Tour is an uphill, emotional battle

Straddling my bike at the base of Mount Washington, I look high in the sky and squint in an attempt to see the ski lodge at the top.

Straddling my bike at the base of Mount Washington, I look high in the sky and squint in an attempt to see the ski lodge at the top. No success.

I know the lodge is 19 kilometres away – all uphill – from where I stand, and the only way I’m getting there is by pedalling the whole way.

I also know that I’m moments away from beginning the hardest physical challenge I’ve ever undertaken. I’m surprisingly calm.

On a cold Sunday in early March of this year, I stood straddling my bike in the parking lot behind the Saanich police department – nervous as hell – surrounded by a group of complete strangers.

It was our first-ever Tour de Rock training ride. It had haunted me for weeks leading up to it. I hadn’t been on a bike in any real capacity in seven years, so I was pretty doubtful of my abilities on two wheels – and rightfully so.

Our first ride was a slow trek along the very flat Lochside Trail to Mattick’s Farm and back. It wasn’t exhausting, but it surely wasn’t a piece of cake.

Now here I am on July 15, less than five months later, standing at the bottom of one of Vancouver Island’s highest hills, and I’m ready to conquer it. It helps that my team is with me, and each one of them is about to tackle the same challenge.

“It’s just a bike ride. It’s just a bike ride,” I repeat in my head.

I’ve thought that phrase hundreds of times since March – any time I get fatigued during a ride – because I know that my uphill battle on a bike is nothing compared to a child’s battle with cancer treatment.

My motivation for riding through struggles, and pushing hard each time I get on my bike is the people I’m riding to support.

Even though the actual Tour hasn’t officially started – that runs Sept. 22 to Oct. 5 – the team has had the opportunity to meet children who have gone through cancer treatment. These kids – some as young as two years old – epitomize the words strength, bravery and fortitude.

They’ve spent their short lives undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, getting pricked by needles countless times a day, and not getting to live a carefree childhood.

These kids are my motivation and my inspiration to fight through burning leg muscles and a sore back, and pelting rain and howling wind, to bike 1,000-plus kilometres down Vancouver Island.

But right now, even before my 17 teammates and I head out on Tour, Mount Washington stands in our way.

It’s been said by many past riders that you don’t remember much of the riding – you’ll remember the community stops, the children you hug, the stories you hear and the emotions of it all, but not the biking.

I made it to the top of Mount Washington on Sunday along with my team – and we were all elated – but I barely remember the ride.

What’s stayed with me, instead, were the emotions I felt.

I remember a few periodic moments of dread, when I looked up the road and saw steep, endless asphalt. And I remember the pride I felt – the smile plastered to my face – when I pulled in to the ski lodge, sweaty and panting, after conquering Mount Washington.

Those emotion-filled memories, on both ends of the spectrum, are what I will take away from my experience as a Tour de Rock rider – it won’t be the Vancouver Island scenery or the six-hour rides along rolling Island roads.

At the end of the day, I’m riding for the kids and families dealing with pediatric cancer – they’re the fighters. All I’m doing is riding a bike.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

–Kyle Slavin is a reporter for the Saanich News and a member of the 2012 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team. To support his fundraising efforts, visit is.gd/TourdeRock.

 

 

Just Posted

Dog memorial at Esquimalt Lagoon encourages living in the moment

Owner of Jazz the black lab sets up tennis ball memorial one year after dog’s death

Indigenous artist challenges people to re-assess environments with new project

The ‘Indigenous Illuminations’ transforms the ordinary into something new

Downtown Victoria tea shop switches to plastic tea bags

Murchie’s Tea and Coffee says the transition is temporary

Second puppy killed by poisonous mushrooms in Victoria

Springer spaniel puppy died after consuming mushrooms in Fairfield neighbourhood

Western Speedway racing legend ‘The Flying Plumber’ turns 98

Dave Cooper recalls car crashes, his first win, and more

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Woman, 24, faces life-altering injuries after being dragged 4 blocks by vehicle in Vancouver

A gofundme account says the woman will have to undergo multiple complex surgeries

Frustration and pride in Canada after a year of legal pot

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

Two RCMP vehicles vandalized in Duncan over long weekend

Local Mounties asking for help in finding culprits

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

Most Read