I haven't written about the MS Bike Tour yet. I have been thinking about where to start. For the past nine years I have been going to the bike tour, 7 times as a volunteer flagger, rest stop attendant, support vehicle driver, or aide to the Halifax club HAM radio operators who do communications. One year I was only able to attend the finish line for a short period to cheer on the bikers. Never did I think I could do what these athletes do. And not because of having MS, but simply because I haven't been physically active for years. Last year my boyfriend (who I also have neglected to write about so far, but will) declared his intention to cycle. I had a 3 month trial at the local Nubody's Gym so offered to get myself in better shape, get a bike, and bike with him to help him train.
Little did I know that the simple purchase of a mountain bike would get me more active than I had ever been in my life. Pretty soon I was out on that bike as much as I could be, racing down rock strewn hills, splashing through every single puddle I could find, and eventually having a few falls. Ooooo! Battle scars!
So John did the Bike Tour as a participant, raising over 5 grand in 2006. I was already signed up for the event for 2007 also as a participant. Over the winter I bought a hybrid and had it set up in my room on a trainer so I could ride it. By March I was so anxious to get on the road, I braved the chilly weather and got outside. John and I trained together on weekends by riding some of the longer trails around the city(20-30 k) and during the week I did shorter jaunts within my neighbourhood, especially some pretty rough hills (10-15k).
A week before the Tour we did a 45 k ride. And I knew I could do the bike tour.
When the temperature hits 20 degrees, I start to slow down. I try to keep cool in order to function as a human being and not a land snail. I have a cool pack I wear in my helmet to keep my head cool, and a neck cooler as well, plus a well stocked camel back pack.
Day 1 of the Tour started at 6 AM for me. Up early to load the car and head to Windsor. Unload, sign up, say hi to folks I haven't seen for a year, and then on the road at 8. The official starts are between 9 and 10, but there was no way I'd be able to bike during the noon hour on what would be the hottest day of the summer.
I made a lot of stops along the way, at least half the 400 plus riders passing me, but that was what I had planned. I had 20 some other teammates who knew I was on the road early, as well as staff from the MS Society, and all the HAM radio folks looking out for me. I drank 3 litres of water between 8 and 12:15 when I finally rolled in to Acadia University.
I will continue this post at a later time and tell you about Day 2. But know that this event was probably one of the most uplifting of my life. The camraderie of the cyclists is wonderful, with folks cheering you on along the way, the support vehicles and rest stops manned by fantastic volunteers who will look after you no matter what - it is, quite simply, an amazing experience.
So when are you signing up for 2008?