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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Day Four we set out from Kingston, led by the rally’s top fundraisers. I joked that since the route out the city involves hills the top fundraisers ought to get a bus.
It was a quick 30 km to Ganonoque for break and then another 20 or so along the Thousand Islands Parkway to lunch. The parkway is one of my favorite sections of this ride. It’s all newly surfaced and completely separate from car traffic.
You know, I think of myself as someone who is pretty comfortable riding near cars, in traffic. I do it most days. And yet, on the parkway, my spirits lift, I smile more and I’m really relaxed. It makes me realize how much of my bike riding brain is occupied with safety on city streets. Sarah and I had a lovely ride talking with Stephanie Pearl McPhee, aka The Yarn Harlot. I’m in absolute awe of how much money she raises for the rally. She’s always one of the top fundraisers for this event.
But once we get off the Parkway, into Brockville and beyond, we’re on terrible shoulder of badly bumpy roads for the last 30 km or so. So bumpy. I wasn’t tired at the end of the day. I feltt more banged up from all the bumps and gravel and disappearing shoulder. There were also some grumpy drivers.
The campground here is beautiful though and we all got in pretty early. Even the sweeps were in by 4 pm giving everyone time for a dip in the lake before dinner.
Our fundraising is going well. We’re almost at our goal. Your donations help in important ways, even small donations.
Here’s Stephanie’s description of what they do, “The funds raised by this ride go to making a direct and fundamental changes in the lives of people with AIDS. It is help for mothers, food for children, rides to the doctor, someone who cares if they are lonely, support, love, care, haircuts, pet food, hospital visits, childcare… Every dollar you donate makes a real, tangible and important change in the life of another human…”
I’m very sleepy now. It’s after 10 at night and we’ve been taking part in the rally’s candlelight vigil where we hear from some of the rally’s participants about the their experiences with HIV/AIDS and the bike rally.
Also, my team, Rally’s Angels, is serving breakfast in the morning. That means we need to be dressed and ready to help at 530 am. Night night!
It’s the shortest day on the rally, just 60 km into Kingston. Now that’s not nothing but it’s less than half of what we did yesterday. It’s also Red Dress day or Dress in Red day, your choice.
Here’s Sarah and me at the start. Or as Sarah and I like to call it, the hurry up and wait, part of the morning. You rush to have breakfast, get dressed, take down tents, pack bins and load bins on the truck, but then you can you can’t leave until all of the trucks and loaded and have left.
But the weather was good this morning and so we sat in the grass pretty happily. It is overcast and in the low 20s. No bright sun, no rain, just perfect riding weather.
We also took the time to take team photos in all of our red dress finery.
Why the slow roll approach? Well we’re staying in the residences at Queen’s tonight. Thanks Queens! And while there are hot showers, laundry, real beds, and air conditioning, we don’t have access to our rooms until 1. So if we leave camp at 9 that’s 4 hours to do 60 km.
Our team decided it was a good morning to stop for coffee en route. Sarah and I were also slowed down by our first flat of the rally.
Here are all the bins in the courtyard of the residence at Queen’s
Here’s some video from the day
And our team at the Kingston sign.
Tonight it’s team dinner plus a drag show in the park after. If you’re around, stop by.
“DRAG IN THE PARK: Trellis HIV & Community Care, Tourism Kingston, and the greater Kingston community invites The Friends For Life Bike Rally to DRAG IN THE PARK, a showcase of fantastic (and slightly naughty) entertainment under the open sky in Confederation Park (that’s the big park between Kingston City Hall and Lake Ontario). The show will start at 7:30pm on the veranda of the Kingston Visitor Information Centre.”
Tomorrow we ride Kingston to Johnstown, about 110 km.
We’re now halfway to Montreal and I think about $30,000 away from our 1.5 million dollar fundraising goal. If you’ve been thinking about donating, every bit helps, and here’s the link.
Here’s our day 1 route, Toronto to Port Hope. As you likely know or might reasonably expect, getting out of Toronto is a chore. It seems to take forever.
But after the lunch stop in Oshawa (ish) it’s a very lovely ride. We keep saying that we could do that chunk by taking the GO Train to Oshawa and bypassing the city bits.
Now for the actual bike rally, I like the crowds at the big departure. I like the spirit and the cheering. We joke sometimes about going for the send off ceremony before sneaking off to the GO train.
Today was no different. It was a long hot slog getting out of the city with so many traffic lights and lots and lots of unclipping.
What I like? All of the music and cheering and the chatter.
What I don’t like? City drivers and traffic lights.
Upside of today’s ride, we were all so happy to be together again. There was a lot of grinning and hugging. The volunteers were lovely and helpful as always.
Downside, wow the heat. It was probably the hottest and most humid bike ride I’ve ever done.
We worked hard at hydrating though. Also, stretching. No cramps or barfing today!
We’re staying the night at Haskills’ Farm. Here’s what it looks like.
Wish us luck tomorrow when the weather turns. From heat and humidity to thunder and rain. After that though it’s perfect cycling weather. Sun and highs in the mid twenties. And overnight lows in the low teens.
As we’re getting ready to leave for the Toronto-Montreal bike ride in support of Toronto’s People With Aids Foundation, I’m getting more questions from readers about how to train for big bike journeys.
The obvious part of my training plan are the long weekend rides that get longer as the summer goes on.
The less obvious part that I find makes a huge difference is riding everyday. I start using my bike every day, riding the long way to work and doing all errands by bike, pretty much whatever the weather.
Because there are two things that are hard about multiday long riding adventures. The first are the big distances, but the second is the everyday-ness of it. It’s not just riding far, it’s getting up the next day and doing it again.
You can train for that even if the distances aren’t the same.
Here’s me on my everyday bike riding the long way to work:
What else do you do when you’re training for big bike adventures?
I promise I’ll write about something else when the bike rally is over. I will. I really will. But for right now it’s on my mind a lot.
I haven’t done it since becoming dean and it’s very clear to me now why. It’s a HUGE commitment. Yes, the ride. Yes, the fundraising. But more than anything, the training.
This weekend is the deadline to ride two long days back to back. And friends, depending on just how you read those training rules, I think we met it.
On Saturday we set out with our friend and sometime blogger Kim Solga and her friend Natalie, who is back on the bike after a few years off, and is training for a 100 km ride.
After teaching Natalie to clip and unclip and shift on the bike she was borrowing–please note Sarah is an excellent teacher and Natalie is a quick learner–we set off on our ride to Campbellville and then Carlisle and then back to Guelph.
I loved the route and I really enjoyed the company but It was hot, stinking hot and I might have learned a lesson about electrolytes, cramping, and barfing.
Total distance: 85.5 km
Day two of our big bike rides was the Tour de Norfolk–a community sponsored ride through beautiful countryside–very flat and shady–and for the last two years it’s been cancelled due to covid. I wasn’t sure I’d make it given how awful I felt after Saturday’s ride but I seemed fine in the morning and so off we drove to the start, giving ourselves permission to bail if 10 km in it I started to feel rotten.
Driving to Delhi we were listening to CBC and there was a discussion of avoiding the ill effects of very hot weather. One of the first pieces of advice for days like today, avoid strenuous exercise. Yeah, no.
About 10 km in we didn’t decide to quit but we did decide to scale back and opt for the 75 km instead of the 100 km. A wise choice I think given the temperatures,
We made it. But for now Strava thinks I need to take a break. I’m declaring Monday a rest day. It won’t be a complete rest day. I’ll bike to work and to knee physio but no big distances Monday after the big weekend of riding.
Part of it’s aging, part of it’s my unreliable knees, and I’m sure part of it is pandemic anxiety. I wasn’t even sure the rally was going to happen. It hasn’t for the last two years–the usual 6 day version anyway. I really appreciated reading fellow rally participant Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s blog post about uncertainty. It’s hard to do all the work when you’re not sure a thing is going to happen.
She writes, “As I packed, I thought about the Bike Rally. The first year of the pandemic the whole rally was virtual but we had a little family socially distanced really anxious rally, then last year I thought there would be a rally and there was the abbreviated little version instead, and this year – well this year there’s a full rally. Six days of cycling- more than 600km (about 375miles, for my American friends) from Toronto to Montreal in support of PWA (People with Aids Foundation) and two other ASOs. (An ASO is an Aids Service Organization) and I am signed up and so are Cam and Ken and Pato and together we’re this year’s Team Knit. By now we should be doing a lot of two things. Riding, and fundraising.
I’ve neglected both. I’ve been riding my bike a few times each week – between 40 and 60 kilometres each time, but truthfully there’s been more 40s than 60s and I really, really should be heading out to the formal organized rides – but they are hard to get to without the subway and I’ve been trying not to get Covid so I can do this retreat and not give it to Meg and <insert excuse here>. I finally got out for an official training ride the other day and to be completely honest I rode the whole 80km and then cried the last five home because I had my arse so completely handed to me. Even if the Rally is a “maybe” somewhere in my mind it needs to become a “definitely” in terms of training or things are going to be seriously, desperately ugly out there, but at least if I screw up training that only hurts me – the fundraising needs to be where this team gets it together, and soon.
Usually by now Team knit has things well underway, with every member headed for meeting their goals and we’re nowhere near that now and it’s because all of us are a little leery, holding back a little bit, trying to get our heads back in the game, and that’s a jerk move because here we all moving slowly towards getting our scenes together while time is short and the need is great.”
Please help us with fundraising. We’ve all got three weeks to go. It’s a great cause. Click here and help out, small amounts make a difference. Thanks blog friends!
“All riders are expected to complete two back-to-back minimum 100km rides over two consecutive days (e.g. Saturday and Sunday) by this date.” By what date? By July 17.
The Friends for Life Bike Rally has its rules. I am sure they are good rules and they have them for a reason.
But here’s my reaction:
And truth be told I haven’t yet ridden 100 km in one go this year.
Yes, I’ve ridden 97 km and I was tempted to go all Cate-completist about it. and make it an even 100 but I didn’t. I wasn’t even exhausted but I was, as usual, done with Toronto traffic and all the red lights.
I have been doing back to back rides. This past long weekend I did 46 km on one day (Canada Day at Niagara Falls with Sarah) and 77 (with David) on another and then another 49 km (in Southampton with Sarah and her very speedy ZSUN teammate Nats).
But the astute mathematicians among you will note that that’s not 200 km over two days.
You can see my Strava profile here if you want to check up on me. Lol.
So what’s my plan?
I’m riding this Friday with Jeff, had planned on 70 km or so. I might ride with some GCAT folks on Saturday but that’s more like 60 km. Sunday there’s a wedding. So I don’t think it will be this weekend.
Next weekend looks good though. Sunday, July 17 is the Tour de Norfolk. We’ve committed to the 100 km.
I think I have a plan. We could ride 100 km in Guelph on Saturday and then the Tour de Norfolk on Sunday. Let’s hope for good weather and all going well we should be able to sneak in our back to back 100 km rides just under the wire.
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.
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:
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.
Let’s see. April began with a big sad post about my knees and waiting for surgery. But some good things happened too.
So many of you reached out, on and off the blog and the Facebook page and encouraged me to push a bit. That’s so not me. I’ll happily wait quietly in lines normally. But I began to worry I’d been forgotten. Did I give them the wrong address and phone number? Had they lost my file?
So I listened to your advice, friends of the blog. I called the surgeon’s office. I heard the voicemail message that says if you are waiting for an appt date don’t leave a message, we’ll call you when we have a date. I cried.
I listened to more of your advice and wrote a quick note to the hospital ombudsperson, telling them about the message that made me cry, and could someone please check that my file isn’t lost?
The surgeon’s office called back. It’s all sad. There’s a pandemic going on. I was prepared for sadness. They haven’t taken vacation since the pandemic began. They are still not at 100% surgical capacity. They are still cancelling surgeries everyday because of staff shortages due to COVID-19..
They are now calling people who saw the surgeon in January 2019 to make appointments. My visit was in August 2019. So, best guess, another 8 months before they call to set a date.
But on the bright side, I have their phone number. They said to call if I have any more questions. And I’ve got a rough time line. They didn’t lose my file. It will happen.
Our team even had its first in person social. Look at our smiling faces. We’re the Rally’s Angels.
Riding outsidein Vancouver
Also in April I attended my first in person academic conference since the pandemic began. In March 2020 I cancelled my plans to attend the American Philosophical Association’s Pacific Division meeting in San Francisco after the world started shutting down and falling apart. And this April, April 2022 I attended the Pacific Division meeting in Vancouver. Even as I was getting on the plane, my first flight in more than two years, it didn’t feel real.
Sarah made plans to come with me and with from Vancouver. I told myself that even if the conference got moved online we’d fly to Vancouver and work from our hotel room. It wasn’t moved online. It happened! It was so wonderful seeing people again, hearing about people’s books (and new babies) and I loved every minute of it. Tracy organized a wonderful feminist philosophers’ dinner.
While there we also walked a lot and borrowed hotel bikes and rode around Vancouver. Wow. It felt wonderful to be outside.
Here’s some photos we took riding bikes in Vancouver and walking around the city:
And at home
It’s also spring now in Ontario, despite some occasional cold days, and we’re riding outside training for the Friends For Life Bike Rally. David, Sarah, and I did our first training ride last week, London to Strathroy for lunch, 70 km all told.
Checking in with some monthly numbers
Total km ridden in April: 400 km, making for 1791 km so far this year.
Total activities: 35 making for 152 so far this year, my goal is 220 workouts in 2022 and looks like I’ll shoot past that goal easily.
Total books this month: 3 making for 9 so far this year. Wish me luck making my goal of 25 books this year.