Hello lovelies! I hope everyone is having a fabulous week. Mine has been flying by. Perhaps because I had such a busy weekend and am still trying to catch up to myself. So as most all of you know I completed the Embridge Ride to Conquer Cancer this past weekend (June 9-10) and now I’m ready to recap and let you hear about how utterly amazing this experience was! (I’m going to apologize in advance as I may use the word amazing an absurd amount of times because that’s just how I feel). If you want to read more about why I decided to embark on this journey check out this post and to hear about how I felt before hand check out this post and this post. Alright now that we’re all caught up let’s jump right in…
The ride started from Toronto at the CNE grounds on Saturday morning. I had to be there between 6:30 and 7:30 to register, get breakfast and basically find out what was going on. This meant Steve (and Tyson) had to wake up at 3am, help me get ready and leave London at 4am to head for Toronto. We got there easy peasy and I was checked in a matter of moments. It was at this point that I started to get really nervous. There were a lot of pro looking cyclists there and here I was, little cycling knowledge or experience about to ride with them. Steve kept reassuring me everything would be fine and we walked around and chatted with some other riders while waiting for opening ceremonies.
Steve had to head back to London to open our gym so I said my goodbyes and got ready for opening ceremonies. I took a quick video before opening ceremonies started (this weekend was my first time talking on camera like that so don’t make fun – it’s hard and people look at you funny)
The video doesn’t even come close to capturing the energy that was going on there. There were over 4000 riders there and everyone was so friendly and encouraging it was just electric.
Once opening ceremonies got started we heard from the title sponsor Embridge, doctors from the Princess Margaret Hosptial and cancer survivors. Right before we started they did a really touching tribute to everyone who has lost they’re battle with cancer using an empty bike as a symbol. This speech was the last thing we heard before heading out…many of us were in tears but it was the perfect send off.
It took a little while for us to get going, with 4000+ riders that’s to be expected. I was really nervous as I’d never ridden in a group before but once we got going it was all really smooth sailing. Here is an overview of the route I took:
I skipped the first pit stop as it was only 16km in and I still had ample supplies and felt good and shortly after I met up with a group of riders who I rode with for the rest of the weekend. We chatted and got to know each other and before we knew it we were at the second pit stop (I still have no idea how far we were).
At this point it had started to lightly drizzle and the rain didn’t stop from that point on. You don’t really notice how soaked you truly are until you get off your bike. After the second pit stop it wasn’t much further until lunch. I had no idea what to expect but the eats during the entire ride were AMAZING! How they feed 4000+ riders such delicious food I may never know, but I sure am thankful.
Day 1 was a chicken wrap with couscous salad, chick pea salad, hummus and crackers and possible the best brownie I’ve ever eaten. I’m totally not just saying that because I was hungry, that thing totally rocked my socks.
We got back on the road and the second half of the day was definitely more challenging than the first. More hills and climbs, it was raining harder and my low back and wrists were throbbing. Coming into Hamilton we were basically climbing the escarpment and the one hill was like a 30min gradual climb. Hamilton was a little hectic, the drivers seemed to not want to share the road but we knew we were close so we pushed on until we made it to camp.
Once you arrive at camp you check your bike and then can go shower in the fancy mobile shower units (heavenly after being on a wet bike all day). It also cleared up and this point which was awesome. One thing they don’t tell you about camp is that there’s so much to do! There was beer, supplied generously by Steam Whistle (I had one and called it a day) and massages and entertainment and more food. You could also get taped up and have your bike tuned up for the next day.
Steve drove from London to Hamilton to meet up with me and take us over to the motel we would be staying in for the night. While the camp set up is amazing I really wanted to sleep in a bed after such a long day. Here is my video check in from the evening:
We got all checked in, ate some Subway (I was still hungry ) and then I rolled out and went to bed.
In the morning Steve dropped me back off at camp at 6:30 where I proceeded to scarf down breakfast in the most un-ladylike way possible.
It was already warm out and we knew it was supposed to be almost 30° out so we lathered on sunscreen and got our bikes and got ready to hit the road.
The first 10 minutes were AWFUL! My butt was so sore and I felt like my legs already wanted to give out. However after riding for a little while that all went away and I got back into my groove. There were less hills on day 2 but the ones we did hit felt worse (probably because of the heat) and I could not get enough water in me. I rode with Devon, who I met on Day 1 and I’m happy I had someone there to keep me at a good pace. We hit up the first pit stop and then didn’t stop again until lunch.
(My camera on my phone is funny because I can switch the view from the front to the back but people don’t know that and always think I’m taping them or taking pictures of them when I’m really just looking at my fabulous self )
Once we fuelled up we hit the road again. It was really hot at this point and I could definitely feel myself dehydrating more quickly. The people who lined the side roads and cheered us on were huge motivators, some of them even sprayed us with their garden hoses.
We pushed on without stopping again until we were 19km from the finish line. At this point I text my family – who were so awesome to wait in the heat at the finish – to let them know how we were making out. The last little bit of the ride was awesome. There was more downhill riding and knowing you were so close was awesome. Before I knew it there were signs saying we were in Niagara Falls and the finish line was close!
The feeling of finishing something so challenging – 220km – was UNREAL! I managed to finish in about 5 hours on day 2 including lunch and pit stops. As soon as I got off my bike the heat hit me and I did not feel so good. Having my family there definitely helped though!
After getting some Dairy Queen slushy into me we headed over to my god-parents house for one of their famous BBQ’s with the family. It was so nice to sit and relax…and eat
I am so grateful to have so many people who supported me along the way. Even those that couldn’t be there sent their love and it definitely helped me push on when the going got tough.
Also all the amazing comments from you guys really gave me that extra push and all the messages and tweets I got while riding really put a smile on my face)
Steve was everything I could ask for and more this weekend. He drove so much and selflessly helped me in every way he could even though he was extremely tired himself – I am so very lucky to have him.
If you are thinking about doing the ride in the future I would strongly encourage you to bite the bullet and sign up. It is by far one of the most well organized events I have ever been to and everyone is just so darn nice. For more info check out their website here. You can also leave a comment or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like more info.
This year’s ride raised 18.1 MILLION dollars for cancer research which is just amazing! I am so happy I did this ride and so proud of what I accomplished. On top of that I know that my dad would be extremely proud of what I accomplished – he was in the back of my head the entire time, pushing me on.
I am hoping to get some corporate sponsors for next year and complete the ride with some of my family!