Fund Raising Finish Line

Day -33 (May 11, 1999)

I feel that I can relax now, having just crossed over the $7,000 line yesterday. (Whew!) Itís been a long road, punctuated by periodic highlights (Janineís $500 contribution, Larry, George & my parents each contributing $250, and Patís help). It was fun going on the radio. Sharon Borradorri, with the local Lung Association, has been a great help. The polo shirt campaign helped raise the level of contributions to $100. Iíve purchased 24 shirts and will put in another order for 24 more, soon. They set me back about $600, but Iíd rather pay $600 and get $7,000, as opposed to not paying the $600 and coming up several thousand short.

Contributions came in sporadically. The biggest hiatus was while I was sick. Hardly any pledges were raised during the week I was recuperating. But I kept at it, gradually chipping away at the minimum, spreading the word about my Big Ride, kissing babies and (mostly) twisting arms. It has been an interesting to see how people react to my fund raising efforts and the ride. You think you know people? Well, the truth is, you donít really know folks until you ask them to donate. Iíve gotten responses that range all over the board:

"Wow, what a great cause. How can I help?" This is my favorite response, and received more often than I would have initially imagined.

"Yeah, put me down for a $100." Collecting can be difficult, but generally accomplished, through repeated contact.

"Iím planning on contributing, but I donít know how much Iíll be able to donate." Most people using this response never raised the issue again and repeatedly ducked me in the hallways at work. It was amusing to see the lengths some people went to avoid me. I had to chase some guys into the bathroom. See the lengths I had to go, even when I didn't have to go?

"I give so much already." Many probably did. Some probably did not.

"The American Lung Association isnít one of my charities." It became difficult to distiguish between a contrived excuse or a real one. I tried to give people the benefit of the doubt, but there were times when I'd wish they'd support me, rather than just the ALA.

"Things are pretty tight at home," or "I donít have enough now!" I heard this a lot. If these people contributed anything, I was glad for their support. I always figured that everyone could stand to part with $10 (geez, pack a lunch for a couple of days).

I knew that I wouldnít be getting contributions from everyone, but I was surprised at the lengths people went to avoid contact. I would have preferred a simple "no", but instead, I received a barrage of excuses, some real, some made-up. I learned one simple truth. Those that could apparently afford to give the most (big salary - senior staff members, people driving fancy cars, etc.) didnít. Those that could afford to give the least (hourly wage earners, etc.), donated the most and generally with true generosity. While it has been a personal growing experience, asking for help, and an interesting process, it's not one that will likely be repeated any time soon. It's a lot of work!

Now that the $7,000 fund-raising limit has been attained, I can concentrate on training. It's coming along, although I'm resentful of the amount of time it takes up. A 40-50 mile ride on Saturday, followed by the same (or more) on Sunday, leaves very little weekend left (and an equivalent amout of energy) for such mundane, but necessary things like: shopping, cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc. Did I say that I don't like to ride in circles? Iíve put about 750 miles on my new bike and have accumulated over 1000 miles of training since starting in January. Some of it was hard, all of it took time. My knees suffered, until I was properly fitted to my bike. Fitting wasn't as easy as I thought it would be and I've been amazed at what a big difference a small, minor adjustment can make. But it does make sense. After a 40-mile ride with an average speed of, say, 15 MPH and cadence of about 80 RPM, that's nearly 18,000 revolutions. Double that for an average day on the Big Ride and that's a lot of repetative knee movement. With your feet clipped into your pedals, a slight mis-alignment could spell big trouble for your knees, accompanied by excruciating pain, after only a short while. It's important to solve these fit problems ASAP, before long-term damage is done. I've learned that most recreation cyclists have their seats adjusted too low. So, when I began training, I'd raise the seat and ride 50 miles, coming home with some knee pain. Next time, I'd raise it a bit more and ride another 50 miles and have more (or less pain). I'd continually adjust the seat, the handlebars or pedals. Gradually, I got things set up so that my rides became more and more pain-free.

Unfortunately, just when I thought I had the bike adjusted to my body, I rode Lionís Trail (which has an elevation gain of over 2,500 feet over a 9-mile stretch), for the 3rd time, last Saturday, returning home with a new, here-to-for unfelt, knee pain. Then, I went for an 80-mile ride the next day, on a less rigorous route. "Ouch, ouch, ouch," complained my knee, with each stroke. Itís now quite tender and Iím laying off of it this week, hoping that it will heal. The 3-day "Little-Big" Lung Ride ride is this coming weekend. Iíll test it again then, but I'm worried about knee pain and bike fit. The thought of riding 80-miles every day for 40+ days, experiencing knee-pain with each stroke, is unsettling. Will I be able to make it to Washington D.C.? What if the pain becomes intolerable on day 3? I don't want to be forced to quit.

Iím nearly 40 and paying the price for it, it seems. Iíll never just be able to hop on a bike, or hit the ski slopes, or backpack, without having to nurse, curse or open my purse. Getting old sucks.