Elsewhere, Natalie and I were riding along, talking a lot about our fitness goals and home lives. We stopped at one rest stop that was inside an airplane hangar solely for the use of the local residents (and of course, on that day, a bunch of bike riders). And slowly the miles kept ticking by. Eventually the NIU campus came into view and we knew we were close to the finish line. Which was great, except that we got word that some bad weather was moving in again. We made a turn to the south and the wind was really hitting us in the face. That particular leg was only about 3 miles long, but it was a tough 3 miles. I tucked into my aero bars and hammered it out as much as I could. In the process, I got a little ahead of Natalie. So when I turned back towards the finish, I stopped and waited for her to catch up. I had ridden all day with her, there was no way I was going to race ahead of her at the finish.
The medals (the ones with the orange ribbons) were being handed out by a gentleman who would say "As a man suffering with MS, I want to give you this medal and say 'Thank you!'" It really struck a chord with me.
Katie and I grabbed a quick lunch, changed clothes, and started to pack the kids up when another downpour ensued. With the help of some volunteers and an extra change of clothes we finally got back on the rode to home.
The Wrap-Up: There are a few things I need to say before I finish this post out.
1. I am extremely disappointed that I did not get to ride the full 175 miles. Over the weekend I still road about 110 miles, which is a great accomplishment. However, because of the rain-shortened Saturday, I never road over 75 miles in a stretch. Considering that I had a training ride of 80 miles, I did not have the chance to set a new personal record. And considering the time committment that a ride of this length requires, I have no idea when I will be able to do it again before next year.
2. This whole thing started out as a personal fitness challenge to myself, but somewhere along the way it became bigger than that. I really began to consider the charity that I was riding for, and it gave me a tremendous amount of pride to be contributing to the fight against multiple sclerosis. I achieved my fundraising goal for this year (thank you so much to those of you who contributed to my efforts), but I think I will challenge myself with a greater goal next year. And given the time, I may consider more charity rides.
3. I have said this many times before, but I will say it again. I have the most amazing, loving and supportive wife I could ever ask for. Katie did so much for me this weekend that I could never thank her enough. She volunteered to cheer on the riders in the "Spirit line", she and the children made personal signs and noisemakers, and they made homemade chocolate chip cookies for the snacks a the tent. She also brought games and a pool for the tent. She entertained, fed, and enriched our children, while I spent hours out on the road. I truly beleive no one does anything all by themselves, and I could never have achieved what I did without the love and support of my family. That is why this blog is called Racing Home. Thank you so much! I love you with all of my heart!
And now with this chapter complete, it is time to move on to my next challenge. I have already decided what it is: a half-marathon in August!! (Seriously, August! Do you know how hot it is going to be?) But with the love and support of my family and friends, I know I can do it.