You would have had to see it to believe it. An always strenuous 300 mile Chefs Cycle ride faced with uncharacteristically cold weather and 5-6 hours of driving rain and biting winds on each of Day 2 and Day 3. There’s really no way to convey the pain and discomfort, especially to hands and feet (which are fairly important to cycling) when riding heavily soaked and cold for hours on end.
During the day there were a record number of flats because potholes filled to the top with water just looked like another stretch of dark pavement. Some riders had to come off the road when the wilderness survival blankets that were handed out were not enough to keep them from potential hypothermia. In the evenings you could find many in their room on hands and knees trying desperately to dry out their socks, shoes and clothes with a hand-held hair dryer so they could ride again the next day. Even the most experience riders afterward told me Day 3 was one of the hardest things they’ve ever done.
The riders have always been the heroes of Chefs Cycle, but this year it was our staff colleagues who really stood out, too many to be able to name here. After months of careful planning they ended up working around the clock to change and abbreviate the routes to safer roads, ensure riders would have additional supports needed to complete the ride, and communicate so that all were on the same page. Tom and I heard the kind of praise that would make you proud. They are to be congratulated on their own heroic journey. It was a spectacular display of servant leadership, world class hospitality, and dedication to the mission of Share Our Strength.
This is the morning I wake up early each year, soak in a hot bath, and swear to myself I will never do it again. But of course the kids we seek to serve don’t have the option of saying I’ll never be hungry again, so I’m sure I speak for most of the riders in promising we won’t let the bike get too rusty or sit idle for too long.