Monday, June 10, 2013

The Ride to Conquer Cancer

What an AMAZING weekend. While the weather was a bit sketchy on Saturday and we had a few minutes of LIGHT rain, it really was a nice day to ride. No blazing sun, no hot temperatures, yet it wasn't cold enough that you felt uncomfortable. Many people rode with just their jerseys, but I wore a jacket and I wasn't unhappy or too hot. Sunday - well Sunday was PERFECT. No jacket (although there was about one hour where it was dampish and I wish I had my jacket!) and then the sun came out - wasn't hot, but it was glorious. I mean - it was a day MADE for cycling. It was AWESOME.

Here are the stats for Day One.................

Day One Stats

And stats for Day Two...............

Day Two Stats

So much to tell you - where do I start?

The beginning would be a good place to start. Every year, there is always a little trepidation about this ride. Did I do enough training is usually the first thing on my mind. I must confess that I did NOT get as much outdoor training as I would have liked (especially in light of the upcoming adventure), but I was doing spin classes like there is no tomorrow. I am happy to report that I felt awesome during the ride and my legs weren't even tired (not my butt either) and today I feel like normal - no stiffness, no sores - nothing!!!!!!!!!!!   Yeah for those spin classes.

The other thing about those spin classes - there is a LOT of mental games that go on in a spin class. A LOT and you know what - it worked!!!!!!!!!!!!   I thought of my instructors (Lynn, Yvonne, Joseph and Liz) often as I rode and I attacked the hills and it was perfect. I CAN DO IT!!!!!!

Anna arrived at my house at 6:30 AM on Saturday. We loaded everything into my car and we were off. We were supposed to be parking at Ontario Place, but NO - we ended up stuck in traffic to park at CNE. We are patiently waiting in the line to turn left, deep in a conversation when I hear TAP TAP on my window. I look out and OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    There is Sandra!!!!    Sandra and I used to work together a number of years ago!!!  OK - so 12 years ago. I knew her husband was doing the ride as well (we are Facebook friends) and what a coincidence - they were IMMEDIATELY behind us in the traffic.

Now you are wondering how she knew I was in that car?????   Well - it made me think too, until I remembered that our NAMES are on our bikes!!!!!   Everyone has a place card for identification on their bike (first and last) and her husband read the names on the bikes of the car in front of them and that was us!!!!!!!!!!!!!    I was BLOWN away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

Sandra and I hooked up in Hamilton on Saturday afternoon. I got to meet her three kids and of course her husband who I knew when we worked together. So awesome to connect in person after so long!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We made it to the start line with time to spare and then 5,020 (that is NOT a typo) were off. Now some of those riders (I don't know how many) started in Niagara. But the congestion was something else and it took us almost 20 minutes or more to clear the start gate.

Approaching the crowd of bikes at the start line 

Immersed in the start line - in the  middle of picture, you can see the screen and the start gate - it is teeny tiny - we are that far back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    See Anna's gold/blue helmet in the bottom middle - we get one after five years of riding. I did not pick mine up yet due to the traffic situation and the delay - I did NOT want to not have a helmet. 

There are TWO distances on Day One - this year there was the classic route of 100 KM and then the longer ride at 125 KM. We chose the longer distance, not because we are crazy, but because there are WAY FEWER cyclists on that route and so we immediately lost the congestion once we turned the corner.

It was definitely a day of coincidences for me. I was riding ahead of Anna (but would wait for her at the pit stops). As I was riding along, minding my own business, I hear behind me "Elaine? Is that the Elaine T who used to work at HP?"  WHAT?????????????? Yes - OH MY GOD. Here was another co-worker (Brian) coming up behind me. So we rode for a while and he mentioned two other co-workers (Geoff and Julie) of mine who were riding from Niagara. What a crazy small world. I met up with them once we hit Hamilton and had a brief chat.

Anna approaching one of the Pit Stops on Day One

There is Anna again!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anna arriving at the finish line in Hamilton. There is a BIG smile on her face!!!!!

Anna's husband came to Hamilton to meet us and after the ceremonies, shuttled us off to our accommodations for the night. They have a friend who lives in Hamilton and we have stayed at his house for the last couple of years. Sure beats a tent!!!!!!!!!!!

The shower trucks - I just LOVE the shower trucks. Amazing shower for a portable shower. 

Back bright and early the next morning and off to one of the most glorious rides of my life. The scenery along the way to Niagara is breath taking. The weather could not have been better, I felt awesome.

A little hard to see in this picture and you always feel like your back pockets are STUFFED, but you can carry a LOT in those back pockets!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My view for the weekend!!!!!   Some roads were great - some not so great. 

Nice paved road with a shoulder

Beautiful road through the country side

No shoulder, but not busy

A trail heading to the finish line on Day Two
Wide open roads

Turn the corner and what do I see????   YES - in the distance - that is DOWNTOWN Niagara Falls, Canada!!!!!!!!!!

Someone asked me if the ride was emotional. Thankfully my family appears to have good genes and this terrible disease has so far stayed away. But the people who came out to THANK US for riding - well that was emotional. Especially, when you saw a single person standing by themselves - you knew that they were there for a reason. It was very emotional, but so nice to hear their thanks. I THANKED them for coming out - their support for us was inspirational.

There is so much support on this ride. 1000 volunteers, many police officers to give us priority. It really couldn't have been better organized.

The BEST part was coming down that LAST KILOMETER into the finish line at Niagara Falls. The people cheering you on - it was SO AWESOME. I wish everyone could experience that feeling. The pride in what we are doing, the reason we are riding, the support - it all just boils over!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anna - heading down the last TWO kilometers. 

Anna at the end - just before her bike went on the truck.  Hard to tell, but that yellow thing at the front is her name plate for the bike. 

Yep - that is me at the finish!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ah - a relaxing beer. 

Once we were off out bikes - we snapped a few pictures and then the bikes were loaded onto moving vans to be transported back to Toronto. Anna and I then sat out in the glorious sun, had a few beers (oh my - they seemed to hit me pretty hard - good thing we didn't have to drive anywhere), had lunch and then we hopped on the bus to get a ride back to Toronto where we picked up our bikes and drove back to my house. The effect of the beers were gone by then!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OH MY GOD - a self portrait. I look a tad worried!!!!!!    That big round thing on the side of my head is my helmet mirror!!!!
Anna texting at a Pit Stop on Day Two. I loved that she wore that bright pink jersey - she was VERY easy to spot!!!!

Rode past this museum. One day - I will make it there. 

The one thing we did NOT do was to register for next year. I know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Anna has done the ride for SIX years, it has been FIVE for me. (Anna has also done the Walk for Women's Cancers - ELEVEN times - well it will be eleven this September).  I vowed NOT to ride again, but I am having doubts today. As much as I complained about the congestion - I really like the supported ride. Hmmmmmmm - not sure what I am going to do. I will be raising money again starting in the fall and need a cause. I may ride again - but do NOT tell Anna. I am a whimp!!!!!!!!!!!   Can't say NO.

Wasn't even tired when I got home as I went out and did several hours of gardening!!!!!  And YES - I was back in spin class this morning, although I took it easy!

There you have it - The Ride to Conquer Cancer in a nut shell.

Have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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