We did it.
It was cold and rainy and windy beyond all compare, but we kept going and finished the ride.
Dunreith, Aidan and I kicked off the 100 kilometers by leaving at 8:00 a.m. and biking to Glencoe and back.
Dunreith and I were thrilled that Aidan joined us in honoring her father and my stepmother, both of whom died earlier this year.
The weather was crisp and clear, although the sky was a bit ominous.
From there, Dunreith and I headed south to 4501 N. Clarendon, the home of Kuumba Lynx. On the way, we noticed that we were going much faster and in higher gears than usual because of the hefty winds propelling us forward.
Once we arrived, we met Maya, a KL alum who also lives in Evanston. Dunreith decided to head back home and Maya and I set off south for the South Shore Cultural Center.
The rain started in earnest around Belmont, shortly after we connected with Justin, who works for Alternatives, an organization that collaborates often with Kuumba Lynx. The three of us braved the water on the bike path, and, buffeted by the wind, kept on heading south to the center.
At times, it felt like we could for miles without pedaling because the wind was so strong.
The only problem was that we had to return. Unfortunately, the wind had not changed position. The ride home got off to an inauspicious start as Maya’s back tire got a flat, so she took a bus home.
It got harder when Justin and I started biking directly into the wind and rain, which had picked up by the time we resumed our ride.
At one point, he said, “If I don’t pedal, I’ll go backwards.”
Justin had a work event last night, so got off at the 47th Street exit to take a bus home.
This left me with about 15 miles of the wind, the rain and my bike.
My bike has 24 gears, and I usually bike in the top eight of them.
Yesterday, though, I spent plenty of time in gears nine through sixteen.
The toughest part was the section of Lake Shore Drive right in front of Ava’s house. I literally felt like I was working as hard as I could to crawl at a pace that couldn’t have been more than 5 miles per hour. The layers of clothes I had packed at Dunreith’s advice got wetter and wetter, and heavier and heavier.
Fortunately, my slow pace meant that I had plenty of time to think.
I thought about some of the last conversations I had with Marty, when I would tell him that I was planning to run the marathon in his honor (My Achilles flared up, so I did the ride instead.).
I thought about watching a movie with Dad, Diane and Lee Childs the last time I ever saw Diane.
I thought about Jacinda and Jaquanda and the rest of the Kuumba Lynx family that has been building and growing and transforming kids’ lives for nearly 15 years.
I thought about how much I admire all the members of the Dart Society who deal with issues of trauma and violence around the world.
I thought and pedaled, and my thoughts gave me strength and purpose.
I completed the 18 miles on the bike path a little more than 2 hours after I started and called Dunreith. We made a plan to meet near our house so that we could finish the ride together.
The lakefront stretch along Sheridan Road in Evanston felt like those parts in horror movies when the vanquished villain sticks a final bony hand up through the grave as I had to bike through the wind one final time.
Fittingly, the sky started to clear and the rain ended just as Dunreith and I met on South Boulevard and biked the final mile home together.
The whole ride ended just before 4:00 p.m., or close to 8 hours after it began.
I had never biked more than 45 miles before yesterday, so am proud of the physical accomplishment.
I’m very grateful that the three of us did the ride together as a family.
And I’m honored that so many people responded to our call to honor two loved ones whose physical lives ended and to support two organizations whose missions I wholeheartedly endorse and whose work I support.