Last year, for the first time, I participated in the Alyn Wheels of Love Charity Bike Ride. Before the ride, I heard the following about it from the guy I knew who had done the ride in previous years.
1) The ride is an incredible challenge, loads of fun and a great way to see Israel from a different vantage point.
2) Alyn Hospital is an amazing place and it is an honor to raise money for them.
3) Bikers are a warm, friendly bunch and I am sure to end the ride with zillions of new friends.
Post-ride, my responses to the above assertions would be as follows:
1) Yes--though I would have been happier had slightly more of my sightseeing been from a bike and slightly less from a bus--which is where all stragglers ultimately found themselves. This is not Alyn's fault. This is my fault for not being in good enough shape. Admittedly, I do like to allocate a portion of the blame to my gimpy eyeball and Dr. Halpert for requiring emergency surgery and scheduling emergency surgery, respectively, a month before the ride. Nothing quite like being ordered off your bike for three weeks to put a dent in one's training schedule.
2) Alyn Hospital is an amazing place. I agree without reservation. Not that I would not vote for an ease up on the "heartwarming stories" at dinner. Melodrama (and these things are by nature melodramatic) simply does not do it for me. This is where being a Poor, Sad Heroic Victim of Terror is great. If I were a regular Joe, making a quick exit at the moment the organizers started to launch into the daily fare of heartwarming stories would mean I was an evil misanthrope. As a PSHVOT, however, I can just play the trauma card. All of those melodramatic meetings with Caring Visitors from Abroad, and Caring Communities Abroad...well...you know...the memories. It is...it is just too much. You would be traumatized too. Or at least rendered thoroughly cynical and jaded.*
3) Bikers are a warm, friendly bunch and I would end up with zillions of new friends. No. Not by a long shot.
Just to clarify, the people I met were warm and frendly. But, at least from my experience, it is easier to make zillions of new friends when you do not meet all said zillions of people at one time. And in particular when said zillions of people already know each other, and have been training together for months and months and in fact, are already are friends with one another. Talk about the mother of all cliques.
Registration for Alyn starts tomorrow. I actually was debating whether or not to do it again. I love the ride. I love the cause. I do not particularly love spending a week feeling isolated and like the class nerd. I did make one friend last year (Hi Natalie!) but she will be volunteering, and not riding. What's a wanna-be do-gooder to do?
Finally, it hit me. What I need is a posse. I need people to train with. I need people to ride with. I need people to chat to in the evenings. I need a person to room with that I already know, and that I am going to enjoy seeing. I need people to eat meals with. In short, I need to get to this ride already having friends there. I am thinking of signing up for on-road, but am willing to do off-road if that is where my posse is.
*Not to mention thoroughly confused. Obviously we know Alyn is worthwhile. Would we be on the ride, would we have spent months raising money otherwise? What is the sales pitch for?