It started as a personal thing.
It started because I was battling the voice that told me there had to be more than this. I wanted to do something quietly, of my own volition, something just a little bit outside of myself to try and ease my conscience. So much of my life was about me. And I was getting a bit tired of that. When I stumbled across World Bicycle Relief in 2016 it seemed to click. I really like riding bikes. So I figured that maybe I could raise a few dollars for these guys. Seemed like a good option.
I didn't really stretch myself too far. I didn't have an epiphany and overhaul my life. I didn't quit anything. I didn't sell anything. I didn't really change anything much at all. I just tried to work out what I could do that might help in some small way. Without really adjusting things too much. Without upsetting my tidy little apple cart of a life.
I wrote a blog. An impassioned plea as to why donating to this cause was a good idea. And I guess I hoped that would be it. Write a blog, get people to like it, donations come in. Done. Goal met.
Except it rapidly became apparent that was not going to work. There are a lot of good causes out there. Why should the one that had pulled at my heart strings be of any interest to others? Oh, it was easy enough to get 'likes' on Facebook. It was fairly easy to get people to read what I wrote. But it rapidly dawned on me that engaging people to the point they would actually donate was going to be another whole ball game.
Suddenly, I found myself a little bit out of my depth.
I was going to have to put skin in the game. I was going to have to actually ask people for help in order to achieve my goal. Even worse. I was going to have to ask people for money. And I really really dislike asking people for anything. Some stubborn pride/independence/I got this/survival mechanism thing I've got going on.
As it transpired, the whole #100ascentsfor100bicycles journey shaped me in ways I could never have imagined. It required me to step out of the background and into the limelight, to open myself up for critique and judgement and to give a lot more of myself than I had ever anticipated. I tend to hold my cards pretty close to my chest. I like to get things done, but I also like to do them myself. Suddenly I found myself stepping from behind the camera and all of a sudden, being in front of it. I joined instagram. I shared stuff. Personal stuff. The battles. The darker moments. The moments where I was really struggling in the face of the challenge I had set out to achieve.
It was fascinating to see who stepped forward to urge me on. And even more interestingly, who didn't. I was blown away by the number of people who came out to ride up the hill with me, to keep me company, to chat away and help make the miles pass. I was amazed by those who shared and plugged my cause on their own social networks, helping drum up support and share the word of what I was doing. I am so incredibly thankful for all those who gave their time or energy or expertise or lent their profile to help me raise the cost of 100 bicycles.
And on Christmas Eve in 2016, when the last few dollars came in and the little red fundraising line reached 100%, it was because of so much more than me. Doing my own personal thing. It was because of the very catchphrase World Bicycle Relief. It was the Power of You.
I could never, ever have done this without you. For so many reasons. Not just for the sheer volume of financial support I needed to raise. But for the emotional support you offered me along the way. The encouragement. The support of the elite riders who stepped up and put themselves into the hurt box to ride times for those who live to far away and enabled those supporters to feel a part of it all. I am so grateful to the not-so-elite riders for keeping me company over the months it took me to complete this challenge. For putting up with "Kat and her bloody hill" as one of them so eloquently named this. I am so thankful to Russell, Steve and Roger for the countless hours they gave of their own time to make the Crankhouse Media video project a reality (view that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba11OeLMdDA&feature=em-share_video_user).
As I wrote in a previous post, the journey of #100ascentsfor100bicycles has taught me many things. About the power of community. The power of vulnerability. It taught me whose opinions matter. And more importantly, whose don't. It reminded me of just how much can be achieved through sheer will-power. Through committing to something and then clinging to a stubborn unwillingness to give up. It taught me that I can feel the barbs of judgement from others, the sting of criticism, and choose not to take heed.
And to go on and succeed anyway.