The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.
— LLS, Team in Training

This morning as I write to you with the beautiful surrounding of Lake Tahoe still in front of me I am full of both emotion and wonderment. My body is totally exhausted, which I know will pass, leaving the memories and lessons learned to get me past this huge milestone of my first century ride.

With my mom’s spirit guiding me over the 100 miles that took a little over 10 hours, here are the 5 top takeaways from this both physical and mental challenge.  This event was the real culmination of a goal I have been contemplating in riding with Team in Training for the last 8 years since my mother died.

1. Gratitude Wins All

On the ride I took the list with me of all the people who were in fact riding with me.  In addition to my mom and others who have lost their lives to cancer were the people who contributed to put an end to this nasty disease both in money and encouragement for me to get the job done. As each mile passed I thought of them individually, the memories we have shared along our mutual journey and my extreme gratitude to have them in my life.

2. Find your own way to climb the mountain

Over the course of the ride there were many ups and downs (literally) with several climbs of over 2,000 feet.  Not being a big hill climber, I had to find my way to get over them.  The magic formula was in taking the advice given by others and then creating my own individual game plan to get the job done.

3. Joy is in the journey

My sister, Robi, gave me a bracelet before leaving Colorado to wish me well on my ride. On it were the words, “Joy is in the journey.” And as I reflect back to not only the ride itself but the over 1,000 training miles that got me there, there is no doubt that I will cherish this event all of it all the days of my life.

4.  Don’t go it alone

My Pedal Girls teammate, Erica Bolsover was my rock through this journey.  Knowing she was there on those cold winter and spring mornings when we had to ride – always pulling me forward to keep up with her pace. The Rocky Mountain Team in Training also shared their deep experience in having done this ride for over 10 consecutive years - which was invaluable for me on my first ride. 

5.  The last 15 miles

To say I was exhausted at mile 85 is putting it mildly.  I had just climbed one of the most rigorous climbs of the day (not to mention in my life) and I knew there were 15 miles still left to go.  

Coming around a corner in literally the middle of nowhere was the surprise of my family ringing the cowbells and cheering me on. It deeply touched me and was the fuel I needed for my fire to get me to the finish.  I realized in the moment so clearly how I was not riding just for me – I was riding for them as well.

It touched me even more to learn that for 2 hours before they saw me my family was cheering on many other bike riders who needed that positive boost at this point before the final summit.

Goals can transform you...

Funny thing is as I reflect this morning on the gains and sweet rewards this ride gave to me, I realize that they were not at all what I had anticipated initially. The initial goal simply was to raise the money for the LLS organization that had been so helpful and caring when my Mom was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  That was achieved as this ride raised over $3 million collectively from all the bike riders - $4600 from Erica and I’s effort. 

I also am in probably the best shape of my life with a bonus 25 pounds lost in the process.

When you look at your own next big hairy audacious goal that might have you a bit frightened, and perhaps finding yourself procrastinating on as I did, ask yourself what will matter most when you look back after having achieved it?  I hope your answers make you smile as fully as I am this Monday morning.

As always…

To Your Success and Victories,

- Cheri

Cheri Ruskus
Business Strategist and Founder of the Victory Circles
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