Day 4: Lakeside to Malpeque – 109km

110km, 4:13

Sometimes you have bad days…and today was one of them.  I think all of us were feeling it.  We were feeling the residual fatigue from the day before.  We were feeling the (slight) loss of sleep because there are so many things to see and do here, and going to bed early is not one of them!  We were feeling the aches and pains.  And at least from my perspective, I hadn’t mentally prepared for MORE WIND!!  It was a tough day, and Richard, Blair and I essentially rode the entire day in silence.  We each took our pulls, we each did the work into the head/cross wind, and we each pulled each other along (although I may have swore more than them in my head!).  However, we also know that CFers have bad days.  It’s a part of life, and if they have to slog through it, you can bet we will too!

The highlight of the day was pulling into Malpeque.  Malpeque is a tiny little finishing village where we were able to tour around and explore, look at all the boats close up, and wander around the wharf.  We also explored Cabot Beach, and I think this may be my most favourite of all – stunning red cliffs, beaches as far as you can see, and lots of sea life to explore.  It was wonderful!

However, the proverbial icing on the cake was where we stayed.  Not only was the setting gorgeous (reminded me of Camp Cave Springs) and they fed us like kings, but Camp Triumph is a children’s camp where siblings of those with illnesses get to come and stay and take a load off. They don’t have to worry if brother Jimmy has taken his pills. They don’t have to listen to their parents always talk about a siblings’ illness. They don’t have to try, yet again, to explain their siblings’ illness to an outsider. They just get to BE. The counsellors and people that run the camp are beautiful human beings, and the entire experience really make a difference in these children’s lives….what a wonderful place!!!  Thank you, Camp Triumph, for all that you do!

Until next time!
Emily

(While I say it has been really hard, seeing the beautiful ocean at every turn in NOT hard, and makes it all worthwhile!!)

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Day 3: Souris to Lakeside – 100km

100km, 3:51

wind. Wind. WIND. ….and then MORE WIND!!! I have never ridden in such strong and consistent headwinds in my life. The first 25km of our day was a breeze into the lighthouse at East Point. The remainder of the ride saw us facing winds of 40km, with gusts of 60+!!! It was INSANE!

However, we did it! We broke it off into chunks – small sections of road between breaks, and we also worked together. We would each take a pull, then trade off. Thankfully it was also our shortest day of the trip, so that made it more manageable, and we were also mentally prepared for it. We knew what we would be facing the night before, and we were ready (as much as we could be!).

Throughout the entire day, I couldn’t help but liken this to a CF families’ life – especially close to transplant. When you go on the transplant list, you have to have a transplant support team – people that will ensure you get to your appointments, that will jump in if someone cancels, that will run errands for you, etc. etc. I can still remember Sarah’s support team meeting – there were so many of us there, we couldn’t all fit in the room!!! We were ready to jump in at a moments notice! We were her team! And just like I wouldn’t have been able to get through today on my own, CFers can’t get to where they are without their team – their amazing parents, siblings, partners, family and friends that jump in at any time, and contribute to their health and well being.

So thank you to my team today, both on the ride (riders AND volunteers that kept us safe and fed!) and off (family and friends), and thank you to all of you who support a CFer in one way, shape or form. You’re part of a team, and that team matters.

Until next time!
Emily

p.s. East Point Lighthouse was beautiful!  The employee had family members with CF, so rather than charging an entry fee, that was her donation to us!  She let us climb to the top, read the history along the climb, and take in the stunning views!  Thank you!

p.p.s. Not far from East Point we stopped at the Rose family farm and spoke with Andrew Rose – his Dad had siblings with CF. This visit was wonderful! We learned all about PEI farming, crops, potatoes, fishing, and the list goes on!  Andrew was so knowledgeable and happy to take the time out of his work day to meet and speak with us.  Thank you Andrew Rose!  So far, meeting him has been a huge highlight!!

p.p.p.s. We finished the day at the Rodd Crowbush Golf & Beach Resort…WOW! This place is stunning!  The resort is set on a magnificent golf course, and just a short walk through the greens, we found ourselves watching the gorgeous sunset on the beach.  All of the beautiful sights in PEI make the headwinds very tolerable!

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Day 2: Murray River to Souris – 121km

121km, 4:00

To begin, Happy Father’s Day!

Today was another great day filled with beautiful people, beautiful sights, and a beautiful tailwind (for 2/3’s!).

Once again, we rode with some 2-day riders today (but far less than Day 1), which is always nice.  It’s always nice to meet others, discover why they ride and hear their story.  Again we had Duncan joining us, but also Paula’s brother-in-law, Ryan. Ryan lives in NB and highlighted the fact that he got to ride with his nephew, Cameron, who has CF, on Day 1. I imagine this was really special for both of them, as Ryan doesn’t get to see him frequently, and I’m sure it’s a memory Cameron will carry forward in the future.  It’s wonderful to see such supportive networks across the CF communities.

While we did have tailwinds today, we also had wicked head and crosswinds, as well as the heat to battle. Towards 80 of our 120km, Blair essentially bonked. It sounds odd, but I was proud of this moment as I feel like it was a right of passage!  Thankfully with the other two guys with us, Richard was able to pull Blair, while the other two pulled me, as I was also about to crack! With a stop at a gas station for cold liquids, and a tailwind on the run into Souris, we were set. However, without the help of others, we couldn’t have done it – I am truly grateful for the lovely volunteers and families along the way!  Not only in life, but also in the CF world, you can’t do it alone.  They say it takes a village to raise a family, and I believe it is true for CF families as well.  Thankfully, the CF families that I know are all surrounded by a village of people just waiting to help.  It’s really a remarkable sight to see, and I feel blessed to be part of that community!

Until next time!
Emily

(sorry for the delayed blogs – PEI is beautiful and there is far too much to see/do when we’re off our bikes!)

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Day 1: Charlottetown to Murray River – 102 km

102km, 3:22

What a surreal day! I’m having trouble starting this post.  How do I begin?  I’ve been here before.  I’ve fundraised before.  I’ve packed my bike and travelled before.  I’ve met these people before.  But this day was different.  Because I have done all these things many times before, I suppose I did them this time around by just going through the motions.  None of it was a challenge, nor was it something new.  I was going to ride GearUp4CF, just like I have done before.

The morning chaos was the usual – it’s always difficult getting 1, 2 and 8 day riders organized, in addition to arriving at the starting location.  But as soon as we left Victoria Park, as soon as Richard pulled through and road past me, I was hit with it – wow, I’m really here.  I’m really riding again for CF.  I’m really surrounded by these people I know and love, and new faces as well.  It was an interesting feeling, almost like I was in a dream, but also a comforting feeling!

The day was great – I met new people like Duncan and Katy.  Duncan used to coach Paula’s (fellow 8 day rider and PEI ride organizer) kids, both of whom have CF, and Katy is Paul Underhill’s neice.  Paul is the creator of Rumble, I rode with him in 2013, and he’s an awesome guy.  Talking to those two, among others, about why they ride, etc. was really wonderful.  It’s always nice to hear why/how people are involved.

The scenery throughout the day was wonderful – coastal trees, farms and views, foxes playing in the grass, and a beautiful tailwind all made it a great day!  We stayed at a super swanky golf course, again with beautiful views of the water, and bbq’d at a nearby park.  Paula’s husband bbq’d our dinner – my first surf & turf and it was delicious!

After dinner, everyone in the group spoke about their connection(s) to CF, which was really lovely, but admittedly very hard.  Everyone’s stories were of loved ones with CF – CFers growing older, CFers being active, CF families fighting the fight….but I was the only one that had lost someone to CF.  I realize this sounds crazy – it’s amazing that such progress is being made, and I couldn’t be happier that our fundraising dollars are helping to make such progress – but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad.

However, once again, it all comes back to this.  This is why I ride.  This is why you donate money – so more CFers and CF families can live longer, happier, healthier lives.

And so I’ll continue to enjoy this ride in true “Sarah fashion”, as I explained last night – we arrived in PEI and immediately found an amazing roof-top patio, followed by an awesome craft brewery.  Dinner last night included a mini-keg of said craft brew, and I just feel that this time especially, I’m riding Sarah’s ride….getting the work done, but more importantly, living to the fullest and enjoying some delicious brews along the way!

Until next time!
Emily

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Stunning

Invermere to Banff

151km, 1641m of climbing

Google defines stunning as ‘extremely impressive or attractive’ and that is what our final day was filled with. The sights as we headed towards Banff from Invermere were simply stunning. Spectacular, in fact.

We started the day with a breakfast that made the most sense yet – a continental breakfast in which we could choose from toast, bagels, cold cereal, warm cereal, toaster waffles, etc. In essence, something for everyone, and probably quite affordable. This time, as we packed up for our final departure, I didn’t break down in tears. Yes, it’s a wonderful routine, but I suppose I was looking forward to not wearing a chamois for 8hrs a day! I guess I learned from the last time that these are friends that I will keep for a life time. And no matter what, there will always be another ride, more funds to raise, and more awareness to spread.

The group departed in 2 packs, leaving only about 6 of us for the second departure. As we left the hotel, I quickly realized I did not have another gear today. All I would be capable of was spinning the wheels. We rode through Radium Hot Springs (where we stayed on day 1 in 2011) and made the turn to climb out towards Banff. I remember LOVING the descent last time and I think I can honestly say I loved the climb even more this time! The views were incredible as we immediately squeezed between two rock faces. Further up, Ravi was there to warn us of a bear on the side of the road…conveniently across from the digital/mobile ‘bear warning’ sign! The climb was just over 10km and passed the hot springs, thundering rivers, and finally opened up to a spectacular view of the Rockies ahead. Following a brief descent, the group was gathered at a beautiful look-out (where we stopped last time) to take some group photos and take in the sights. After a more lengthy, fun descent, we quickly arrived at our first break.

Leaving this break, however, was not what I wanted to do! I didn’t feel like riding, and definitely didn’t feel like riding into the slight headwind, so I made sure people were around me. Before I knew it, we were at lunch at Vermilion Flats – once again a familiar place. It was bittersweet having our last lunch, enjoying the last spread and knowing that it would all be over in a few hours.

Once again, leaving lunch, I did not feel like riding! After crossing in to Alberta, I knew we had one final climb up to the Great Divide. I managed to hang on to Dan and Clarke until the climb began, at which point I was happy to let them go! I climbed as hard as I could and arrived at the Divide for the ceremonial East vs. West, Jens 2 vs. Jens 1, Emily vs. Andrea pictures 🙂 (last year she even had a change of clothes and took pics on both sides to represent me being there as well!!)

Although I was toast, upon leaving the Divide we were treated to one of the best descents yet – needless to say, I loved it! Follow that up with a blissful ride through Banff National Park and Dan and I were in heaven! We rode along effortlessly, not wanting to let the moments pass by too quickly! We were soaking up our environment in every sense of the word (including getting soaked by a convertable that chose to speed past us while we were crossing deep water over the road). Alas, it was time for everything to come to an end. We briefly hopped on the highway and converged as a group at a rest stop to ride the final km’s to the Banff sign together. At this point, it was slowly starting to register that the ride was coming to a close. As we rode as a group to the Banff sign on Norquay, I savoured the moments. Upon turning the corner and seeing all the friends and family there to support us, the tears finally flowed!!!

It was so wonderful to see Aunt Liz (Sarah’s mom), David (Sarah’s bro), Kim and Daxton (their new baby) at the finish line!!! It was overwhelming to be part of such a large, inspirational group, and to realize we had accomplished our goal as a group and raised over $250,000 for CF. Auntie Liz ran over for hugs and finally got to (briefly) meet Andrea. It was great!

We finally posed for the ceremonial Banff pic and then made our way to the hotel, followed by the pub. The evening celebrations were great – lots of laughs, the drinks flowed, speeches and awards were given and everyone had a great time.

As I am writing this post a few days after the fact, I have definitely had time to reflect. My experience this year was almost 100% different than 2011, but no less valuable. The climbs were harder, the scenery was better, and the toll on my mind and body was different. I had the good fortune of making new friends, while falling into that familiar, old routine with the ones I had made in 2011. I’m not sure that we’ll be back in 2014, but we will be involved in the CF community in some way, shape or form. Afterall, we’re too close to finding a cure to not be!!!

I’d like to take a quick moment to thank all our family, friends, acquaintances and strangers alike for supporting us along the way. Additional thanks to Outdoors Oriented, Musette Cafe, Ever Bamboo, Canadian Cyvling Magazine, Northern Park Apparel, etc. for being such significant donors and supporters! Lastly, I’d like to thank each and every one of the 21 other riders for being so open, welcoming and inspiring. Dan and I are truly blessed to have met such wonderful people.

Now, as always, it’s time to head to bed! I’ll add pictures to the posts in the next few days.

Once again, thank you.
Cheers
Em

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Great People!

Cranbrook to Invermere

130km, 674m of climbing

As Dan sits next to me, editing his daily video blog, I am easily reminded of all the highlights of the day. Once again, today started with sunshine and we were in good spirits. The route was essentially flat and we finally got a small tail wind!

The group rode together for the most part in the morning, witnessing the high water level devastation even just outside of Cranbrook. After the first break, a group of us hammered to lunch, enjoying the speed and sun. Just as we left lunch, we were treated with a spectacular view of the Hoodoo’s – I’ve been looking forward to that moment all week! After a small crash (Mike went down), we rolled into the hotel in Invermere, and then headed to the Kicking Horse Cafe (and coffee roaster). What a great finish to an amazing day.

To top it all off, the group had an amazing dinner with extra friends and family members joining us and we got to celebrate Chris’ birthday. We really are fortunate to be surrounded by such wonderful riders, volunteers, and friends and family members that support and encourage us along the way. Dan and I can honestly say that we wouldn’t have made it this far without each and every one of you – thank you! We have loved every minute spent with each of you, getting to know you, laugh with you, and learn about your involvement with CF.

Special thanks to Allison, Andrea, Ali and Dawn for donating an extra $70 to our fundraising if I could eat a WHOLE pizza! 😀 …obviously you guys don’t know me well enough yet 😉 You guys are awesome!

TO BANFF TOMORROW! Wowza, that went fast!
Em 🙂

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SUNSHINE!!!

Creston to Cranbrook

104km, 812m of climbing

It’s amazing what a bit of sunshine can do…and by a bit, I mean a lot! Today was a GLORIOUS day! We started and ended the day in pure sunshine, no knee-warmers, and only arm-warmers and a vest for the first 10 mins!

The group was in great spirits as we warmed up on our way to Yahk. Once arriving, we were treated with an amazing ice cream shop and soap store – yes, random, but very much enjoyed!

After full bellies of ice cream, we rode on towards Cranbrook, crossed into mtn time, baked in the sun during lunch, and finished off the ride in Cranbrook.

The local Kinsmen and Kinettes treated us to dinner and we had the pleasure of seeing Mike Hamilton, a fellow rider and CF’er, have his head shaved into a mohawk (like Richard!) and his beard into mutton chops for raising an extra $1000!!! Needless to say, a VERY enjoyable evening!

What could have been a low day due to fatigue was just incredible! Thankfully, the sun will stay with us tomorrow, hopefully providing a good view of the Hoodoos!! I can’t wait!

Time for bed…this time change sucks!
Em 🙂

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