The bicycle bug has bitten my brother. Years after his wife bought him a bicycle for a birthday present, he started to ride the bike in earnest over this past summer, including regularly pedaling ten miles, each way, to work.
This Saturday, he and I rode twenty-two miles together in Costa Mesa, California, to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The ride was a milestone for both of us. It was his first organized ride, and his first single ride longer than ten miles. And it was the first organized ride where I didn’t ride for pie or beer.
As skeptical as I am of these charity rides, I rode for family. Not only did my brother and I ride together, our mother has had breast cancer twice, most recently in 2011, and she benefitted both times in no small part due to early detection. Last year, when the Susan G. Komen Foundation withheld funding from Planned Parenthood, as a way of punishing the organization for its family planning efforts, I was furious. A significant number of poor and uninsured women get breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, and shortening the lives of adult women to protect the unborn seems counter to what I regard as “Christian values.” I swore I wouldn’t give a penny to that organization, and it soured me on similar breast cancer events. But I got over that since my brother was really excited about the ride, decking himself out in pink, and both my mom and dad, sister-in-law, and nephew came to meet us at the finish line. Also, this ride benefitted a different organization anyway.
The ride itself was very pleasant. We started from the Two Wheels, One Planet bike shop in Costa Mesa, and rode on two very nice multiuse trails, one around the Newport Bay and the other along the San Diego Creek.
Shipping one of my bikes seemed impractical so I rented one from Bicycle John’s, just a few miles from the Burbank airport. It was a neat little road bike: a steel Serotta frame with a mix of lightweight Ultegra and DuraAce components. Beautiful!
Because my suitcase was getting full, I left my pedals and bike shoes at home and opted to ride with a set of track pedals and Converse high-tops. It kept me from breaking away since I couldn’t get good sprint going, but that meant I could escort my brother throughout the entire route. And he could keep up.
We finished about 100 minutes after we started. As I mentioned, the ride was a bit slow, averaging just under 13 miles per hour, but we made good time because we were on bicycle paths without stop signs and traffic signals. Flat rides, as this one was, can be both easy and difficult. Sure, it’s nice not to climb hills all day, but for every uphill, there’s usually a downhill, and that’s always nice. Also, climbing helps raise my heart rate, helping to sprint on flat terrain. If I maintain an even effort throughout a ride, my body won’t bother expend more than that effort.
At the finish, our family was there waiting for us. Not having my same “experience level” with organized rides, my brother didn’t attack the pizza, beer, and snack table as I did. We both did spend an hour browsing the wares inside the bike shop and watching people win prizes as our raffle-ticket numbers were never called. But what can you do? It’s family.