Monday, June 01, 2009

Jenni's Journey on the Bike Marathon 2009

We did it! I can't believe I was able to complete the LA Bike Tour/Marathon on Monday, Memorial Day. The last two years I participated in the 5K Walk/Run with Maiya. Last year she was happily riding in the stroller for the first mile, but then got hungry, bored, cranky and vascillating between wanting to push the stroller, but not being able to push it straight, but being too tired to walk. On top of that, I had the flu, and turned out to have a high fever later that day.

This year I wanted to try the Bike Marathon. Having spent much of my 20s mountain biking, I wondered if I could do it, considering I hadn't been on my bike in over 15 years. My mountain bike was in too poor a condition to ride, but my husband Tony offered to give me his dad Larry's comfort bike--Larry passed away in February, so wouldn't be needing his bike anymore. Only problem is that it was up at his house in Crestline near Lake Arrowhead, and we hadn't had time to pick it up.

In the meantime, Nobuko began calling me urging me to begin training. My "training" consisted of inconsistent stretching, and 3 trips to to the gym to ride the stationary bike for 15 minutes each. During those gym practice rides, my knees and hip would hurt and I would never even break a sweat. My friend Lily joked that I would do anything to help raise money for Great Leap. She's right.

Then, on Saturday, 2 days before the ride, we woke up early and drove up to the mountains to pick up Larry's bike. On Sunday, the day before the ride, Tony pumped up the tires and set the bike out for me to take a test run. I took off down the street, going 3 long blocks, and back home... maybe 15 minutes. When I came back, I was wheezing and tired. I wondered out loud how many miles it was to the end of the block and back. Tony groaned. He had promised to ride with me, but I could see him dreading the ride.

Anyways, come Monday morning, Memorial Day, Tony and I woke up at 3:30 am, a mere 3 1/2 hours after going to sleep. As I got dressed in the middle of the night, I was a little bit excited, but pretty nervous. We left the house about 4:15 am, Tony had a tunafish sandwich, but I couldn't even think about food.

We arrived at Senshin Buddhist Temple, meeting 8 others from Great Leap who would be riding with us. We rode quietly and slowly in the dark from Senshin over to Exposition Park. When we arrived, I couldn't believe it. With bright lights blaring, we watched as 10,000 riders were lining up to start. We started about 5:10 am.
The first 2 miles down Exposition Park were crowded, with bike traffic causing us to ride slowly, although it seemed like it was downhill. Not expending much energy, I felt pretty good. As we weaved through Leimert Park, it started getting light out. We went through several residential areas, and I said a silent good morning to Ayako, Reverend Mas and Victor, who live in the neighborhood.

Heading North on Crenshaw, the bikers were thinning out. We hit our first big hill at the freeway overpass. As many times as I've been on Crenshaw, I never realized what a big hill it was. We actually went as far as Fairfax and La Cienega, and passed the Kidney Dialysis Center and one of the many hospitals that Larry was at last year. I got a little emotional thinking about how I was riding on his bike and dedicated the ride in his memory.

We did stop once, I think it was Olympic or Third, about halfway through the ride. Shortly after, we headed back, up through Hancock Park and then Koreatown. We rode past Tony's old school where he taught 3rd and 4th grade for several years, and then rode through the area where I lived until I was 3 months old.

Unfortunately, we got misrouted for a few blocks when a man was painting the LA Marathon logo on the street and was sending everyone down an unpaved street and into traffic. After a few blocks, we got back on the right path. Finally, as we headed south on Vermont Avenue and back to USC, I felt the cool air rushing through my shoes, and I realized we were almost there.

22 miles, in about 2 1/2 hours and we finished just after 7:30 am. Aside from a pretty sore butt, I felt pretty good. Tony had been joking that we would be on a date... but it was really nice to spend time with my hubby on the ride. Afterwards we went to breakfast near our house, and then went home to take a bubble bath and a nap.

Thank you to all who generously sponsored us, made pledges and gave moral support. I hope to do it again next year!


P.S. It's not too late to sponsor us with a check payable to Great Leap. Email me or leave a comment and I'll give you details.

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