By Nora Zei, Rotary staff
When I was selected for the Miles to End Polio team, I was both nervous and excited. I’ve loved cycling since I was a kid. But the longest ride I’d ever completed in a single day was 60 miles. I signed up to do 104 miles? Yikes!
But I’ve learned a little fear actually helps me, driving me to take my training seriously. I embarked upon several short mid-week rides, followed by increasingly long distance rides every weekend, gradually working up to a beast of an 80-mile ride, from Chicago to the Wisconsin border and back. It was a grueling ride with colleagues, a 15 mile-per-hour wind whipping into our faces the whole way home. But after finishing that, my confidence is much higher than it was two months ago.
Two things have made each long ride tolerable — the route and the company. Cycling alongside Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, through country roads in southwestern Missouri wine country, up and down killer hills near Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin, and by gorgeous homes along Chicago’s North Shore, have afforded spectacular views.
But more important by far than that have been the friends I’ve been fortunate to train with. My childhood friend Shauna is always willing to wander off the planned route in pursuit of a great view. My graduate school friends Alison and Britton are always looking to set our next collective fitness goal. And my teammate and new friend Drew’s positive energy is contagious; her humor has kept me laughing when my legs have begun to ache and other muscles protest the long ride.
Enduring all this training, of course, is made immensely more bearable knowing I am doing something to help Rotary reach the finish line in eradicating polio, protecting children everywhere from this paralyzing disease. We’ve been at it for more than three decades now, and we are This Close. Eradicating polio will be a historic accomplishment, and taking part in Miles to End Polio is my small way of being a part of that history.
Now, with over 700 training miles logged, I say “104 miles? I got this!”
Nora Zei is senior director of programs and member services for Rotary International and one of several Rotary staff members who will join General Secretary John Hewko in biking El Tour de Tucson in Arizona to raise money for polio eradication. Read posts from other team members leading up to the 19 November event and learn how you can support the team.
Want to join the effort? Take part in the Indoor Ride to End Polio by riding a stationary bike at your local gym or at home anytime from 12 to 19 November.