“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. “
Back during the first week of October I was sitting in the squad room getting ready for the afternoon shift when the chief walked in and started telling me about a long bike ride that was to take place on November 20th and 21st.
He said it was a 170mi bike ride put on by the Miami Dolphins Foundation to raise money for the University Of Miami Sylvester Cancer Center and then asked if I wanted to participate. The ride options were 170mi ride, 100mi ride, 70mi ride and a 30mi ride. Without hesitation I said yes I’d do the 170 mile ride and then I asked him which one he was going to do.
After we both agreed on the 170 mile ride we signed up for the DCC One Mile At A Time ride and the fund raising and training began. I’ve done what I considered a lot of bike riding but realized I was going to have to kick it up a notch.
I took my bike to Christian at the Transition-Area Triathlon shop for a checkup and new tires and then got started with training. I rode most mornings and when that wasn’t possible we would take an extended lunch and ride. On my days off I would do longer rides.
When I wasn’t riding or exercising I was gathering pledges. You see when we signed up for the 170 mile ride that meant we pledged to collect $1500 per rider. The residents in the little town I patrol have been wonderful with the outpouring of support and contributions. And, family and friends sent donations and wished me well. Before the big day we had collected more than required and the donations continued coming in with notes of praise and support. On November 19th we went to Sun Life Stadium, picked up our ride packets and met a lot of really nice people who are devoted to a worthy cause.
November 20th was the big day. The riders dressed in their orange colored Dolphins cycling jerseys and spectators and officials gathered at Sun Life Stadium at 5:30 a.m. for breakfast. At 7:00 a.m. the riders were lined up and when the speeches were finished and a beautiful rendition of The Stars Spangled Banner was played, the riders were off and on their way riding into history for the first Dolphins Cycling Challenge.
We rode one lap around Sun Life Stadium and then south through downtown Miami, east to Brickell Avenue and north on Brickell to the first water stop at Bayfront Park. The first 18 miles completed, that was easy. Three minutes later we headed out and within ¼ mile we turned east on the MacArthur causeway and that’s when things changed.
If you’re from South Florida and you train here, you’re used to flat roads. We rode out into a heavy northeast wind and up a steep incline across the MacArthur causeway, a double whammy. By the time we reached the top my legs felt as if they were on fire, my lungs were burning and I was more than happy to coast down the other side.
Riding north into the wind along South Beach overlooking the ocean afforded some interesting sights but I remained focused on the road. Pedestrians step out without looking and drivers exiting cars open doors without looking. Accidents waiting to happen and I was determined not to be a part of that. We rode north on Collins Ave to Dania Beach Boulevard and turned west across another span over the Intracoastal Waterway. Another burn and my energy level dropped. I call it energy brown out.
We rode west out around Ft. Lauderdale airport then back east into a northeast wind and over the 17th St. Bridge. This has to be one of the highest inclines in south Florida. By the time we reached the top of the bridge I felt completely spent. (Another energy brown out). At the top with legs and lungs burning, we had a much appreciated and fast coast down the other side and only 45 miles to go.
We rode north through the small oceanside towns and as the day wore on the wind velocity increased and our average speed decreased. At 3:30 pm and over 100 miles showing on my bicycle odometer, we arrived at City Place in West Palm Beach. There were many riders that arrived hours earlier and I know that the Chief would have been there also but he held back to ride with me and make it a team effort.
Every cyclist that rode across the finish line did so to the cheers and screams of the crowd congratulating them on their success. When I went across the finish line I saw Rosemary and our daughter-in-law Stacey standing nearby cheering our success. After hugs all around, we racked our bikes and were led to a nearby table and given food and beverages.
When we returned to the bicycle area we were advised that the event coordinators had FedEx trucks staged for overnight storage for the bicycles. We checked our bikes for the night and headed home for a well-earned nights rest. When I awoke the next morning I knew there was no way I was going to do the ride the second day so I opted out. The Chief rode the 70 miles the second day representing our team and Rosemary and I met him back at Sun Life Stadium at about 2:30 that afternoon.
During the festivities and ceremonies I was given a certificate of appreciation and two tickets to a Dolphins away game along with airfare and hotel accommodations. Then we had our picture taken with the Dolphins Cheerleaders and mascot. The certificate is mine but I gave the away package to the Chief since he rode the full 170 miles.
I can’t think of a more worthy cause than cancer research. My father succumbed to cancer, my mother had cancer and I’ve had a lot of skin cancer removed in the past fifteen years.
I recently told a friend what I was about to do and he said he was very familiar with the Sylvester Cancer Center at the University of Miami because his dad just went through a ten-hour surgery at that facility. “My very special friend, my prayers are with you and your family.”
In closing, I have to say the Miami Dolphins hosted a spectacular event for a worthy cause and I am honored to have been a participant and I plan on participating next year.
And as always, never say you’re too old or you can’t because you’re not and you can.