Hard to believe it has been one year to the day since I started on a cross Canada cycling journey. This day last year I set off from the Vancouver Yacht Club on a journey that would take me 116 days, 8392km across all the provinces. We raised just over $15,000 for Breast Cancer Canada and I learned a heck of a lot about myself and life in general. Truly I was fortunate to have this opportunity so I thought that today would be as good as any to update many you of on what I am up to now and my thoughts on my journey.
I am often asked if I would do this again and the answer is “absolutely”. It was a special time for me that I think of almost daily…especially considering my new home office has one wall covered in framed photos of my trip, over 60 pics in all from all areas of Canada.
When I returned from St John’s I spent the rest of the year at Bob and Dora’s cottage on Buck Bay, just north of Kingston. While I was interested in a few available Club Manager positions I was working with friends to pull together a deal with an American company, Landscapes Unlimited. I visited Lincoln, Nebraska (home of Landscapes), and we spent most of November and December vetting the opportunity to bring their club services model to Canada. This came to being early January of 2014 and I moved to Oakville. I looked seriously at renting in Toronto, but knew myself too well and didn’t need the distraction of a busy city to lose focus on my new venture…too many friends and too many places to enjoy a great beer! We launched Landscapes Club Solutions in January and am proud to say we have our first client and word is spreading quickly about our services. I am excited by the opportunity to work closely with my friends and colleagues as we add value to their clubs. You can check us out at www.landscapesclubsolutions.com, I will be blogging from this site by the end of the month.
During this transition I rarely found myself on a bike, Betty as we knew her still needed some repair work from her back tire damages. I did purchase a new BMC road bike for my riding pleasure, haven’t found a name for her yet, but she will take me through the next few summers of endurance riding. Betty will remain my faithful touring bike, which I hope this summer to have a couple weekend getaways with. My riding habits were reduced, but my eating and drinking habits stayed strong! This might just be the reason I put 25+lbs on in 3 months? Weighing in at over 240lbs by xmas I was happy to get settled into Oakville and a consistent life routine. Back to the gym, better eating habits and some endurance training in preparation for a summer full of triathlons. As of today I have almost lost all the weight I put on, am definitely stronger from my training and for the most part eating a clean diet; I refuse to give up great beer. I enjoy the new me, probably should have listened to Leigha many years ago when she “nudged” me to eat better and stay fit? Eventually we all catch on 🙂 So next weekend is my first triathlon of the summer, and first since the summer of 2012 when it peaked my interest. I will have three more this summer (including an Olympic distance) leading up to an attempt at a half ironman race in September…one thing last summer taught me is to not hesitate to accomplish what you desire sooner than later. Seems like an ambitious goal for the summer, but when we want to accomplish something, it is possible, just takes hard work, passion and proper planning.
I find myself daydreaming about different places I visited last summer, sometimes it’s provoked by a scene on TV, the news, a conversation or even a story on CBC radio…it brings me back to the isolation, the confidence I have in myself, the peacefulness of a summer night in a tent, the people I met on the road. Mostly they are quick dreams, we don’t have the time to submerge ourselves in dreams so I try to give it the respect it deserves before returning back to reality. These moments bring a smile to my face, people must think I am weird smiling for no reason on a subway, while in my car, or shopping at the grocery…but isn’t that the point? I was with a good friend recently, she commented on the noise of the city, how it frustrated her, how she longed for the calmness of the country or a cottage. While I couldn’t disagree with her, I pointed out the beauty the surrounds her within the bustle of the city…the sound of car tire on the road, the familiar beep of the crosswalk, a store door opening, peoples footsteps, a bicycle gear changing, a car horn, the wind thru the streets and yes the odd bird chirping. It was life and we often forget to appreciate it, i think because we want to live for those special moments. Sadly, those moments are special for a reason, and we all too often miss the life that is around us. Sounds waxed poetic, I agree, but last summer left a lasting impression on how valuable every moment of every day is. It is great to daydream about the special times, and respect them for what they are, but life is all around us every day. Embrace it, enjoy it, live it.
Is it about the destination or the journey? While I am sure a NHL player would tell you that winning the Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal, I would challenge them that the journey to get there is what will be remembered. I think we get too caught up in getting somewhere or accomplishing something, often being let down by such high expectations, or even depressed from not accomplishing the goal? I look back on finishing my ride and can understand why I felt happiness and sadness at the same time. I was happy to be finishing, but my goal wasn’t really to finish; it was to push myself, to explore my limits, and that is why I was happy. I challenged myself to feel. I was sad because I thought this challenge was over and I would have to return to reality. I was scared to take on life again. It took me some time to process this and realize that the real journey isn’t over.
On the surface I learned perspective. I learned how to appreciate what we have, learned how to chase a dream perhaps? On a deeper level I learned how to recognize my feelings. Those feelings we don’t want to admit we have, the ones that shut us down, the ones that scare us into ignoring or accepting. Time and experience are the only things that can teach us how to cope with these feelings, but you can only cope with something you admit you have. I have learned to be aware of when they are present within me.
A year ago this evening I met a good friend in Paul Martin from Manchester England, a fellow cyclist touring Canada that landed at the same campground. Some of you may remember I wrote about Paul last year, well he has never been better. He learned to snowboard, learned to speak French and unfortunately is cheering for the Montreal Canadiens! All because he is madly in love with a wonderful woman from Montreal. He met Sive on an adventure in Europe and spent a week with her twice on his trip across Canada. He even delayed his trip back home after finishing in St John’s to spend more time with her…rumour has it he will be moving to Canada some day soon! I look forward to seeing him soon and his soulmate Sive.
Aunt Dora and Bob are doing well. The effects of breast cancer never seem to go away; pain lingers in her muscles but fingers crossed she is cancer free. Even as of tonight she was off to the hospital to get her liver checked as it appears to be swollen. Not sure life ever returns to “normal” once cancer strikes. It is my hope she and Bob get to enjoy this summer at the cottage more like ‘normal’.
Starting today I plan to read last years Cycle Canada for Cancer Blog daily, as if I am following my trip. I plan to write more, perhaps share it with everyone as I do. It may find its way to book form, even if for my own reading pleasure.
Cheers and be well