I am having trouble choosing where to start. I could tell the story about my ride and what I know about everyone else’s ride, but that would be missing the forest for the trees.
The most important thing about yesterday was that everyone participated. It was an unlooked-for thing and yet makes me so proud I could burst. Ian rode 30 km, Miranda and Tammy rode 60 km and I rode 140 km.
It was a culmination of different stories. We each got there in different ways. I got here by Tammy kicking my butt six years ago to get onto my bike because I’d hurt my foot in karate and I wasn’t exercising and I was gaining weight. Now I am strong and fit. This was my fourth TdV, and I consider it a regular date on the calendar. Tammy got here by declaring when we moved to Calgary that she and the kids were going to take advantage of all of the bike paths near our new house. That led to a new bike, commuting to work, and joining the Bow Cyclists ladies rides. It was her second participation. With the changes this year to the TdV, the 45 km distance that she did last year wasn’t available, and she took a big step up to 60 km. Miranda had the quietest path: she always was a good bike rider (once we shipped her off to Pedalheads, anyways), and when Tammy got her new bike we almost sold her Specialized, except Miranda quietly asked if she could have it. A week later she registered with the club, and she has been riding twice a week since. I thought the 60 would be a challenge, until two of the club rides ended up over 60 km this year. Those didn’t bug her at all. And then there is Ian. The little one, with short legs struggling to keep up but refusing to give up, waiting until he was big enough. Tara sold us her son’s old road bike because he had outgrown it this winter. Ian was so tentative on his first ride this spring, but has taken to it with massive enthusiasm, with two rides per week plus he started riding on his own. He wanted to ride with everyone else at the TdV, but he was anxious about it. I extended our rides to the same length and amount of elevation gain to prove to him that he could do it, and with our encouragement he signed up.
The timing of the day was that I started my ride at 7:00, the ladies at 8:30 and Ian was to start at 12:00. That meant that Dad was a big part of the day: while three of us headed out to the Parliament Buildings at six, Dad brought Ian downtown at eleven for his start.
I started out my ride with Keith, who I rode the Badlands Gran Fondo with and last year’s TdV. It was a beautiful morning: sunny, clear (some smoke but not bad like Calgary) and almost no wind. The route was different, going over the new Johnson St. Bridge to get to Craigflower instead of going up Government St. to the Gorge as the previous two years. Keith was going a bit slower this year. He has been focusing on his running and his first marathon is this fall. He has been doing great with that, but he was observing that it was impacting his cycling. We kept together for the first 70 km, but I know I was pushing the pace harder than he wanted. We finally got separated in the Prospect Lake Road area and I continued on my own.
Stephanie and Tristan got up early and walked down to the path where the route cut over from Glen Lake to Langford Lake. It was great to see them there, and they got some great photos and a video. Dad and Ian were also out and cheering as I went through the intersection of Goldstream and Veteran’s Parkway.
We all had a safe day, but I did witness some crashes. One happened right in front of me: a guy wasn’t paying attention and got too close to the curb along Happy Valley Road. He tried to save it, but after a couple seconds of scraping his wheels along the curb, he tumbled onto the sidewalk. He seemed okay. Then there was the first downhill curve after the big climb up Munn Road: someone had misjudged it, and impacted the barrier and gone over the side into the woods. And the most serious was also in the Highlands. Where the route crossed under the power lines, a rider had hit a car head on. The windshield and roof of the car was caved in. The most likely explanation was that the rider had misjudged the corner and gone wide over the centerline as the car came the other way. The Times Colonist had a sentence or two in their article about the race. The rider was taken to hospital, but had been sitting up.
I kept tabs on Tammy all day. I checked her location every time I came to an aid station. Especially after I came out of the Prospect Lake area and I was “chasing her” on the same route. Every really steep hill I hit was a challenge for me to climb, but I was also trying to judge how angry she would be at me for “making her” do it. But every time I checked, she and Miranda were further along than I thought they would be.
I passed Ian just east of Gonzales. He was pedalling hard along Beach Drive, heading for his turnaround. We waved and I cheered for him as we passed. At the start of the day, I had thought that I would be faster and he would be slower. I might have finished my ride and then gone to join him on his ride. But I realized that he was already 10 km into his ride. If I had turned around, I might have joined him for the last 8 km or so. But I could see that he was doing great and having fun. So I settled for having some food and then cheering him as he crossed the finish line.
(I will add a video of that when I get home)
Tammy was tired when she finished, but she never felt that she wouldn’t be able to finish. Later in the evening, she and I talked about the ride and it was about how I hoped it would be for her. She has gotten a lot stronger riding with the club, and she climbed hills that might have beaten her last year. There was only one hill that she had to walk up, because three people fell over in front of her and she couldn’t get going on the hill again. It was the turn onto Quayle Road: you turn right off Interurban and suddenly are hit by a steep hill you didn’t see coming. If you aren’t ready in the right gear, the effect is what happened to the people in front of Tammy: you are in the wrong gear and fall over (thanks to clipless pedals). Miranda and Tammy finished in 3:19.
Dad and Ian made their way to the start. There was a real crowd of riders doing the 30 km distance. Dad noted that there were a lot of older riders. The oldest rider this year was 80. The 30 km route was mostly flat except for the hill at Gonzales, and a nice challenge for those who aren’t in the spandex and carbon fibre crowd. Ian had no problems at all. There were so many riders on the course and marshals and police at the intersections that there was no risk of getting lost. He stopped at the aid stations for snacks, but he normally rides that distance with a single water bottle and no snacks. He finished quickly: I was updating Strava when Tammy texted me: “He’s approaching quickly”. We went to the finish line and cheered him across. He was so proud of himself. He wore his medal for the rest of the day.
Dad stayed to watch him off, but left because his parking was going to expire. He went to Mayfair Mall to have some lunch and be in a place where he could drive to Ian if there was trouble. Traffic in James Bay was atrocious as you might expect.
Lunch after the ride was chicken, rice and salad with a bun. There were a choice of libations. Tammy had a Peach hefeweizen and I had a apple cider. Miranda enjoyed a apple lime sparkling water. We’d eaten before Ian finished. He could have had the chicken, but we elected to go to Dairy Queen and got him a burger meal and ice cream for everybody, even Dad.
It was a great day, with great weather and everybody was safe. Tammy pushed herself the hardest physically, and Ian battled his anxiety.
I am so proud of everyone. Thank you Dad for helping make this happen.