

April 24, 2012

   After taking my first serious bike ride three days ago, I was hoping to be able to hop on every day after work until the Ride for Roswell.

  Wouldn’t you know it – snowy, blistery weather derailed my plans one month into spring! My boyfriend, Patrick, and my family thought I was a little paranoid to fear that a blizzard would ruin Stick it to Cancer 2012 with it falling so late in April, but you never know what you’ll get in Buffalo, N.Y. To me, it made perfect sense that we would see the white stuff after a string of 70-degree days and a winter that featured almost 58 inches of snow less than what Buffalo usually receives (36.7 inches vs. our average 94.7, according to the National Weather Service).

   After the calamity of Stick it to Cancer 2010, my family and I vowed to never hold a Stick It in December again. The venue at which we hosted the event was buried underneath 3 feet of snow just two days before, causing the turnout to be weak. This, however, meant that we would skip 2011, so we had to plan something huge so people would attend the third one. Enter the bike-riding stunt.

   I felt confident in my abilities to master this feat until a few moments before it was time to mount my mode of transportation to give my family and friends a good laugh, all in the name of charity. I had been on a bike only one other time, and I traveled only a few feet before I felt myself swiftly lose my balance. To correct the feeling, I jumped from the device and threw it. That was eight years ago.

   In order to more effectively market the event, I decided I would add the caveat of encasing myself in bubble wrap as I rode – a little extra protection and a great photo opp. Patrick and I were able to find pink bubble wrap, which was great because it matched the “fight cancer” theme. A roll of bubbles, several strips of tape, knee and elbow pads and a helmet later, and the clown was ready to entertain.

   A steady rain forced us to move the ride into the gymnasium where the basket raffle and other activities were being held, so I was faced with a narrow strip of floor with which to work. As I lined the wheels up along the foul line of the basketball court, I turned to Billy and muttered, “I don’t think I want to do this anymore.” The expression on his face said, “Well, too bad!” It was time, after four months of advertising, to put on the show, and dozens of onlookers were ready to watch me teeter and tilt, all while winning some prizes along the way.

   As part of the marketing, I concocted a game to coincide with my ride. I called it “Boo-boo Bing-OW” because I had originally planned to place myself in a large grid, and wherever I fell would be the “ball” that would be called. We nixed the plan because we were uncertain about the legality or need for bingo inspectors, so we went with a simpler game that included selling baseball cards as tickets to win prizes. Why baseball cards? When I was younger, my friends had always placed them in the spokes of their tires to make noise. Also, coincidentally, the American Red Cross was celebrating “American’s pastime” during this month’s blood drives. I bought Randy Johnson because I was amused that his wife’s name is Lisa.

   In a role reversal, as I pedaled, Billy and A.J. held the seat and walked alongside me, ensuring that I didn’t tip over or crash into a guest. Patrick, who is, in my humble opinion, the best freelance photographer in Western New York, had been hired by a local weekly newspaper to take some photos, and I inadvertently steered toward him as he squatted down to get a better angle, nearly colliding with him. What better way to capture the moment than being a part of it?
The initial ride wasn’t as frightening as I had imagined it would be, and I was afforded extra practice time when a local television news cameraman came in later and asked if I could do it again, this time less the bubble wrap.

   But that was three days ago, and I fear I’m falling behind with each day that passes. It took me until I was 25 to get comfortable enough to finally obtain my driver’s license because I couldn’t get over the dangers involved. But I don’t have to balance a car on my own power – on a bike, it’s all me! I’m left wondering: How do little kids do this? And how pathetic is it that I feel like I’ll never be able to?

   “You just got to be ready to fall and fail,” Patrick offered.

   He’s right. The fears have to be cast aside. I’ve raised the money. I’ve made the promises. Now it’s time to get it done.

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