On June 7-9 I attended my first Get Your Guts in Gear ride. For anyone that doesn’t know who they are, Get Your Guts in Gear or GYGIG is a non-profit organization that raises money for IBD through bike rides. This years ride was the 10th anniversary of the New York ride.
When I first heard about the ride I thought this was something that was part of CCFA and I didn’t realize it was a separate organization. I also wasn’t to interested because I haven’t rode a bike in many many years so I knew there was no way I would be able to do a 200 mile ride. Then a friend and co-IBDer told me I can crew. The crew are the people who support the riders in a number of different ways from making sure the road is clear of debris to manning a rest stop to just cheering them on to raise their spirits. This sounded more like my style so after some thinking, I signed up.
As time went on, Marisa, the friend that told me to crew, kept telling me how much fun I would have and how it would change my life. I knew it had changed a lot for her and I didn’t know what it would hold for me. I would soon find out.
When I arrived at the site for the shuttle bus, I was the first one there. Like most things, I was the first one and I was alone. Eventually others would arrive and the first ones to come were friends that I have spoken to online and have followed in blogs, but never met. It was like a book coming to life. People I have only read about I was now meeting.
That first night was a rough one. A tropical storm was drenching us and there was no escaping the rain. One of my jobs was to help load the equipment truck so I was soaked by the end of the night. I would be the last to come back to our bunk. I would see everyone in one area chatting and getting to know one another. I was alone. wet and cold. But I was welcomed with open arms and right away I felt like part of a family.
For many of us, this was our first time with GYGIG and even the first time meeting each other. Yet when we all tried to go to bed and someone’s snoring kept us all awake, we truly were like a family as we all yelled at the snorer (who will remain nameless). What we found from this was within hours, we truly were a family.
The next two days would be rough for me. My job assignment was Camp. This entailed making sure the equipment truck was loaded and unloaded, the campsites were cleaned and nothing got left behind when we left, setting up the camp for everyone’s arrival, making sure snacks and drinks were provided, keeping morale up…ok I am getting tired again just thinking about it all. I have had problems with sleep and I seem to always be tired. My back has been hurting on and off from my degenerative disks. Overall I am a mess but this weekend, all of that went away and it was like I was 18 again. I had so much energy. I think I got it because even though it was hard work, I enjoyed doing it.
The best part of the weekend though were the people who I met. Some I had met before. Others I had spoken to online but met the first time here. Many others I was meeting for the first time ever. Not everyone on this ride had IBD but were somehow connected to it. At night, the group I hung out with would share stories about our lives and IBD. This was the first time I was with a large group of IBDers and they were all being so open with their disease. I loved it.
At the end of the weekend, I snapped a photo. It would be one of my last memories for the weekend. It was a breathtaking view of the mountain and water. It described my weekend perfectly. Wet, some ups, some downs but overall breathtaking. Some of my Camp crew dropped me off to get my bag before I left. I started this journey alone.. I left being part of a family. When I first signed up for GYGIG I only planned on doing it the one time. Now, I can’t see my life without it. It is an experience that I never want to forget and hopefully can relive it every year.
Awesome! I just had spinal fusion on April 22nd for my degenerative discs so there was no way I could make it! Hopefully next year! I will have to “crew” as well….bike 200 miles! Wowzers!!
Hope all went well with your surgery. Crewing was so much fun. You should join us next year. I will keep reminding you, like it was done to me 🙂
It was great to finally meet you! I’m glad to read that you had such a great experience. This was how I felt the first time, and why I keep coming back. Eight years and 1500 miles later.
It was great meeting you also. I know it might not have looked like it at the time but I did enjoy myself. I was just beat from all the work. Next year, I hit the road and get out of camp.
This is great 🙂 I would love to take part in this next year 🙂 how would I apply??? I struggle with sleep too which is why I am reading this at half past midnight !!! I want to try and organise something similar in UK for people with IBD and ostomy bags too 🙂
Just want to say how refreshing it is to read about IBD from a guy’s point of view 🙂 you are an inspiration and cool guy for all young lads and men out there – shows its not uncool to talk about feelings and poo!!! You don’t have to be macho and dismissive 🙂 I like that!!
Their website is IBDride.org. Sadly it is only in the USA. But if you email them, maybe you can get something going in the UK.
I hope so I really want to try everything 🙂 trying to start a group in Chester too 🙂
Just found this blog, and as someone with Crohn’s, seeing the different events across the pond brings a smile to my face. We have an event in London tomorrow with the NACC that I’ll be taking part in, as well as others taking place further North.
Always helpful to meet others in the same position and have a chat 🙂
All the best, and hope the guts stay in gear!