The Journey Towards a Century Ride

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It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

~Excerpt “Invictus” William Ernest Henley

In 5 days I will be attempting the most difficult feat to date of my cycling “career,” to say that I am nervous would be the understatement of the year. Every day my coach texts me the countdown of how many days we have left to go but that countdown is already seared in my mind without the help of anyone else’s reminders. I have trained for this day and I believe that I am ready but the inner voice of doubt is still loud in my head. So many questions roll around in my head all day long… Have I trained enough? Could I have done more to prepare? Am I ready for a century ride when my longest ride thus far has only been 72 miles? Am I ready for the adversity that I will surely face in the grueling 103 mile ride that will make me climb over 10,000 vertical feet?

Deep down in my soul I know the answers to all of these questions. Yes. Yes to all of them. I surely could’ve trained more. I could’ve done more to prepare. But I can also say that, yes, I am ready to complete a century ride. And most importantly, YES, I am ready for the adversity that I will face on this ride. The truth is, life has prepared me for May 18, 2015. May 18, 2015 won’t be about my physical ability, it will be about my mental strength. I am physically willing and able to put my body through whatever it will take to finish the ride and stand atop Mt. Mitchell basking in the glory of the North Carolina valley below me with a once in a lifetime view of the beautiful world that God has created. Life has dealt me some blows along my 35+ years on this earth and I am still standing. I am still standing because there is more that I must do, more I must accomplish. There are things that I have experienced in my life that have brought me to my knees, broken me, and caused me to question my own existence…

These experiences are the reason and the purpose for why I ride as I do. Some people think I am crazy for what I do, others think it’s amazing, others just simply don’t get it. I honestly don’t get it either sometimes, there is just something within me that tells me to keep riding, to keep going. Even when all I want to do is stop and rest, I keep going. I often think about why it is that I do what I do and what I keep coming up with is that this is my way of exercising control over a crazy world in which I truly have little to no control. I have experienced so much unnecessary/unwanted pain at the hands of others or at the hands of life in general and this… THIS is the pain that I hand myself. This is me beating life to the punch, me kicking life in the teeth, me taking life by the reigns… I know that my life can be compared to the lives of others and, chances are, I haven’t suffered as much adversity as some others have. In fact, I see that every day in the eyes of the kids that I work with. Thing is, I can only live my truth. I can only feel what my life has dealt me and the things I have experienced, most in recent years, have hurt like hell. I have learned to smile through the pain of life. I have learned to ride through my emotional pain and to transform it into a sort of physical goodness. I can handle soreness because the physical pain reminds me that I am alive; it reminds me of what I have accomplished thus far in my life.

So… in 5 days, I will ride. I will mount my bike and I will put my entire physical being through grueling agony so that I can feel alive, so that I can hurt a little less emotionally. I ride for the people that I have loved and lost. I ride for those that have hurt me. I ride for those whom I have hurt. I ride for the countless adults/children/families that I have tried to help in my career and the many yet to come. I ride for the opportunities that I have missed out on in life. I ride to make my kids proud of whom their mother is, to show them that there is nothing impossible in the world. I ride to feel whole. I ride to feel at peace. I ride to feel as one with the universe. I ride to feel close to God. I ride for the people I will forever grieve: the child that I miscarried, my grandparents, my greataunt, my aunts, my uncles, my Vanessa. I ride for all the people that grieve these same people and grieve other lost loved ones. I ride for people who have yet to know the depths or true grief so that, when that day comes, they may be able to overcome the pain and sorrow that comes with losing someone you love. I dedicate this ride to Jimmy, may his soul rest in peace to never again know the pain that caused him to leave this earth so early. I ride for the people deeply affected by his loss in hopes that they will once again know peace and joy in their hearts.

jimmy
James “Jimmy” Franklin Thomas, II

No matter what I ride for, doubt will always be an unwelcome visitor in my mind. I continue to remind myself that “Fear is a Liar” and that my stubbornness will always prevail. I try to not leave room for doubt because when you give doubt an inch, it will surely take a mile. This ride will test every ounce of me and I am confident that I will come out a victor. To me, there is no other option. I will not allow fear, doubt, or the clock to beat me out of what is rightfully mine. Failure is not an option because I don’t fail. Over the next 5 days and throughout the entire 103 mile journey, I will visualize myself atop the highest peak east of the Mississippi. No matter how long it takes, no matter what aches along the way, on May 18, 2015 I will stand atop Mt. Mitchell enjoying the beautiful view below. I will stand next to my coach and bask in what will surely be one of my greatest accomplishments thus far. Just wait and see!

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Photo Credit: Stephen Hunter

Check out the Assault on Mt. Mitchell webpage here:

http://www.freewheelers.info/assaults/

 

9 thoughts on “The Journey Towards a Century Ride

  1. You are ready for this ride. I’m looking forward to riding up that mountain with you in 5 days. I also. can’t wait to read your blog afterwards.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I want everyone to know that this is not just a “century” ride (100 miles+). This also has over 10,000 vertical feet of climbing. This is on par, if not greater than, the most challenging of all Tour de France stages, which only the greatest 120 cyclists in the world can finish. Beca’s courage in even attempting this monumental feat, is something we should all view with reverence.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “There is nothing, nothing, so brave as to allow yourself complete vulnerability. When we are stripped bare of all the armor we thought we needed to carry, how high we can finally climb.” -Tyler Knott Gregson

    10,000+ vertical feet, that’s how high! Like I said before, love the vulnerability. There is something so beautiful in it! Love your heart. Good luck, Beca! Can’t wait to see the pictures and I can’t wait to read your next blog so I can see it and feel it through your eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “There is nothing, nothing, so brave as to allow yourself complete vulnerability. When we are stripped bare of all the armor we thought we needed to carry, how high we can finally climb.” -Tyler Knott Gregson

    10,000 vertical feet! That’s how high! I can’t wait for you to post pictures and your next blog, so I can see it through your eyes. You have a beautiful heart, Beca! I’m glad you are sharing it with us.

    :::cue the video from last weekend::: “Doooon’t stop, belieeeeeeeevin!!!”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Turning adversity into triumph is a motif of all the best stories. Using past grief to drive us toward future accomplishment is admirable and noble. Best of luck, Beca. May the light of those we’ve lost shine down upon us in our most challenging hours and bring us strength of will and solace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Finished in 11 hours. Was incredibly miserable and triumphant all at the same time. I haven’t had time to sit down and write my next post but I hope to do it this weekend. Stay tuned 😉

      Like

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