charity · cycling · fitness

Bike Rally, Year 6 for Sam

This year, 2019, is the 6th year of the bike rally for me. The Friends for Life Bike Rally is an annual fundraising ride from Toronto to Montreal to raise money for the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation.

Sarah and I (and David too) are doing the 1 day ride, the first day of the rally. You can sponsor me here. Please sponsor Sarah here.

What’s the 1 day ride like? “This amazing 1-day experience will give you a taste of what the Bike Rally is all about. You will be fully supported with crew cheering you on, keeping you fueled, and making sure you arrive in Port Hope to celebrate an incredible day.

Departing from the heart of Downtown Toronto, your journey will take you out of the urban sprawl and into the beautiful countryside. You will arrive in Port Hope at the beautiful Haskill cliff-top property overlooking Lake Ontario. Following a celebration and dinner, we bring you and your bike back to Toronto with plenty of time to rest for the week ahead.” You can register here.

I wanted to do the full, 6 day thing, but this is the last year of the Triadventure and they overlap so I can’t do both.

(In 2019 I’m doing the full thing, knee surgery permitting. I miss it! I love the ride, yes. But it’s the community I really miss.)

In 2018, year 5, it was my first summer as Dean and I was nervous about my new big job. I didn’t get that much riding in in 2018 but we made it. 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!

In 2017, Year 4, it was David and me, back to the original crew, see Thoughts on the bike rally year 4: This is a thing my body and heart can do, #f4lbr

We were joined by Sarah, Joh, Judy, and Catherine who did the one day version of the ride.

2016 was Year 3, my biggest bike rally year Susan and I were team leads! Our team was called Switching Gears and included many of the bloggers, and David and Sarah, and some other lovely people.

2015 was Year 2, me and Susan, see our posts Riding the Friends for Life Bike Rally at a friendly pace and Of Course You Can. . .PWA Friends for Life Bike Rally and Expanding Community.

2014 was Year 1. It all began with David and me. See How was it? Could I do it? Reflections on the bike rally.

charity · cycling · fitness

Join Sam in the 2019 Great Cycle Challenge to fight kids’ cancer

We do a lot of charity riding and running around here. This year for me the big ones are the 1 day version of the Friends for Life Bike Rally (sponsor me here) and the Triadventure, Trying the tri-adventure in its last year… Join us!!!

What kind of event is the tri-adventure? “The TriAdventure is not a typical triathlon. Our activities are not timed, and there are no prizes for finishing first. Our participants challenge themselves with the physical activities involved in the event, but are also challenged to raise over $1,200 for 51 vulnerable children in Kasese, Uganda who have been left without family support through poverty, HIV/AIDS or violence. The reward is knowing that your effort helps fund a program that begins with food, shelter and education and aims to help these children become self-sustaining citizens who contribute to a vibrant, diverse global community.”

Sponsor us here.

When is the Tri-adventure? It’s August 16-18, 2019.

You can read more about it here, https://www.facebook.com/TriAdventurePage/

And you can register here, https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/triadventure-2019-the-finale-tickets-37787495416

Those are both in August but in June I’ve also signed up for the Great Cycle Challenge to fight kids’ cancer.

It’s a virtual challenge. You ride on your own and set your own goals. I’m aiming to ride 500 km and raise $500. Join me? Sponsor me?

Great Cycle Challenge Canada
charity · cycling

Fight for life. Friends for life.

 

I was so happy when this photo of Joh and me came through on International Women’s Day from the bike rally. Happy memories and good times ahead. This is Joh and me on a training ride for the last year’s bike rally.  This year I’m doing the one day version and Joh is doing the new three day version from Kingston to Montreal. 

Sponsor me here. Sponsor Joh here.

Thanks everyone!

charity · cycling · holiday fitness · holidays · motivation · training

Big Hills and Big Cities: Sam’s Summer Cycling Plans

In my no excuses winter cycling plan I talked about making big summer cycling commitments as one of the ways I motivate myself to train for cycling through the cold snowy months of winter.

I thought I’d share those summer commitments with you. Now I’m doubly committed. I planned to do the thing and I told you about it.

In May Sarah, Jeff, and I kick things off with the Five Boros Bike Tour.

“The Five Boro Bike Tour is an annual recreational cycling event in New York City. It is produced by Bike New York. Conducted on the first Sunday of May, the 40-mile ride includes over 30,000 riders. The route takes riders through all five of New York’s boroughs and across five major bridges.”

Sarah and I did it in 2017. See our blog post 5 boros, 32,000 riders, 40 miles, 0 cars, and 1 great day, #tdfbbt.

The other Sarah who blogs here occasionally did it in 2015 and again in years after. Her post is called NYC 5 Boroughs Bike Tour (Guest Post)

It’s a great ride. Come join us!

Here’s Kim and Sarah R and me and Sarah lining up at the start.


June is our biggest thing. We’re doing a ten day bike tour of the northwest coast of Newfoundland. It’s a lot of riding, a lot of hills, and also likely some rain. It’s June 29-July 8. So far it’s Sarah, Cate, David and me. But if you’re interested, sign up!

On August 11 we’re doing the One Day Friends for Life Bike Rally. Sponsor me here.

And then on August 16-18, 2019 Sarah and I are Trying the tri-adventure in its last. year… Join us!!!

Sponsor us here.

charity · competition · running

Mudmoiselle 2018 (Guest Post)

Biopsy. It’s not a great word. The first time I heard it directed at me was six weeks after a reprehensibly bad gynecological procedure done by a horrible male doctor. I had always believed doctors infallible. This guy changed my mind. And so, after refusing to return to him when the going got awful, my new doctor requested the biopsy. In contrast to the previous fellow, she was lovely. The biopsy, on the other hand, not so much.

Out of an abundance of caution, we proceeded with treatment as if the results came back positive. A week later, when the results returned inconclusive, I was glad we had. It took another six months before we could repeat the biopsy. Mercifully, it came back negative. There are certain moments in life when you realise you haven’t been exhaling properly. That day was one of them.

I was fortunate that my results came back as they did. I’ve known too many others for whom things turned out differently. I won’t pretend I have the eloquence to capture the toll cancer has taken on the people in my life. It’s a nasty, pernicious, destructive thing.

For me, six months wondering gave me time to think and time to prioritise. I walked away from the experience knowing that I would do my best not to take my health for granted again. I was also determined to be a better advocate for my own self-care…and to punch cancer in the face every chance I got.

Mudmoiselle Guelph was an opportunity I fanatically embraced. The event, run by the Canadian Cancer Society, is held annually at Cox Creek Cellars just to the north of the city of Guelph. It is a 5km obstacle course designed for the moderate to advanced athlete. (They recommend you train for at least six weeks in advance.) The event does allow Mudmonsieurs, by the way, though anecdotally, I’d say most of this year’s 500 participants were women.

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(Image of me covered in mud wearing a Mudmoiselle medal.)

My team of five intrepid Mudmoisellers called ourselves “The Flailings.” Our team slogan: “Let’s get ready to FLAIL!” None of us had participated in the event before, so we figured t-shirts would be handy to help us pick each other out in the crowd. Obviously, a flailing air dancer was a perfect mascot. (Even if it did end up looking like a weird, ghost-like creature according to my five-year-old.)

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(Snapshot of the back of our team t-shirt with the words “The Flailings” and “Mudmoiselle, Sept 15, 2018.” A neon green flailing arm dancer is the centre image.)

Our team was a part of a mid-day heat. The organisers had us begin by reciting the “Mudmoiselle oath,” a moment of sobriety that, I fear, only heightened my team’s sense of giddiness at the ridiculousness of five grown women running around a vineyard in the scorching heat. I don’t honestly remember many of the obstacles that we ran through, though some are etched in my mind forever. First among them, the second obstacle, which was true to the event name.

This memorable obstacle was nothing less than a giant pit of fenced in, man-made, oozing mud. I suppose I give Mudmoiselle credit for putting it so close to the beginning, because if you’re going to get muddy, you had better get to it sooner rather than later. And, of course, the only way to get to the other side was to crawl through the goo. By mid-day, participants had established two parallel ruts, one on the left-hand side of the pit and one on the right. I looked at my team members beside me. We cheered a good cheer. And then I made the only possible decision: go down the middle.

Throughout the remainder of the two-hour experience, we launched ourselves over hay bales, scaled muddy inclines, walked through bogs (while, obviously, singing “Stand By Me” and praying for a lack of leeches), and swung from tires. By the end of it all, I had rope burns, ripped knees, purpling bruises, and exhausted triceps. I also had a blast. I do not remember the last time I cheered on strangers, particularly as they muscled themselves over questionably stable wooden walls. We were all there to help one another along, because goodness knows for many of the participants these obstacles were symbolic of so much more.

(I crouch on my hands and knees on top of a large hay bale.)

There is something unique about the sense of community that emerges out of a group of people dragging themselves through the mud together. At the end of it all, my team and I sat at a table, marvelled at our crusty, sore bodies, and shared stories of people we knew who were touched by this awful disease. We raised a glass to those we had lost.

On the car ride home, with multiple towels draped over my seat to protect the car, the children moaned about mommy’s awful smell. And all I could think was, yes my dears, that’s the smell of being alive…and bog water. Actually, it’s mostly bog water.

(I walk sideways along a wobbly wooden plank while holding on to a guide wire.)

Kimberly Francis is Acting Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Guelph, where she is also an Associate Professor of Music and a passionate feminist musicologist. She’s not ashamed to say that Taylor Swift, Guster, and many, many tracks from Big Shiny Tunes can all be found on her workout playlist.

charity · cycling

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!

It was actually a metric century (100 km) and change: 117 km in total. And we were so happy we did it. Neither of us had trained much this summer what with new job, moving, knee injury, sailboat racing, etc. Now I often say that after years of cycling I feel like I have 100 km in the bank. I feel like I could go out and ride 100 km on the first day of the spring cycling season. It wouldn’t be pretty and I might suffer the next day but I could do it. I’m not actually sure if that’s true but it’s how I feel.

The problem is that day 1 of the bike rally isn’t any old 100 km. It’s often extremely hot. There’s a lot of fuss and bother and stopping and starting getting out of Toronto. The rally always reminds me what a big city it is. The getting out of the city is followed by long sections on speed limited multi use pathways complete with dogs, children playing, roller bladers, long boarders. The view of the lake is gorgeous and it’s nice to be out of traffic but again there’s lots of slowing and speeding up, cheerfully calling out out “on your left” and telling people how many bikes are on the rally and what we’re raising money for. I’m very conscious of representing a group and a cause and I’m on my very best riding behavior. I love the last 20 km of countryrods and rolling hills. They’re exhausting but beautiful and each year I promise myself that I’ll go back and ride just that section fresh, not at the end of a long day on the bike.

There were lots of smiles that day in our small group of two. First, it wasn’t hot. There was a forecast high of 24 and low humidity. Perfect! Second, we paced ourselves and rested lots and really enjoyed the ride. I’m faster than Sarah uphills but even then I managed to slow down, spin, and not get too far ahead. How? See Sam’s bad knee cures Sam of a bad bike habit  She holds her own on the flats and downhill. Third, my knee was fine. I thought it would be but even so I worried about that much time on the bike. Fourth, Sarah was happy to discover that addressing an iron deficiency has helped her aerobic capacity and fitness.

We had a lovely evening at the camp with other 1 day riders and the 6 day riders who were camping in Port Hope and pushing on the next day. Truth be told, I was sad leaving and  I wished I was along for the full ride. But this year, this was the right choice. I was able to maintain my connection with this important cause and this wonderful community. It was my 5th year and my first time not doing the full thing. My social media newsfeed is full of past rallies. Don’t worry friends, I’ll be back!

Want to make me feel better about not doing the whole thing? You can still sponsor me, by the way!

PLEASE SPONSOR Samantha Brennan

charity · cycling

Tomorrow we ride! #f4lbr

It’s year 5 for me and the Friends for Life Bike Rally which is the main fund raiser for the Toronto People With AIDS society. It’s a great cause, a wonderful generous loving community, and a fun ride.

This year Sarah and I are doing the one day ride, not the full six days to Montreal. It’s 110 km from Toronto to Port Hope. We’ll ride our bikes, go for a swim, have some dinner, catch up with friends, tear up a little that we’re not sticking around for the beautiful roads on the route, sigh with relief a little that we’re not riding into Montreal en masse on the bike path, and get taken back to Toronto by bus at the end of the evening. Yawn.

This morning we drove into the city and dropped off our bags that will meet us in Port Hope. Bathing suits, towels, flip flops, and non cycling clothes. Also, for me, a hat, because helmet hair. It was fun to meet up with the bike rally community, get all the hugs, and try on this year’s jersey. Photos tomorrow, I promise.

Given my big new job and moving and all the life events going on around here the one day ride will be enough of a challenge. Wish us luck. And it’s not too late to sponsor me.