Congratulations Team Asha!
STP 2017 proved to be one of the most successful editions of our training! Over 30 bikers made it from the Emerald City to the Bridge City over 1- and 2-day rides that tested every aspect of their training, their persistence, their dogged determination. Numerous obstacles dotted our route, but we diligently overcame them one-by-one : "Mechanicals - meh! A flat - pfft, I got 4! Cramps - what are those? Sleep - oh really?" Together, we all made it to the finish line, and some in record time (Congrats Speedsters!) and record ability at a very young age (Dhruv, Ovi, Avani - take a bow). By the numbers, we collectively traveled 6732 miles (that is almost Seattle-to-Key-West-and-back) in two days, and have raised $10,394.00 in this process (as of 17th July 2017, 16:00 PDT). By the numbers, 10 riders completed in a day and 20 completed in two. In sorted order, we encountered 1 replaced tire, 2 patchy cleats, 3 knocked-knees and 4 flats! By the numbers, we had riders as young as 9 years old and ... well, do you really expect me to complete that sentence? Every year, our riders raise the bar higher. But numbers hardly ever tell the complete story.
Our name embodies "hope" (Asha), a hope for a better future, a path with better opportunities for those not as priviledged as us. It enables us to look beyond ourselves, beyond our the bubble of comfort and familiarity that we can so easily lose ourselves into. We put ourselves, willingly, through the rigor of training, and the trials of the actual STP ride - not under a false illusion and hubris that doing so somehow allows us an avenue to experience pain and suffering, but because our pain and suffering -- ephemeral though it may be when compared to the numerously unnamed, in whose name we ride -- affords us the grace of empathy and compassion, pushing us to our limits, and allowing us the rare opportunity to "simply be." Prince and pauper, young and old, we take the same journey together. The road humbles all, no matter where we come from ...
Yet, it is often that our humility forces us to cast our eyes away from ourselves. So focused are we on carrying the torch of hope for others, that we rarely have a moment to reflect upon who we have become. From a ragtag band of novices, apprehensive about the goal we set before ourselves, from strangers who were just names on a piece of paper passed out on day of the kick-off presentation, from the first nervous exchanges of social-media messages, the anxious rides in the never-ending chilly weather, to the "Team" in Team Asha. The often-overlooked moniker is the name we have rightfully earned, on-and-off-the-bike. From shared water-bottles and snacks, to shared experiences; from strangers to ride-buddies; from ride-buddies to friends; we have found ourselves transformed from many to one. Maybe we can recall the momentary pride we felt when complete strangers on the STP route identified us as a part of our team, when someone's off-handed remark about our Speedster team (that they saw on Day 1, racing towards Portland) made us smile. We supported each other through the ride, while our families and loved ones provided elite-level support to our extended family-on-the-bike! Some of us have found a passion in biking that has taken them to even higher pastures, and their accomplishments make us proud too (looking at you, Hari!) From "Can I do it?" to "Definitely coming back next year", from 2-day to "maybe 1-day next year," we have come a long way in just 204 miles. We are the Team in "Team Asha," and it is a distinct priviledge and honor to be a part of this pack!
We are the Team that provides Hope - and we will grow stronger, year after year!
Stay fit, have fun, change lives...