Monday, May 3, 2010

CHEO 2010 ride

Yesterday on May 2nd, I rode in the CN Cheo bike ride. I had already registered the night before and had my bib pinned on my Red Army Vodka jersey. Thanks to my neighbour and friends, I had fundraised over 1300.00! In total there were 5000 riders and over 1/2 million dollars raised!

The ride began with a tribute to Tori, a little girl who died of cancer. They released balloons in her honour and I was in tears. It brought home the fact that the ride is not only for research and support, but also to honour those who did not make it and their families.

As the ride began, I was followed by a man with a camera and a microphone in a golf cart. "Why are you riding?" I was riding for my neighbour Emma, who has childhood leukemia. Her father died a year ago at 27 years old, and Emma has been in and out of CHEO. She has had more blood tests and blood counts than most of us would experience in our entire lives. She is a very brave little girl.

The ride was for 70km, but there was poor signage. The route was simple enough but confusion over whether we ride there and back, or there twice, and back once. The volunteers also did not know. The ride had numerous rest stops all manned with red shirted high school students urging us to drink ice cold water. As the day started off a little cool I was not in the mood to drink ice water. (mistake number one)

I was unsure of the route and worried we would be on a bike path, so I took my touring bike. Because I took my touring bike, I decided to pack a rack bag. I have a new axiom rack pack which is really too slim for my rack bag..but I put it on. I had a video camera, repair kit, first aid kit, jacket, camera, pencil and paper and heavy chain just in case. I made sure to pack my cool gel pack, also in 'case.'(mistake number two)

All of this was not needed. The route had enough stops and rest and water that I did not need any of this equipment. Tommy and Lefebvre had provided a mechanic at one of the rest stops near Brittania. He was doing a brisk trade assisting with gears and in one case a minor accident. Oddly, I did not see very many or any first aid people. If they were there, they were hidden.

I learned there are three kinds of riders. There are the Tour de France wannabes, who will blaze past you without calling out huffing and puffing as they go along. Usually their ample bellies fill their overly tight cycling clothes! There are the first time out riders, who come with heavier bikes and large padded saddles and the families. I was most touched by a family who were pushing their son, clearly in chemo as he had no hair and was shaded with a hat and glasses, his face puffy.

I found a KNBC rider, whose wife Judy used to sing with me. He had broken his ankle last year and drafted behind me. We took several breaks. Along the way, we passed children and parents riding, bike buddies, recumbents, smaller children in CHEO shirts, larger kids rollerblading...it appeared everyone was out for the event.

Back at the war museum site, there were bikes everywhere, against posts, chained to posts, in a secure area...on the grass. Strollers, blades of every colour and assortment and a sea of coloured jerseys. There was a magic show in which a little girl in a red cape caused a large bunny to appear, music, prizes (did not win!) and hamburgers and fries for all! It was a riot of colour and life, with llamas and sheep to be pet, reptiles to amaze, a bouncy castle...against what can be a very bleak time for children and their families.

May 2nd was a glorious day as I rode past tulips of flame, and cream and red colours. May 2nd was awash with dandelions, and apple blossoms and the warmth and promise of summer yet to come.

At lunch, I removed my bag only to find that the cool gel pack, which I have carried for years 'in case', had exploded. When a cool pack explodes it extrudes what can best be described as fine white crystals that look like hoar frost. You can wash the bag over and over, or wipe it and the crystals get on your hands, shorts and jerseys! I had lunch looking like I had had a run in with a grocery store walk in freezer! Three cycles in the washing machine, and my jersey and shorts are back to normal!

When I rode home, I realized I was sunburned and badly dehydrated. Memo to self drink!

Here is what I learned:
1) There is no need to bring a bag that includes a gel pack and the kitchen sink
2) When high school students in red shirts beg you to drink water..heed their counsel
3) Take in the joy and the great sites
4) Thank the volunteers along the route...a lot of cyclists don't do this.

Thanks to everyone who helped me out with this one!

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