by Susan Fullerton
I spent last weekend, the hottest of the year so far, biking 100 km over two days with my friend Susan Murdoch. The mini-tour, organized by Ontario by Bike (“OBB”), involved biking from Uxbridge to Lindsay, an overnight stay at a hotel in Lindsay, and then biking from Lindsay to Lakefield (or Peterborough if you wanted less distance), all along the Trans Canada Trail, with a group of 25 like-minded people. The biking was better on day two as there was much more variation in scenery, but both days, I thought the trail was well-maintained and there was lots of signage.
OBB is a project of Transportation Options, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering sustainable mobility and tourism solutions across Ontario. For cyclists, OBB offers a variety of information on cycling in Ontario, inspiring visitors and residents to explore more by bike. For tourism industry partners, OBB is a program certifying and promoting bicycle friendly businesses and cycle tourism in a growing number of regions across Ontario.
While on the trip and over the past few days, I’ve thought a lot about the privilege of being able to participate in the ride – both my own privilege and those of the riders around me. I observed that all of the riders were white, and those we spoke to were well-educated and well-travelled. Most rode expensive bikes. All appeared healthy and able-bodied, although there were all shapes, sizes and ages (14-84).
I’ve often acknowledged in the past how lucky I have felt to have the time, money, and health to visit some fascinating parts of the world. That’s changing for me – many of you will know that I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease five months ago. In fact, some of my biker chick friends immediately said, “Let’s plan another big bike adventure while you still can come with us”.
The diagnosis has definitely changed my perspective, especially about my body and what it can do. Now don’t get me wrong. I still whinged about my tender bits and my sore shoulder last weekend, but I’m sure that a year ago, I would have obsessed about what to wear on the trip, and I definitely would have been super self-conscious of the belly bulge over my bike shorts all day. I might have even worried about how fast I could bike compared to others around me. Not this year though. Instead of worrying about being judged by strangers, I had a great, relaxed weekend chatting with Murdoch, meeting new people, and seeing new parts of our beautiful province by bike.
Perhaps for the first time in my life, I’m realizing all the things I can (still) do with my body and celebrating them without fear or judgment. Facing potentially significant changes to my mobility, I’m embracing life as never before.
Susan Fullerton, a lawyer working for the government, lives in Toronto. She is an avid traveller who has had varying levels of fitness throughout her life. These days, she’s focused on being a reformed hoarder, trying to make better choices about how she spends her time and money.