I AM NOT GOING TO LIE
When I registered for the 2016 Chefs Cycle ride, it was a bit of a joke. I didn't own a bike. I was in terrible shape and I couldn't even contemplate riding 20 kilometers, let alone 100 miles a day for 3 days. But I love a challenge. Nothing motivates me as much as being told I can't do something. Or being laughed at. The truth is, I did it for many reasons: I was drunk. I like to support friends like Bob and Jeff. I wanted to get in shape and live longer. The ending childhood hunger part obviously didn't crack the top three.
Then I got a bike. It's an awesome bike and so much fun to ride. I started training and really enjoyed that too. Sweating and huffing and puffing and making it up hills. Then people started contributing and supporting me. I lost weight. Started to feel great about myself and my participation. The Share Our Strength team, Adele in particular, is amazing at motivation, connection and helping me do things I never thought possible. Everything seemed to be going great in the lead up to the ride. I knew I was under prepared but I just want to do my best.
And then, at the worst possible moment, I had a severe business setback. In fact, I was put out of business: locked out of my deli by my landlord three weeks before the ride was to begin. It was unjustified and I fought it in court and eventually won but in the moment it was awful. Sleepless nights. Media deluge. One of the worst episodes of my life. Adele was understanding and left all options open.
Quitting isn't in my vocabulary or my character. Also, prom a public perception perspective I needed to show resiliency. I knew people thought I'd done something wrong to get locked out of my space but I hadn't. Aborting my campaign would have sent the wrong message. Despite the difficulty of the moment I went ahead and booked my flights.
The ride was physically and emotionally both devastating and revitalising. Day One was the worst. I was dead last. Hardly saw another rider after 20 minutes riding. I actually missed a turn and went about 5 or 10 miles off course. By the time I got to lunch there was a single lunch bag waiting. All the ride staff were waiting for me. I decided it was unfair to keep all these people waiting just for me so I ate my lunch in the van on the way to the next rest stop. I rode my bike the last 25 miles to the hotel.
Day Two was worse. My ass pain was unimaginable. There was no place I could rest comfortably on the seat. While I tried, all that did was place more pressure on my hands and feet. My feet felt like they were literally on fire. My hands were mostly numb. The temperatures hit over 110 deg in central California. I was alone at the back with nothing but thoughts of my landlord, my girlfriend, my ass pain and the smiles of the staff to keep me company. That's not entirely true. I also thought about my Uncle Harvey's note when he donated to my campaign. Two words: "Keep pedaling." I did.
I repeated my pattern from Day One and rode to lunch. I took a lift to the next rest stop and rode the last 25 miles to the hotel. Day Two was my greatest victory. It was so hard. The last part of the day saw a climb over the mountains that, once crested, found the temperatures drop 30 or 40 degrees. Over that crest the bike really picks up speed. I quickly realised I have no real idea how to ride the bike. It was kind of terrifying to share the road with cars going downhill on switchback trails. I tried braking to let the cars pass me but at one point they didn't. I tried waving them past, too scared to lift my head and see how close the traffic was. The bike was really flying. "Don't worry," I heard Adele call out, "I'm stopping traffic for you," she yelled. Wow. She always had my back. Literally.
Day Three was a breeze. Well, I was physically incapable of the initial 3 hour climb so I took the van to the halfway point. After that, we all rode and met at the last rest stop and pretty much rode as a group to the finish line. In that last stretch, Jeff fell back to find me. It was the first time in three days I'd ridden with anyone. "How'd it go?" he asked. "You know," I said, "I think it was kind of a metaphor for my life," i said. After a very very long pause that became uncomfortable Jeff asked me if I was going to explain what I meant. The problem was that I was so overcome emotionally that I couldn't speak. "Gimme a minute," I said.
"Look Jeff, I don't know if you know all the difficulties and challenges that I'm going through at home," I said, "I probably shouldn't even be here. But I said I would and supporting you and this ride meant something important to me. It was harder than I ever imagined. Maybe the hardest thing I've ever done. I feel like I've been tested and I feel great about the result. As in my life, I may not know the ramifications of the decisions that I make but I'm far too determined a person ever to quit."
In October 2016 I filmed an episode of Guy's Grocery Games for The Food Network. I won $16,000 on the show and pledged that money to this ride and this organization. Unfortunately I wasn't able to ride in 2017 because of a scheduling conflict but I'll be there in 2018 and 2019 to fulfill my commitment and do my part to end childhood hunger.
HERE'S THE STUFF THEY WROTE FOR ME:
I'm helping end childhood hunger by riding 300 miles in three days with Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry. For the past three years, Chefs Cycle has engaged culinary talents who want to push their physical limits while raising funds and awareness in support of No Kid Hungry. The Spring 2018 ride will take place May 15-17 in Santa Rosa, CA with a goal of 275+ chefs riding to raise $2.4M.
No Kid Hungry is connecting kids with healthy food where they live, learn and play. Every $1 you donate can help connect a child with up to 10 meals. No kid in this country should grow up hungry. Will you help me end childhood hunger?
To learn more about Chefs Cycle, please visit www.chefscycle.org.
MONEY TO RAISE
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