Weekend of riding eases bike rally jitters

It’s been 5 years since I’ve done the full 6 day version of the bike rally.

FIVE YEARS is a long time.

(To recap, I did it the first time in 2014 with David. That was the year I turned fifty and the rally was a big part of my “fittest by fifty” challenge. In 2015, Susan and I did it. In 2016, Susan and I were team captains. And in 2017 it was David and me again. 2018 and 2019 I just did the one day version. See Sam and Sarah’s first metric century of the summer on the 1 day version of the Friends for Life Bike Rally: We made it to Port Hope! And then the pandemic hit. I rode virtually and fundraised in 2020 and 2021 but it wasn’t the same.)

I’ve been nervous about having signed up for it this year. The training is hard, the fundraising is hard, I’m getting old, I’m waiting for knee replacement surgery, I’ve got a big job, and the rally takes a lot of time. Maybe those days are over? Nothing last forever, right?

I know some of that anxiety is unreasonable. I’m actually not that old. My knee is a disaster but otherwise I’m in pretty good shape. I know some of the anxiety is related to having lived through the pandemic. But it’s also hard figuring out what’s reasonable and what’s not. And whether or not it’s reasonable the anxiety is certainly real.

I tell people that doing one day of the rally isn’t that hard. Lots of you could do it right now. The hard thing is getting up the next day and doing it again. I blogged about the ‘toughness’ of the rally here: How was it? Could I do it? Reflections on the bike rally.

It’s true you don’t need to ride that fast but in a way it’s harder to ride slowly. It’s more time on the bike.

I like the rally experience best when I’m in good shape. I get into the campground with energy to put up my tent and go for a swim. I get a massage, I stretch, and enjoy a delicious vegetarian dinner.

Here’s one my favourite stretches of road on the rally:

Long Sault Parkway

So this weekend, I put some of my jitters to rest. Sarah and I rode 70 km on Saturday with Jeff who is town having helped with a boat delivery, and on Sunday we rode 97 km on a bike rally training ride. We did the thing I was nervous about, ride one day and get up the next and do it again. And it was fine. Better than fine. Both days felt great. My knee was fine.

Yes, it was a bit of slog out to Musselman Lake on Sunday with some hills and a headwind but we made it just fine and the ride back, with a tailwind, was glorious. It was also great to see bike rally friends again.

It helps that lots of them are my age. I’m not alone in being nervous about doing this thing again after a break. Thanks to the pandemic we’ve all had a break.

Deep breaths. It’ll all be okay.

Please support my fundraising efforts here.

Sam and Sarah
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