Well, apparently the hordes have spoken, and there is support for me to ride this event, and then some! It will be my third Mamma Jamma Ride. n fact, two generous souls even put in for the whole minimum amount of $300. It’s all for a good cause, to help women in my area (Central Texas, USA), survive and thrive after a diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. I’ve also raised $100 for my registration and bike(s) repair and had help from friends and two bike shops. I say bikes, because I don’t even know which one I’ll ride yet! So there’s lots to do and not much time, but below are a few more details of what it’s like doing a charity ride. And a way for you to donate if you can.
Believe in the Cause and Remove Your Ego
This is a lesson from long ago, and I think it still rings true. It’s easy to feel rejected when people tell you know. But usually there’s a good reason. The other person is strapped for cash (lots of that going on in Trump’merica), the issue doesn’t interest them, they just aren’t that into you, the requestor, they’re busy, having a bad day, forget…. the list is endless. Money is a touchy thing so parting with it is never “easy come, easy go,” at least for me. But considering it’s been a year since I asked, some people are doing well, and I ask in a non-threatening way, I believe that’s why I’m pretty successful.
And unlike most charities, the donor gets to make you work and even suffer for their money. Secretly, many Americans are still Puritanical at heart and won’t do something for nothing. That’s fine, it doesn’t phase me; to some extent I enjoy the suffering, or at least tolerate it, because I don’t have breast cancer. And I don’t take the rejection personally. Either they’ll give or not. And if not now, maybe in the future, or another ride.
Sometimes, people will give you a ride to the bike shop, help work out kinks in your body by using their homemade therapy device or donate an acupuncture session. Other valuable in-kind services like a grocery store gift card are great too. “Ask, and you shall receive,” is a quote. I think it should be “might” instead. But don’t ask, you definitely won’t receive anything — nada, zilch, niente, bupkis, zero. So I ask, and maybe it’s due to not doing a spring charity ride, but we’re making a dent in the Mamma Jamma’s overall goal of $250,000. They’re barely over half-way, so still need alot of help.
Preparation for a Long Ride
You tell everyone so they can donate. There’s lots to do before a charity ride that people who have done them know about. It’s not too unlike a shop or even solo ride. You have to make sure you have the right clothes, gloves, helmet, shoes, rain gear, clothes for after the ride. Take care of your hydration, sleep and nutrition. Get your bike tuned up. Arrive at the site early. Turn in your donations of cash and checks. Get your numbers for jersey and bike, free lunch band, goody bag, route map, and whatever else that you need to get through the day. Put the emergency number into your phone. Loads of logistics.
Upon arrival, there’s the noise and hustle and bustle. The clicking of the clip-in shoes as riders go from car park to starting line. I think that’s my favorite sound. It’s like strapping into a seat belt. Because soon you know you’re going to be off, pedaling furiously, for many hours. Say hi to the people around you. Your friends or team, if you have one. By the way, my team is just me. And it’s got an awesome name: Team TITS (Time In The Saddle). Trust me, it’s appropriate for this ride.
But for me, the real focus is on the mind, body and bike, and the space where all three meet and merge into one. Well, if the weather is probably going to be raining and miserable, that requires one to dig deeper into that bag of motivation. How is the body? What parts are not feeling well? What will you have to do to accommodate them? Go slower, quit before finishing if necessary? What about your mind? Where is it? If it’s not on your bike and the road, it better be as soon as you start, and keep it there until you’re done.
Questions and doubts may arise. What if they curtail the route? Delay? Cancel, even? Well, you have to roll with that stuff. Detachment but investment is a tricky thing. In Buddhism, the basic teaching would be, simply, be in the moment, breathe in, breathe out. Be happy. You’re on your bike in nature with friends for a good reason. What if I can’t finish, or I let people down? Will they demand their money back? Well, you’re out there trying, which is more than you can say for most. And it’s not a race or competition. Relax, have fun, try hard, and be careful, and generally things will work out.
Women-Led Events Are Cool; B.C. Affects Men, Too
One of the attractions of this event is that the organization and beneficiaries are generally women-led. And a majority of the riders are women, including some breast cancer survivors. Some of them are real bad asses on a bike, too. As a pro-feminist man who is not threatened by strong women, and in fact admires and appreciates them (because he was raised by one, mostly as a single mother), it’s cool to be in the minority. To be an ally, be supportive, and just not have to deal with all that macho bullshit you find in many group, shop or charity rides. Sure, I also enjoy being around women, but I’m not there looking for Mrs. A Dude Abikes. But, it’s just nice.
That doesn’t mean the men who do show up are all assholes, and breast cancer can affect men, too. Not just those who may get a breast cancer diagnosis, which still has a ton of stigma attached to it. But also spouses, boyfriends, brothers, uncles, sons, fathers of women who are diagnosed. And they are there to support. I put the names of four women on my ride number as women I ride in honor of; three alive, one not. That’s what it’s about. Sure, I want to do big miles and have fun and all, and fun is allowed, but it’s also a somber occasion. Some women don’t survive. And that sucks, and should never happen again. This past year with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are making this a time to respect, celebrate and honor not just women, but the feminine aspect of life. Strong but soft. Nurturing and necessary. Tough but tender. Loving and leaders. I’m honored to be supporting a small part of this by showing up and riding.
There’s lots more that can be said about this ride, and I’ll have a report on Monday. So the challenge now for you, dear reader, is this: Will you support A Dude Abikes as he pedals his ass off for funding breast cancer services in Central Texas? See my previous post, Hey WordPress & Internet, Do You Want Me to Ride the Mamma Jamma for Breast Cancer Charities This Saturday? for more background.
So far, just one reader whom I know IRL has given due to this blog. (Well, maybe two now, it’s a mystery when people mark Anonymous.) With almost 300 regular followers and I think 304 with email, I think we can do better. Below is the link to donate. Give til it hurts, since I sure will be! And also, please share that widely, especially if you aren’t able to donate. And remember, the donations are accepted for several months; I will be asking again. Thanks for your consideration. Let’s kick breast cancer’s ass! And hope that while it may rain, lighting, thunder, wind and flooding don’t stop us.
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