Back on my bike after all these years- Ann Marie Sladek

//Back on my bike after all these years- Ann Marie Sladek

Back on my bike after all these years- Ann Marie Sladek

Back on my bike after all these years……………………

A year ago my sister asked me if I would be interested in joining the MHWTC. After many conversations of her encouraging me to just come out to the training events and my reluctance to get involved I started to think…….how could I possibly fit this in working full-time, baseball for 2 boys and wrestling for one of them. A husband who’s work schedule is on again off again, and just the demands of everyday.  Yup, I had to think about it. My life was so overwhelmed with well L.I.F.E. I couldn’t see the trees through the forest!!

This past January I made a conscious effort that things were going to change for me, and it was going to be positive for both me and my family. January 1st I took a different job that gave me back what I had lost – time. Time for me, time for my family, time to breathe. Mid January I started back at a gym but most of what I had time for was running on the treadmill. It was a start and with every week I saw improvement walking, than a brisk walk. Time to pick up the pace but how? My sister said to me hey did you see that Couch to 5K? What are you talking about?  I thought she was joking at first, then I googled it and there it was. Next thing I knew I was running, well in my case just trotting along. But I did it.

I signed up for my first Triathlon at Riverwinds and then my next Queen of the Hill then my last this season was SheRox. I loved them all but my favorite part in a tri is the bike. I love to bike. It’s a freedom that can take you where ever you want to go for as long as you want to spin. After SheRox was over I felt a lull in my training and seemed to miss some of my new found friends. I saw some of the girls had signed up for the MS 150 and were on the team “Amanda’s Angels”. I talked to some of my friends (i.e. Leigh Ann and Patty) and wondered with only 30 days before the ride would I beable to raise the minimum needed to ride and would I beable to make the trek down and return? With their encouragement I pushed the button signed up, now I was committed.

The fund raising part started slow and I wasn’t sure how I was really going to raise the funds. I mentioned to my co-workers I had signed up for the MS 150 would they help me. I spread the word on facebook and asked for help from my friends. With a little desperation from myself I was able to surpass the minimum goal in just a few short weeks. Wheeeww with that behind me now onto the ride.

I asked a couple of people from the team what their overnight arrangements were and quickly realized I needed a place to stay. The MS site had a central phone number to call to make reservations for teams, individuals, families, just about everyone. That was easy, one room for a family of 4. Who forgot to check the calendar before that was done? ME! So with a baseball tournament for 1 son, wrestling practice for the other son and a softball game for my husband I realized it was just going to be ME and my bike, Okay! I can do this.

Friday night I packed my backpack, checked my bike/tires, and got a couple phone numbers from my Tri girlfriends so we could meet up. YUP, totally nervous nelly making sure I had it all together. I even laminated the cue sheet just in case it rained and I got lost.

Woke Saturday morning at 4am, got it together and off we went. We pull up to Woodcrest Station exit and the cars were backed up on 295 so far that it was a longer wait than I had time. I needed to meet up with the team at the baggage drop off by 5:40am. So off to the next exit to sneak around and if I had looked at my instructions I would have realized Woodcrest Station Road was closed. OK park in the Xerox parking lot and they were ready for the overflow. Baggage drop off, clean porta potties, volunteers everywhere it was awesome!! Still pitch black!! But it was awesome!! I kissed the family good-bye and off to the meeting spot. I thought WOW the enormity of this event was just awe inspiring. I easily found the team, hard to miss bright orange jerseys, they are eye catching!

I joined the team at the back of the first group to go off which were the Century riders and the fast riders and then there was me….yup I got in their somehow. We took off with the start of the event and slowly made our way through the parking lot onto the road and through a residential community. We were so close to each other we could have changed each others gears. My good friend and riding buddy Leigh Ann and I were just chatting away with exhilaration over the start, we were stoked, and it was thrilling to be among that many riders that had started this journey to support MS. Within minutes a rider comes up next to us and says “Do I hear my tri girls?” We look over and here comes Dave Rode up next to us. Small world in a SEA of thousands of riders. We continued on our journey accompanied by Laura Bonnette Longo and Becky (?). It was so cool to ride together as a team. We had so many shout outs asking how the Angels were doing? And where’s Amanda?

The 70 + miles took us through back roads, farm fields, cranberry boggs, volunteers and policeman at every turn. There were rest stops every 15 to 20 miles with food, water, Gatorade, DJ’s, bike mechanics and porta potties, yes clean porta potties!!! We were riding 5 riders deep at times and nothing in front but bike riders and nothing behind but bike riders. OMG!! I love bikes!! Becky and Laura turned off at the Century tour and Leigh Ann and I continued on to OC.

The first 70 miles felt like a one mile walk around the park and then Somers Point came and we were so close, the sea air the breeze the smell of the finish line and we turned the corner along the back bay and there are 2 bridges in front of us, 2!! Oh NO!! I’m asking everyone where’s the finish line? Where is it? Do we have to go over those bridges? The answer was YES, not one but both of them! The steam came out of me faster than a freight train speeding down the tracks. With my trusty sidekick, Leigh Ann, I made it up and down both of those bridges. As we came into town we past the house where the team “Amanda’s Angels” were staying. The house was decorated in orange of course. The people were cheering us on, the kids were so excited to see us with the orange jerseys. The finish line seemed more like a mission. We finished the ride strong flying into the finish line side by side. The crowd cheering us on and Leigh Ann’s mom as our personal paparazzi, it was without a doubt an incredible accomplishment, 78.9 miles later.

The ride wasn’t over yet, we still had Day 2. This time we had a trio, Leigh Ann, Cheryl Tavano and I.  The start for Day 2 was not full of the fanfare Day 1 had. You got up ate breakfast (served by the MS volunteers) and off you went. We didn’t quite get that at first but eventually realized we needed to just get on our way. Still pitch black, the bridges seemed less obtrusive then the end of our ride the night before. Day 2 we had a couple of things going on, our seats weren’t quite as comfy as they were on day 1 (OUCH!). There weren’t as many people on the return trip as we had going down. We knew early on that the way home was to jump on a pace line and stay with a group.  There was only one stretch of the road between rest stops where we didn’t have a group to draft and it felt endless. We soon recovered and found a mixed group of riders that worked well together and we —-I was thankful!! I’m pretty sure Leigh Ann and Cheryl Tavano were too. As we got closer to the finish line we were peddling faster and faster, (maybe that was just me).  We had our paparazzi all set up for our finish line photo. Just one phone call 5 miles before the finish line, which our amazing Leigh Ann did while riding in the pace line at 16 + mph.  I don’t know if  I should be writing that but that was nothing but amazing. We finished all lined up together, me, Cheryl Tavano and Leigh Ann. Just a wonderful feeling, another 78.9 miles later.

What a memorable weekend it was, thanks to my teammates “Amanda’s Angels” what a great ride!! My riding buddies especially Leigh Ann and Cheryl for sticking with me on the ride and making the ride so much more than just a ride to the shore.
We’ll never forget the sights we saw. The guy riding his bike with Harley boots and a green pillow on his seat. Leigh Ann was looking for that pillow on Day 2. We shared a couple of laughs with him. The one guy who was in desperate need of new shorts, made me laugh so hard (at the jiggly butt) that I couldn’t keep pace. The one rider who said he was very disappointed with the ride because he couldn’t understand how (7,000) riders wouldn’t stay single file. HAHA!! The hole in the road that wasn’t really a hole, stay alert people. My left turn when everyone was turning right in front of me, I respond to hand signals people not signs. The volunteers and spectators just thanking us for riding for the cause, just doing something we love to do and they were thanking us!!  (I know it was so much more than that.)

By | 2011-10-04T10:49:28+00:00 October 4th, 2011|Triathlon|Comments Off on Back on my bike after all these years- Ann Marie Sladek

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