It’s Saturday January 28, 2012. The clock says it’s 11:30 pm. I can’t sleep. I am too nervous. My roommate for the trip Kevin is sound asleep here in the Hotel in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and I am inside the bathroom writing down some of the memories of this trip. I should be resting my legs for the last 130 miles tomorrow, but I can’t sleep. If I tell you I am not scared, I would be lying. I am very scared of tomorrow. I have seen plenty of accidents in the last 3 days, people dehydrated, bleeding, broken arms, quitting, and I am scared. My bike has already suffered a flat tire, a cut on the tire, my pedals wouldn’t unclip, one of my teammates is severely dehydrated, another one has a bad neck, and many more obstacles. One more day of this physical and mental stress, but I honestly have had enough. Prior to the trip I didn’t think it would be this hard, but it’s too late to turn around.
After 295 miles done so far, my body is starting to shut down. Not so much for the distance but for the effort from riding in the 18 mph + group.
At mile 100 on the last day.
I am here in the bathroom of the Hotel room deciding whether to drop to the slower pace group tomorrow, and finish in a much less strenuous and risky way. Do I drop groups, or do I hammer it one more day with a group that I truly may not belong to? My bike is falling apart, and truly speaking I am NOT a true cyclist. I practice the sport since July 2011, which really still puts me at a rookie category. I sit here and can’t sleep and think and think. What if I fall off my bike tomorrow? What if I get dropped by the speed of the group and have to ride on my own? What if those hills for a big chunk of tomorrow’s mileage are too much for this Want to be? But hold on, as I am sitting here trying to decide I remember a message from my friend Donna earlier on: “ Your son scored the only goal for our team today”. I also look at my new ROAD ID and read FOR NOAH, MAX, AND LIAM…. PUNCH LIFE IN THE FACE.
I scroll down my facebook and go to my friend’s profile whose 2-year-old son has been battling cancer. I have promised them to donate some money upon the completion of my cycling event to help cover some of the medical expenses, so this has to be done. Almost the whole month of November they were at the Hospital with their son. I think of my friend Ken Swanson, battling liver cancer, I think of my coach at crossfit Shawna who battled death after a massive stroke last September and has not been able to return to our gym since then, I think of all those people that have inspired me to write about them on my PUNCH LIFE IN THE FACE, I think of the fear that our soldiers must have on the battlefields of war. Do I need more motivation? My decision is made, whether my body can take it or not, I will find strength somehow and get it done.
I wake up, get dressed and go eat breakfast by myself. Next to me sits a man with a broken arm. Is one of the guys I saw fall off his bike on the first day. He was next to my team captain Carlos and me when the accident happened 2 days prior. Lucky enough we were not brought down by the fallen cyclists in front of us. After breakfast I go upstairs, and decide to record a video with my phone. On that video I am telling my wife and two of my friends that I love like brothers of my decision to finish up strong. I send the video to them so I can be hold accountable and there is no coming back, and also in case something happens they know I was thinking about them.
That’s all I need, I will not drop groups, and I will give it all. My body says no, but my mind says yes. Mind over matter. Learn to love the hardest things, and everything else in life will be easy. Now go out there and PUNCH LIFE IN THE FACE.
At the finish line in San Juan, PR. All done thanks to my teammates who believed in me, and motivated me before, during and after the event.