Overwhelmed, relieved, frightened, nervous, excited, elated. These are all the adjectives I’m pretty sure I jammed into my announcements as I stood up on a dust-covered work bench to speak to the some 200 folks gathered on the shop floor beneath me.
It felt like everyone in Boulder was in that room on Friday night, and they’d come out to celebrate bicycles and the community that they create, and to support Bud and I as we continue our fundraising efforts for Qhubeka in South Africa. We were overwhelmed with the support, shocked and in awe that we’ve actually made it to this point and that the cycling community is watching us – cheering for us – as we take on this giant challenge. Looking around the room, there were people I’ve known and loved for a long time. Others I’ve only just met and incredibly thankful to have in our corner, and still others whom I can’t wait to make proud with all the energy and effort we’re about to pour into our adventure in Africa. Thankful and grateful are two words that I’m sure were jammed into my blushed mini-speech from atop the work bench, but I wish that I’d jammed them in there a few more times.
I can’t believe that winter has come and is going so quickly. I can’t believe how emotional the process of preparing has been. I can’t believe that training for a mountain bike stage race in the desert included little bits of frostbite (I’m serious.) I can’t believe how truly epic every day of this journey has been. And I can only fathom just how epic the actual days we’re about to spend in Africa will be.
I took on the challenge to race Absa Cape Epic in South Africa first as a way to divert my mind and body from all of the other emotional life shifts taking place in my world. Then came the realization that by throwing myself into this big thing, I was helping to give voice to ways that the bicycle was making a difference for everyone, the world over. Then, the diversion became being a megaphone for bikes, and all that they achieve; I wanted to be, and still aim to become, the biggest megaphone for bikes out there, and to be the best spokesperson I can for being an ordinary person who dreams of doing extraordinary things, and somehow gets them done. I knew that the organization to coordinate a cycling film, an 8-day stage race, and a large philanthropic effort would be taxing and time-consuming. I knew that training through the winter would be challenging and trying. I knew that frostbite was a real possibility as I rode my bike through the winter, forging and polishing my stamina and endurance for the race (and it was. It still is.) But now I’m running out of all the “knowns” on our Cape Epic project. We’ve put the energy out there, made the asks, put in the time, placed the intention, and despite my poise and excitement, there are a lot of unknowns ahead.
What will it really feel like to spend that much time on our bikes?
What will it feel like to at last meet, and serve, these people with bicycles?
What will it feel like to land in South Africa? To be in the desert there?
What if it hurts more than we ever imagined it could?
What will it feel like to have all these amazing people and entities watching us?
How well will we fare against our UCI competition?
What if I taco a wheel? What if I get sick? What if I get scared? What if I get knocked off my bike by a gazelle?
Little by little, day by day, as we pack our bags and pull together the last details for the trip to Africa some of those unknowns are starting to take shape, but many of them won’t become clear until the plane touches down in Cape Town and we get to work. Everyone keeps asking us if we’re ready, and I always give some sort of long answer that amounts to “as ready as we’ll ever be.” My mother just realized the other night that I’d have to care for the maintainance my bike out on the course. She started to cry. Her outpouring emotion made my answer more concise, in a hurry; I promised her that we were well prepared, even among the unknowns, we were ready. And despite my wordiness, hesitancy, and the not-knowing, we are.
Because I know that every moment of getting to this point has been worthwhile. I know that every ounce of effort we’re pouring in will be valuable at the start line, and the finish. I know that we’re strong riders, strong friends, and dedicated to completing this huge thing gracefully, and powerfully. Because I know that we’ll be incredibly well cared for out there, and that we couldn’t have fathomed this project or brought our dreams to fruition without our support from Trek, Oakley, Skratch, Mad Alchemy, Untapped, Skoop, SRAM, PowerTap, CycleOps, Qhubeka, World Bicycle Relief or Rapha.
Cape Epic is going to be EPIC. And bracing ourselves for anything less would be foolish. So here we go.
If you’re eager to hear more about what’s taking us to Africa, and what we’ll be doing there, you can read more about our story here: https://epiceveryday.squarespace.com/
And, if you haven’t yet donated to our cause of getting bicycles into the hands of women, children and families in South Africa, please consider making a donation at to World Bicycle Relief here: http://fundraise.worldbicyclerelief.org/epiceveryday
Thanks for your support, for cheering us on these past months, and for keeping the stoke for this project high. We can’t even begin to tell you how flattered, proud and lucky we feel to be part of this incredible community in the cycling world and beyond! – xo L