I’ve done a number of charity rides since I started road biking last year, but the 2016 Ride to Remember was definitely a highlight of my experiences thus far. We started out from Simpsonville, South Carolina on Friday morning with beautiful sunny weather and completed 66 miles to Newberry College by about midday.
Thankfully on day 2, Newberry to Orangeburg, we were blessed with cloud cover for almost all 90 miles. I wasn’t on an organized team but a lot of solo riders who averaged about 17 mph or so grouped up and we managed to stay together for most of days 2 and 3. Overall the route was net downhill, so the main challenge is staying hydrated and reasonably comfortable for the longer mileages.
On day 3, we were again blessed with cloud cover until the last 20 miles crossing Charleston, when those clouds finally let loose a pretty epic thunderstorm. We crossed the West Ashley bridge as lightning hit the water, dodged flooded areas of downtown, and stopped for a quick picture on the Ravenel before finishing our journey at Patriot’s Point. The USS Yorktown is barely visible behind me in the picture above, but I promise, it’s there.
What I can’t really capture in pictures is the incredible feelings of camaraderie and encouragement, and the friendships formed in these 3 days. Most other charity group rides I’ve done feel team-centered or competitive, but this ride is really something special. I’ve never felt so supported on a ride, from the nearly 100 volunteers making sure everything ran as smoothly as possible to the other rides sharing supplies, advice and words of encouragement along the way. Tired as I was by Sunday, I didn’t want the weekend to come to an end.
I would do this ride again in a heartbeat, as long as I’m in the country next year. If my travel plans allow it, you’ll see me at it once again for the 10th anniversary of the ride next year. We raised over $400,000 this year for the Alzheimer’s Association (the annual goal this year was $330,000), so I can’t wait to see what this ride will grow into in years to come.