Members Out & About

Our members are involved in many aspects of life. This page is dedicated to displaying some of those activities that deserve recognition.

Here is the content of an email that was sent August 14th, 2014

My journey to and in the Ride to Conquer Cancer

To those who donated to the cause and a few who still might like to contribute,

I must say out front that appreciate so much the contributions and moral support that people gave so willingly. There were a lot of sceptics and a few thought I was quite crazy. I still can’t honestly identify all the reasons why I decided to join this ride but it became so much more than just me. I hope the following will help you all understand a bit.

I have been cycling for several years, both in Fort McMurray and now in the Smoky Lake area. I cycle to keep my weight down and to help manage my diabetes. I also have two trick knees and the exercise is good for them. I have had a few exciting experiences during those years but I won’t elaborate in the interest of some brevity. Let’s just say, I have a souvenir helmet with a crack right through it and received a fractured arm and damaged tendons in my left hand two years ago. Also, there have been a few near misses along the way to remind me to follow safety rules. BTW, my hand and arm have both healed. I had a routine where I would cycle 3 or 4 times a week about an hour or two each ride.

This spring, I saw the Ride to Conquer Cancer advertisement and decided to register online. When I clicked on the send button, a feeling of trepidation came over me… “What did I just do?” I chose to in tribute to my brother who died of cancer when he was 58 years old. Here I am at 68 and haven’t done anything in his remembrance. The time was now or it might be not at all. So, a pot-bellied, diabetic (type II), old man with two trick knees made a crazy decision that was about to change his life radically.

As there was still snow on the ground, I worked out in the basement for an hour or so on a stationary bike and a Nordic-Track. As soon as the pavement was dry enough, I was out peddling. It dawned on me that, if I was going to be fit enough to cycle 100+ KMs a day, I was going to have to increase both the distance of my trips. My short trips became 2.5to 3 hours long. My long trips became 4 to 7 hours long and my longest distance was 66 KMs. I trained 5 days a week and made sure that at least three of those days included long trips. I particularly liked my trips from Smoky Lake to Bellis and back. Each time, I would drop into Eva’s store and I would be treated to pie and ice cream. WOW, what a diet program!!!

As the weeks passed, there were noticeable changes. My legs were getting stronger. My butt was so painful. I learned that I was not special in that regard, apparently most cyclists suffer in that area. While trips were growing in length, the times spent were getting shorter. I was peddling up hills I used to have to walk up. I was learning that, in order to improve further, I would have to switch to a road bike. The songs I was listening to while cycling were becoming far more inspiring to me. People were sharing, either by email or in person, heart wrenching stories of how cancer has affected them, their families and their friends. When times got tough, I remembered their stories and my own discomfort and pain became unimportant. I found that, when you persevere, your body does respond to meet the challenge. The trips became so important to me.

On Friday, August 8th we checked my bike in early in the afternoon at the Olympic Village. The experience that I had come this far was almost overwhelming. Had I trained enough, was I up to it, am I too old… too overweight, shouldn’t I have done more, do I have the right bike, oh my, the hills around here are much taller than at home. Right after we left the centre, there was a huge downpour and hail… oh, good, we’re going to get rained out!

Saturday morning was cold as we gathered at the starting gate. The weather had obviously improved and it looked like a nice day ahead of us. I managed an egg wrap for breakfast but gave my muffin to Val because my stomach was churning. There were some moving stories presented and it was time to start. Immediately after leaving the Olympic Centre, my rear tire was leaking so my routine quickly became surviving to the first pit stop. Pump the tire up, cycle two kilometers, pump the tire up, cycle two kilometers, pump the tire up. Finally, I caught a ride in a sweep vehicle to the first pit stop. A mechanic switched out the leaking tube and I was on my way. I struggled to Bragg Creek and I hadn’t even hit the hills yet. As I entered the town, it was like my whole body came into tune. First time I experienced anything like that. Except for one hill, which I walked up, I peddled all the way to the Okotoks campground. The first day ride was 112 KMs in total length. Because I caught a ride tofix my tire, I did about 105 to 108 KMs.

ARCChillBefore each pit stop, there would be a few encouraging signs on the highway. Two will stick in my mind for a long time: “Tell your legs to shut up,“ “How is your butt?” At each pit stop, cookies, chips, fruit, nuts were readily available as well as Gatorade, water and coffee. Lunch was served at the mid-ride pit stop. In Okotoks, supper was served in a hockey arena and entertainment was provided. The camp was a marvel in facilities, outdoor biffies, shower trailers, tents were all so well organized. Because of the logistics of running a camp for so many participants, there were great distances between the various facilities. I texted Val that it puts a whole new perspective on having the runs! We even had communal areas for brushing our teeth. I was brushing mine, looked up to discover an old friend of ours from Fort McMurray, she lived in the same condo complex we lived in.

ARCChill3I was awake bright and early, 5:30, on Sunday morning. Had breakfast of French toast, bacon and eggs. Then, on the road again! Things started out well but, as the day wore on, I was slowing down, imperceptibly at first. I was one of the last to finish lunch. I continued on but realized I was walking up most hills. I passed the 70 KM marker and struggled on. There was no pain in my legs, they just would not perform like the day before. It seemed like forever but the 80 KM marker just wasn’t showing up. Finally, I held my thumb down. The sweepers take that as a sign you need to be picked up. Anyway, on the second day, I cycled somewhere between 75 and 80 KMs. And, I did cycle across the finish line. You see, the sweeper let us off just before the finish line so that we could finish the ride. I looked after my legs. I looked after my “butt.” I looked after my food. I looked after my water intake. I forgot to look after my electrolytes.

ARCChill2Did I complete the entire ride? No!

Did I make it? You bet!

When I started training, I couldn’t go 10 KM without being totally winded. On the ride, I was not winded once. When I started, I didn’t really understand the devastation this disease has caused through the years, now I have a much better understanding. During the ride, I met and spoke with so many encouraging people, a lot of them from motorcycle clubs, who went out of their way to assist, control intersections, etc. I saw something that was so hard to grasp when I first began this journey. I was part of something that highlights what people can do when they all function together. We were all responsible for raising 7.9 million dollars to conquer cancer in Alberta

Call me crazy, but I have already registered for the 2015 Ride to Conquer Cancer. Come and join me.

Or, you can donate at: http://ab15.conquercancer.ca/site/PageServer?pagename=ab15_homepage, don’t forget to enter my name.

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