CFF Cycle for Life, Why I Ride
by Kori Tolbert
The CFF Cycle for Life has become an annual event in our household.
Truth be told, I actually started training for this ride because of our team captain, Jack Pittrof. Jack is a cyclist and he cares about me and improving the lives of those who have CF. So he was awesome enough to take the initiative to create team R4K and be a part of supporting our first Cycle For Life here in Rochester (as well as every year sense).
Since the start of Team R4K (Riding for Kori) I have been a part of the ride support team, a cheerleader with some pretty serious cowbell skills (if I do say so myself), graduated to a rider completing 20 of the 35 mile “short ride” out in Geneseo, and finally a rider of the newest addition “shortest ride”, the 10 miler out at Mendon Ponds.
I also always carry my cysters and fibros with me in my heart as I’m on the course. I ride for those who are no longer with us. I ride for those that can’t physically do the ride themselves. I ride for the kiddos who are just starting their journey on a life with CF, and for those who have loved ones affected by CF and are thus affected themselves. Sometimes I say their names inside my head as I’m climbing a hill and use it as motivation, that extra fire or push as I’m staring at my front tire pulling breath in with all of my might. Sometimes I say their names as I’m coasting down a hill, sending them some of that feeling of freedom and accomplishment. I carry them in my heart as I do what I can, because I can. They are with me every year.
I also ride in honor of me. There is something very special about actually having Cystic Fibrosis and having the ability to cross that finish line, no matter the length of the ride. It’s a reminder of what I CAN do.
Even the years that I couldn’t ride, or complete a ride, I was better for having tried. I gained strength, lung capacity, confidence and thus some freedom in my efforts.
So for those who have CF themselves that might be considering, I say go for it! Why not?
Sign up. Give it a try. Set the intention, then get out there on your bike, train for it, see what happens. Set the goal, then just do as much as you can. With the event now offering a 10 mile option it’s a real possibility even for people who aren’t avid cyclists. Even if the day comes and you can’t ride you will have improved your life by the effort to get yourself on a bike to train. You will have helped inspire others to ride, donate, or support the cause by your involvement. And you will be a rock star for taking the initiative. (I’ve actually had to make the heart breaking decision not to ride after a season of training before. Honestly, it was brutal and broke my heart, but even that day I was glad that I had given it my best shot. I was better for it. I had contributed. I had teammates out there completing the course and donors supporting me. So I picked up the pieces and was the best darn cheerleader I could be that day and tried again next year. )
Invite your family and friends. It feels so great to be a part of a team doing it together, cheering each other on and celebrating together after you cross that finish line. For me, having a team there with me that day helps me remember that I’m not alone as I face the challenge of living this life with CF. It helps me see that there are others who want to do what they can to help.
If being on a bike doesn’t work for you then you could sign up to help at a rest stop or for some other part of the event. Or just come cheer! Remind those people out there raising funds and peddling why the heck they do this anyway. Maybe offer them some refreshing pickle juice, right Nate’s Mates ;)? Or just offer up some gratitude. The funds raised are being used to make our lives better. Why not be a part of that?
It’s hard to be a part of this event and not experience gratitude.
Every year that I am there I have a thank you in my heart. I have a thank you for CFF, the funds raised by those who care, and the advancements made that have been a part of helping me to be alive and well enough to be there. I have a thank you for my teammates that are also riding there with me and those who are supporting us via their donations. I have a thank you for all the other riders and support staff all giving of their time and energy to be a part of making a difference for those living with CF. There are so many reasons to experience gratitude. Even if I’m tired and I’ve pushed it to the max, I leave feeling filled up :).
The CFF Cycle for Life has been a beautiful way for me to be a part of supporting an organization that supports me.
Want to join us? Sign yourself up!
See you in August!