What inspired you to participate in this event?
In the past we have participated in biking and running events for charities, but when we learned about this great opportunity to raise awareness for autism and to bike from Washington, DC to Dewey Beach, DE, we decided that this was the event for us. Ultimately, we wanted to make our family and friends aware of and initiate conversations about autism and to raise money for Autism Speaks and their mission.
Can you describe the race experience?
We started training in early March using a 20 week training program. We biked on trails and routes in the Baltimore and Washington metro areas. We were on a lot of hilly routes to help strengthen our endurance, and we even biked 70 miles on the Delaware shore in hot and windy conditions. Bengay cream and Ibuprofen were definitely our “best friends” for a while.
On race day the ride started at a fast pace from Baltimore to Annapolis because we were in a large group of people. Once we crossed over to the Eastern shore, we had to readjust our pace. It was late July and the heat and humidity were pretty high. We had some flat tires along the way and there were definitely some moments when we were the only ones out on the road.
When the race was over, we were very happy that our training paid off. It took us 11 hours to reach the finish line, but it was well worth it. Truly the most important part we felt was the support that Autism Speaks and the many volunteers provided to us along the route.
Did you learn anything new about autism or were you inspired by anyone you met or stories you heard?
Through this whole process, we discovered that some of our coworkers have children with autism and this provided them with an opportunity to have an open conversation with us about what their daily rewards and challenges are as a parent. It made us much more aware about autism at a personal level.
What contribution do you hope your efforts made?
We were able to raise over $1,800 as a team for Autism Speaks. Of course, we hope these funds go to more research, but in the end it gave us the chance to connect with people who are dealing with autism in their families and become aware of their needs.
How has this experience changed you?
We believe it made us more aware of the challenges parents and health professionals go through on a daily basis, but also that there are support systems available. We realized during our conversations with friends and family that there is still much to do and so much more to learn. We are glad that we are now part of this effort, and we have already signed on for the 2016 Bike to Beach charity event for Autism Speaks.