Monday, June 30, 2014

RFAR 2014: breakin it down!

Ride for a Reason was a mere month ago, but as I'm sifting through the cobwebs in the deep dark recesses of my brain, it feels like it was a year ago. Or ten. Regardless, it was a fabulous time, we SURVIVED, and loads of moola was raised for a worthy cause! In total, over $75,000 was raised for Southern Alberta Bible Camp- a camp that my siblings and I attended as children, my sister (Shareen) worked at as a young adult, and we intend to send our own children to.

Thank you all for your support- whether it be prayer, financial, or even positive thoughts and encouraging messages. We rode for all of you generous supporters... and especially a few SUPER generous corporate sponsors. Zero Gravity Cranes & Rigging, Tradesman Manufacturing, and Beachcomber Hot Tubs... fantastic local businesses.

And now for some highlights (and/or the only memories I have in this limited brain space of mine) of each day. By the way, a bunch of the pictures are from our phones, but the really good ones were taken by the talented Shelley of Rochelle Coffey Photography. The ride is EXTREMELY lucky to have her (and her wonderful hubby) volunteer their time and skill.

Pre-ride notable note: I got my nose stud changed to a nose ring. Like, an actual ring. I was about to captain a tandem for 340km, I needed to up the rebellious look for goodness sakes.

Day 1
  • After spending the night at a hostel in Banff, we woke up ready to ride!
  • The nerves were building as we were getting closer to beginning this ride. For me, at least. Everyone else just seemed pumped. My stomach, however, was doing flip flops. I felt responsible for Lowell AND my livelihood which was quite a bit of pressure to put on oneself. It didn't help when we nearly biffed it in the parking lot before we even began (mental note: don't start with a tandem on an angle, up a hill, on a curb, in front of cars with people watching). It was a bit of a confidence shaker, but we still had 340km of road to increase our confidence.
  • The scenery was beautiful. Like, perfect. And the weather was ideal. Phew!

Lowell partook in a little on-the-bike photography...

More photo ops...

My powerhouse.
A little selfie to send to the childlets.
Many a flat tire for many a person (but not us, thankfully). Luckily there were also many people to help!

  • A highlight of day 1 was Crazy Larry (and he (very appropriately) called himself that, so I'm allowed to call him that too). He was riding a mountain bike that looked like it weighed 7,000 lbs plus he had a little trailer thingie and was HOPING for a headwind. Yes, crazy. Our new friend was training for Ride the Divide so he rode with us from Banff to Cochrane, then he rode back again. See? Still crazy. He bought one of our jerseys and was proud to support the cause. 
The lunch spot with Crazy Larry. The lunch crew, by the way, was stellar.
Lowell & Graham with our new crazy friend.
  • After a good long hot tub soak at the local leisure centre, we wolfed (and I do mean wolfed) down a delicious meal made by the good people at Bow Valley Baptist church, then made ourselves at home on their churchy floors. 
Day 2
  • Tough day. Tough, tough day. The first half of the day- while excellent, beautiful, and all around satisfying- was physically challenging (hills, hills, and more hills) while the second half of the day was more mentally difficult than anything! 
Please note that I am intensely focused while Lowell is goofing off in the back. Haha!

Meet JJ & Jody- our tandem twins. They rock.
  • We FLY down hills... not so much up hills. 
  • The second half of the day felt extraordinarily long because of the ridiculous wind. Also, we were riding on a single lane, undivided, busy highway with rumble strips and plenty of gravel. It was basically like 70km of me white knuckling it while I tried my darndest to keep the bike upright and on the road. And by 'on the road', I mean on the SHOULDER of the road, and not road kill. My hands, in particular, are still numb/sore from this experience, but we are alive and well, and even beat the rain storm, so woohoo for us!
  • Kevin broke his arm on the first day, and STILL COMPLETED THE RIDE! Brave nut, that one.
  •  Our friend, Dave, was also insane as he did the entire ride on a single speed. Nut. job. (But a very skilled/athletic nut job.)

Day 3
  • Mandy and I started the day off right with a little McCafe! 
  • There were so many amazing people on this ride, and it was a pleasure to strengthen old friendships as well as build new ones. The sense of community at the morning meetings was one of my favourite parts of the ride (you know, despite the rumbling, nervous, pending diarrhea tummy).
  •  Mike (our media guy) and Marielle (our nurse) were a couple of the amazing volunteers on the ride...
  • Lowell and I managed to stay near the front dudes each day. This is not surprising as Lowell was our motor and when he did this without me, he was right WITH the pack of speed demons. But seriously.... when the wind was favourable (i.e., behind us or non-existent) and we were headed downhill or on flat road (or just slightly up), we absolutely FLEW, and I loved that feeling. Except for when I started to feel unsafe. Then- against Lowell's wishes- I'd pull my position as captain and put on the brakes. We nearly reached 70km/hr at one point, and Lowell was sooooo disappointed that I pulled the plug just short of it. I just kind of felt that survival was more important, ya know?
Now we're just showing off.
  • Chamois Butt'r. It was a very necessary part of this ride, and an ESSENTIAL part of day 3.
  • My girls. We are in a small group together- just missing Chels & Steph.
  • Pete & Ron are part of the volunteer road crew on their motorbikes... every. year. I love seeing these two rip around, cheer us on, and make sure we're headed in the right direction!
  • Auntie Elvina (aka Pete's sis-in-law and one of our biggest blog fans), these two pictures were taken special for you...
  • Most of all, I absolutely loved doing this ride with Lowell.... attached to him 100% of the way. Whoever invented the tandem bicycle- THANK YOU. It allowed me to do this with my visually impaired husband. I was told that Lowell had a huge smile pasted on his face the entire time, and I don't doubt it. Makes my heart happy!
  • A lovely welcome to the camp...
Here's a link to the short highlight video of the ride that amazing media man Mike made. Right here.

Also, if you were interested in seeing the fancy gps data (which, by the way, I couldn't live without), here it is for day 1, day 2, and day 3.

We were thrilled with how the ride went, and we're already psyched for next year. And the next... and the next...

Thanks again for your generous support- kissy kissy smoochy smooch to you all!

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Ride for a Reason aka RFAR. Last year when Lowell did it for the third consecutive year, I had a 6-week old and a 19-month old at home and was like, "Nuh-uh. You are NOT doing this ride again. I don't really want to be a single mom." It's dicey enough for ANYONE to be cycling down the highway, but it's downright deadly for a blind man. I felt sort of bad about my demand as he LOOOOOOVES the ride and what it stands for, so we decided to do it together this year. On a tandem bicycle. With ME as the captain.

We have five whole training rides under our belts thus far, and we're totally nailing it. The weight difference was a little sketchy initially (our bike is built for the heavier person in the front, and I am definitely not the heavier one of us), but we quickly adapted. We've done hills, wind, distance, city, and highway cycling.... pretty much everything but cycling through fire and water.

VERY excited about surviving our first ride.
Woohoo! Our first Whoop up Drive (aka ginormously huge hill) summit!

To Magrath and back we go!

Magrath is the town where I work, and never will I drive this route with the same mind set.
This morning, we trekked to Fort Macleod and back (just under 100km) and surprised ourselves by our speed (maintaining an average of over 30km/hr with a maximum of 60km/hr). We could have done without the shifting issues while climbing the biggest hill, but Lowell's a pretty handy dude and he fixed things right up nice.

All of these rides of ours have included a first of some sort or another. This ride was our first divided highway AND our first wipe out. Not to worry, only our pride was wounded as we were basically stopped at the Tim Horton's drive-thru when we keeled over. HAHA. We made it safely alllllll the way to Fort Macleod then pretty much bonked in a parking lot. I failed to communicate to Lowell that I was stopping, and he hadn't expected the ordering thingie to come up so quickly. His shoes were still clipped in, you see... oops. Had it not been for my extraordinary strength, he would have been completely on the ground with the bike on top of him. Luckily for him, however, his wife is basically a (super humble) superhero and I lifted the bike before we both resembled roadkill (*patting self on back*).

The dudes in the truck in front of us- as well as the rapidly growing line behind us- got a good little show. They also got to wait extra long to order/eat because our bike didn't activate the sensor, so after a few moments of awkwardly talking to the machine and receiving only silence in return, I clip-clopped my way to knock on the window. All rather a comedic sight to be sure.

After a delightful little picnic with our music cranked (oh, did I mention we have a fancy shmancy speaker system on our bike?), we safely cycled our way home again.

Such a sexy eater.
We took this one for Fraser and Stefan... a choo choo train!
Lowell thought he was soooo sneaky taking a whiz on the side of the highway. teeheehee.

My parents (who had the boys) went out for a drive to find us, and snapped this action shot. And the next one.

I'm 95% confident that we will still be alive AND married at the completion of the 340km expedition from Banff to Southern Alberta Bible Camp. Now that we're used to the bike, I feel I'm much stronger with Lowell (as opposed to on my own bike) and I quite do love it. Probably because Lowell is physically a heck of a lot stronger than me and I like to let him prove his muscular manliness (by being the main source of power). I frequently find myself belting out the tunes then realizing, "Oh man. I must not be working hard enough if I'm able to sing at the top of my lungs while we're climbing this gigantor hill. I better at least pretend to work harder." Lowell is a powerhouse, and I very much benefit. Very very much.

My parents threatened to withhold sponsorship until we got our will drawn up. Well, we now have a legal will, so if THAT'S what was holding you back, then you can just go right on ahead and sponsor us now. Right here.

No, but for real. If you feel like this is a ride that you would like to get behind, and help send kiddies to camp who otherwise couldn't afford it... then please do!

Thanks for your support- both prayer and financial!

By the way, this is in no way a race. We look forward to savoring our time on the road, and stopping at every coffee shop along the way. Which reminds me... we're also accepting donations for our personal coffee fund. Haha kidding (sort of). ;)

T minus 5 days until go time and we're getting pretty pumped!!