Yesterday, June 5, was Toronto’s 29th Becel Ride For Heart. A 25, 50, and 75 kilometre bicycle ride from the Exhibition Place to Highway 401 via Don Valley Parkway. This was also the first year the event offered a walk or run portion to the course known as the Becel Stride For Heart.
This was my second year participating in the event. Last year, my team rode the 25 kilometre stretch which was a bit too easy when my boss generously lent me his road bike. I applaud anyone who can ride that distance on anything but a road bike because I sure can’t. This year I aimed to complete the 50 kilometre ride. How hard could that be!?
Very hard. Riding up to the 401 along the DVP was difficult as most of the ride was a constant incline. Bird song, fresh air, and the lush green of the Don Valley made for a pleasant distraction to the fire in my legs. By the time I had reached the half way point, it felt as if my legs were going to give up on me. Not to mention my pelvis felt dangerously bruised; it’s not every day I’m seated on a bike for that long.
But I wasn’t going to give up. Like I said, the 25 kilometre course was easy so having a challenge in front of me was all the better. I got back on my bike, passed the halfway rest station and rode on. The return ride was mostly downhill so it’d be a nice break.
At least that was what I’d hoped for. While the ride up was a gradual incline, the ride south was a roller coaster of steep hills and strong winds blowing north. Even coasting down the hills wasn’t a free ride with the force of the gusts.
It took a lot to ignore the burning in my legs, the kink in my neck, and the now almost intolerable ache in my pelvis. With every hill I climbed I felt more motivated to finish the race. I would not stop. I would not walk my bike up the hill. I would not let myself down. Pain is inevitable and suffering is optional. Sure I was in pain, but I felt better than I had in many months.
After a dozen steep hills and fierce winds, I had made it back to the QEW. There were only 8 kilometres left until the finish line. At this point, I was exhausted from the climb and my legs were trembling. Riding on flat ground had never been more difficult. Let me preface all this by saying I am NOT a cyclist. I’ve only ridden on mountain trails whenever I go for rides and even then the trails are short. This was very different.
By the time I crossed the finish line, my mind was blank. It wasn’t until I had five minutes to myself before meeting up with the rest of my team that I had realized what I accomplished for myself.
So thanks to all those who sponsored my ride. It was a challenge that resulted in $510.00 towards the Heart & Stroke Foundation. Important strides have been made in research lately and the $7 million raised this year will see that research go even further.
Also as promised, $1.00 for every $5.00 donated to me will go to the Canadian Red Cross. That’s $102.00 towards its work in disaster relief, medical training and staffing, education, and so much more. So thank you again to all my supporters!
Later this year I will be running the Toronto Ultra Mud Hero and the Toronto Tough Mudder. I will be posting links to donation pages closer to the date of the event.