Erika's Ride - Coast to Coast 2002

-----Original Message-----
From: Erika Rottenberg [mailto:erikar@----------]
Sent: Friday, June 06, 2003 3:42 PM
To: erikar@--------------
Subject: Erika's Postscript to her Cross Country Ride for Breast Cancer Research

Dear Friends,

It's hard to believe that nearly a year ago I was prepping to dip my rear tire in the Pacific Ocean, and embark on a journey far more significant than pedaling 4300 miles. The journey - from the more than $57,000 we donated to the Komen Foundation for breast cancer research, to the 4300+ miles of cycling, the 100(?) ice creams, the hours of laughter, the headwinds, the heat, the friendships (old and new), the random acts of kindness from strangers, the being outside for approximately 20 hours a day, the exploration of our country at a very special time (post 9-11 and pre Iraqi war), the challenge and discipline of riding day after day after day, the comfort in the unknown -- all combined to make an amazing journey. In short, I'm incredibly blessed to have not only been able to live out my dream, but to have the dream surpass expectation.

People ask me now that the summer's over and you've had some time to think about it, what was the best part? Can you summarize it? The reason this note is so late in coming is that, almost 10 months later, I continue to struggle to summarize it. It was too big. There are too many different parts. Perhaps one day, when there's really been time to reflect on it, I will. It truly was an (I shudder to say "the") experience of a lifetime. I wrote over the summer that I knew this, but I really didn't know how much. So, unlike the journal entries of the summer, I'll keep this one short. I don't have anything profound to say.

There are a few points, however:

1)  Thank you. These two words are too trite. The breadth and depth of support I received throughout this venture was truly amazing. I truly couldn't have done it without you. The "you" are the friends who provided tireless support and encouragement before and during (and after) the ride - The number of oars in the water rowing was limitless. The "you" are my 43 comrades with whom I was honored to pedal our beautiful country, and provided support and encouragement. The "you" are all those who contributed to the Komen Foundation and allowed me to honor my mom in an indescribable way. And, the "you" is the community of individuals who banded together to bring this venture to a more successful fruition than even I could have ever dreamt. (And I thought I dreamt big!)

2)  Pictures. Many have asked about seeing pictures. A friend from high school generously created a website chronicling the summer's venture, including my photojournal and links to others' websites. It's pretty neat, even if I say so myself. If you're so inclined, check out      [Photo Album]    [Photo Journal]

3)  The best? Many have asked, what was the best part? The most amazing? The most beautiful? The biggest surprise? The biggest challenge? Neither I, nor my comrades from the summer, seem to be able to provide single answers to these superlatives. I've tried. Now, almost 10 months later, I still can't. I used to say, "at least not yet." Now I realize I probably never will. There were, and are, too many "bests". I've written several drafts of emails that have tried to answer these questions. However, you've already read the novelette, and life's busy. I won't ask you to read more. (I promised to keep this letter to one page.) What is clear, however, is that it's all about people, and, it's the people, my family of friends, that make life worth living.

4)  What'd you learn? More than even I, ten months later, know. But, most importantly, I reminded myself to allow myself to dream (because good things happen). As we said to each other in Niagara Falls - All I Needed to Learn I Learned on My Nine Week Bike Trip Across the Country. Really, ask me about it sometime.

5)  How's the $57,000 going to be used? The money is all going directly to research - Komen's unyielding commitment to fund aggressive and innovative research to eradicate breast cancer as a life threatening disease. Due to Komen's funding cycle, the specific research grant(s) have yet to be identified, but will be in the next month. If you'd like to provide input in selecting the grant, or would like follow-up info on the specific grant(s), kindly let me know.

6)  What's next? Many have asked, "what's next?" I don't have an answer to this one yet. There will be something, for sure. However, I'm still trying to get my arms around this one. Stay tuned. (A group of us, including Peloton Latte, will take a few weeks this summer to ride the UK End to End.)

7)  Postcript. As you may have heard, one of the decisions from the summer was to take a midlife sabbatical. As I vividly remembered on Day 21, as we rode along interstate 90, or in life's parlance, the highway of life, I learned that sometimes the most important or memorable times of life is when we vary off "the highway of life". Thus, my mid-life sabbatical. (Yes, I resigned from Creative upon my return from the summer.) From a global economic point of view, the timing was less than great, but from an Erika point of view, the timing was perfect. It's been a wonderful ten months. From the time I spent with my Alaskan friend Barb, I "re-entered" society by spending time with my three friends girl scout friends in West Virginia (they even took me to a tractor pull), I participated in a fundraising tea sponsored by Barb's mom, I spent a week in DC, where I grew up, I learned of the death of a co-worker from breast cancer, I traveled to Alaska to visit with Barb, and another close friend who had just underwent a mastectomy (thereby underscoring, even more, the importance of our fundraising), I spent 5 weeks traveling around New Zealand, including Christmas eve in Christchurch at a wonderful carol by candlelight (underscoring how small our world really is, and how similar we really are), and I closed out the stupendous year of 2002, and rang in the New Year, with friends at one of my favorite places in the world - our cabin on Donner Lake in the Sierras. Since the New Year commenced, I've been doing some consulting work, tackling projects that have been on hold for years, and reconnecting with friends, while continuing to explore our backyard and country. I'm busier than ever. Mixed in with work, I've explored our backyards with both day and short trips, skied Colorado, hosted my folks for a week or so, explored, by pedaling, the bay area on a one week trip (ask me about this - it was a mini-cross country journey), and am currently checking out the Southwest. This summer is chock full of travel, including a mini-reunion of a number of us from last summer, including Peloton Latte, as we cycle the UK End to End.

8)  What About Full-Time Work? Many of you commented - OK, enough fun; when do you go back to full-time work and what do you want to do? Well...I hope to, and look forward to, returning to full time work this fall, or the first of the year. I'm not looking to change careers - I enjoyed what I was doing at Creative, and hope to find either a promising or successful public or pre-public company with a great management team where I can add value, both from a legal and business perspective. If you have any ideas, or just want to get together for coffee or a glass of wine, or a pedal, let me know. One of the greatest treats of the summer's journey, and these last 10 months, has been getting to reconnect with folks.

With all my love, admiration, and gratitude,

PO Box 204
Menlo Park, CA 94026

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