Many people assume you have to be a serious or professional cyclist to ride in Courage Classic, but anyone can participate! Angela Higgins debunks the most common myths about Courage Classic, because she wants you – yes, you! – to get out there, ride, raise money, and join in the fun and camaraderie.
Angela rode in her first Courage Classic bicycle tour last year with her fiancée, Matt. It was her first time on a bike in several decades. Her son, Calvin, now 12, has been treated at Children’s Hospital Colorado since before his first birthday. At 2 years old, he was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, a debilitating, degenerative condition that deprives the body of the energy it needs to support organ function. At 5, Calvin had a massive stroke and spent 58 days at Children’s Colorado.
Myth #1: You have to be in amazing shape with buns of steel and train like it’s your job.
I literally hadn’t really biked since I was a kid. I hadn’t even ridden around the block for years. But my fiancée, Matt, and I discovered how much we love cycling together. Now, we can be active doing something we enjoy. We often bike downtown, eat at a restaurant and then bike back. It has turned out to be a great family activity. My team, Summits for Samantha, also has lots of training rides scheduled. But I am my son’s main caregiver 24 hours a day, so it’s rare that I get to go on a team ride. Last year, I decided it’s really about fundraising and the camaraderie. I’m doing it for my son and for charity. I hope to improve every year, but just having a child with a diagnosis like my son’s puts everything in perspective.
Myth #2: You have to ride at least 100 miles. Uphill. Both ways.
The first day, we did the 40-mile ride, and then we did the 25-mile ride the next day. I figure that if I can’t make it all the way, there’s no shame in taking the sag wagon – I took it for about seven miles. The harder part for me, though, honestly, was the emotional piece. I underestimated how difficult it would be to ride for all of these kids, including in memory of the children we have lost to this disease and other conditions.
Myth #3: You have to spend your life’s savings on a bike and equipment.
When I first thought about doing Courage Classic, I bought a used bike. Every year, teams have people who are upgrading their bikes, so you can often get a relatively inexpensive used bike from your team website. All you need is a good beginner bike. But I would highly recommend investing in a good pair of bike shorts. **(Angela also got a Weehoo trailer to pull her son across the finish line free from a generous Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation employee who was selling their gear on Craigslist!)
Myth #4 You will be all alone on the course. If you stop riding, vultures will swarm. There is no food or water, and you’ll need to turn into MacGyver if your bike breaks down.
It’s an amazingly supported ride, from great rest stations to port-a-potties to bike mechanics. Everyone is so encouraging while you’re riding. Other people will say, “Just keep going.” I was surprised at how awesome everyone was. It’s not a race. It’s a tour. So you don’t have to be first. You don’t have to be fast. You just need to try to get there. And it’s so fun to see all of the different people and jerseys and watch the various teams cross the finish line together.
Myth #5 Fundraising is like pulling teeth.
I actually really enjoy the fundraising piece because I know how important it is. With my son’s illness, my situation can sometimes feel like I don’t have much control. With Courage Classic, I feel like I’m contributing and actually helping, besides the day-to-day care of my son. Fundraising helps him and other kids in the region. Asking is key. The worst thing they can do is say, “No.” But if you ask, many people will donate. Every time I post Calvin’s story on Facebook, I include the Courage Classic link, and thank my previous donors. Then, almost every time, I get a new donation. Last year, I raised $1,100. This year, my goal is $2,000.