Thursday, June 23, 2011

Guest Blog--Ride to Conquer Cancer

This is a letter written by my wife, Pat, to thank those generous folks who contributed to the Ride to Conquer Cancer. Pat and our eldest, Scott, undertook the ride this past weekend. The top photo shows the intrepid pair before setting off from Cloverdale, in the driving rain; the one at the bottom of Pat's article shows them after arrival, rightfully proud and more or less in one piece. Congratulations, and thanks, to all those who took part. 

Wow what a ride!
Thanks to all of you once again for having supported me on the Ride to Conquer Cancer. You helped me raise $10,411 and our team (my son Scott and I) raised $13,281 due to the generosity of so many people. And you helped the Ride raise a grand total of $11.1 million for the BC Cancer Foundation in support of research and patient care.
2879 riders set off on Saturday, June 18th, in the pouring rain, wet before we even headed through the gates. Lots of people lined the way, braving the rain to cheer us on. That was such a boost to our energy. Wind, rain and cold accompanied us until lunchtime when finally the rain stopped. If any of you ever wondered as a kid – do you get wetter if you walk or run - I can tell you that riding between 20 and 30 km into the rain guarantees that you get wet very quickly! Note to self – next time get better raingear.
We made great time the first day, slowed for a time by having to change a flat tire, arriving at Mount Vernon at 2:30 pm. We didn’t stop much because of the cold. It was a great route, as we rode along Birch Bay, passed through Bellingham and rode up a gentle incline on a paved path through forest to Lake Samish for lunch. Then down country roads that are a blur to me to Mount Vernon. On a different day we might have been able to appreciate the scenery.
We had made the decision to stay in a hotel because this old body likes her creature comforts. It had the added advantage of being able to dry out our gear; I suspect that many of the people staying in tents started the next day with their gear still wet. After a good night’s sleep, we went back to the campsite only to find that many of the riders had already headed out. Quickly grabbing our bikes, we settled our tender rear ends on the seats and coaxed our muscles into action. Did I mention that it was raining again? And cold?
Sunday’s ride started with a long straight stretch through valley farms, however, the second day of riding in the rain soon started to take a toll on riders. Shortly after heading out, we passed a number of bikes lying on the road and a rider down, covered by blankets, and surrounded by emergency personnel. We hope the best for him. Later as we approached a steep downward slope we were warned to slow right down as about 6 people had already wiped out. When we reached the last pit stop before lunch, a number of people opted to take the bus. To reach Lake Stevens, our lunch spot, we rode up another long path through forest. It was a very long 15 kilometres.
At lunch, a number of people were taken to hospital because of hypothermia and the volunteers were handing out metallic thermal covers. Scott and I were shaking with cold and I think Scott was close to being hypothermic as his clothing really hadn’t protected him at all from the rain and cold. The volunteers taped these metallic blankets around our cores to try and keep our body heat in; we were modern day tinmen. In addition, Scott had taken a puck on the ankle a couple weeks before and having to disengage his cleat from the pedal multiple times over the course of two days lead to an extremely painful ankle. Again, the wonderful volunteers at the medical tent came to his aid and taped up his foot. My husband Bob had come along as road crew and was waiting at the lunch spot for us so we were able to sit in the vehicle to warm up a bit. This time I didn’t mind the engine running.
The instant we stepped out of the truck, the shaking started again and we pushed ourselves just to try and get the blood moving. The last half of the day was spent on a mixture of paved forest trails and roadway. Washington has an incredible network of trails through forest, well-used by runners, bikers and families with strollers. Something that we should be doing in BC.
They saved the hard hills for the last half of Sunday’s Ride. Yours truly was tested by a number of them but they did manage to warm us up somewhat! Scott says he had to slow down for his mother on the hills which I would like to deny but can’t. However, overall I feel pretty good about what this old, previously sedentary body managed to achieve. Finally we reached the last pit stop. The rain stopped and we had only 12 kilometres to go. It seemed like a very long 12 kilometres but finally we could see the end and hear the cheering and, roughly five hours after we started, we passed through the crowd. We felt on top of the world.
A huge thank you goes out to the many, many fabulous volunteers who directed us along the back roads through BC and Washington, fed us, provided medical care and good cheer, and who worked for months to make this Ride happen. The many bystanders cheering on riders along the route gave us strength. Riders cheered on riders, especially those riding with the yellow flags signifying a cancer survivor. Each rider worked hard to raise a minimum of $2500. Each rider rode in memory for people they loved and lost, or in support for people fighting the big fight. Each rider trained for months to meet a strenuous physical test. Each rider battled through adversity on the days of the Ride to reach the ultimate goal. And each rider had a battalion of supporters behind them that made it all possible.
It was an experience of a lifetime and I thank each and every one of you for your support for the BC Ride to Conquer Cancer.


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