This past weekend was the big event. The weather was perfect -- blue skies, bright sun, Alberta winds. Well, it was perfect beach weather, after 8 hours of pedalling on Saturday I was wishing for a light shower of rain to cool me off. And my poor nose sure attracted the sun.
I started the ride at about 9am Saturday morning. I was nervous...unsure if I would make it, feeling I could have trained harder. By the time I got to check stop one (about 20 km in) I felt fabulous. At 47km, I knew I could keep going. At lunch I had completed 60 km and was worried about the 40 km of hills coming up.
Highway 533 from Nanton Alberta to Chainlakes Provincial Park (where I would camp for the night) is one long curving hill after another with short down hills in between. I am so proud of myself though...I didn't get off once to walk up a hill. I had to often look away from the peak and focus on something else so I would keep my motivation to pedal up though. Every time I made it to the top of a hill I would down so much Gatorade and water and prepare myself for the next one. The last 15km to camp were brutal and seemed to take forever. 8 hours of bicycle riding in the 30 degree Celsius sun sure makes cold beer taste even better :)
Camp was fun. There were hot showers, excellent food, beer and a band. They also had massage therapists on site to help soothe our aching hamstrings and yoga classes every half hour to stretch it all out. My best friend and her husband came to camp with some more beer for me to celebrate my days accomplishment. Sleeping in a tent on the ground was less then desirable and I have added more reasons to my "why i don't camp" list.
Day two I was up at 6, had breakfast and packed by seven and was on the road by 7:20am. I made excellent time because after every hill I had to climb was an awesome downhill to coast and make time up on. Nothing is more fun then speeding down a hill at 8am with fellow riders screaming "woooo!" I rode 40 km by 9:30 and felt awesome. My legs had hurt at first, but after the first half hour they got used to the motion and the pain subsided.
When I reached the final pit stop there were only 20 kms left and it was noon. I was so excited and felt a little emotional that I had already put in 200 km and was on my way. Yes, I had already done the 200km because there were 20 extra added on that I didn't sign up for. Those last 20 km were amazing. As soon as I saw the city limits, I got teary and riding in through the gates, hearing everyone cheer for me was so amazing! I did it! I rode 220 km in 2 days.
There were 1667 riders on this journey and together we raised $7.3 million towards cancer research in Alberta. The entire experience is one that will stay with me forever. From every story I heard, every person that sponsored me and every person I rode next to I have a connection. And their stories and experiences have been woven in with mine. Together we worked to fight an unbiased disease.
I might even sign up again next year.