Patti Poirier's PledgePage
Dear Supporter Wednesday, June 05, 2002
News from “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride”
The event raised: $4.4 million dollars for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. The Illinois Chapter raised over 326,000.00. Your contribution helped make that total. If you ever needed to believe that each person can make a difference, this is it. Huge thanks!
The ride around the mountains of Lake Tahoe was very dramatic. My greatest fears surfaced before me on Friday as I drove around the course the first time in a rental Jeep Cherokee. The roads were highways 50, 89, 28, and back to 50. Pictures say it better, but the course was comprised of steep, narrow, mountain highways single lane, double lane, winding and treacherous with a very narrow, gravelly space for bike traffic which was next to the edge. Obviously, in most places the drop off was several thousand feet. We were told that it was mandatory to ride single file, next to the edge. The roads were heavy with traffic during the ride on Sunday as people went to their destinations trailering boats, campers, etc. in the famous resort mountains of Lake Tahoe. Riding along that kind of traffic can make the stout hearted nervous.
I talked about my fears with TNT members from around the country and many shared my fears. I thought I would never be able to even begin the ride. The distance and time frame no longer were a concern. Survival! That was all that mattered. Would I be able to overcome my fears of speeding downhill, riding in traffic moving @ 50 MPH, riding at the edge of mountains with riders who ride like the wind? Kirsten Bowles, the TNT manager for the Illinois team encouraged me to try. “Start and if you can’t make it, we’ll SAG you up.”
We met in the parking lot at 5:30am on Sunday morning. It was 29 degrees. We wore layers of clothing, but many of us had only riding gloves without fingers. My fingers froze in the first five miles. The first major climb was 800 feet of switchbacks in Emerald Bay, Ca. where they took photographs. That was a tough climb, but the 1000 foot climb to Spooner Junction was a killer. I thought it would never end. The scenery was beautiful, the riders cheering each other on was so fun, supporters and TNT staff members shouting “Go Team” helped you forget what was still ahead. But after the climb to Spooner, when they said “It’s all downhill from here”, you started to lose faith in their sincerity. There were 12 heavy miles ahead. When you’re exhausted, every incline is tough, and there were 5 remaining. The last ten were the worst. When I thought I’d really fade out, I remembered my niece Shannon who had transfusions from the time she was 5 until she was 12. I thought how tough and strong she was when she went to first grade without hair, without a wig. I wanted that kind of strength and it came. Here’s to Shannon! She’s 17 now, and will be working at a summer camp this summer for kids with cancer. She is such a gift.
My ride was 73.59 miles in 7:48 hours. I’m very lucky to have finished at all. I suffered no injuries, and had no bike difficulties. I chose to ride only the course that circumnavigates Lake Tahoe, avoiding the risk of needing to be SAGGED up by going the little out and back to Truckee, Ca. which makes the 100 miles for those who like to ride centuries. I’m no athlete. But most of the 2000 participants were very fine athletes.
My heart went out to those who had tech difficulties, or were injured. My fears abated, and I felt strong prayer support. I rode alone, but I was never alone. I was tired, but calm.
After 6/7/02, check out www.patti-poiriers-photos-.com for more photos, and some scapes to choose from.