There came a point a few years ago when I realized all I ever did was talk about the things I wanted to do. I talked about the places I wanted to see, I talked about the organizations or social clubs I wanted to join, I talked about volunteering with a non-profit and I talked about exercising. I could talk my way up a mountain and through a marathon but I wasn’t actually going to do any of it. So I started making decisions pretty impulsively. I moved to Wyoming, just because. I moved to Austin, just because. I started running, just because. (Now running means jogging which is actually fast walking but you know what I mean.) The fall after I started at work I went to a meeting to find out more about the BP MS150 bike ride, even though my bike was too small for me and too heavy and I had just started riding. I went with my coworker and we talked about it a lot. Could we do this? Would our bikes make it? Would we make it? Could we raise the $400 for fundraising? Finally, we just said, we’ll have to figure these things out as they come. We want to do this. Deciding to do the MS150 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
First off, I’ve never been particularly active. I’m the youngest so the last of my dad’s hopes and dreams were dashed when I refused to participate in sports. Having an outdoor activity that I actually enjoy and can get fit from is irreplaceable for me. I still have to drag myself out of bed from time to time to actually get on my bike but I enjoy it once I’m there. Most of the time it makes me feel strong and fast (comparatively- please don’t put me next to any of my teammates).
But I didn’t always feel strong and fast. There was a time when I was terrible. I was slow and my legs were like lead. When I first moved to Austin I bought an old mountain bike to get around town on. All of my new friends biked everywhere. I hated being the slowest in the pack and I hated being sweaty all the time. After I started the MS150 I became more confident. I became comfortable in traffic. The real difference came though, when I realized that I could make such a large commitment and stick with it. I followed through with a really big project and doing so made me feel like a bad ass. Now I finally know what it’s like to move from last in the pack to a strong member of the pack.
One of the best and most unexpected benefits of doing the MS150 turned out to be the relationships I developed by doing it. When I first signed up, I was really intimidated by the idea of spending a weekend with my coworkers, some being directors. You share a tent! But there is nothing like hills, headwinds, 180 miles and a couple of beers to make you feel comfortable with someone.
Humbling is probably the best word to describe doing this ride. Not matter how good I feel I can still always be brought down by a hill and some wind. When I’m feeling like I can go on forever and I’m better than everyone else, I am likely going to be passed by a twelve-year old at that exact moment. When I’ve gotten off my bike at a rest stop terrified that I might not be able to get back on, I’ve seen a disabled person hand someone their crutches so they can climb back on their recumbent bike. There’s nothing like seeing someone with MS get back on their bike to give you the encouragement you need to get back on yours.
Doing the MS150 gave me fitness, confidence, friendships and humility, but when I signed up I didn’t expect to get anything of those things. I was just hoping to finish! Maybe the MS150 isn’t the decision that’s going to change your life (it should be though, registration’s open!), but what is? What is the thing you always talk about but never actually do? Is there an item on your bucket list you really want to cross off? I challenge you to stop talking. Don’t talk about it. Everyone’s talking about their thing. Now is the time for action. Now is the time to make your life what you want it to be.
If you’d like to contribute to my ride, go to my donation page. I’m just over halfway to my goal of raising $1000!