Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Frogs, Hills & Wind

Never in my life have I ridden 160km in one day.
The next day was supposed to be the same. The course director made it 150km.
I was OK with that.

The rain was relentless on day one.
Tears blended into the dampness on my cheeks as I rode under the start gantry. I thought about all who I have lost, and those that are in the fight for their lives.
The day had finally come. What I was riding for.
Part of raising $11.2 million for the BC Cancer Foundation. Research for a cure.
By the time we got through the border and the route split came, I was riding solo. Most of the 3,000 plus riders opted for the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer Classic route. A cool 120km a day versus the hilly and longer Challenge route. My choice.
At least I was warm. Icebreaker socks. Two breathable shells and shorts.
The time set in. I pedalled on. At one point the mesh of rain in the marshes had me delirious. Glasses were unforgiving. Stowed in the back pocket.
I came upon something. Readying to swerve my eyes caught a glimpse and I made a shout out with glee.
“You’re the biggest dang frog I have ever seen!”
Back legs perched in the puddle. I thought he a water bottle!
There were hills and head winds. Rough roads with no shoulders. Cow farms for dairy. Donkeys alone. Beautiful fillies and their mothers.
Spectator cheering points dwindled as the roads stretched further. Soon deep rainforests and puddles that grew wider.
Thankfully we had pit stops and signage markers galore. Whenever a doubt of my route crossed my mind, I’d look and see more.
Day one I was strong.
Camp was damp and later muddy. The hot showers were great.
Food was a plenty. I’d heard last year they’d run out.
Everyone was happy. Hard work had been the day.
I was tired for lack of sleep from the night before.
After dinner I lay down. Soaked from the weather. Feet muddy from the terrain.
The nap was short. A porta-potty visit got me up.
It was then I found the yoga tent. And afterwards the reason why I committed to being here.
Therese had the RV gussied up with Team Nanaimo. Funds raised over three years. In the thousands. Again my tears flowed.
Her brother stood at the door. I introduced myself and walked in.
The last time I’d visited the three of us had spoken about Cancer.
Roger with throat cancer. He talked through a machine. With the belief that the cure is around the corner.
Thanks to the BC Cancer Foundation and the clinical trials he was involved with, he got through eight more years of living.
Sadly, the Universe took Roger back November 10, 2011.
What he left behind was hope.
Later I slept. Awake while the trains rambled by.
Sometime in the darkness, the rain stopped. 
Day two was drier. My legs felt great to start.
Until the first 20km mark. The Niagara Falls knee flared up.
An ill-fitted bike, a ride on a whim – Toronto to Niagara Falls had started this weakness some 20 years ago.
Each pit stop had ice. I’d zip-lock a bunch into my tensor.
The last 30km had me pedaling from the Pain Cave.
I was cooked. Rather, my Niagara Falls knee was.
Didn’t bother Rosea, my red DeVinci Silverstone II road bike.
With only one flat to brag about. My own fault.
In the morning at Obsession Bikes, the mechanical support crew had spoken.
While pumping up another lady’s tire I’d mentioned the “F” word.
“Surprised you didn’t get a flat with your tire that low.”
Oops. That cursed me for the day.
It wasn’t until the 233km mark. To be honest I had only just thought, “Wouldn't it be nice if I had an excuse to stop and rest.”
No sooner did I think it then I got the bumpity bump.
When I proceeded to inspect the rubber was worse. The split in the tire was oozing through with frizz from the tube.
Thankfully the sweepers were nearby. GPS’ed my exact stop and promised to take me back once I got everything dialed.
Logged an extra 1.5 hours onto my day.
By then I was feeling worse.
Didn’t want to be Lanterne Rouge.
There was still 80km to go.
Epic impact. Epic ride rolled through my head.
I thought again about yesterday.
The tall yellow flags on bicycles indicate a survivor.
It was near the end I approached a man from behind.
“Only six kilometres left,” I said to reach out for conversation.
The face that looked back was as old as my son. No more then 20 years.
As I pedalled on again I felt the tears stream by.
The man doing the full pull for his partner. She wearing the flag.
The boy with the trailer.
Fighters. Cancer survivors.
My Pain Cave grew worse. The idea of riding across the nation washed away.
But then the split to re-group with the Classics to the finish.
My odometer said ten more, and suddenly we were there.

I came. I saw. I rode. I fundraised.
It was a pleasure to do all of that.
The 2013 registration is already open.
I’m not planning on doing it again next year.
Maybe you will. By riding, or volunteering, or by supporting someone who is.
Epic ride. Epic impact.
You get both.

Thank you to everyone who donated to my ride!


vineeta said...

Hey Jane I am proud of you for doing so much for the people. You are a true 'giver' and there is so much to learn from you.

A Fresh Thinker said...

Thank you missy!
Super appreciate your reminder before I left.
You were reminding me to hydrate the WHOLE way!