The time finally arrived for the Pedal the Cause event weekend. Pedal the Cause is a bicycling event to raise funds for cancer research at The St. Louis Siteman Cancer Center and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Jeff and I had been fundraising for months and were excited to be attending the 2 day event.
We arrived in Chesterfield, Missouri (a St. Louis suburb) Friday evening and spent the night not sleeping at the Drury Inn. It may have been nerves, coffee too late in the evening, a few days of pseudoephedrine for sinusitis or all of the above. Neither of us slept well.
We awoke Saturday morning late and out-of-sorts. I had hoped to be to the PTC registration table around 9 a.m. Instead, we stumbled down to hotel breakfast. The place was full of hungry hotel guests. We managed to find a table, eat and read our Kindles. It wasn’t a bad way to start the morning.
After leaving our table, we headed back upstairs to our room and prepared to go to registration. Registration opened at 9 a.m., but the party didn’t start until 2 p.m. I had planned a fun, relaxed day for us. There would be no need to rush. We would get registered, return to the hotel and enjoy some wifi, go to lunch and then head to the party where we would meander through booths and enjoy food from Taste the Cause. We were already off my planned schedule, but I wasn’t flustered by that. We would adjust our sails and plan a new course. It would still be a great day.
Jeff loaded the bikes on the back of the car and we drove to the Macy’s parking lot which was serving as the parking lot for the Pedal the Cause event. We proceeded to walk our bikes approximately half a mile to the registration area. In hindsight, we should have ridden them; however, I was dressed in wide legged pants and sandals and neither of us thought it would be that far. The sun beat down upon us as we made our way to registration. We arrived in front of the registration desk hot and tired, but glad to be there.
Registration was organized and efficient. We received our packets and jerseys and headed around the corner to the bike corral. The event organizers recommended riders bring their bikes the day before and leave them at the event thereby eliminating some of the chaos at the start of the ride. Jeff and I thought that was a great idea. We were instructed to go to the left and behind the registration desk to find the bike corral. We did find it there; and yet we could not enter it. The corral sat atop a small hill and was completely surrounded by fencing. The corral could be entered through one long, narrow shoot which could be entered at street level at the bottom of the hill. We needed to descend the hill to reach the entrance. Jeff headed down the hill with his bike and I attempted to follow him. I had trouble with my footing because of my footwear. My sandals were pretty and comfortable for standing, but they were not made for traversing hilly slopes. An event volunteer came to my rescue and helped me get my bike down the hill.
Once we were down the hill, Jeff and I turned 180 degrees and started pushing our bikes up the hill and into the bike corral. The entrance to the corral was a dirt path which had been covered with straw. The floor of the corral was covered in straw. As I walked pushing my bike, pieces of straw jabbed my feet and became wedged between my feet and my sandals. Clearly, I had not chosen the proper footwear for this event.
The bike corral was a square shape about 50 by 50 yards. In the right corner of the eastern boundary of the corral was a desk for gear check with a huge Mi-box for storing gear directly to the left of the gear check desk. To the left of the Mi-box was a row of bright blue porta-potties with hand-washing station directly in front of them. To the left of the porta-potties were tents for changing clothes. In front of this line of service items were rows and rows of silver metal racks for hanging bicycles. The corral had a few bikes in it already, but it was mostly empty.
Jeff and I selected a rack that seemed to be on level ground. We dug into our registration packets and found our bike numbers. The numbers were printed in black on a white sticker. We peeled the stickers off and placed them on the seatpost of our bikes. The sun was climbing high into the sky and the bike corral was getting hot. We left our bikes with security guarding them. I was glad to be moving toward the car and I felt we had accomplished two big tasks.
We headed out toward the street, up the hill toward the Macy’s parking lot and back to our car. We decided on the walk to go into the mall and find something to eat. I was baking on the asphalt parking lot. I was glad to be heading to air conditioning. We entered the mall and looked for a directory. We could not locate one. Not wanting to walk the entire Chesterfield mall to find a suitable restaurant, we used our smartphones to find a directory. We decided to eat at The Cheesecake Factory.
The Cheesecake Factory was at the other end of the mall. We hiked to it, but on the way, I started to feel poorly. It may have been the heat, the lack of sleep, a couple of days’ worth of psuedoephedrine in my system, dehydration or all of the above, but I was not doing well.
We made it to the restaurant where I began to drink copious amounts of water. We each had a turkey burger with a salad which we followed by splitting a piece of mango, key lime cheesecake. The food, the water, and the air-conditioning revived me. We left the Cheesecake Factory and hiked through the mall, out into the hot sun, and into the ovenlike car. Fortunately, the air-conditioning cooled us quickly. We then drove around the mall to our hotel and found that it would have been a shorter walk to the hotel from the Cheesecake Factory than it was to walk all the way back to the car.
We drove back to the hotel and parked the car in the basement parking garage. From the parking garage, we went into the hotel and up to our 10th floor room. Once in our room, we proceeded to look through our registration packet and goody bag. We then tried on our jerseys. Jeff’s fit perfectly and he was happy. Mine zipped up, but was more snug than I liked. I was disappointed.
We made a plan to head back to the PTC event. We packed a tote bag with things we would need for the evening and headed to the car. Jeff took the driver’s side and I sat in the passenger’s seat. He put the key in the ignition and tried to start the car. It did not start. We have been having a problem with our security system, have spent a great deal of money to solve the problem, had the problem vanish for a short time, but now it has returned. We tried several internet fixes to start the car. Nothing was working. Jeff was becoming frustrated. We were stuck in a steamy, basement garage and missing the PTC event. After about 45 minutes, we gave up on the car and decided to walk to the event.
We walked out of the garage and up the ramp to street level. We cut through an office park, through the mall parking lot and entered the mall. We then proceeded to walk through the mall from the Cheesecake Factory end to the Macy’s end. We then walked through the Macy’s parking lot, and to the PTC event. Jeff was walking fast and I was working hard to stay with him. I had changed my shoes from the sandals to socks and sneakers. That should have been a more comfortable choice, but it was not. With every step the back of the shoe was rubbing my heel. Another poor choice.
We made it to the PTC event area and approached the registration desk to see if I could exchange my jersey for a larger size. The registration area was much busier now than it had been earlier. We waited in line in the hot sun. Fortunately, registration was highly efficient. It wasn’t long until I was speaking with someone about exchanging my jersey. I was told I would need to wait until after the ride to be sure everyone received their jersey. I was disappointed, but I understood.
We left the registration area and sought the hydration tent. I was hot and thirsty. We found giant tubs of bottle water submerged in ice. The water was cold and refreshing. We moved from the hydration tent to the PTC shop where we looked at T-shirts and hats, but bought nothing. From the PTC shop we moved to the Inspirational tent where we received our Living Proof T-shirts and stickers. We also used some of the photo props and took some photos. From there we went to find our team tent. We were riding for Bartlett’s Bikers, a team founded by Dr. Nancy Bartlett who heads the study for the Leukemia drug Jeff takes. We found the tent and met some people. We found ourselves in conversation with some of the other team members when we realized we needed to eat before supper concluded.
We entered Taste the Cause, a food sampling offered by several St. Louis eateries. It was a mad-house. The lines to almost all the vendors were quite long and we were running short on time. We chose a very short line. It wasn’t the meal I would have chosen, but it was our best option. We only had time for the one vendor. We took our food to a shady spot and ate. We had flank steak on a kale salad with a serving of macaroni and cheese from Cleveland-Heath. it was divine! It was also very filling, I didn’t need to sample more food to be satisfied.
Jeff was becoming anxious about making to the team photo on time. We took a shortcut behind the food vendors back to the bike corral. The ground was uneven. The walking was difficult. Jeff’s pace was hard for me to match. I arrived at the changing tent hot, sweaty and breathless. We quickly changed into our lavender Living Proof t-shirts and then marched to the Chesterfield Amphitheater.
We entered the amphitheater and climbed to the top of the hill to our team tent. There we found our team members loosely gathered. The photographer had not arrived. We were scheduled to take the team photo at 6:45 and the Living Proof photo at 6:55. We were standing at the team tent awaiting the photographer when the announcer was calling us to gather for the Living Proof photo. The Living Proof photo is a group photo of riders who have had cancer or who are battling cancer. Unfortunately, Jeff and I are both in this group. Jeff had testicular cancer and then later was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. I had thyroid cancer. These are some of the reasons we chose to ride Pedal the Cause.
We and other Living Proof riders left the team tent to take the Living Proof photo. It was mild chaos. The photographer was not successful in getting the group’s attention and he was not effective in organizing people for the photo. Eventually, he took the photo. I’m suspicious that my face was behind a handrail. The Living Proof group disbanded and our team gathered for our team picture. It went about the same as the first picture.
Once pictures have been taken, we disbanded and found seats in the amphitheater for the Inspirational Program. The Inspirational Program started and it was inspirational as well as emotional and hopeful. I thought it was to be a 30 minute program, but after 45 minutes I became anxious. The program iwa wonderful, but we need to be back at Ride Village at 6 a.m. I needed to go back to the hotel, do a few chores and go to bed.
Shortly after 8 p.m. the program concluded. Jeff and I begun our hike back to the hotel. It was now after dark, but there was a large crowd of people walking together. We walked up the hill to the Macy’s parking lot. Jeff decided that instead of walking around the embankment, we should just climb it. We climbed up the embankment to the parking lot and entered the mall. We walked quickly from one end of the mall to the other, left the mall and walked through the mall parking lot. We then crossed the street and used a walking path, passed an office building and entered the hotel property. We purchased ice cream from the hotel pantry and made our way back up to our room. We then went to the vending machine to buy bottled water. We took cash to the vending machine, but it only accepted credit cards. We went back to the room, retrieved our credit card and purchased bottled water.
We took our water back to the room. Jeff decided he needed to go try to start the car. I decided we needed some fresh towels. Jeff went to the garage to attempt to start the car. I went to the front desk to get fresh towels. We were both successful in our quests. We met back at the room and finally ate the ice cream we purchased.
After we had eaten our ice cream, we organized our gear and prepared for bed. I went to bed with legs sore from all the walking. I feared the walking would take a toll on my performance on the ride, but prayed a good night’s sleep would cure all. I hoped that a stressful pre-ride day would mean a wonderful ride day. I closed my eyes and was soon deep in sleep.