The Big Move 2015

Posted: September 14, 2015 in Bike, Lifestyle
Tags: , , ,

One of my staple events every year is The Big Move Ride for Cancer in support of the Walker Family Cancer Center at the St. Catharines hospital.  I’ve been the last person to cross the starting line and last to cross the finishing line for the past seven years; ensuring that everyone…EVERYONE…gets to the end of the 100k route successfully and safely.  However, given my recent back issues I’ve been coping with this week plus the fact that it was cold and rainy, I was rather apprehensive about the ride this year.

Usually, when I spring out of bed the morning of the Big Move I’m all like:

This year, it was more like this:

Rain

Truth be told, I probably shouldn’t even have been riding but this ride is very meaningful to me and I believe that there are people genuinely counting on me for support so, come Hell or high water (we actually got a bit of both), I was determined to show up and make it around; albeit painfully.

This year was also particularly significant as this was the first year we’ve all volunteered at the Big Move as a family unit.  I would continue on as a sweep rider while Kelly and HRH  would work in one of the sweep vans helping to support the riders, aid stations, marshals along the route as well as keep track of all the signage, etc.

Here’s our family selfie:

11169407_10153522040560977_5100440612297073708_o

We arrived early at 7:00am to get all set up which, for the most part, meant sitting inside the car with the seat warmers on keeping dry and drinking coffee.  Many of the event volunteers were already out in force setting up the starting/finishing line, registration tables, vendor tents, barricades, etc.  Basically, I just sat in the car and stressed about my sore back and the weather. Eventually, it was time to get suited up for the ride itself and start preparing for a long haul into the wind and rain set to begin at 8:30am.

Here is my inspiration this year:

11222816_10153522058745977_3319805259375351723_n

The whole process went kind of like this:

Pee

After a brief delay though, our ride was out and underway heading out from Club Roma and directly up the escarpment at Rockway.

The climb up to Rockway Glen comes pretty early in the ride representing my first opportunity to begin providing real encouragement and support for some of the less experienced riders; never mind it’s already wet and slick out. I’ve done the climb up Rockway billions of times but for the uninitiated, it’s definitely a formidable obstacle.

Like this:

What they see

I trudged up the steep incline with Bonnie, a lady riding in memory of her husband and sister (judging by the ‘In Memory of…’ sign on her own back).  With some coaxing and encouragement and constant reminders to remember to breathe, she made it to the top to the first rest station.  She left pretty quickly afterwards though and I never saw her again (which, in the sweep business, isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

Around this time, my sweep partner declared that she was going to ride up ahead a bit and that she’d see me later.  I never did. So for the next 30-40 kilometers through Silverdale and down Silver Creek Rd., I rode with Lisa, a local tax accountant, who was braving the elements with a head cold.

There is a bit of a negative stigmatism about being at “the end” and Lisa was bit conscientious about it at first but we filled the next 90 minutes or so with fun, motivational conversation and whatnot and before I knew it she had become my “adopted sweeper” and was happily informing the marshals we passed that we were the tail end of the ride (one of the roles of sweeping).  What this really means is that I probably blabbed on endlessly about all the minute banal trivialities of my day-to-day life while she smiled and sniffed politely and then speaking to the marshals as a way of interrupting the full-blown conversational diarrhea from the crazy person riding beside her.

Like this:

blah

A short while later, I happened across what would, inevitably become the first of my many mechanical issues (another inevitable duty of the sweep rider) of the day.

“Duckie” and her friend had been abandoned by the roadside and were quite distraught that she may not be able to finish the ride due to a flat back tire. Changing tires has never been my specialty, but after 10 minutes or so of gentle reassurance and a lot of pulling, prodding and swearing as the result of a stubborn rear wheel, we had her back on her way and en route. I continued along with Duckie & co. for a while longer until she reunited with her group at the next aid station at the Old Pelham Town Hall.

Now, I have to say, one of the best parts of sweep riding is the hero’s welcome we typically receive at each of the aid stations from the volunteers. They really are amazing in the positive encouragement they provide the riders, especially given the harsh conditions they were enduring on this day. The real awesome thing about this particular rest stop was the fresh, home baked muffins available.

Like this:

muffin

Not long afterwards, I happened across my 2nd, 3rd and 4th flats of the day.  Each rider was in varying states of panic and I’m happy to report that each rider was very quickly gotten back on track with a fresh tire and all made it back to the finish safe and sound.  Yay me!  I was definitely, getting lots of practice changing tires.  At one point, I was introduced to this incredible gizmo (click HERE), the ‘Crank Brothers Extendable Speed Lever‘ and I was all like:

witchcraft

I need to get me one of these.

The problem now though, is that after tending to so many other riders mechanical issues I was well and truly behind the other 100k riders.  In the sweep world this is akin to being separated from your flock.  Not good.  So after that last flat, I peeled out on my own with the intent of making up some time, turned onto Wellandport Rd. and, BAM!, directly into a strong headwind.  Crap!  Fortunately, my sweep van pulled in ahead of me and I was able to draft behind to the next aid station in time to catch the other riders.  It was a real ‘Tour de France’ moment and over the next 7 or 8 kilometers it went something like this:

34 km/h…

Weeeeeee!

This is awesome.

36 km/h …

Okay, this sucks.

Stupid headwind!

38 km/h …

My back was starting to scream.

40 km/h …

Beginning to bury myself now…

42 km/h…

I was almost in tears.

44 km/h…

Fully in tears.

I think for some strange reason, I don’t know why, I felt the urge to suffer for a little bit.

Call it old habit I suppose.

Thankfully, I made it to the ‘First In Counters’ rest station moments before everyone else was set to head back out.  I had definitely burned a few matches in getting back to the group but, once again, fate intervened in the way of some incredible home-baked cookies which were more than enough to keep me fueled and going to the end.

The last 30km was pretty uneventful and lonely to be honest.  By now, my back was in full on complain mode and I was completely sore and uncomfortable as all my pre-ride pain meds were wearing off.  Plus, we were now riding directly back into the shitty weather again that seemed to continue hovering directly over St. Catharines.  I admit here that I had some dark moments along River Rd. as I trailed silently behind the last two riders in the group.  I thought about my mom and dad and just otherwise tried my best to stoically deal with it all in stride.  I summoned a smile and a sincere ‘thank you’ at each turning point to the marshals as my passing would inevitably mean they could now head back to Club Roma for their hot pasta lunch which, hopefully, would also be waiting for me.

My small group of stragglers eventually met up with Duckie and her gang at the last rest stop and together we all plowed onward to the end finishing in just over 5 hours of very challenging riding (6 hours in total) in the midst of a total deluge of cold, drizzly rain…just as we had started it (click HERE). It was all smiles at the end for the accomplished riders as I anonymously crossed the finishing line behind them…in last…and sought out my own cuddles and congratulations along the sidelines from Kelly and HRH  who were there waiting faithfully for me. My back was well and truly spent by this point.

Here’s the big finish photo:

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Thankfully, a pasta lunch had been set aside for me (complete with a much-needed alcoholic beverage) and not long afterwards we pulled out in anticipation of a hot shower and coffee.  Likewise, Daisy had more than earned herself a good cleaning and toweling down as well.

Just another day/year in the life of the ‘Tail End Charlie’ I suppose, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

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Comments
  1. Your Friends at the Big Move! says:

    Terry! You are the BEST! Thanks for your continued support each year. You offer great encouragement + advice to our riders.

  2. Paul says:

    I saw you in the gazebo before the ride, nice to read this follow up. Thanks very much for your volunteering! Much appreciated. Amazing commitment.

  3. Hey, I made the highlight reel (0:52) and then speaking at 2:27:

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