On Sunday June 27 many riders, including myself crossed the finished line after an incredible journey. Over two days we rode 220km around the hilly terrain of the Foothills of Southern Alberta.
Saturday was the first day of the ride and the route was 115km in distance. It began with hills and ended with a couple of spectacularly long hills. The crazy thing with riding into rising terrain is that just because you go up doesn’t mean you are going to get to go down.
The toughest thing about day one was that the in the last 30 km’s of the ride there was a 13km hill, that just didn’t stop, followed by a bit of a respite (scheduled break at the 1 km flatland), and then a 5km hill, before the most amazing downhill towards the camp. With 0.7km left in that first 13km hill I was starting to loose steam, and completely lost all momentum when I got stuck behind a couple of riders that went to a standstill. The thing is that it wasn’t their fault that I stopped. I could not manage to get my legs to produce enough power to overtake, or my arms to be fast enough to break out from behind and turn the handlebars to the right, or get my hands to shift down a gear, before the stop happened. At that moment I hopped off my bike and walked the last 0.7km. I felt defeated and a little relieved.
Pammie was waiting for me at the the rest stop at the top, and I admitted my defeat. Then she told me her inspiration...”Every time I am tired I think of my Opa going through Chemo, and he fought hard, and went through so much more than I have gone through today.” With my butt sore, my legs tired and knowing that I was going to face 5kms of uphill terrain, I gingerly sat on my bike and began to ride. For the rest of the ride, when the going got tough I just kept saying to myself...”this is for every chemo pill my dad has to take,” “this is for the radiation,” “this is for you Dad,” “this is for you Uncle Tony, Zia Gigetta, Nonno, and Grandpa.” And I made it to the top of that 5km hill and finished the day without stopping.
Day two was 105km in distance, thankfully the route was over more gentle terrain. Oh, there were hills, but the hills were not as daunting, my legs were stronger even though they were tired, and the pain was just bothersome not overwhelming. My strength and inspiration throughout the entire day was my dad.
With that said, the sweetest thing was the downhill of 22x and the right turn to the finish line. As I crossed the line, I saw my mum, Auntie Chris, Lori and Todd cheering me on....and just like in all classic moments the words that passed through my lips were:
I am so proud to share my journey with everyone, and want to express my gratitude as this weekend would not have happened without your generosity. Your support has been wonderful.
The total money raised was $7,300,000.00!!!!! Just amazing.