Wow, what an exciting cycle ride I was anticipating back in September 2018 when I first heard of the opportunity to cycle 1000km across the Rockies of Canada. I was about to start training for my 3rd cycle challenge, raising funds for the Manchester based charity, The Message Trust.
After the initial wow factor had worn off, I began to realise the route would involve climbing some of the highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains, potentially using bear spray and setting off in snow or even ice. I began to think about whether I could do it...
I started training by joining Croston Velos and cycling with them twice a week, then doing a longer solo ride at the weekend. My rides with Croston Velos were great as they were really social, always involving a pint at the end! I found that to increase my fitness I would need to go out back to back so not taking a day off between rides, I also had to take advantage of good weather.
Weather was a major obstacle as I found cold damp conditions triggered off asthma, with careful management and setting up a bike on a turbo trainer in our lounge I managed to keep healthy during the winter training.
Loneliness was another obstacle I faced, the long rides can be up to 5 hours, with the only companion angry drivers (!), however I bought some great earphones which let you hear traffic, I could then listen to the radio or podcasts. I also met up to train with my teammates to combat the boredom and loneliness. This also helped with communication, we needed to understand how to communicate from the front of the peloton of 15 cyclists to the back, so these training rides helped us learn how to do that.
The actual event arrived and because I’d trained hard, I found myself fitter than I had been for the previous South Africa and Israel rides, I was still apprehensive though! It was another amazing experience, but Canada is a tough place to cycle - on both day 7 & 8 I broke my record for the amount of height ever gained in a day’s ride. The scenery we cycled through was amazing and although bears had been sighted by other tourists on various days, we didn’t see any which left me both disappointed and relieved!
The ride started on the frozen Lake Louise and finished in heat of Stanley Park, Vancouver and the next day before flying home we went to visit a new Message Trust project in Downtown Eastside. I was extremely shocked as it was like walking into an apocalypse film as this was the area of the city where people with drug addictions from all over Canada were gathered. As we walked the streets, we saw pavements full of homeless people, lots under the influence of drugs, young people with hollowed faces ravaged by years of substance abuse - it is a really dark and hopeless place. It’s into this area that a team of Christian volunteers had chosen to move into to try to bring help and love to the area, I hope in the future to hear of lives rescued from that life, addictions broken. Visiting this project confirmed the reasons I have chosen to help raise funds for The Message Trust as they are involved in lots of projects like this both in the UK and around the world - helping to bring hope in lots of difficult situations.
GBA’s sponsorship was fantastic as it was such a generous amount which gave me a wonderful platform in reaching my personal goal of £10,000 that contributed to the team total of over £190k raised. I also felt proud to have friends and a local business backing me in my challenge so a big thanks to you at GBA for all your support and encouragement.
Regarding plans for another challenge, yes absolutely, despite the pain and commitment involved in the training I would highly recommend a challenge like this as it builds friendships, helps with self-discipline and creates team. My next challenge is cycling across the fjords of Norway in September 2020 - bring it on.