If you read my previous entry, you’ll know I had an interesting 3-Day experience last year, and that I decided I would join the crew instead of walking this year. I was so thrilled when I found out I got my first choice, Route Safety!
The Route Safety Crew
Route Safety is responsible for just that: Making sure the walkers stay safe. We’re the first on the route and the last to leave. We man the intersections to make sure cars see the walkers (you’d be amazed, even with all that pink), cheer for the walkers as they head out, and keep cheering until the very last person makes it back to camp.
This year the crew had 18 motorcycles and 6 bicycles – about of third were newbies, and the rest had been doing this for some time. As a bicyclist, I had three main responsibilities: Relieve the motorcyclists at the intersections (some intersections needed a safety person for several hours); take care of the walkers on the miles of trail where there was no motorized vehicle access; and provide humor/distraction/motivation for the walkers along the route.
I don’t think you could find a more compassionate, fun and zany group than this team. A couple of people went to great lengths to be a part of the crew, including Michael, who rode his Harley up from San Diego for the event. Michael lost his wife to breast cancer several years ago, and participates in at least four 3-Day events each year, crewing in three cities and walking in one. Michael’s got great taste in walking music, and can strut around in furry hot pink leg warmers like nobody’s business. He’s also got a beautiful pink ribbon tattoo.
Fashion v. Function
Generally speaking, 3-Day walkers and crew have a lot of fun dressing up for the event. And I do love to dress up! I decided my 3-Day alter-ego would be modeled after the Rat City Rollergirls, and got to work putting together a wardrobe. My son helped me pick out a wig (we got the one he said was most “me” – not sure what to make of that) and I picked up some hot pink tights and a black lace skirt to wear with my cycling shorts. I packed some black lace-up boots to wear, which ended up being remarkably comfortable. Add a hot pink safety vest ordered online and I was good to go! My trusty Novara Buzz with its disc brakes and panniers (to hold rain gear) was perfect for the cloudy/sunny/rainy weather, the only downside being a lack of a granny gear.
I made sure I stayed at an intersection long enough to see the all of the walkers, from the first to the last, at least once each day. I met some great people (yes, I still remember your names Angie Stacy Heidi Margaret Marissa Cliff and Joan) and had fun seeing familiar faces as the event progressed. I witnessed people overcoming physical challenges – two teams had members take turns pushing a teammate in a wheelchair – and got caught up in the emotional intensity of the event. I saw walkers laughing and crying, celebrating and remembering.
I wrote about Team Tracy a couple of weeks ago, and they were there in full force. I ran into Tracy every day and was so impressed by the positive energy she shared with everyone around her, even as her physical energy levels dropped. Tracy was a flag bearer at both the opening and closing ceremonies. I can’t think of a better person to represent young survivors.
Riding the Route
I love riding my bike! Not only did I get to ride my bike every day, but I got to meet and hang out with people who were committed to supporting a great cause. Several walkers commented on how hard they thought my job was… I’ve walked 20 miles on back-to-back days before, and trust me, it’s much easier to be on a bike. Sore tush and all. The days were long (10-12 hours on the bike) but I was so energized by the walkers that I didn’t notice, at least not until the day was over. I had a mantra to chant when I felt like a hill was getting the best of me: If they can walk 60 miles, I can make it up a stinkin’ hill.
Next Up: San Diego!
I was completely caught off guard by the emotional impact day 3 had on me, how much I wished I could have completed it last year. I thought I was done with the crazy notion of walking 60 miles, but this experience, these courageous walkers, have inspired me to give it another try. So, I’ll be walking in the San Diego 3-Day at the end of November with the lovely ladies of the For Claudia team. Wish me luck!