Ride to Conquer Cancer – Day One (Part 2)

Once back out on the road we ran into a little light rain. The skies looked fairly dark in the south-east, but the predicted storms didn’t materialize. The rain stopped after about 30 minutes and then it was fairly smooth riding.

The next Pit Stop was held in the driving yard of Parkside Farms. I found the variety of places where they had arranged for these Pit Stops; libraries, Bible Camps, farms, parking lots; and everywhere the same level of support; water, Gatorade, fruit, bread, and other snacks. Each one seemed to be manned by volunteers from one of the sponsors, this one was provided by Ford. there would be one more just a dozen or so kilometers from Mohawk College manned by folks from the Globe and Mail.

On the way down into Dundas coming off the escarpment there is this really big, curvy hill. There’s a look-out point at the top of nthe hill where tourists can stop and take pictures. i remember stopping here with my parents when I was just a kid. a lot of the riders were stopping here as well. I couldn’t resist, the view from there is terrific. (Though they should clear a few of the tress back to improve the sight lines.)

I really like the one picture I took there (right). A think it kind of embodies what the experience was about, a rider having the time of his life, seeing some great things along the way, knowing they are doing good with the effort, calling home to share the experience. No, i don’t know the guy’s name. i thought about asking, but decided that having a name would make it his experience – nameless he represents us all.

I finally rolled into the overnight camp at Mohawk College about 2pm. It had taken me slightly less than 5 hours to cover the 108 km from. And to my surprise I felt only a little tired, and not at all sore. Near as I could guess from the number of bikes in the bike park vs the space available I was riding in about two-thirds back from the front of the pack. I decided that was pretty good for a middle-aged, over-weight, cyclo-commuter. I would have been happy with anything better than last.

The camp, like everything else I’d seen so far, was extremely well organized. there were food tents, massages tent, stretching exercises, and booths for some of the sponsors. The first thing was to claim my gear and find my tent. When I got to tent F24 no one else had arrived yet. I assumed by tent mate was either still out on the road or had decided to take in some of the other amenities before claiming his gear.

After storing my gear in the tent, I went back to take in the stretching class. My research told me I needed to do some major stretching to prevent soreness the next day. The routine, led by a physio-therapists, lasted about ten minutes. I then grabbed some Gatorade and headed to the showers.

The showers were great. I had wondered if we would be using the colleges athletic dept. But they had three large mobile shower trailers from a service. There were individual change and shower stalls, with plenty of hot water and lots of water pressure. It felt great. After the shower it was off for a massage. the massage therapist focused on my legs and shoulders. Once the stretching, showering, and massaging was complete I felt as if I’d cycled around the block instead of 108 km.

The next step was dinner. Like everything else I was impressed, although by now I was coming to expect it. It was obvious the people putting this thing together knew just what they were doing. Chicken, meatballs, sausage, pasta, salads, veggies and free beer. There was also live entertainment. I was glad that while I was eating a better than average jazz band was playing.

After dinner I walked around and checked out the various tents. The information tent was there to handle issues relating to the ride and the charity. IBM was there promoting the World Community Grid, a project that provide computing resources for humanitarian projects including The Ride to Conquer Cancer. Globe and Mail provided newspapers. There was even a Concierge to handle rider needs that fell outside th realm of the Ride itself.

Our friend Darby Kent brought my wife Roberta down to visit for a while. It was great to see her, though I really should have taken a picture of her and Darby on the grounds somewhere. I showed them around a bit and then we went to a local Tim Horton’s for coffee and something to eat. (Visitors could tour the grounds but all the food and drink was for riders and crew only.)

After that little trip it was back to the camp. Visitors had to be off grounds by 9pm. After Roberta and Darby left I went back to the main tent to listen to some music for a while an the packed it in. I was still the only one in my tent. Since all the riders had reported in by 7pm and all the gear had been picked up from the trucks, I could only imagine that either my tent mate had dropped out of the ride for some reason, or they had never assigned one to me to begin with.

I found myself really hoping it was the latter because the only reason for dropping out would be if he (tent mates are on the same gender) was unable to finish or some family emergency came up. I didn’t wish that on anyone. I wanted everyone who started to complete the entire ride. It seemed important that not just I finish, but everyone who started. I said a prayer for whoever he was.

As the night cooled down I lay in my tent listening to the conversations going on around me. There was a comfort in it even though I wasn’t participating. I was oddly not alone. I was surrounded by people with a common goal, a common experience, and a common passion.I remember thinking it was agreat picture of what the church should be.

But that’s a topic for another blog… Good night.


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