Oops! I did it again. Rode my bike for charity. The 10th Annual Texas Mamma Jamma Ride to Beat Breast Cancer, to be precise; my third participation. While the ride was many things, the most important thing is that I have so far raised $1,554 for the seven area non-profits benefiting from this event. The money will go to provide services to women living with the disease. And, I’m still hoping to raise more. You can help at this link:
Before anyone gets up in arms about the title, SAG stands for Support and Gear. (I almost said panties in a wad, but decided it was in poor taste.) SAG is the vehicle that roams around the course in a bike ride with extra tubes, tires, food, water and first aid. And while the day featured rain, wind, sun, loose dogs, crashes, tutus, and longhorn cattle (not the miraculously currently 3-1 winning University of Texas football team), and even a flat tire that the SAG car did help out with a little (so I wouldn’t get my hands oily), A Dude Abikes has a clean sheet so far of never having to SAG out.
So here’s the low down on the non-SAGging breast cancer charity ride.
Why Am I a Big Supporter of the Girls?
Well, the short answer is that I know people who’ve had breast cancer, and it sucks. Riding a bike to raise money is one thing I can do. I’ve now encouraged donations of somewhere around $3,200 over three rides (and 161 miles). Since the government and medical and insurance professions are more interested in the money side of health care, it’s up to non-profits to fill things out.
Another, less altruistic one is that last year, I had a custom jersey made with the words “T.ime I.n T.he S.addle” on the front. Yes, that spells my team name, Team T.I.T.S. Given the other names like Beer n’ Boobs, Save Second Base, and Titties and Beer, mine is downright tasteful. Perky even! It won honorable mention for team name last year, actually. Other factors came into play, such as what I discussed last week in the post, Hey WordPress & Internet, Do You Want Me to Ride the Mamma Jamma for Breast Cancer Charities This Saturday?
Basically, someone asked me, and I couldn’t think of a good reason not to. They even offered to match whatever donations I could get to make sure I got there. But since I did so well fundraising, that wasn’t necessary. Another was the fact that I had been riding progressively more miles, and (mostly) resolving a health issue that had been holding me back. I had a car ride both ways. Also, I had not done any charity rides this year, and felt it was time. So I looked at the benefits and what it would take for me to do it, and decided it would be a manageable effort. Plus, A Dude loves riding his bike, and making the miles matter in a supported training environment and closed course on country roads and free food and schwag. What else was there to do anyway? Stay home, sleep, listen to The Lounge Show and then jazz on KOOP 91.7 FM, watch La Vuelta, a movie? Nah!
The Ride Itself: Longhorns, Livestock and Dogs, Oh My!
The morning began ominously, with torrential rains and flash-flooding in north Austin and parts north. My ride and I debated going but saw nothing indicating a cancellation. So we saddled up my well overpacked bags and bike into his old RV and made the hour trek south/southeast to Martindale, Texas. Since this was my third effort, I was fairly relaxed, despite only getting 4.5 hours of sleep. I’m on a late sleep schedule ever since South by Southwest (don’t judge), so I was up too late preparing. Not for want of trying; I took a combination of herbs for sleep, but they didn’t work. Maybe that was because I admit I did have some nerves. I wasn’t sure I could do the whole 65 miles.
Well, when we got there, they announced that distance was cancelled. I was relieved but disappointed at the same time. However, I wisely had not promised to anyone that I would complete a certain distance, nor even really pushed the $1 per mile donation idea, though I did suggest it. I was greeted and checked in by the lovely Lauren (far bottom), who I met last year on the training rides. This photo was taken at the end of the day when the sun had come out, and she obliged by striking a pose, with her tutu on.
After checking in I got my ride number for my bike in case of an accident, they could match me to the bike. I wrote down four names on a weather-resistant paper — the names of four women affected by breast cancer to whom I was dedicating my ride. Two are alive and well, one is alive and still fight it, and one isn’t alive because of it.
The pre-ride ritual is a bit heightened and more hectic when you aren’t at home, because you don’t know where everything is. So preparation the night before is key. But so is common sense. Last year, I dumped my power pack and keys into the Porta-Potty; that was not going to happen this year. Last year was hot, and my jersey got disgustingly dirty. This year was cool and rainy, so I borrowed a cheap, clear plastic poncho from my ride, Gregg.
Ready, Get Set, Wait!
There are of course the other people. A good number of riders had seen the weather report or just heard the rain pounding on their roofs in Austin, hit the snooze button, and went back to sleep. Bad move — they missed out on what would become a pretty nice day. But those who were there, of all levels, sizes and shapes — plenty of fathletes like A Dude), were at once nervous and excited. I saw some familiar faces and said hello. Most riders and volunteers were women, which is a nice difference to this ride.
There were some speeches about safety, the reasons for the ride, and for some reason, the national anthem. (I almost took a knee in solidarity with those protesting the increasingly pervasive and insulting racial injustice thanks to the horrible example of Tinyhands Orangehead, but just squatted instead to stretch my calves and note get muddy). It’s not that I’m against patriotic nationalism — OK, actually, I am — but it’s a bike ride, and I fail to see the point of any sport being all like, “Yeah, go, ‘mericuh!”
But I digress. There was a weather delay, but not much. And then, the survivors who were riding – an amazing group — were off first. Then, the 40 milers, 25 and 15. I was in no hurry at all so just found my way past some of the shorter distance people to some open road while the fast people took off.
The rain was falling lightly, but by the time of the first rest stop about 12 miles in, it had stopped. The poncho was noisy and distracting in the wind, plus a little sweaty, so off if came. I had been riding with a nice woman who was fairly new to biking. I was sort of interviewing her as I like to do, and time flew by. At the stop, she met with a friend and as I was gabbing with a volunteer and a rider from 2017, she ditched me. So I was back on my own again. A friend went by in a car, and told me he had crashed and had to go get stitches in his elbow. He had wiped out on his skinny road back tires on the corner with gravel. But he was OK.
Sophie Rides Again!
I was very relieved I had chosen Sophie the sea foam Fairdale Weekender Archer to ride. I had a new tire, which I got a thorn in for the aforementioned repair, but it was thinner than the original so at a higher pressure, she was really humming along. The route was vaguely familiar, open and rolling Texas farmland. Sometimes actual cotton fields, with the inevitable thoughts of slavery and Civil War. Or hay, cattle, goats, horses, and other livestock. Sometimes a dog would bark and come charging out, but a squirt of water or loud yell usually put them off. But Sophie was purring along, and I didn’t care.
Riders passed me; I passed riders. Sometimes we’d ping-pong up and down the hills. I’m good going downhill — one thing having a little extra ballast is good for. But not so great on the uphills, which I’ve not been training on this year. But it’s not a race, so it really didn’t matter. I realized since I didn’t have a team, I was kind of bored and a little lonely. I’d talk to riders and then we’d split up; I had to pee, they wanted to wait on a friend, etc. So at the rest stops and even a deputy on traffic duty I would stop and ask questions. The excellent Safety Dave was one of the SAG drivers and we crossed paths a few times. At the deputy, he asked, “Hey Dude, you riding or what?” Ok, dad! I’ll keep riding. Good times. (I was actually asking about the safety of rural roads, since I was seriously considering adding another 25 miles or more at the end. Ultimately I was too tired.
A full play-by-play of the ride isn’t necessary. I took pictures with Rhonda. Said hi to and rode with Doug, a nice Jewish boy who missed the 65-mile route closure announcement so he rode most of it alone anyway. And soon enough I was crossing the finish line with Doug giving a high-five to a smattering of applause, and welcomes from volunteers. I was fourth from the end, a little tired and sore, and happy it was over. I got my lunch, a free short massage for being a “Big Wig” fundraiser, and hung out a bit. Soon it was time to go and I got home to a nice hot shower and an even longer tasty nap.
If you’re in town in late September, you might want to consider doing this ride. It’s fun, everyone’s nice, and it’s not dominated by male testosterone and competition. In the end, I had managed myself well. No wrecks, crashes, tickets or other incidents. Save for the flat, and kneeling in some itchy plant, for which I got some anti-itch creme and it went away, the Mamma Jamma is another great event to help people out. For that ability, your and any donor support, I’m grateful.
Until there’s a cure,
A Dude Abikes
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