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252752_10150912791782949_1881709021_nIn June, 2012, my husband, Tim, and his friend, Eric, participated in the 2012 Ride to Conquer Cancer. I found a place along the route on Day 1 to take photos and as I saw the riders crest a hill, en mass, I began to think, maybe I should do this. The seed was planted. My husband loves to ride and I knew that, if I chose to participate, he would be an amazing coach and support.

By the time they crossed the finish line, I was thinking that 2013 would be my year. Eric’s face told a tale – and it was a story I wanted to experience for myself.

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So, I signed up for the 2013 Ride and my journey began.  Throughout the summer of 2012, I targeted 25 km as my ride goal, two or three times per week. Occasionally on the weekends, Tim and I would do longer rides, upwards of 50 km.

In addition, I was training for what would be my last half marathon walk. The reason behind switching from walking to cycling was easy – my knees. Several factors have influenced the deterioration of my knees – the work that I do and carrying more body weight than needed. In my work, I have been hurt and several of those injuries ended up harming my knees, though never directly enough to put me in the category of being injured at work. I began physiotherapy prior to my half marathon walk and it was determined that riding was going to be more beneficial as it strengthened muscles around my knee and would therefore offer good support without the impact.

Half Marathon

I had high hopes for that walk, but in the end, I fell short of my goal to complete it in under 3 hours – my final time was 3:07:44. Close but no cigar. So, my focus permanently shifted to training for the Ride.

At Tim’s suggestion, I did one 80 km ride in November, 2012. The reasoning behind this was that it would be best to go into winter knowing that I could do close to a one day total for the Ride – each day of the Ride is 100+ km. I enjoyed the journey and took a photo every 10 km, both to give myself a break and to document.

Inukshuk - Ontario Place, Toronto

Inukshuk – Ontario Place, Toronto

The halfway point was my friend Maureen’s (Mo) house – 42.5 kms from home. Although it was a great motivator to have Mo as my turnaround point – her warm house helped me thaw out – she lives on a VERY big hill! That day, I walked my bike most of the way up the hill.

During the winter, I was sick more often than not and training on my bike indoors happened rarely, although when it did, I was thrilled to be able to read while cycling – two of my favourite activities at once. As soon as we could, Tim and I started riding outdoors. Things started slowly, but since I had achieved my fundraising goal of $2500, I felt that I was riding not only for myself, but for all my donors. In the end, I raised over $3100 for the cause.

First outdoor ride of 2013

First outdoor ride of 2013

The momentum picked up and I rode more regularly and farther. I did many long weekend rides, increasing my distance until eventually doing over 50 km on a Saturday and over a 100 km on the Sunday. On the final long ride, a pit stop at Mo’s house was included and I was able to ride up the steep hill to her house – without a break. Each milestone told me I was ready. Another daunting task was learning to ride in a group. The Ride organized group training rides and a month or so before the Ride, I participated in one and learned about the etiquette and challenges of large group riding.

Large group training ride

Large group training ride

On the day before the Ride, I loaded my bike on my car and headed to Ontario Place in Toronto to drop off my bike. There were hundreds of other bikes when I arrived but I took the fact that I parked next to another bike with a name plate (which is hidden in the photo below) of Paula as a good sign.

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Next time….I’ll post about the actual ride. It was more than just a bike ride.

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