Monday, June 28, 2010

Phew we survived!

Well we conquered the Ride to Conquer Cancer. A few times I thought it was going to conquer ME but we survived to the end. Some high lights from the weekend are:

- putting in more time and kms on a bike than ever before. More that 11hours saddle time over the two days.
- first saddle sore (not really a highlight I guess)
- not minding riding on the highway, being a mountain biker I was not sure how I was going to feel about hours and hours of highway riding
- no mechanicals
- no crashes
- Teri rode awesome and in fact kicked my ass on Sunday
- Other riders did not do anything too stupid, a few folks stopped in bad spots on the side of the road begging for a collision but we made it through
- it was HOT which can often get the best of me but I dealt with it. Apart from a sunburnt lower lip all is good
- boot camp was an excellent investment, the time and energy spent there helped us a ton
- I am excited to not have to worry about this anymore and be able to enjoy some mountain biking!!


We did it. 220 kms over 2 days, in the hot and blazing sun, over the never-ending foothills, riding through pain in parts of our bodies that we barely knew could hurt!

Here's the complete story:

Friday night, since I had been so busy making sure that everything was hunky-dory at work for the weekend, there was some hurried packing followed by going to bed relatively early.

Saturday, the alarm went off at 4:30 am and the sleep button was pressed a total of 4 times.
We showered and I had a coffee (very important), then got out the door shortly before 6 am. We arrived about a kilometre from Spruce Meadows and took our spot in line behind the thousands of other people trying to get into the one-lane entrance. About 45 minutes later, we had parked in the field and dropped off our gear (and were very thankful that Derek had dropped off our bikes the afternoon prior!)

We went to the start gate along with the thousands of other folks enjoying a surprisingly greasy/unhealthy breakfast sandwich, coffee (important!) and other breakfast fare. We were in no hurry to get out of the gate, so we let all the roadies get their head start and then picked up our bikes and got going. The first 20 kms or so were pretty slow, but once everyone found their pace and got spread out, it was surprisingly nice.

The first pit-stop was about 25 kms in, in Okotoks. Derek and I were feeling good and it was really congested, so we just kept going. The going was flat, and by the time we got to the second pit-stop in High River, I was tired and low on energy and my knees were hurting really badly. We fiddled around with different seat adjustments, and finally got in a better position where my knees felt better. We also called Derek's mom, who had been sending us email encouragements daily leading up to the ride, and High River was the last spot we thought we'd have cell coverage.

We were now 50 kms in, and got back on to ride another 30 to lunch, which was in Nanton. At lunch, everyone talked about the hills that were coming, but I don't know if anyone really realized exactly what was looming ahead of us! We left from lunch at 2 pm, and the next stretch of only 18 kms took us just under two hours! It wasn't the grade of the hills, it was more that they went on forever... Biking up a hill at 7 kms/hr when the hill is 8 kms long... You do the math. Plus, we can walk up with the bike at 5 km/hr, and did eventually resort to that as well. The last pit stop of the day marked the end of day 1 for many, but we rested and continued on, another 17 kms to Chain Lakes Provincial Park Campground, and camp for the night.

Camp was busy, crowded, loud, and lacking good sustenance. Good thing our bodies were so rung out that the slop they called "dinner" was edible. The free beer was nice though, and we took ours down to the lake and cooled off by dipping our sore toes in the water. Our tent was one in a sea of many, a welcome sight, and we fell asleep in a haze by 8 pm! I vaguely remember waking once in the night and hearing various snores from all directions, and the next time I woke up it was 5 am.

We showered, ate breakfast, and hit the road for day 2. It felt good to get on the bikes again-- though our butts did hurt! I was having a "power hill" day, so for the first 2 pit stops I went ahead (also because Derek and I were getting a little cranky with each other!) By the third pit stop (lunch in Turner Valley, km 60) Derek was a pretty tired and not sure if he would be able to finish (I knew he would!). We decided to ride on together from that point, and served as motivation to one another, as I am great on hills but I tire out really quick on the long, flat stretches, and vice versa.

It was at this point that I thought to myself: As hard as it was to get off the bike yesterday and think about getting back on and doing it all over again tomorrow, it is nothing compared to what someone with cancer, or any disease for that matter, has to face. For my cousin Trevor, at one point in his treatment, he was going in to Winnipeg regularly. A 2-1/2 hour ride, then a sit at a hospital as everyone on the "cancer bus" gets treated including himself, then another 2-1/2 hours home. That was something he didn't choose to do, something that no one would ever choose to do. And at this point, I'm thinking, "I am choosing to do this bike ride. I had a choice to get on this bike in the first place, I have a choice in every pedal stroke to keep on going, I am doing this for Trevor and for everyone with cancer who doesn't have a choice". That was my motivation for the last and hardest part of the ride. I thought of Trevor and his family, Karrie and Jordyn and Kaylee, and his Mom and Dad, and his brothers, and I kept on putting my pedals forward, knowing that doing the ride was a choice for me, and that I am fortunate to have that choice.

The ride finished quietly: Derek and I rode across the finish line together, and we were greeted by a cheering crowd of strangers, and I don't think I would have had it any other way. It wasn't the glory of riding into an awaiting family that motivated me to finish the ride, it was my own personal goal of finishing the ride in Trevor's memory that made me want to complete all 220 kms. Trevor was a great person and should have had the choice to live, and that is why I chose to Conquer Cancer this weekend.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Teri's first mountain bike ride of the year!

Ten months ago, I dragged my good ol' Raleigh "mountain bike" (the sarcasm is because the only thing mountain-y about that bike was that it had knobby tires!) out of town and Derek and I rode Powderface trail in Kananaskis. I had used that bike the entire time I was in University to get to and from, but that was the last day I rode it. The next day I went out and bought a Norco Storm hardtail, as going down mountain slopes with no brakes and a bike that couldn't go in its lowest gear was fun, but not really!

So, yesterday, after much pestering of Derek to take me mountain biking (he often goes on the weekends when I'm at the market), we revisited Powderface. Just to keep things difficult, it was my first time riding with clipless pedals (which is the dumbest name for pedals with clips... REALLY.)
Anywho, it was also my first time riding a trail more than once, which was really neat and kinda nice to know what's coming. I think I did better on the ascents last year, when I didn't know the one spot where they went on forever, but it was nice to have a functioning low gear! Definitely felt better having brakes, and instead of marvelling on how I made it through something by just sheer will of hanging on, I actually had some control.

We laughed at the spot where I lost it last year, and we laughed even harder when, following Derek through some runoff dips, I watched him struggle through the final one which was really muddy, and then (not having much technical skill), I mired my front tire in the mud and flew over my handlebars! I was actually trapped by my bike, and Derek had to come lift it off of me, but I was unscathed!

Too bad we need to get more road riding in, because I would love to go mountain biking again today! That was likely the last one until July. :(

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hogging the bike trail in Glenmore Park

This family was hogging the entire trail on our bike ride today!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kind words from Gran...

I always enjoy emails from my Grandma (a very technologically- savvy lady, who had a computer before I did!)-- And every now and again, she writes one that tops everything. I always print them off and tape them near my desk for inspiration.

Yesterday she wrote:
Time is running down on your Ride to Conquer Cancer program and I wonder if you are going to reach your goal. Moreover how much does that matter?

I think you have already met the most important aspects of your plan. You have raised an enormous amount of money for cancer research and honoured the memory of your cousin. You have alerted many to the need to concentrate on the cancer scourge. You have embarked on a dedicated fitness program. You have got a new bike! You have been part of the publicity events which would be fun.

Most importantly you have spent most of your life, and especially now at Blush Lane, promoting healthy eating which will probably do more to prevent cancer and other ills than all research done to eradicate same.

So I think you and Derek can enjoy many bike rides on your fitness program knowing you have made a difference - much more than most of us!
Thanks, Gran!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Glorious Mountain Biking!

I was up in Edmonton this past weekend for some family time and meeting some wee cousins. I was lucky to be able to get two great rides in.

I met my friend Michelle down in Terwillegar Park on Saturday morning just in time to miss a running race that surely would have put a damper on riding. As I rolled into the parking lot I could see that door prizes were getting tossed into the crowd so I knew the trails would be clear.

It was great to rip up trails that I rarely ride anymore but were a staple years ago when I lived up there. And even though I rarely find myself on these trails I still know most of them like the back of my hand: although there seemed to be quite a few new trails, so it was fun to explore those too.

I also took an hour on Monday to ride some river valley and Mill Creek ravine trails. I had another great ride even tough it was a very hot morning!

All and all it was a great trip.

Great Week!

We have both been doing our final fundraising push and it has met with great success! We should have worked this hard on it months ago and who knows where we could have gotten.

Speaking for myself (and I know Teri feels the same) we have really enjoyed our 6am boot camp experience. It is hard to roll out of bed that early but it feel pretty good to be coming home tired and energized.