The last time I blogged about my upcoming 100-k charity bike ride for Ride For Karen, I mentioned that I had gone for my first training trip with Kris Tobias, one of the founding brothers of the event that raises money to send kids with cancer to camp. We did about 30k, riding up the west side of the Don River in Toronto on the bike path, and then tackling what was to me a long, steep hill. (Kris said it was actually pretty small compared to what the hills on the Ride For Karen route would be… but it was a start.) I learned some good gear-shifting skills thanks to Kris, but on my way back home was really feeling the heat of the day; it had hit noon. Still, my plan was to ride to Oakville the next morning, which I estimated was about 40 kilometres, and I was determined and excited to do it.
So when I awoke the next morning feeling like I was coming down with a cold, it worried me. I had a sore throat and a headache and was beginning to feel stuffed up. I headed out around 10 a.m. and hoped for the best.
I am from Oakville originally and my parents still live there so my goal was to ride to downtown Oakville on the Waterfront Trail’so, mostly bike paths alongside Lake Ontario, and very little road’and have my husband, Jules, pick me up at Timothy’s coffee shop two hours later. I figured it would take me about two hours, if my estimate of 40k was correct, as I counted on averaging a speed of about 20k per hour. Then we’d put my bike in his truck and drive up to my parents’ house and go for a swim. I really didn’t fancy riding directly to my parents’ house because, (a), it involves a steep hill which I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do after cycling all that way, and (b) part of the way is on a really busy 6-lane road.
So heading west out of Toronto along the trail, I was feeling pretty good. I hit the border of Toronto and Mississauga, about 12 kilometres in.
But the farther I went, the more unwell I felt. My head felt heavy and hard to hold up. I felt I was on the verge of coughing all the time. And every little bump I went over jarred me and made my head ache more. And, it was really hot. (Although, the REALLY nice thing I’ve discovered about cycling is that there is always a wind as long as you are moving…which really helps keep me cooler. I could never run in the sunshine; I always do it early in the morning when the shadows are long. So this cycling thing is a revelation.)
There I was, standing under a tree somewhere in Mississauga with my odometer showing I’d gone about 20k, drinking from my water bottle both to hydrate and soothe my throat, and feeling sorry for myself. Then I thought about Clara Hughes. I’ve been following her adventures as she describes them in her excellent journal at clara-hughes.com, and she has been through lots of pain without ever quitting. She recently suffered a back injury after taking a major spill on a road race in Gatineau’and she got back on the bike and completed the race, finishing 8th. Amazing. She’s riding the Giro Donne [Women’s Giro] in Italy right now, and the heat there is like a sauna. Yet she pushes on, up mountains and all, for more than 100k a day for days in a row. What was I feeling sorry for myself about? I pushed off, and ignored the little inconvenient discomforts I was feeling.
Although this ride is mainly along the lake and pretty flat so far, the further west I went, the more uphill portions there are, where the trail goes through hilly neighbourhoods. So it did get tougher. Poor old me, eh? Kept going, ignored the headache and other stuff. Finally, there was the ‘Oakville Welcomes You” sign. Five more kilometres, and I was happily leaning my bike against a tree, and sitting in front of a cafe with an iced latte and muffin. Starving! And pretty pleased with myself, as my odometer showed 38k.
Jules came along in a little while, giving me a big hug of congratulations. We went to my parent’s place, and jumping into the pool never felt so good. I was under the weather for a few days, but I don’t blame the riding. It probably helped me sweat it out! And it was a great mental lesson.
If you want to sponsor Bonnie Munday for Ride For Karen, go to www.rideforkaren.com, Click ‘Donate’ and look up her name.
Read all Bonnie’s cycling blogs at besthealthmag.ca/BonnieonaBike