Monday, July 2, 2012

2012 Ride2Survive Revisited

It's been now a bit more than a week after the 2012 Ride2Survive and going by past events, this is pretty early for me to sit down and write the blog about it... Maybe this time I have a bit of an excuse: on Tuesday after The Ride I had to fly out to Mexico City for a workshop for 4 days and only got back home the day before yesterday. So this is really not too bad!

Bullet-point version of the big day: 
  • Getting up at shortly after 2:00 AM we were on the road by 3:30 AM. 
  • Some really nice weather along the way and some spectacularly crap weather too. 
  • The day spent surrounded by totally amazing volunteers and fantastic co-riders. 
  • We covered a total of 392.5 km in 15:40 over a total elapsed time of 18:50. 
  • In the process we managed a total elevation gain of more than 4,200 meters. 
  • The Ride2Survive collectively raised a total of nearly $420,000 this year with over $3,800 from my wonderful supporters. 

Slightly Much longer version: 
We left Delta by bus on Friday morning at 10:00 AM and arrived at the Kelowna Free Methodist Church by 3:00 PM. There we fixed up the bikes that came up in a separate trailer and when I pumped up my flat front tire, it almost immediately blew up again. Turns out my rim tape was worn out and so a kind volunteer drove me to the Fresh Air Experience in Kelowna where they fixed it up in a jiffy. Bikes all sorted we had dinner at the church at around 5:30 PM followed by a summary of the Ride2Survive history slideshow supported by Megan McNeil's song "The Will To Survive". After this we had the traditional rider and volunteer get-together where everyone had the opportunity to get up and give their reasons for doing this. Some spoke for just a minute and others for much longer but everyone's story was very emotional and often heart wrenching. In the end one thing became abundantly clear: research works! It saves lives and makes live more enjoyable for this affected by cancer!

After the meeting Devlin and I went for a bit of a walk as sleep would not come easy anyway. Sleep would be in the basement of the church with about a dozen or so other riders and volunteers. In the hot, muggy, and slightly smelly church basement that is. By 11:00 PM or so I finally got in my sleeping bag and tried to sleep for a few hours but there wasn't much of that... I may have dozed off a bit but sleep? No such luck! At around 2:00 AM the noise from all sorts of activities from above started as breakfast was prepared and everyone was getting ready. At 2:10 AM I decided to get up, get ready and start getting fuelled for the day.

It was still pitch black at 3:30 AM when we started the ride and made our way from Kelowna to Westbank. I think the organizers keep the first segment intentionally short as a lot of us are not quite as ready as we'd like to be. So the first stop at the Johnson Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre in Westbank is quite the hive of activity.

In total the ride is broken up into 12 segments:
From To
Kelowna Westbank
Westbank Chainup Area to Penask
Chainup Area to Penask Penask Summit
Penask Summit Brake check
Brake check Merritt
Merritt Base of Larson Hill
Base of Larson Hill Britton Creek Rest Stop
Britton Creek Rest Stop Hope
Hope DeRoche
DeRoche Mission Info Center
Mission Info Center Planet Ice - Maple Ridge
Planet Ice - Maple Ridge South Shore Cycle in Delta

#1 - Kelowna to Westbank
Just get the legs moving and enjoy the fact that it is super quiet and beautiful.

#2 and 3 - Westbank to the Penask Summit
Without a doubt the toughest part of the ride. A solid climb - especially in segment #3 - and still very early in the day. But as it is still early it also means that we are still fresh and not really awake enough to notice. This year we rode most of it in solid fog so we were spared to see how much more climbing we had to do. One of the riders in my group kept calling out numbers like 400 meters... and I kept wondering what the heck he is talking about as we surely have much more than that to go to the next rest stop. It took me a while to realize that he was calling out the elevation we still have to cover until the Penask Summit...

#4 - Penask Summit to Break Check
Don't remember much of this segment other than that I must have liked it as it was all downhill.

#5 - Break Check to Merritt
I got my top speed of 79.7 km/h in this segment and it still irks me that I didn't manage to get 0.3 km/h faster to get to 80 ;-) Overall this is a great segment as it has a bit of everything and ends in the first longer break of the day: 40 min rest at the Merritt Visitor Info Centre.

#6 - Merritt to Base of Larson Hill, aka "Coldwater Road"
The pure mention of "Coldwater Road" makes most riders (myself included!) nervous! Not a super long segment and no big hills -- just a whole lot of up and down and up and down... In the end, the scenery is so nice and the terrain so varied that it turns out to be one of the nicest segments that is over rather quickly.

#7 - Larson Hill
Well, Larson Hill... say no more. I obviously too much climbing for my liking!
But the rest stop at Britton Creek more than made up for it. First thing this nice Ambulance lady asked me if I am OK and although I said "yes" she quickly felt my lower back and decided that I need to be warmer and shoved a heating pad in my jersey pocket. OMG! That did feel good. Next the awesome volunteers had prepared small tomatoes with bocconcini, basil, and balsamic reduction. Oh yea... yummy!

#8 - Britton Creek to Hope
The best way to describe this segment is... 30 min climbing, 60 min descending, and 20 min cruising. Sounds fair on paper. Except I wasn't keen on the climbing and on top of that the weather turned to, well, shit! What should have been an awesome descent turned into a white-knuckle break fest for me as we rode inside a rain cloud. Water Everywhere! I don't think I got much above 50 or so km/h on what I was hoping to be a blazing fast downhill. By the time we reached Hope the weather turned really nice but I was cooked. Maybe Coldwater Road did take it out of me more than I was admitting? Thankfully Hope is our second longer rest stop where most of us change into our R2S gear and since it was so nice, sunny, and warm we all got into lighter gear.

Also at the Hope rest stop we traditionally shoot the group picture

#9 - Hope to De Roche
Leaving Hope in beautiful and sunny weather it was a bit of a shock when shortly thereafter it completely turned with heavy rain  and winds and tree-bits flying everywhere! Obviously everyone got rather cold as we weren't really dressed for this. Also, the crew didn't really find a good place to safely set up a temporary rest stop and so we plowed forward until we reached the next scheduled stop at De Roche.

In all honesty... (a) I appreciate all that the crew did for us and their call to be safe rather than comfortable was clearly the right one! And (b), this ride shouldn't be all about comfort and having to tough out a section like this is quite suitable and fitting to the general idea of the ride representing what cancer patients must go through. Tough sections are part of it - period.

Once we reached the De Roche rest stop the amazing volunteers had propane heaters set up and loads of chicken noodle soup prepared and everyone had the opportunity to change and put warmer gear on. Or, for those who really were too cold and depleted, to skip the next segment and the infamous "De Roche Hill" - an 11% climb over something like 2km on very tired legs - by taking the SAG to Mission.  

#10 - De Roche to Mission 
Really, the hill sucks but is not that bad after all... I just wish that I would have known how long this segment was as I skipped to go pee at the last stop due to all the hubbub going on. By the time we reached Mission I as actually kind of rude (or maybe very rude...) and cut into the bathroom line. Women and children be damned - I gotta go and go now!

One other thing on the way to Mission that happened is that I heard some rubbing noise and smelled a bit of rubber. Turns out my back fender came lose and rubbed against the tire. No big deal (I thought at the time) as I had it fixed within seconds and was back on my way.

#11 - Mission to Maple Ridge
The 24.5 km of this segment were just slightly undulating and generally as straight as an arrow - or at least all on one road. This is notable for me as I at one point I felt my rear tire being a bit soft and sort of... bumpy. I asked the one Ride Captain if I would stop to get the tire exchanged, would I have to SAG it to the next stop? He assured me that I wouldn't and so he radioed to the SAG to get a "Shimano 10-speed wheel" ready. Since I have my PowerTap in my wheel I wouldn't have any power data from here on in but that was the least of my worries. Exchanging the wheel took a bit longer than I was hoping partly because of me forgetting to put it into the smallest cog. By the time I was on the bike again the peleton and all support vehicles (except the SAG) were well up ahead on the road. I really (*!*) did not want to have to SAG it and so I gave it all I had and started riding like a mad man. After some 330km of riding I averaged well in excess of 35 km/h for some 15 min to catch up with the group. By the time I caught up I was done like dinner and grateful I could draft again.

#12 - Maple Ridge to Delta
Not having done enough sprints for the day I had my chain come off and lost connection with the group again. Fortunately not as far as last time and so I was back in the fold quickly. As per tradition we quickly regrouped and re-organized the group at the gas station on 64 Ave and Scott Road so that the cancer survivors wearing yellow can lead the group in. Now we only have a bit over 15 blocks to go with the Fire Trucks and Police Helicopter leading us in it is quite a show! But more than that, it is very emotional!

My butt was very glad to be done and I was tired as hell. But none of that mattered as Esther was there to cheer us in, as was Leeanne who volunteered to drive the second car back to Vancouver and Grahme who came out just because he is awesome! Needless to say I started falling asleep in the car home again.

Thank You! 
First and foremost a huge thank you to my lovely wife Esther who puts up with me being away on weekends so often to train for an event like this! I really know what you put up with and cannot say how much this means to me.

Also a massive thanks to all the donors... over $3,800! WOW - you are incredible. Whether your donation was through an event or straight up or both. Also including Jimmy's Taphouse and Rasoee for their great support of the Butter Chicken Cook-Off. Your gift will have a huge positive impact on those affected by cancer. And every penny will go directly to research! Thank you!

Of course I also owe a debt of gratitude to all my training and riding buddies who helped me get ready for this. Whether they are from The Right Shoe, Speed Theory, Ride2Survive, or just friend coming out for a ride or run and put up with me. A big thanks to all of you as well!

Last but not least a warm and heartfelt thank you to the Ride2Survive organizers, Kerry and Vicky Kunzli, the many ride captains, and of course all those selfless volunteers without whom all of this would not be possible!

As I am sitting here, typing is uncomfortable in my right hand. Well, fingers really. Or to be precise, mostly the index and middle finger and bit of the thumb and the ring finger too. On The Ride my right hand went numb a few times -- nothing to worry about as having the hands on the handlebar for that long a time (about 16 hours) is sort of excepted to cause some discomfort. But it always went away as soon as I moved hand and arm around a bit and there was no numbness or tingling in the evening after the ride. The next morning though I woke up with a completely numb and tingly right hand. At first I thought I slept funny and maybe pinched a nerve and all will be well by well by the end of the day... it wasn't and isn't even more than a week later. Thankfully I have a physio appointment on Wednesday and hope that we'll be able to shed some light on it. If you happen to know about something like this... please let me know how to fix it.

I'll add more pictures to this blog over time.