charity · cycling · Sat with Nat

Nat’s kind of sorta MS Bike Tour

Recommended listening “Hurricane Years” by Alice Cooper

Last weekend was to be my epic, triumphant return to the MS Bike Tour Grand Bend to London after a three year hiatus. For the first time in a long time Pride London was not the same weekend as the bike tour. I participate in both as part of my corporate teams.

I love that Canada Life supports Pride and matches the first $10,000 any corporate fundraising team raises for charity events. Win-win-win!

This year I was cycling each weekend and went from 20 km up to 60 km in just over a month. I was feeling prepared and loved that my partner Michel was able to join my team and train with me.

Michel and I take a selfie after one of our training rides. I’m in the foreground with a neon green helmet and a yellow and red jersey that reads “ms bike tour”. Michel is on the background wearing a blue t-shirt and black helmet. We are both sweaty and smiling.

Thanks to the amazing support of our friends, families, colleagues and fit is a feminist issue bloggers both Michel and I exceeded our fundraising goals raising just shy of two thousand Canadian dollars for MS research. Thank you!!

Monday before the event we picked up our registration kits and met with our Canada Life Cycles teammates for a meal. I had missed those smiling faces!

Friday night we got ready and packed all the things.

Our helmets with our participant numbers sit on tops of our red Canada Life Cycles jerseys with our numbers pinned on. We felt very prepared!

Saturday morning the alarm went off at 5 am and we were in the car by 5:22. I decided to stop at the Lucan Tim Hortons. It was open before 6 am and I saw our motorcycle marshals inside getting hot breakfasts. One came out to the vehicles in the drive through with bikes to let us know the start would be delayed an hour as there was lightning in the forecast. It was still calm and clear. I decided we’d head up anyway and connect with the team. Get photos etc.

We got to the start at 6:15 am and the clouds were rolling in. As we took our bikes off the car rack serious thunder started rumbling. A crack of lightning overhead had us dash back into the car. It wasn’t even safe to walk to the motorway just a hundred meters away.

Michel and I face the camera in our matching jerseys inside the car and are trying to keep our sense of humour.

I start getting texts from teammates in other vehicles and we notice a 6:30 email confirming a delay from a 7:30 start until 9 am. Dang. I mean. It was not safe to ride. The starting area was flooded. Registration was not open. It was very bleak in the start area when I darted in to use the port a potties while we waited. A few of my teammates had waded through calf deep water to climb up into the bandshell for shelter. It didn’t look like much room so I went back to the car to wait with Michel.

By 8:15 I got a text from my team captain that the ride was canceled and shuttles were coming to take everyone to London. I was soaked from my two trips to the toilet. The idea of waiting an hour or two more to take a bus with our bikes to within 2 km of our house did not appeal to me. Michel and I briefly considered just riding anyway. We had water, electrolytes and a couple snacks. But I had not packed enough for a fully self supported ride.

I’m also a rule follower and thought we weren’t allowed to ride. So we throw our bikes back on the car and drove home. We ran errands for our family. Later I saw most of my team had decided to ride without support. I regret not being ready to be self supported. I was so bummed out about it I cried off and on all day.

We decided to go see the Barbie movie. Great call! We laughed so hard. We also came up with a plan to ride a self supported 80 km on Day 2. We had the car in London, plus the official Day 2 ride is slightly shorter, the 150 km total is split wit a roughly 80 km Day 1 and just under 70 km Day 2.

Sunday morning we sleep in, have breakfast, walk the dog then hop on our bikes for an 80 km loop up to Ilderton. We accidentally end up on a very hilly route with 500 m of climbing. It was slow going for me but I didn’t walk up one single hill and that’s the first time this year I could say that.

Since we started from our house the club route had a break at the Tim Hortons which fell at 47 km into the trip.

Me, squinting at the camera and kind of scowling at the 47 km mark. I really needed the break off my bike, food, toilet and a refill of my water bottles.

As we left Ilderton and headed north a hefty headwind kicked in as we slowly climbed to 15 mile road. I was so over climbing at that point. As we headed east towards Adelaide street I looked forward to the downhill to home with a tailwind. I would get to fly home after grunting along at 16 km/hr on all the climbs.

But it was not my day. Somewhere on Adelaide while we were 12 km from home I got a flat. There were several fine green glass shards in my tire.

We stopped and Michel helped me change my flat. I picked all the glass from the outside then ran my fingers inside the empty tire to find more shards poking through. I must have missed some though because we couldn’t get the new tube to inflate. We would pump it up, I’d hop on and try to ride and I could feel it was flat.

So many friends and strangers stopped to check in on us. We declined all offers of help. It was just a flat. But. Dang. I should have taken the hint. After three more attempts to get me rolling I convinced Michel to bike home and get the car.

I don’t know if it was worry, frustration or just pent up energy from a weekend that would not cooperate but he flew, like 40 km/hr flew, down that hill on a tailwind and picked up a couple Personal Bests on Strava.

I found some shade and checked social media. I posted an update

It’s sunny, I’m in the shade. I look like hell. I’m disappointed I was just 12 km away from completing my 80 km ride.

So it was a lot of fussing and feelings, not much riding but I felt very satisfied with myself. I was ready to ride 2 days back to back fully supported. I really love the energy of the MS Bike Tour.

The more years I do this event, the more I meet people living with MS and folks who love folks living with MS. It’s all around me and I don’t think I’d have that knowledge if I didn’t ride for the cause and tell people about it.

I learned a lot this year. That I am able to train up even after a long break. I will always pack for self support. I’m riding both damn days next year, come hell or high-water.

I worried about not being able to do the rides because of my physicality. But it was weather and a mechanical that foiled my plans. I worried that the folks who sponsored me would feel cheated by me not completing either day.

It turns out though, all those supporters are. Well. Really fucking supportive. Huh. And all I got was love, encouragement and commiseration.

I’m really over having plans change/:be cancelled/interfered with. The pandemic gave me a physically painful reaction to plans being canceled. I’m working on it. And I’m still making plans. The 2024 MS Bike Tour is already in my calendar. Maybe I’ll see you there?

One thought on “Nat’s kind of sorta MS Bike Tour

Let us know what you think....