The Big Move

Posted: September 12, 2011 in Bike, Lifestyle
Tags: , , ,
  • The Big Move (click to see stats) *
  • 121.73k (5:57:08)
  • Avg. Heart Rate = 110 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate = 169 bpm
  • Avg. Speed/Pace = 21.4/kph
  • Best Speed/Pace = 61.2/kph
  • Calories = 4183
  • Temp = 22º
  • SOTD = ‘Sweet Home Alabama’  by Lynyrd Skynryd

* Information within this link is not accurate as I forgot to pause/reset my Garmin a few times.  The true kilometers and total time, however, have been represented here accurately.

As part of my “Giving Back” strategy this coming year, I volunteered for the local Big Move charity ride to support the building of the new Walker Family Cancer Center here in St. Catharines.  Specifically, I acted as the rear “sweep rider” or “Tail End Charlie”, as I preferred to be known, for the 100k bike ride and, let me tell you, what an extremely rewarding (not to mention emotional) experience it was.

My “hero”

My intention when I first volunteered for this event a few weeks ago was to be the last guy to cross the Starting line, as well as be the last guy to cross the Finish line and both those missions were successfully accomplished from the get go.  It was also an opportunity to honor my Nana, or my “hero” for the day, who although didn’t succumb this past April to cancer in the end, did battle cancer practically her entire adult life.

Starting line of the 100k ride.

The whole idea of the “sweep rider” was simple enough, support the slower riders and motivate them towards their own ultimate goals in completing the days task as well as deal with any random and unsuspected mechanical issues that might have occurred along the way; an exercise we likened to “herding cats” as it were.  But since, all in all, the only mechanical issues I came across was one flat tire and one slipped chain, the majority of the day was spent keeping the rear riders company, perhaps help them better understand and utilize their gearing, and simply talking with them in order to pass the time (as well as the kilometers) while making sure they were mentally fit and well; no real strenuous task there as I didn’t see nor experience a single gripe, groan, frown or otherwise the entire day.  In short, every rider I met was just tickled pink to be there and out enjoying the day.  I did, however, get to hear some pretty remarkable stories of triumph; all added fuel I will use next weekend.

The 100k “Sweep Team”, or the official “Cat Herders”

My first 50k, or so, was spent riding with a group of five individuals. Pam, a resident of Toronto whose personal mission it was to ride in these types of long charity rides throughout the summer; Tom and Jeff, two local riders; and Jennifer and Dale, two absolute sweethearts riding on behalf of lost family members.  Pam, clearly a veteran of these types of event, had come fully stocked and equipped with picnic basket full of treats and radio.  We spent the majority of the first few kilometers listening to Country & Western music and some Lynyrd Skynryd…cranked up loud just for me.  I will always remember climbing the first hill at Rockway Glen to ‘Sweet Home Alabama.  We were a literal, rolling dance party on wheels.  Awesome!  There were a few opportunities to open up and sprint ahead to check on the progress of other riders along the route and spike the ‘ol heart rate just a little but, for the most part, I preferred to hang back with this friendly ‘crew’.

Dale. Happy to be riding last.

Pam, the “Rolling Dance Party”

On the return 50k, I had the pleasure of sharing the afternoon with two extremely personable people: husband and wife, Martin and Jenny.  Jenny a nurse at the Niagara-on-the-Lake hospital and Martin a Hamilton firefighter, couldn’t have made for better company.  Riding in memory of her Uncle Tony, Jenny had to be the happiest and most pleasant person I have ever had the privilege to ride with.  She thanked every volunteer, every marshal, police officer and random onlooker as we rolled on by.  In fact, her positivity was as absolutely contagious as it was remarkable.  We passed the time discussing my upcoming Cancun adventure as well as her (and Martin’s) plans to build and move into their own home in St. David’s shortly.  We enduring the hills together through Fonthill and Pelham, marveled at the quiet countryside down Elcho Road and Centre Street, and munched on carrot muffins with cream cheese at all the rest stops.  They were both marvelous company.  Who needs to go fast when you have such awesome company as these folks?  Hell, I could have ridden all day.

The amazing and wacky volunteer team. Mmmm…muffins.

The amazing landscape along Elcho Rd.

In short, the day was a rousing success and we successfully saw every rider safely to the finish line.  Thunder n’ Lightning performed marvelously and I felt great even after finishing, so that served as some added confidence for next weekend’s adventure.  More importantly, I rekindled a little more of that added motivation I’ve been desperately seeking.

Team “Tail End Charile”, happy to finished but estatic nonetheless.

All in all, if these amazing people can conquer not only this ride, but their own personal conquests over cancer, then I can conquer 5+ hours of heat and humidity in Cancun with no excuses!  Shit, I’ll be getting off easy.

  1. john Hoadley says:

    Thanks for this awesome link Terry and good luck in Cancun. Cathy and I had a great time riding for this incredible cause and meeting so may nice, kind and generous people like yourself.. That was the longest distance Cathy had ever riddin her bike and she did great. 4hrs 38 minutes start to finish.It was another day of pleasure on the bike that so many people miss out on by not cycling.

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