Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Key to Keys: The "Finish"

The start of our last day...Homestead, Fla to Key West.
(Matt Brown, our awesome photographer, is missing from the pic because he was taking it)

When you compete in a running race or a triathlon, it is often a solitary event. There are other competitors and spectators giving you encouragement, but ultimately it is about your best effort on that day. Sometimes there are stories of people sacrificing a faster time in the name of helping someone else get through the race. In the case of the Key to Keys ride, every day was about the sum of your team. What did we bring to the ride as a team? I learned an immense amount about cycling on this to ride in a pace line (thank you Jimmy), some more in-depth bike mechanics (Jimmy again), and wasn't about the time finishing most days, but about the journey. The biggest physical challenge was the amount of time in the saddle. The muscle fatigue wasn't as much of a problem as the saddle soreness that set in after hours of riding. Even when it hurt, it was easy to remind yourself that this was a lot easier than battling cancer, and that cancer doesn't always have a defined finish line.

In any big race I have done, be it a triathlon, marathon, or half marathon, I have cried at the finish line. I'm never quite sure what triggers this reaction...sometimes it is more overt than others. It is joy at finishing the race, a sense of elation at the accomplishment, and thankfulness that I was able to complete something I considered to be a major goal.

The finish of Key to Keys was different...I think we all would have added extra miles at the end if it meant holding on to the feeling of the ride for a little longer. There were lots of jokes in the last few blocks about pedaling backward to make the day last longer. All day, I had thoughts of hugging Tommy at the finish in my head, and I couldn't wait to see him. At the same time, I didn't want for this amazing journey to be over. As we rode through Key West, people on scooters joined in behind us, cheering us on. It made me think of little kids on their bikes, only they were adults. We rolled into the Southernmost Point, and there was Tommy with some of the other spouses. The Ulman Staff were waving our Team Fight flag and cheering, as were the tourists lined up for photos at the Southernmost Point. It was a neat experience to have never visited Key West Before and be seeing it for the first time on my bicycle.

Riding the "Seven Mile Bridge" (which REALLY is 7 miles)

We Made It!!!!!!!!!
Paul Lemle got some awesome shots of our viewpoint.

Paul getting us as we rolled into Key West.

Matt Brown, our elusive and awesome photographer.

The evening ended with a dinner on the beach at "Fort Zach", and a lovely celebration of our accomplishment. One last dedication circle as the sun set reminded us of our accomplishment and gave us an opportunity to say thank you. Despite tired legs and worn bodies, many of us danced into the night, celebrating our accomplishment. (It was funny watching people after a few frosty beverages completely doubt that we had ridden our bikes to Key West).

Patti took this one....a beautiful tribute to our ride.

This truly was an amazing journey, and while we crossed the finish line in Key West, I know that many of us feel our contributions to the Ulman Cancer Fund do not end here...through time, stewardship, sport, and fundraising we will continue to support UCF. A huge thank you to Brian Satola and the Ulman staff for the vision and hard work that made this amazing journey happen...and to Tommy who never says "you can't do that", just "tell me what I need to do". Not to mention all the family, friends, and coworkers who supported in so many ways. My cup is overflowing, and thank you doesn't seem to be enough, but thank you for helping me along on this journey.


  1. Love you, Kier! So happy and proud of you! Glad it was such an incredible experience!!

  2. So proud of you Kier! Not just for all the great work you've done for UCF, but this is a major athletic feat! You've had your share of physical hurdles in the past few years and I hope you appreciate how huge it is that you are able to just be out there and enjoy all that time on the road.