I’ve recently been trying to extend my cycling mileage, increasing from what had been a heavy dose of half-hour 8-mile rides to the Sagamore Bridge into 17-mile rides to the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge and back.
The main inspiration — aside from my aforementioned goal to ride 1,000 miles this year — is training for an upcoming fund-raising ride: The Coast of Hope ride in Ipswich, which this year is part of the festivities for that town’s 375th anniversary celebration. I and a couple of other cycling dads decided a fine way to spend part of Father’s Day weekend would be to spend a couple of hours riding 37.5 miles, and then gather of our families afterward for a cookout.
I am looking forward to it, as it will be the first group ride in which I have participated. For most of my cycling life (and that extends back to pre-high school days), I’ve ridden solo or with one other partner.
Of course, the last thing I want to have happen on June 20th is to get to mile 17 and have my body decide it is done. So today I ventured beyond the Cape Cod Canal path, and headed for Cataumet.
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It was on a whim that I decided to push beyond my normal bike-path ride today. The first inspiration was the realization that I was only a month away from the upcoming ride. The second was the good-natured, unintentional challenge tossed out by another cycling friend who pointed out I was only riding on relatively flat land lately. His comment was burning in the back of my brain. He was right. I needed more hills in my cycling diet.
Despite the weather — spitting rain and a crosswind across the canal — I was not faring too badly as I neared the Bourne Bridge. I felt energetic, and my asthma was at bay thanks to the nearly 60-degree-and-rising temperatures and my relatively steady pace. I decided I could get no colder and no wetter, so why not?
Well, I was wrong about the wetter part. The rain picked up its pace almost as soon as I hit Shore Road, but it wasn’t bothering me nearly as much as I thought it might. I just kept pedaling, with no real goal in terms of mileage or time. Shore Road intersected with County Road, and County Road intersected with Route 28A, and it was at that point I decided I better turn around and head for home. I had forgotten my phone, so not only had I not told the family that I was going to stay out beyond my recent pattern of 17 miles in just over an hour, but I also could not immediately call for help should I tire out.
I regained momentum just beyond the Beach Plum Bakery, and was looking down, which I had been doing throughout most of the ride to shield my eyes from the rain. All of a sudden, a $5 bill flashed through my vision. What the…!? I almost kept going, but really, how many times does one find a $5 bill lying by the side of the road? So I stopped, turned around, and retrieved it, all the while thinking it must be some sort of cosmic reward for pushing myself today.
With the $5 bill stuffed in my pocket, I resumed the ride up County Road. A couple hundred yards later, I suddenly saw a $10 bill lying by the side of road. What the…?! The brain kicked into overdrive.
“Seriously?! A $5 AND a $10 lying by the side of the road, waiting for me to discover them? How does that happen? Had a runner let them slip out of his or her sock? Had someone left their change on the roof of his or her car, and the money had just flown off when the wind from the moving vehicle dried them out and unstuck them from car?”
I stopped the bike, left it by a telephone pole, and walked back to the $10 bill. I started looking around for a hidden camera. Maybe this was a test? I put the $10 bill in my pocket, and waited for an ABC crew shooting “What Would You Do?” to show up and start interrogating me.
Nothing. Not even a car passed.
As I resumed my ride, it was clear to me that the $15 were in my path for a reason, so I decided right there on County Road that I was going to use the money to kick off my fund-raising effort for the Coast of Hope ride. Riders who register do so by also agreeing to raise $125 for Bright Happy Power, a charitable foundation inspired by the life of 9-year-old leukemia patient Jessie Doktor, who died in 2007 from complications caused by a bone-marrow transplant.
Should you wish to match or exceed the $15 I found today to help sponsor my Father’s Day weekend ride while raising money for Bright Happy Power, please click the button below to donate via PayPal.
I will compile all of the electronic donations, and write a single check to Bright Happy Power on the day of the ride.
Or if you’d prefer a less electronic method, please send checks made out directly to Bright Happy Power to Sean Polay, 176 Route 6A, Sandwich, MA, and I will hand them in on the day of the ride.
A third choice is just to head right over to the site, and check out the wish list of items needed for care packages for children with cancer. You’re welcome to donate to the group directly, especially if you are reading this after Father’s Day.
I am guessing at this point you are wondering: “Sean, why are you raising money for Bright Happy Power?”
Several years ago, I helped a friend coach his kids in Little League, and one of them had to stop playing after a year because of his own battle with cancer. He won that battle, thankfully, but obviously many children are not nearly as fortunate.
I’ve been reminded of that experience frequently over the years, both when I helped coach Sam’s Little League team a few years ago and now this year as I help coach Mason’s team.
Mason, who turned 8 today, is only a year younger than my friend’s son was when I helped coach him.
Our boys have been blessed with good health thus far. We’re fortunate for that and so many other reasons, and try not to take any of our good fortune for granted. Ever. May Sam, Mason and Benjamin continue to be in good health, and never need the help of an organization like Bright Happy Power. We celebrate our good fortune by donating to Bright Happy Power, and simultaneously hope to make some small difference for children who quite literally are fighting for their lives.
Bright Happy Power’s mission is to place hope, happiness and empowerment into the hands and lives of children and families facing life-threatening and catastrophic challenges. It’s an honor to contribute to that hope and empowerment. Join me if you can. No amount is too small.