charity · cycling · fitness

Riding with friends again! Tour de Guelph 2021

We’re getting back to normal riding! And I know there’s a lot of worry about ‘normal’ and what getting back to it means but this is one case where I liked what we had an awful lot and I want it back.

It’s true that this year we’re not riding in a big group. There aren’t hundreds of participants at on etime but it’s better than last year when a full summer of charity bike rides all turned solo or virtual. This year started off virtually, see “Crushing covid” on a virtual bike ride. but the Tour de Guelph is being held in person.

You can ride with small groups and Sarah and I rode with our friend Ellen, who is a nurse here in Guelph. We saw lots of other cyclists out there but I don’t know if they were riding in the Tour de Guelph.

You can choose your own route and we chose the 50 km route, leaving from U of G, heading north past Guelph Lake to Barrie Hill and back through Edon Mills and Arkell, stopping for iced coffee and baked goods at Cavan on the way home. All told, counting getting to and from campus and coffee, it was more like 54 km but who’s counting! (Here’s our activity on Strava.)

Sarah spotted the selfie station just past Guelph Lake so we stopped and got a group photo.

We’re smiling in these photos but honestly I think we grinned for most of the ride. Whee! A great ride for a great cause.

You can still sponsor me here.

Tour de Guelph – Tour de Guelph
charity · cycling · Guest Post · illness

I live with Parkinson’s. For me, raising funds for health charities is personal (Guest post)

By Susan F

I joined the military reserves when I was 18 to play the French horn in the Changing of the Guard band on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. In 2011, I flew to Maputo, Mozambique by myself to join strangers on a Habitat for Humanity build. I’ve even hiked to Annapurna base camp and para-glided off a mountainside in Pokhara, Nepal.

But my biggest challenge, and maybe my greatest accomplishment, is facing Parkinson’s disease head-on. I hope I do so with courage, fortitude, and occasionally even a little humour.

I am writing to share my experience with PD and Parkinson Canada, one of the 21 health charities supported by Federated Health .

I was diagnosed with Gaucher’s disease, a rare metabolic disorder, about six months before my PD diagnosis. At the time, I was told this meant I was at high risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.  When I subsequently developed a tremor in my right leg, I was not really surprised when PD was confirmed. In fact, immediately after the diagnosis, I texted my family, had a very brief period of feeling sorry for myself, and headed back to work from the hospital.  I subsequently learned how lucky I was to be so quickly diagnosed, as many people suffer for years before diagnosis.

In terms of how PD affects me, the most obvious symptom I have is tremors affecting my right side, which are made worse by stress. For me, the weirdest thing about Parkinson’s is that your body doesn’t do what it used to do automatically, so I have to try to tell it to do things. I have trouble with manual dexterity, things like typing, buttoning buttons and cutting bread. I also have to be careful walking so I don’t trip and fall. Lately, it’s been difficult to roll over in bed.

I am fairly lucky though that so far, my Parkinson’s disease is quite manageable. And my friends, family and colleagues have been incredibly supportive, especially over the past several months.

I was honoured earlier this year to be able to participate in a world-first clinical study which used an MRI-guided ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) on the left side of my brain. While my BBB was open, I was infused with a drug commonly used to treat Gaucher’s disease. The purpose of the phase one study was to determine whether this could be done safely. There were only four participants, and I was patient four.

 

Susan taking part in the clinical trial

Although there was no promise of any benefit to me, I was pleasantly surprised to notice a fairly significant difference in my symptoms. The most obvious change was that I regained a sense of smell. Many people don’t know that some Parkinson’s disease patients start to lose their sense of smell long before they are diagnosed. That had happened to me.  I can’t say that regaining smell is all positive given that the first thing I smelled was my cat’s litter box

Seriously though I have noticed positive changes: less tremors, less rigidity of my leg, and better manual dexterity. As the study has been a success so far, they are looking at the possibility of a phase two trial.  If it goes ahead, it will include a larger group of people with the focus on effectiveness of the procedure. I am very hopeful that this could lead to significant benefits in the prevention and/or treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

In closing, I want to mention Parkinson Canada as I really appreciate the work they do through their support groups, research and advocacy. I belong to two support groups including a “young onset” women’s group (“the Parkie girls”), and occasionally attend a Sunday afternoon drop-in discussion group, all of which are sponsored by Parkinson Canada.

I’m also part of a bike group called the Rigid Riders, whose focus is to encourage Parkinson’s disease patients to cycle. The Rigid Riders take part in an annual charity event, Pedaling for Parkinson’s, where 100 per cent of the funds raised goes to Parkinson Canada research.

Most recently, Parkinson Canada created an advisory group to their board made up of people with Parkinson’s disease. To me, this clearly reinforces their commitment to hearing patients’ voices and making their very best efforts to provide the support that we need. 

That’s why I am excited that Parkinson Canada is part of the Federated Health campaign.

To donate to my Pedaling for Parkinson’s Ride – https://donate.parkinson.ca/site/TR/Pedaling/CNO_pedaling_4_parkinsons?px=1153847&pg=personal&fr_id=2511

Parkinson Canada – https://www.parkinson.ca/getinvolved/waystogive/

Federated Health – https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/30863

Susan is a ‘Parkie girl’ who works as a lawyer. She tries to regularly practice random acts of kindness and is looking forward to days of hugs and travel.

charity · cycling · fitness · Zwift

Make Your Own Route Badge!

Red Dress Day Route

I love it!

Someone designed a tool to make your own Zwift route badges.

I made one for the Bike Rally’s Red Dress Day. What’s the Bike Rally? It’s a charity ride, normally from Toornto to Montreal, to raise money for the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation.

We don’t ride the whole thing in red dresses but on one special day, the short ride into Kingston, we do.

And yes, I’m registered for this year though I am not sure what form the ride will take. You can sponsor me here.

charity · fitness · racing · Zwift

A challenge every Saturday in March for the women of Zwift

Celebrating women’s month with a challenge every Saturday in March

On the one hand, exciting.

But on the other hand, it might just be too much for me.

Here’s why:

First, there are five Saturdays in March so that’s more challenge than I might have bargained for.

Second, I had just settled on Saturday as rest day.

Third, there are hills in these races.

Fourth, I’m trying to make sure I don’t race all the time and that I get enough rest.

Fifth, my winter Zwift challenge which ends March 19 is getting my Tron bike.

Oh and sixth, we’ve already committed to Zwift charity gift in March. Find out more and join us here.

Still though it sounds very good. I love race series that have divided categories for women rather than divided categories for men and lumping all the women together. It’s no fun racing against super fast, younger women while your male cyclist friends in their 50s and 60s get to race against peers (in terms of watts, if not always age.)

I’m still thinking about juggling some things to make this fit.

“The Warrior Games, would like to celebrate Women’s month in March by presenting to you “The Iceni Women’s Series” fun challenging races, on every Saturday for all powerhouses from A+ to D. After the success in The Tour de Boudicca A+ women’s category, we will be adding PEN E for ladies with an average of 4.2 w/kg +.

Women’s Categories shown in Zwift companion :
(Pen E) A+: 4.2 w/kg +
(Pen A) A: 3.7 w/kg – 4.19 w/kg
(Pen B) B: 3.2 w/kg – 3.69 w/kg
(Pen C) C: 2.5 w/kg – 3.19 w/kg
(Pen D) D: <2.49 w/kg

The Iceni tribe was ‘peacefully annexed’ by the Roman Empire at some point before 47 AD, though it was allowed some autonomy. When the king died and Boudicca I became High Queen of Iceni, the Roman Empire saw her unfit to rule and invaded the region. Iceni led a revolt against the Roman Empire in c.60 AD and regained its independence, along with the independence of several other tribes. This led to the subsequent formation of the Comhairle, an alliance of the British tribes. Iceni had a major say in Comhairle affairs and became an important center of trade, military, and leadership.

Celebrate Women’s month in the best way possible! Drop mad watts and show them all what you are made of!”

charity · cycling · fitness · Zwift

Toronto Hustle is Crushing Covid, Round Two: Join our team or sponsor us!

Toronto Hustle presents Crush Covid

#CRUSHCOVID – Ride for MindFriday, March 13 2020. The day Toronto went into lockdown. In response, we launched CRUSH COVID – a 24hr virtual cycling marathon to raise money to support COVID-19 relief efforts. Together, we raised a quarter million dollars and united communities and cyclists from around the world. For 2021, exactly one year to the day of our first lockdown, CRUSH COVID – Ride for Mind, is responding to the pandemic’s growing mental health impact. Join us, MGH Foundation and cyclists across the globe for all, or a part of the 24 hour cycling marathon. Donate and spread the word. Let’s finish this off together.www.crushcovid.ca

I’ve started a blog team. Register here and select “FitFeminists” as your team name. SamJBFitFeminist is the Team Captain.

My plan is to divide up the 24 hours between team members. And if’s just me, well it’ll be a lot of riding. Lol.

You can also just sponsor us here.

Q: What is CRUSH COVID: Ride for Mind?

A: CRUSH COVID: Ride for Mind event is a virtual 24-hour cycling event open to all cyclists and gives them the opportunity to raise funds to support our community through the mental health crisis arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual ride will take place on the Zwift app.

Q: Where and when is the CRUSH COVID: Ride for Mind event taking place?

camping · canoe · charity · covid19 · cycling · fitness · fun

Plans? Do we even get to have plans? Sam nervously makes some anyway

A friend posted asking about 2021 plans and then said, “Joking. It’s 2021. Do we even get to make plans?”

To do list: Nothing

And I agree plans feel a lot more tentative this year. In the third week of January last year and the year before that, I was riding my bike in the Clermont area of Florida. This January there’ll be no travel.

It’s been a long blurry year of cancelled travel plans starting with, for me, the cancelled Pacific APA in San Francisco and attached vacation. Followed by a big trip to Melbourne cancelled. All of my summer bike holidays and charity rides were likewise cancelled. I did four charity rides, all either solo, with Sarah, or on Zwift. Two weddings, cancelled. You get the idea.

And in light of all the illness, unemployment, loneliness, overwhelmed hospitals, and death it feels a bit off to complain about not being able to make 2021 cycling plans.

I’m grateful for Zwift, don’t get me wrong. But still, I’m making some plans. They’re just more local and much more tentative. What makes them plans and not mere hopes? They involve things like registration forms and reservations, time booked off work.

We know there are vaccines, and that’s good, even if the timeline for things like races, group bike rides, and travel are still uncertain.

In January in addition to TFC team time trials and our Monday and Friday races I’ve agreed to take part in series hosted, on Zwift, by Team Vegan. You don’t need to be a vegan to take part. They’re hosting the series in the same way that TFC hosts a series. They’re the organizers.

Team Vegan racing

I’m also committed to Yoga With Adriene’s 30 day yoga journey Breath.

In February, Sarah and I have booked yurts in a provincial park to go cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and fat biking. Some adult kids might come along and winter camp. We’ll see. I’ve committed to taking vacation even if I can’t travel very far away.

In March and April, in early spring, before it gets busy, I’d like to finish the Guelph to Goderich rail trail.

In later spring, we’ll be back out Snipe racing on Guelph Lake. Whee!

Come summer we’ve also committed to spending more time at Sarah’s farm in Prince Edward County. What’s perfect is that there are two houses on the property, loads of lovely biking nearby, and a swimming pool. Even if close up visits with friends are still restricted we can host people in the other house and socialize outside. BBQ time!

We’ll also book some Algonquin canoe camping trips. Again, they’ll likely go ahead even if travel in general isn’t recommended. We do back country camping and there aren’t too many other people around.

I’m really hoping that the Friends for Life bike rally goes ahead in person this year. You can sponsor me here.

Jeff is also heading east on his new boat Escapade to Nova Scotia and there’s some talk of visiting there once he’s settled with the boat. That crosses the line from “plan” to “hope” for me since it relies on not having to self isolate after traveling east, assuming we’re even allowed into Atlantic Canada’s bubble. You can follow his boating adventures here.

Oh and for added uncertainty that’s not pandemic related, all of this is dependent on the date for my knee surgery. I’ll need recovery time after. I was hoping for December 2020 but that didn’t happen. With the hospital it was to take place in cutting back on non-essential surgeries due to covid, it might be awhile.

I’m trying to be flexible and not too nervous.

Wish me luck!

He he he he he

How about you? Are you making any fitness related plans for 2021? Plans in general still on hold?

birthday · charity · cycling

Some days even I’m a completist…

Three years ago I wrote about not being a completist and about blogger Cate and accountant/duathlete Cathy who are. See Are you a completist? If so, you’ll wonder why Sam didn’t go for a short Sunday night bike ride!

Yes, this Sunday night, just home from the farm and a long drive from Prince Edward County, here I am just getting off my bike having ridden an oddball number of kilometres on the trainer. Why, you ask? It’s a reasonable question.

Again, weekly distance goals on Zwift that were almost, but not quite, met. My goal is to ride 100 km a week on Zwift. This week, I had done almost that (94 km or so) plus 50 km in Prince Edward County, the last of my summer charity rides, Pedal for Parkinson’s. But those were outdoor kms and they don’t count on Zwift.

You can sponsor me here by the way. I’m still a few hundred dollars away from my goal.

But likely the weekly Zwift distance goal wouldn’t have gotten me back on the bike.

However, tomorrow is also my birthday and I have a tradition of riding my age in kilometres on the weekend nearest my birthday. I’d ridden 50 but I am turning 56.

Back on the bike!

I chose to ride in virtual France. I kept going after 6 km had passed, just because. It’s very pretty virtual scenery.

Now I can call it a week. I’ve ridden more than 100 km on Zwift and my age in kilometres.

Night night!

Person standing by a bike at sunset. Photo by Robert V. Ruggiero on Unsplash.
charity · cycling

Sam, Sarah, and Susan are Pedaling for Parkinson’s

You can sponsor me here.

“This summer I am taking part in Pedaling for Parkinson’s – a cycling event that was created to raise awareness about Parkinson’s and raise funds for research. Your donations support the Pedaling for Parkinson’s Research Grant and the Parkinson Canada Research Program.

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease. Movement is normally controlled by dopamine, a chemical that carries signals between the nerves in the brain. When cells that normally produce dopamine die, the symptoms of Parkinson’s appear. Currently, there is no cure. The need is only increasing. More than 25 Canadians are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every day; more than one person every hour. By 2031, the number of people living with Parkinson’s in Canada will more than double. Your support fuels the increasing need for research to improve quality of life and ultimately find a cure.

With your support we can help Parkinson Canada realize their vision of a better life today for Canadians living with Parkinson’s; a world without Parkinson’s tomorrow.”

To hear about the blog’s connection to Parkinson’s and raising money for Parkinson’s research, you can read Susan’s 2019 post on pedaling for Parkinson’s and her 2017 post on embracing life on a bike as someone with a diagnosis of Parkinson‘s.

charity · cycling · fitness

The year the bike rally went virtual and Sam and Sarah rode 600 km mostly on the trainer

The Friends for Life Bike Rally is a very big thing around the blog. Lots of us have done it in one version or another! Me, frequent guest Sarah, sometimes blogger Joh, Susan, Cate, Catherine, Natalie…

For me it all began in 2014 when I rode the 600 + km to Montreal with David (and a few hundred other riders.) You can read an accounting of the rally over the years here.

But this year? The bike rally, like lots of other charity rides, was forced to move to a virtual format. It’s not just a ride of course. It’s first and foremost a fundraising event for a very important cause. Here’s their description, “The Rally is the only volunteer-led, week-long ride that brings people together for an inclusive, supportive, and life-changing challenge that inspires much-needed help for people living with HIV/AIDS in Toronto, Kingston and Montréal.”

According to this CBC story charities that rely on sporting activities stand to raise a lot less money.

What it was: 6 day, 660 km ride from Toronto to Montreal (with 1 day and 3 day options)

What is now? 90 day challenge to ride for either 600 minutes or 600 kms.

I did it mostly indoors on my trainer. And while I love Zwift, indoor riding just didn’t compare to the comradery that is the bike rally. We used an app that tracked our miles. I’m the pink unicorn below. Go me!

How to sponsor me: Here!

Sarah got home from our canoe camping trip last night only to notice it was the last of the 90 days and she was a few kilometers short of the goal. A lesser person would have done it in the morning but not Sarah.

She posted to Facebook, “Okay friends. I just got back from 6 days canoe camping in Algonquin Park. When I got back, before I even showered, I set up my bike on the trainer and rode the remaining 2.8 km of the 600.3 km Friends for Life Bike rally as today was the last day to complete the virtual version.

Here’s a link to my fundraising page if you’d like to send a few bucks my way in support of the wonderful work of Toronto PWA :

http://pwaevents.org/SarahRides

accessibility · charity · cycling

The power of bicycles in changing the world for girls and women

See Wheels of Change: The Impact of Bicycle Access on Girls’ Education and Empowerment Outcomes in Rural Zambia.

“Previous evidence suggests that providing bicycles to school girls reduced the gender gap in school enrollment in India, but little has been known about the impact of bicycle distribution programs in sub-Saharan Africa and whether such programs can increase girls’ empowerment. In rural Zambia, researchers partnered with World Bicycle Relief (WBR) to evaluate the impact of bicycle access on girls’ educational and empowerment outcomes. The study found that the bicycles reduced commute time, increased punctuality to school, and reduced the number of days girls were absent from school by 28 percent in the previous week. The program also improved measures of empowerment, including girls’ sense of control over the decisions affecting their lives (i.e., their “locus of control” increased). Researchers did not find evidence that the program impacted school dropout or grade transition. “

Everyone loves this Susan B. Anthony quote: “I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

Here on the blog we tend to think of the connection between bicycles and feminism as a historical thing. I’ve written lots about that and I’ve given quite a few academic talks on the connection between the history of feminist activism in the west and the history of bicycles. See my post about the anti-bike backlash of the late 1800s here:  Bicycles: Making good women go bad since the 1800s.

However, bicycles are still playing a role in improving the lives of girls and women all over the world. In many parts of the world, the choice is between biking and getting a drive from parents. But in many other parts of the world it’s the possession of a bicycle that makes getting to school possible at all. Often girls don’t have access to bicycles (and as a result, schooling).

Related posts:

Wadja: A girl, her bike, and her dreams

Will bike riding in Saudi Arabia change the way women dress?

Give the girl a bike!

As an orphan living with her grandmother in Zambia, 12-year-old Tamara has a simple life, but not an easy one. See how her story changes with the power of a bicycle. http://worldbicyclerelief.org/power