Back in December, I got on a bicycle for the first time in many years. I was in California to interview Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes as she trained with her cycling team sponsored by Specialized Bikes and Lululemon. While I was there, I got to try cycling myself, on a fancy road-racing bike, and was thrilled to find that I liked it, even if I couldn’t nearly keep up with everyone else.
Fast-forward to the May issue of Best Health, in which I wrote about my experiences, ending the article with ‘I can’t wait to get another chance to push my limits.” When a PR company called Paradigm here in Toronto saw the article, they immediately got in touch with me, asking if I’d be willing to do a 100-kilometre ride in September at a charity event that they passionately represent called Ride For Karen. The organizers of this ride have been raising money for the past 11 years so that kids with cancer get a chance to go to camp. (It’s an inspiring story, and I’ll write more about how it got started in a future blog post.) I agreed to do it, and I set a personal fundraising goal of $5,000. The logical next step? Get a bike!
Enter Gears bike shop in Port Credit, just west of Toronto, whose friendly and knowledgeable staff fitted me with a lovely Specialized Dolce bike. I went to Port Credit on the Go Train straight from work, with a backpack holding a workout top and cycling shorts. I changed into those, and the store manager Scott Doel (pictured below) then checked everything from the size of my hands to the height of the arches of my feet, and just about everything else besides. This kind of detailed fit is to ensure that I get the most comfort and performance from my bike.
About two hours later, I was finished. For the first time in my life, I shoved my feet into a pair of specialty cycling shoes, and, helmet on and wearing my backpack that held my office clothes from that day, walked out the door of the shop and across the busy street while leading my beautiful new white & gold bike. Then, I pointed my bike eastward on the paved bike path, swung my right leg over, got the wheels moving, clipped my shoes into the pedals as Scott had had me practice over and over in the shop, and started riding towards my home in Toronto. Scary stuff, I’ll tell you!
It felt as if the bike was riding itself. I was amazed. It was a hot afternoon, and I sweat under that backpack, but the breeze coming off Lake Ontario to my right was lovely relief. And the paved Waterfront Trail took me winding past beaches and through parks, woods and neighbourhoods I didn’t know existed. I took a few wrong turns, but it was all fine. My feet felt numb at times, and my arms and neck were stiff, since I wasn’t used to this activity. And, of course, despite the padded cycling shorts and cushy seat, my bum hurt. But I made it to my house after 21 kilomtres and an hour and 20 minutes’sweating but feeling so excited at this new chapter of my life. I’m a cyclist.
Next time: Putting on the kilometres, getting stronger’and a little mishap.
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