Monday, July 25, 2011

"One Revolution"

My life has always had great timing and this weekend was no exception. 

Friday night while packing for the MS Rona bike ride on the weekend, the ABC TV show 20/20 came on.  Lennie, Megan, Scotty and I decided we would watch it as I saw a blurb for a cool part of it on Twitter. Summer Sanders tweeted that a friend of hers from UTAH was going to be spotlighted in a segment.  It was about a guy who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro as a paraplegic.  Since Lennie and I are climbing Kili February 2013 I wanted to see some footage.  Of course, lessons are always learned when you are not excepting them and this TV program would be a great lesson for me with the bike weekend to come. 

The segment came on entitled; Super Humans: Arms of Steel and a guy named Chris Waddell who cranked his way up Mt. Kilimanjaro on a hand cycle to inspire the disabled.

Chris was injured in a ski accident but that didn't slow him down and he set his sights on Kilimanjaro and a documentary crew followed him every step of the way.  He was able to make the 6-day climb in this amazing wheel chair bike that was engineered for him.  But, with just a short distance to go, he couldn't go any further because of the very difficult terrain.  He decided that he would just crank the wheel "one revolution" at a time and that would get him to the top.  20/20 has terrific footage of him turning the wheel one revolution and then Chris resting.  I had of course had an epiphany and said that is how I will get through my 165km ride weekend - one revolution at a time.  If Chris Waddell can summit Kilimanjaro with just the use of his arms, I can ride to and from Grand Bend Ontario with my 4 limbs.  Check out his documentary and web page at

So, I woke up Saturday morning, Lennie got me to the start line with my On Your Left Team and we took off for an 88km ride to London.  It was not easy. 

Our team had done some short Tuesday and Saturday training rides but the furthest I rode in 1 day was about 80km from Ottawa, Ontario to Calumet, Quebec in 1991.  I didn't have a car and wanted to see Lennie so the only way to get to see him was to ride from my house to Quebec on highway 148.  I made it until the town right before Calumet.  Lennie drove in his truck from the opposite direction till he found me and everyone thought I was nuts to attempt that ride on a 2 lane highway, by myself on a 6 speed bike. 

This ride was no different.  Day 1 - Saturday morning was a gorgeous morning when the siren went off for our wave of riders at about 8:15am.  Lennie had dropped me off but took a map and waited till we passed at one of the cross roads.  He snapped some action shots. 

I loved our team jerseys.  Everyone commented on how fun they were because as they passed you they have to yell out "on your left", once they saw the jersey, they would say 'on your left, On Your Left" and then say - great team name. 

It was hot out and my shoulder cramped up for most of the 2nd half of the ride.  The traffic did freak me out and I was a tad lonely as I rode most the race by myself.  (once again slow poke) but at the last rest station I caught up to 2 riders from our team; John and Jerry and they said they would ride with me to the finish line.  That was great as we counted down the kms to London.  I crossed the line 88km line in 4:40 and kept to my 3:15/km pace.  Pretty damn slow as it turns out as most the team was already there but the best was my parents drove over to the finish line and were cheering with the team. 

I was so proud to be a team of 31 people (about 21 made the ride) for such a great cause.  I had raised $1001 and was so proud to be participating with Lindsay, Lish, Conor, and the whole team of wonderful people.  1850 other riders took part and I was thrilled just to be well enough to ride. 

Saturday night we all stayed in residence at UWO and what a throw back in time.  That is where I met my husband in 1988 and I got to reminisce about all the fun we had during university days.  The MS society provided a dinner, beer garden and speeches for Saturday night but we all packed it in pretty early knowing we still had to ride back on Sunday.  Lindsay and I roomed together and giggled about being back at Fitness Ridge last summer together - those rooms were a tad nicer as the beds in residence were so hard. 

Day 2 began a little earlier - 7:00am and I was able to wear my new jersey I received for being a member of the $1000 club.  They provide you with a special jersey for hitting that pledge mark and I wore it with pride on Sunday.  As people saw or passed you, they would congratulate you on your fundraising accomplishment.  That was really cool. 

I felt amazing on Sunday and rode my butt off.  I didn't even stop at the first rest station and got into a groove for the whole ride.  I tried to stay under 3 minutes a km and was able to stay at 2:50 the whole time.  No pain except my knees with about 15 km to go and I did need a little more 'anti chaffing' cream but I survived and crossed the 76 km route in 3:35 minutes.  Pretty good being the second day, 220 pounds, and on a mountain bike - imagine how fast I will be next year with a new bike, this experience and a little lighter!   Lish and Lindsay were sitting at the finish to see me cross,  What was great was seeing the rest of our team finish together and so many people accomplish is awesome feat.  165kms Grand Bend to London and back again!!!

The whole ride I didn't even think about much other than the countryside sites, triathlons, and how I could go faster.  I knew that 90km was the bike distance for a 1/2 Ironman so I focused on the feeling of having just swam and then running after this distance - I think I could do it - with a much better bike that it.  The mountain bike didn't make it easy because it was so hot the wider tires made it grip more and a little harder to move plus the handle bars made you stay in one position, often I wished I could lean forward to cut the wind or stretch my back. 

Lennie made it back on Sunday to see me finish and snapped some more photos.  I wanted to stay and hang out with the team for the BBQ and fun but I was feeling good and didn't want to push it knowing this week would be interesting with my Thyrogen injections and tests for radiation treatment. 

Thank you so much to all my donors for your contributions and I look forward to celebrating again with my team.

We got home and I rested till Scott and Meg came over for dinner and we all laughed about me riding and doing these crazy things.  My dad popped over for a swim and I told him that I am going to do a 1/2 Ironman in Indiana next summer and he just shook his head.  I told him 'One Revolution" at a time dad but he didn't get it.  I did and that's all that matters.