I just returned home from a four day event I participated in called Tour for Kids. A charitable cycling event which raises funds so that children with cancer can attend summer camps. I am proud to say that unlike many other organizations all funds donated to TFK are allocated 100% to the charity.
Some of you may recall that 6 weeks ago I was “out” with a compound fracture of my left collar bone. Thinking once again that I had missed yet another TFK due to a cycling injury, I was bitter, full of negativity, and didn’t even bother with attempting to raise funds given that I had received specific orders from my doctor to stay off the bike for at least 6 months. I recall laying in my hospital bed wondering if I would ever even venture back onto the bike. Notwithstanding this, I was back on the bike within a few weeks of coming home from the hospital, at first on the indoor trainer until I finally took it outdoors a few weeks after that.
Needless to say, the decision to ride the Tour for Kids was only made last Monday. I figured on riding the 4-day 100 km option so as not to overdo it. Unfortunately, I was unable to abide by that idea and by Thursday, the first day of the event, I had figured on at least riding 160 kms on the first day and see how I’d feel on successive days.
Thursday was a miserable day for me. I hopped onto a very fast group that had us riding 50 kms in just over 75 minutes. I felt completely dejected when, unable to keep up, I was dropped by the group shortly thereafter. The negativity (or ego depending on your perspective) began to creep in. I felt bitter that I had lost so much of my fitness and conditioning because of the injury – knowing full well I would have been able to keep up 6 weeks prior. When I finally crossed the “finish line” after riding 160 kms, I was so exhausted and dejected I could barely speak.
On Day 2 I felt much better and started the day off again with a fast group. Unfortunately, once again I was only able to hold on to them for just over an hour. Just before reaching the first rest stop one of the Tour Marshalls, upon hearing my story, pointed out that in the scheme of things my “troubles” really weren’t so serious. That the true nature of the event was to bring some small token of joy into the lives of children who at such a young age were faced with the prospect of dying on a daily basis. It was only then that my TFK experience changed so drastically. I stopped worrying about riding with the “fast guys” and riding the 200 km distance and began to enjoy the sunshine, the company of new friends I made, and helping others whose conditioning wasn’t as good as mine.
Those four days were a whirlwind, rollercoaster of emotions – everything from elation to abject misery, total empowerment and total humiliation, rain, wind, thunderstorms, sun, flat tires, mud and dirt – the whole gamut of the emotional and cycling experience. In short, I rode over 600 kms this past weekend the entire time thinking that the pain and suffering I was enduring was nothing compared to what the true champions, the children fighting cancer and their loved ones face on a daily basis. I met so many wonderful people along the way and I learned so much in these last few days that I am now convinced that cycling is just a metaphor for our lives. Hills, valleys, climbs, descents, joy, and hardship – on the bike or off the bike – life is meant to be lived. So much of our experience depends on our perspective – if we see that hill in the distance and decide that we cannot climb it we will invariably fail. The alternative is to grin, grind up that hill and bear it. Our lives are really no different.
When I finally crossed the final finish line yesterday after having ridden for just over 5 hours I struggled to hold back the tears – my journey was over and yet I had the feeling that it had really just begun.
I look forward to repeating this wonderful event next year.
If you are interested in sponsoring me (post event) please click on the following link: