I completed Braking the Cycle 2011 at about 4:20 yesterday afternoon. While it was difficult to get up Sunday morning after Saturday’s strenuous 105 miles. Once we got out on the road though I found some decent energy to get through the day.

Yesterday was 80 miles from Bridgeport into the city. Where Saturday was mostly about hills, Sunday seemed more about stop and go in cities. Many stop signs and red lights. It makes me happy I don’t clip-in to my pedals because the folks who clip-in and clip-out where having a pretty monotonous day.

I spent the majority of the day riding with Kip and George, his dad. For most of the New York City riding, we joined up with Joey and Tom, a new friend we met during the ride. As we went south through the city we joined up with some other Goats as well as some other riders as well.

The day ended at the Center for the Closing Ceremonies/Welcome Home. The fund raising total for the year was just over $401,000, which is an incredible amount and significantly more than the $318,000 raised in 2010. That will help the Center to continue to deliver their services, which are so important to help people with HIV/AIDS as well as helping educate others on how to prevent contracting the disease.

Here’s the group shot of the Flying Goats, snapped just before we rode into the closing ceremonies

There are more pictures to see on Flickr.

It’s hard to wrap up the entire ride experience with so much bouncing around my head. There are definitely a few things to be said and thanks to be made:

  • I couldn’t do this ride without the support of some wonderful donors: Adam, Allison, Ashley, Benji and Brian, Bill, Brian, Carolyn, Chad, Cheryl, Christopher, David A, David S, David, Dennis, Edward, Elizabeth, Elvis, Grant, Gregg, Heather, Howard, Jacqueline, Jason, John H., John L., John M., John V., Kay, Keith, Kevin, Kristine, Kyle, Laura, Laurie, Leif, Lenny, Mary Kay, Matthew, Michael B., Michael R., Miro, Olivia, Paul, Puck Buddys, Ray, Rebecca, Rich P., Rich S., Robb, Robin, Scott, Stephanie K., Stephanie S., Steven, Susanna, Theresa, Tony, Vanessa, Victoria and several anonymous donations as well. Two special shout outs: 1) To my Mom for being making the single largest donation I received. 2) To Jacob for holding a scrimmage in August and giving the profits to me, which was worth about $450 in cash, which was matched and turned into $900, which went into the Flying Goats team fund.
  • The Flying Goats, both this year’s team as well as the members who didn’t ride this year, are an amazing family–always supportive, always helpful and always there to help you get through whatever is going on. I really lucked out getting into this group.
  • I’ve thanked them before and must again: Kip and Joey were perfect to train with. The rides we did all summer made it possible for me to not just get through the ride this year, but really succeed at it.
  • Four people helped get me up Mount Eric on Saturday. This year I made it up to the people who were pushing under my own power. Four people from Team Eagle pushed me up the hill (they traded off, kind of like I was a relay baton) while I pedaled. I know Anthony was one of them, the first one to get me going. I don’t know who the other three were, but I thank them for it. As Eric said last year during day two dinner, the hills represent the difficult times people living with HIV/AIDS can experience. The people who give people a push up Mount Eric represent the community that can help people overcome those difficult times.
  • Two rounds of thanks to Clay Williams. Clay is a member of the Goats and I’ve known him since last spring. Clay is a member of the Positive Pedalers (he serves on their Board too). First of all he gave some important advice during breakfast on Saturday about how to get up hills without straining your shoulders and neck. I worked on this Saturday with varied success, but I got of got it nailed down on Sunday and came out of it without knots in those areas. Clay has been an inspiration since I met him. He’s out there riding as strong as the rest of us, and he’s got such a wonderful and warm personality. During the closing ceremonies, Clay spoke to the crowd and I learned more about Clay’s life and what it was like when he was diagnosed in 1991. Clay is a strong willed survivor. I’m glad he made it through some very tough times. I am proud to call him a friend and a teammate. I am more inspired by him than ever before. Thank you, Clay for allowing me, and everyone else at Closing Ceremonies, know more about you.
  • Kip’s dad, George, rode this year. George is amazing. He had experienced some knee issues and probably shouldn’t have been riding on Sunday, but he rode those 80 miles with a smile on his face and some great road conversation. It was an honor to hang out with him a little bit on Saturday and a lot on Sunday.
  • My hill work improved over the course of the weekend. I figured out, watching other riders, the trick in using a downhill to power up for an uphill. Pedal, pedal, pedal while you’re going down hill to build up the momentum and try to keep that cadence going up the hill. I don’t have it down perfect yet, but I got better at it as Sunday went on. This is one of my key training points to work on moving forward.
  • The iPod in my head was hung up on some pretty weird stuff over the weekend. Somehow I would get a song or two stuck in my head early in the day and it would cycle over and over for the day. Friday I had Bette Midler’s “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” from Beaches. I have no idea where that came from. On Saturday, over breakfast Kip managed to stick me with the theme from Jem. Nothing I did could shake that out for more than a few minutes. Sunday had a weird combo going with the Glee version of “Raise Your Glass” (this one at least made sense because it played on my iPod while I was getting ready Sunday morning) and the Lonely Goat Header song from The Sound of Music.
Next year is the 10th Braking the Cycle. I am definitely going to be a part of it. As of last night, Will and I are signed up to be crew. I admit, after the success I had with the ride this year I am already thinking of riding again. However, I would like to do the ride from the other side and crew because it’s such a valuable part of the ride. Plus,  I would love to share the ride with Will and crewing together would be a way to do that.
I know I will continue to train with Kip and Joey (and hopefully Tom and Clay too) as I want to continue to strengthen my abilities on the bike. Based on my enjoyment of my caboosing on Friday, I’ll probably take a more active role on the training rides too next year and caboose some of those.