Where: Equinox, 521 5th Avenue, New York, NY
Cycle for Survival 2012: The Year It Actually Mattered
This was my 4th year at Cycle for Survival, but it was the first time it was personal. I've always loved the spirit of the event, the Lance-Armstrong-esque vibe, the cause, the pure energy - but I was never on one of the teams with the little pink shirts that says "so-and-so kicked cancer's butt!" or "I'm cycling because Johnny can't!" This year was different.
On the event.
The timing was poignant. Michele Baldwin, a close family friend (the woman we interviewed last month about her Paddleboard trip down the Ganges) died the previous Sunday from cervical cancer at age 45. Her funeral was the day of the event. So as her mother, father, brother, and two children celebrated her life, I strapped on some spin cleats and actually an set an intention for the ride : gratitude. Because you never know when science, or God, or whoever you give credit to is going to sneak up and shove a chunk of cancer in someone you love.
And maybe, if I pedal as hard as I can, I can stop that from happening again. The things we tell ourselves.
Everything came together in this ride. It was real, it was devastating. It was simultaneously pure joy. Like I said in the article I wrote after Jen's death - it was what fitness should be. My teammate and I laughed, danced, and probably shed at least a shotglass full of tears (not to mention the excessive hugging, kissing, and I-love-you-mans).
The evangelism of this event is cathartic. I screamed, whooped, and made as much noise as humanly possible. I gooned out and wiggled like a worm on my bike. I made finger guns and shot at random riders around the room (occasionally they shot back). When I wasn't on the bike, I jumped an imaginary jump rope and showcased my sweet dance moves.
I can't even write about this video without tearing up. At the end, they played a clip of Jen dancing alone to Maroon 5's "Moves like Jagger". She did the robot and the sprinkler; she rocked the running-man; she rowed an imaginary boat. Those are my moves. I have videos of myself that are creepily identical. Needless to say, we lost it.
Not a dry eye in the crowd. It was a wonderful way to end.
Okay. Enough with the sadness. On to the instructor magic.
Wil Ashley, I love you
- First of all, Wil is a major hot tamale. Crazy blue eyes and blonde hair. Another RYB blogger had already favorited him, so it was a stroke of luck that I got to experience Wil first-hand (we try not to rate the same instructors, so he wasn't on my to-do list). Anyway, he blew it out of the water.
- My cycle buddy and I agreed that we had no idea what was coming from Wil based on his quiet cycling style during the previous session. There were 4 instructors on the stand at all times, but they were very respectful of one another - to the point where they almost muted themselves while the others were teaching so as not to steal the limelight. Impressive, especially for people like Darryl Gaines (who is an absolute nutjob - LOVE).
- Wil was very serious, and didn't talk excessively, but his instructions were precise.
- He lip-synced the music the whole way through, which was charming and silly. He was 100% present.
- Circling through the room to interact with riders, Wil made great eye contact and encouraged energy. My kind of guy. He managed to make it personal even in a room of hundreds of bikers.
- Wil was cool as a cucumber, but he was also emotional about Jen and made it a point to repeatedly remind us of the purpose of the event. I feel strongly about this - its an event where I want to get emotional, and the instructors should facilitate that. Check.
- Will told a touching story about how Jen used to call him the "Spin Nazi". She showed up at her first Wil class wearing a wig with pigtails, in typical goofy Jen fashion - he had no idea who she was, or that she had cancer, but he instantly liked her for her attitude and riding energy. Sweet.
Muzack makes me lose control
Wil's music was amazing.
- Wil started out by dedicating "Chasing Cars" to Jen, and Snow Patrol reminded us that "Those three words/ Are said too much/ They're not enough". Tears.
- We rocked out to "Like a Prayer" and I think we achieved over 50% sing-along participation from the room. Awesome.
- A new song I hadn't heard - and am now OBSESSED WITH: We are Young (Fun. ft. Janelle Monáe)
- At the end, he played "I get knocked down", apparently a mutual favorite of Wil and Jen's (and we got up again).
- Finished off with a little LMFAO dance party, and we were invited to get off the bikes and come dance on the stage (I accepted this invitation).
- Lots of other good stuff in between. Seriously slammin' playlist.
I have a few comments for the participants of CFS:
- When the instructor tells you to hug your neighbor, HUG YOUR FUCKING NEIGHBOR. You'll feel better after, I promise. For example, I think my neighbor felt great when I hugged her.
- If you are not cycling or dancing, please remove yourself from the biker area. People who just stand around are energy dementors. If you want to hang out in the instruction area, could you at least bounce, or shuffle, or scream, or do something that's not blah? Do not linger in front of my bike with your arms crossed, looking bored!
On Darryl Gaines:
I wasn't there, but I heard he was "a total crazy person" from my teammate (a Darryl newbie). I expect nothing less.
On Rachel Buschert:
Again, I wasnt there, but my team said she rocked out.
Here's one thing I liked:
Every time we left our bike for more than 5 minutes, someone got on it. I mean, we kicked them off, but no hard feelings - bikes shouldn't be empty at this event. I dug it.
The dolla bills:
CFS raised an insane amount of money this year - last time I checked the site they were at almost $8 million. Up from $4.2 million last year. Amazing. Proceeds go to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital for research on rare cancers.
I've said it before, and I will repeat it until you get it. YOU MUST GO TO THIS EVENT.
From the Cycle for Survival website: Co-founded in 2007 by Jennifer Goodman Linn and her husband, Dave, Cycle for Survival is the national, indoor relay-style team cycling event that has raised more than $9 million in support of lifesaving research on rare cancers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and in the past five years has funded twenty-five clinical trials and research studies.Cycle creates an opportunity for each of us to truly make a difference — every dollar raised by Cycle goes directly to Memorial Sloan-Kettering for research on rare cancers, paving the way for new, more effective treatment options.Cycle is one of the world's fastest-growing athletic fundraising events. Cycle 2012 will be the biggest ride to date with over 10,000 cyclers from across the country teaming up with friends, family and coworkers in New York City, Chicago, Long Island, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and at satellite events worldwide!Join the movement that brings hope to lives touched by rare cancers. Register or join a team today or make a gift to Cycle. No one beats cancer until we all beat cancer. Together, we can make a difference!
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