Sunday, November 10, 2013

MS Sydney to the Gong Ride Part I - The Fundraising Virgin...

Well the party is almost over.

It's Sunday evening and tomorrow I officially become a triathlete again ... training begins for the 2014 Ironman season.

It's been a fun off-season. I've done some different things to make training seem worthwhile and successfully managed to not gain any weight....BONUS!

The highlight of the last few months though ended up being the last thing on the agenda, and that was last weekend's MS Sydney to the Gong ride. Before I tell you all about it, though, let me just say: if you are in the Sydney region, or can make it to the Sydney region, and you can ride a bike, then you should add this event to your bucket list (or even your regular schedule of events).  It's a really well organised ride with 10,000 participants, well supported and an amazingly scenic route on good quality roads and bike paths.

It's also a fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis Australia and this was a new experience for me as an individual.  I had been in teams before that had fundraising targets to achieve, but never tried this sort of thing solo.  It was a ride I was keen to do, however, and the minimum $250 to raise seemed almost achievable for this fundraising virgin.  Given the distance of the ride could be seen as not necessarily a huge challenge for this irongirl, I thought I'd make things interesting by upping the challenge for myself if the donors came to the party and threw sufficient dollars my way (well, MS Australia's way to be exact!)

So I put it out there: If I raised $500 I would double the ride distance, doing the Gong ride and then riding back home.  If I raised $1,000 then I'd do the double distance in a crazy costume.  I figured $500 might be on the cards but anticipated a less than 50% chance of having to do it in a costume.

Ha - how wrong was I?!!!

The fundraising started out well - a shout out on Facebook and an initial email around work saw the total head to $400 and then sit there until a week out from the ride.  I was really happy with that - I had achieved the minimum $250 and figured I might just get to $500 if I was lucky.  But the options were open and I was in two minds about doing the return trip anyway.  If I didn't get the $500, no pressure, I could come home on the train.  And if the weather was bad I could definitely come home on the train and not feel guilty!  Or, if it was a nice day then the return trip would make the day a decent training ride.

I therefore felt really relaxed about either option.

A week out, however, saw a major change.  Suzie and Rodina, two work colleagues, remembered to get together and make a joint donation on the website and then decided to also appoint themselves my personal marketing team.  Great move on their part - I'm just the athlete, after all…!  Anyway, on the Tuesday before the ride they sent out a follow-up email around work on my behalf urging people to sponsor me.  The total by then was $465 and so I did another spruik on Facebook at the same time.

And over the next 24 hours the website went slightly crazy.

Maybe it was the timing, but donations started coming in and by the end of Wednesday my donations were sitting at $860 and I was suddenly contemplating not only the double distance ride, but doing it also in a costume.  Only problem was, I hadn't given a costume any more thought since the first week after registering for the ride, when I first set the challenge.

A quick discussion with St Pete on Wednesday night and I was starting to check out costume websites and consider options.  Thursday morning came around and a decision had to be made.  Would I get to $1,000?  Chances suddenly seemed high.  OK, let's commit to this.

A Queen Bee costume had been found on a site that offered overnight delivery and it looked like it would work well over the top of bike pants.  Costume was duly ordered and just as well - by the end of Thursday my donations had surpassed $1,000….wow.

The comments and support coming in from people was both humbling and exciting.  This was like doing my first ironman all over again and I knew I didn't want to let anyone down now.

All I had to do was get out there and do a good ride and have some fun with it.  Time wasn't important - just look the part and do the distance.  Let's do this!

…to be continued...