challenge · charity · cycling

Sam Pedaled for Parkinsons and Now Wants a Nap

Thanks to blog followers, family, and friends who sponsored us in this year’s Pedaling for Parkinsons ride in Prince Edward County. Our team, Spinning for Susan, raised nearly $5000.

Next year, we hope to do it again with a much larger team of fit feminist bloggers and friends and make a Prince Edward County weekend of it.

This year, it was just Sarah, Emily, and me again. Our team was small but mighty. I was nervous. It was my longest ride since knee surgery.

The weather started out cold and threatening rain. It was also a very, very windy day. Luckily, the sun did shine eventually, and we had the tailwind on the way home.

You can check out all my achievements on Strava. Thanks tailwind!

Thanks also, Sarah and Emily! I did a lot of drafting on this ride.

Here’s our team:

See you next year! It really is a great cause, a beautiful route, and though we did the 40 km this year, I’m hoping that next year I’m ready to tackle the 75 km.

But for now, what I want is a dip in the pool, an afternoon in the hammock with my book, and possibly a nap. I was laughing at my Garmin’s estimate of my energy levels, body battery=5/100. Definitely nap time!

charity · cycling · fitness

How to feel about missing things

Or, alternative title, this is the first summer in a very very long time when I won’t have ridden 100 km on my bike and I’m not sure how to feel about it. (Actually, that’s not quite true, there was the first pandemic summer when I was very apprehensive about riding big distances. It wasn’t because I worried about catching covid-19 or giving it to anyone else, but I was concerned about hospital capacity, and even the small risk of a crash seemed too much.)

But before that, it wasn’t since my Australia and New Zealand sabbaticals in 2017 and 2012. I did a lot of riding in Australia and NZ and even some regular racing (thanks to Women on Wheels and the Vikings) but because of all the hills, people didn’t tend to regularly ride big distances. Or at least the people I regularly rode with there didn’t ride long distances. There were endurance cycling groups but that community seemed different than the racing cycling clubs.

In my world, a century is a kind of cycling landmark. People talk about their first century ride, for example. I’ve given advice here on the blog about how to prepare for your first century.

In my early years of cycling my first century ride, 100 km, came early in the cycling season. I have very fond memories of riding to Port Stanley and back to London in late spring, early summer. See, for example, A feminist fitness bloggers’ century ride to Port Stanley. I’m afraid Tracy’s memories of her first century ride are less fond. Sorry, Tracy.

In 2018 Sarah and I did our first century of the summer on the day of the 1 day version of the bike rally. While not our best choice, we survived. I think that might have been my latest ‘first century of the summer.’

But this year I won’t make it at all and that makes me a little bit sad. Just like missing the bike rally.

Someone said recently, well maybe that’s the new normal for you post knee replacement–50 km rides instead of 100 km rides. And maybe it is. If it is I think I can accept that. I’ll still love riding my bike and I’ll focus on getting faster.

But it is also just four months since total knee replacement surgery on my right knee and just under a year since surgery on my left knee.

Patience. It’s early days.

I am setting myself the goal of riding my age in a day, so that’s 59 km in a day by the end of August. I am also taking part in the Pedaling for Parkinson’s ride in Prince Edward County and that’s 40 km on August 19. Our team is Spinning for Susan and you can sponsor us here. Meeting my goal might cheer me up!

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?

charity · cycling · fitness

Different distances on a Sunday, all good

This weekend seemed to be the weekend of blogger and blogger-adjacent bike rides.

I’m writing to congratulate myself on feeling good about my relatively short distance rides.

This blog’s Cate rode 103 km. (Note from Cate: I did that ride because I’m training for a cycling trip in Eastern Europe — and I realized after I finished that it was the first time I’d ridden 100km since we were all in windy Newfoundland in July 2019. No wonder it felt epic!)

Nat rode 30 km. (Nat’s training for the Grand Bend to London MS Bike Tour and you can donate to that worthy cause and sponsor Nat’s ride here.)

And me, I managed 15 km Saturday and 15 km Sunday as I come back from knee surgery. (My end of summer event is the Pedaling for Parkinson’s Ride in Prince Edward County and you can sponsor me here.)

And we’re all in awe of Nat’s partner Michel who last week rode 1000 km! Even if I’m not tempted, I’m definitely intrigued and impressed.

More and more, I’m feeling okay about being where I am and not worrying about where I ought to be. I think major surgery and recovery does that. It’s a serious reset and I’m okay with that.

I blogged last week about fear of setting big goals and even writing that post and admitting that made me feel vulnerable. This week I was just so happy to be out on my bike and riding that all of those feelings–while very real and still there–don’t have to run the show. I’m happy just be out there riding my bike.

Gasport to Middleport
Middleport to Medina
Sunday’s ride, Medina to Knowlesville and back
charity · fitness · Horseback riding

Charity riding– on four legs, not two wheels or feet

Many of us have done charity rides or runs. We blog about it frequently. Samantha most recently did her PWA Friends for Life Bike Rally, as well as other more spur-of-the-moment charity riding. Amy has walked for Alzheimer’s research, Out of the Darkness (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and North Shore Juneteenth Association. Nicole has raised money running for the Canadian Diabetes Foundation as well as the Odette Cancer Center and spinning for Michael Garron’s Ride for Mind in Toronto. I’ve done the Bikes not Bombs ride in Boston a bunch of times, and others of us have done lots of charity events. Diane, our aqua-blogger (among other things) does a vampire swim every Halloween, with a donation to Canadian Blood Services (actual blood) or the Red Cross (money instead). Here she is with some water-loving friends, all dressed up for a swim a few years ago:

Diane (far right, with bandage from actual blood donation) and friends getting ready for their vampire swim.
Diane (far right, with bandage from actual blood donation) and friends getting ready for their vampire swim.

However, my friend Felicity did a charity ride recently, using a mode of transport that none of the bloggers has tried: on horseback. She and a bunch of other equestrian philanthropists did the Ride for the Cure in Woodstock Vermont, raising almost $40K for breast cancer research. She (and almost 50 others) rode 10 miles on a beautiful October day.

Felicity (right) and Alice (left, on their Icelandic horses, with bright orange and red fall leaves in the background.
Felicity (right) and Alice (left), on their Icelandic horses Segall and Hrollur.

Segall, Felicity’s horse, got a pink ribbon on his hind flanks in honor of the day.

Segall, having a snack, sporting a painted pink ribbon for breast cancer research.
Segall, having a snack, sporting a painted pink ribbon for breast cancer research.

Other horses were decked out for the occasion.

If you want to watch a short video clip about the event, check it out here. Felicity herself says it was an easy, fun ride. If I find myself with horse transportation next October, maybe I’ll do it, too.

Looking this up online, there are (unsurprisingly) other horseback riding events for charity around. One of them is coming up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (where I graduated from high school): it’s the 41st annual American Heart Association Beach Ride, scheduled for early November. Wish I were there, with saddle and trusty mount. In the meantime, this will have to do…

Pretty impressive horse costume for bike, with rider dressed as jockey.

Hey readers– have any of you done horseback charity events? This was the first one I had heard of, but apparently they’re out there…

charity · cycling · family · illness

Pedaling for Parkinson’s in Prince Edward County: Join us next year?

Parkinson’s Canada hosted “Pedal for Parkinson’s Prince Edward County” this past Saturday, a charity bike ride features a 40-km and 75-km option, starting and finishing at the North Marysburgh Town Hall.

Our team was called Susan’s Spinners– Sarah, Sarah’s Zwift ZSUN teammate Emily, and me. In the photo above we’re joined by Susan, a family member and occasional blogger at Fit is a Feminist Issue, who is also a cyclist and who has Parkinson’s.

Here’s a few words from the participants:


This year attending the Pedalling for Parkinson’s event in PEC was somewht bittersweet. I haven’t been on my bike for the past month due to a recent back injury, so didn’t want to chance riding.

I also missed my original team, the Rigid Riders (people with PD and their friends) as most were attending events supporting team captains Mike and Steve as they ride across Canada raising awareness and funds for Parkinson’s (

What made it a wonderful day though was that two members of my extended family, Samantha and Sarah, and Emily, a friend of theirs who I didn’t know, came together on short notice to form a team, Spinning for Susan, to bike and raise funds to support me and Parkinson Canada.

Recently I’ve thought the most important message a person with PD can hear is that they are not alone. I not only felt that profoundly but am happy that my team raised funds for Parkinson Canada to spread that message and to continue to support people with PD across the country.


It felt odd to be doing another charity bike ride so soon after the Friends for Life Bike Rally, but this is an important cause for our family. Susan and I have known each as friends since Grade 9 home economics and we’ve been family since I married her brother many years ago. I joke that Susan and I were friends first, back when he was the annoying older brother.

So Susan’s Parkinson’s diagnosis has hit the whole family. She’s been riding with a Parkinson’s group and in past years has ridden this charity ride. When it turned out that we could have the use of Sarah’s family farm in Prince Edward County that weekend, it all started to come together. Sarah and I would ride and Susan would come along for support and inspiration. She’s also a very generous donor to Parkinson’s research, giving enough so that Sarah and I both got jerseys! When Sarah’s teammate Emily, who lives in the county, agreed to come along, we had a happy trio of riders. I’m struggling a bit with speed these days so I was happy to have a chatty, scenic social ride for a very excellent and important cause.


I didn’t even know the event was taking place until 48 hours ahead of time when Sarah invited me to join in. Since I’m training for a 150km ride in September, and live in the neighbourhood, it sounded like a great opportunity to find some company for a long ride.

As I signed up online felt a pang of guilt, however. They were asking for a minimum fundraising commitment of $250. The ride was in just over 24 hours… “Nothing to lose,’ I thought, and made my own donation to get the ball rolling. Four of my friends and relatives jumped at the chance to donate. In less than 24 hours I was above the threshold. Guilt assuaged.

So happy that I went. I not only managed to raise a little for a really good cause, I got to meet the wonderful Susan, for whom we rode, and had a lovely social ride as a bonus.
I will definitely be back next year!


Like Sam I found it seemed strange to be doing another fundraising cycling event so soon after the Bike Rally, but I knew I really wanted to ride in support of my family who are living with Parkinson’s Disease, including Susan and my uncle Jack. I also had two grandparents with PD, so I’ve been able to see the results of all of the groundbreaking research, much of it being done here in Canada, that’s making a big difference in the everyday lives of over 100,000 Canadians with PD. In a generation there have not only been huge leaps in treatment but also understanding this progressive neurological disease, and the important role exercise plays in mediating symptoms. It was amazing to ride with folks who told us how movement, especially on a bike, is medicine for them.

The ride itself was super well organized and had lots of support from the Prince Edward County community, from the local radio station to the Lions cooking us lunch. I will never cease to be amazed at the number of cycling-friendly roads all over the County, even if some of them are a little rough.

All in all, a great day on the bike for a great cause!

Sarah and Sam listening to the pre ride instructions

Join us next year! It would be great to have a larger team and make it a social weekend in Prince Edward County.

charity · cycling · fitness

Pedaling for Parkinson’s in Prince Edward County

Sarah and I got home from the bike rally Sunday night and have both had a very busy work week. So you’ll never guess what we’re doing Saturday? Another charity bike ride!

The timing isn’t great but it’s an important cause and one that matters to my family. It’s Pedaling for Parkinson’s in Prince Edward County.

“Welcome to the Pedaling for Parkinson’s Prince Edward County
The 2022 ride will take place on August 19th & 20th, 2022. The Pedaling for Parkinson’s (P4P) Prince Edward County ride is intended to be an inclusive, family-friendly event. The North Marysburgh Town Hall, located at 2699 County Road 8 in Waupoos, will be the start/finish area for both routes, which include a 40km and 75km option.

Early check-in will take place at Barley Days Brewery (13730 Loyalist Pkwy) from 5:00-6:30 pm. This is an opportunity for you to drop off your donations, pick up your rider bib, tech t-shirt ($250+ in fundraising), and jersey ($1,000+ in fundraising), and grab a printed copy of the route map.

The P4P social gathering will take place at Barley Days Brewery immediately following early check-in. Enjoy some complimentary snacks, grab a refreshment(alcoholic beverages for purchase), and meet your fellow riders. We’ll have an informal ceremony, and lots of time to play lawn games! “

You can sponsor me here and Sarah here. We’re hoping Jeff decides to ride with us as well. You could also join us! Prince Edward County is lovely bike riding country.

Occasional guest blogger and family member Susan has written about the ride too but this year she’s not riding due to a recent injury. We’re riding and raising funds on her behalf and have named our tiny team Susan’s Spinners.

We’re riding the 75 km route below.

Pedal for Parkinson’s 75 km route
camping · charity · cycling · fitness

2022 #F4LBR: All the posts in one place

The first day was tough. We rode in a heat alert from Toronto to Port Hope. So many traffic lights. So much near heat exhaustion. So few women’s showers. I was never so happy to eat vegetarian lasagna at the day’s end and despite all the things that we were really tough I went to sleep with sore cheeks from smiling. It was so great to see everyone again.

Sarah and Sam tongues out in the heat

Day Two is the longest day. It was also a very hot day. But we made it. Sarah described it as using every trick in the “avoid heat exhaustion” book. We kept drinking. We took all the breaks. We paced ourselves. And we rolled into Adolphustown not feeling too bad. It was also the day we first wore our team jerseys. Thanks Rally’s Angels captains Michael and Vanessa.

Rally’s Angels in the morning sun

Day 3 is red dress day and a slow roll into Kingston. Time for a real bed, dinner out with the team, drag show in the park, and laundry!

Rally’s Angels on red dress day

Day Four involves one of my favorite sections of road, the Thousand Islands Parkway. No cars, just smooth sailing to lunch. We had a great new lunch spot this year at The Barn. Thanks guys for hosting us!

Day Five another fave section, the Long Sault Parkway and this year the nicely paved path through Upper Canada Village. We also opted to wear our team jerseys again since we began the day serving breakfast at 530 am.

Breakfast anyone?

Day Six is the ride into Montreal but first we ride through lots of small towns along the way. This year was the smoothest ride into the city ever. Single file, no passing, no stopping and starting and a police escort once we got downtown. Thanks Rally organizers for that. It’s a moving moment seeing all of the riders on the path into the city and I liked being able to soak it in without worrying about crashing into the bike in front of me.

Rolling into Montreal
We made it!

What to do after the bike rally? Ride Bixis around Montreal of course. We also visited with family. Hi Victoria! And basked in the warm waters at Bota Bota.

I’m also so thankful to all of the friends, family, bloggers, readers, colleagues etc who donated. It’s your gift that makes this ride meaningful.

Thanks Susan, Udo, Byron, Nancy, Kira, Jenny, Madeline, Tracey, Tracy, Ed, Emmylou, Martha, Catherine, Todd, Yoni, Anita, Jane, Cate, Sergio, Gwen, M.E., Leela.

You can still donate here.

Thanks Kelly. Unsplash.
camping · charity · cycling

Bike rally day six: We made it to Montreal!!!

Riders heading into Montreal, our team at the center. Selfie taken by Rally’s Angels Team Co-Captain Michael

This is just a very short post to let you know we’ve made it to Montreal.

Thanks Robert, Byron, Kira, and Tracy for donating and helping out the rally.

Thanks to my very wonderful team co-captains Vanessa and Michael for all of your work organizing us and keeping us connected during the week. I loved the Rally’s Angels temporary tattoos you gave us for the ride into Montreal.

Today began super early, breakfast at 530 am, to make sure we could all meet up in a Lachine to ride into the city together as a group.

After Sarah and I stopped for ice cream in Lachine, we had a great ride into the city along the Lachine canal. And here we are in Place Émilie-Gamelin where we gathered for speeches and a welcoming celebration.

Sam and Sarah in the middle, with team co-captains Vanessa and Michael on either side. We did it!

Here’s our route:

We’re staying in the Grey Nuns residence at Concordia before taking the train home to Toronto and then on to Guelph. My bike is getting home in one of the bike rally trucks.

There’s a party tonight but we’re too tired. It’s been a big week of riding and camping. My heart is full from the closing ceremony this morning. I’m happy to be in Montreal, happy not to be riding my bike, proud of all that we’ve done, but I’m also very sad to be leaving my bike rally family for another year.

Check out my activity on Strava:

You can still donate here.

camping · charity · cycling

Bike rally day five involves two of Sam’s favorite things: The Long Sault Parkway and Dairy Queen

Today we rode 113 km to Lancaster. We had a really wonderful day 5 of the bike rally. I mean yes, it was a lot of riding, after days of lots of riding. But there was an awful lot to like.

Here’s some of the highlights:

  • I love the Long Sault Parkway and riding on the paved bike paths through Upper Canada Village.
  • I had the best freezie of my life thanks to Tourism Cornwall who were handing them out.
  • We had a terrific tailwind after lunch. Zoom. Zoom. Fun.
  • Sarah and I have been getting better at riding together as the week continues and today we had fun working together and setting a reasonable pace while still having fun.
  • The day ends at Dairy Queen just outside camp. I had a cherry slushie float. Yum.
  • Finally despite scary clouds in the afternoon we never actually got rained on.

(I think I was surprised by how good today was. Memories of rainy day fives of years past are still sharp in my memory!)

We won’t mention that we’re staying at Camp Spider. Shhh.

That’s one of my least favorite things.

But otherwise, a pretty wonderful day of riding. Wow.

Here’s the map:

We are almost to Montreal. Just 100 km away. We’re still not quite at our 1.5 million dollar fundraising goal. You can donate here.