Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The end is nigh (warning may contain words depicting scenes of an emotional nature)

I've been putting off writing this post for some time. I've been mentally attributing this to a number of things: I have no time, I have nothing to say and no one reads this anyways. None of those are true, so its finally time to put finger to keyboard and get 'er done. This triathlon, conceived little over a year ago, is finally complete and has been more wildly successful than I could ever have hoped or dreamed. I have pushed my body to its limits, both mentally and physically. I am among the 1% of the worlds population that has successfully completed a marathon and one of an even smaller percentage that has cycled solo across Canada. I took part in the Polar Bear Swim, something which even my family and friends living in Vancouver have never attempted.

I'm not going to say it was easy, far from it. The preparation for both marathon and bike ride came at huge expense, both physically and personally. Running a marathon requires months of intensive physical training, with injuries to ligaments, muscles and social status. Cycling across Canada required expensive equipment which I couldn't afford, necessitating months of ebay trawling, careful bargaining and a steady diet of staying out of the pub and tesco value baked beans. Simultaneously, I was attempting to complete a PhD, whilst also coming to terms with all of the reasons underpinning the triathlon itself. Over the last year, I have shed more than toenails. This triathlon has cost me a boyfriend, several "friends" and definitely some sanity.

But this pales in comparison to what we have achieved. I set out with the impossible goal of raising £10,000 for CRUK and Macmillan. I hit this target before I even set off across Canada. Before the Polar Bear Swim, I had already raised over £12,000. My total is currently at £12,365 with a few more days to go before I close down my fundraising account. This project was my idea but I could not have done any of it without you. 216 people donated their hard earned cash to this cause, some of you more than once. Some donated anonymously and some donors I have never even met. Some of you ran me a hot bath when I came in from training runs, some of you trained with me. Some of you gave me a shoulder to cry on when training got tough and some of you came to cheer me across the finish line. Some of you gave me shelter and kindness as I traveled across Canada, some of you honked and waved your support as you drove past. Some of you donated costumes, and one of you swam with me. Long distance running, cycling and swimming are not often considered team sports. In this particular case, they were lonely feats of individual endurance. But I never felt alone. You guys were with me every step of the way. Every text, every email, every facebook "like", every penny raised and status shared meant the world to me. There was never a time when I wanted to quit or a time when I thought I couldn't go on. And that's because of you guys, right behind me the whole way. You never doubted I would make it and I never even considered letting you down. I set out to even things up for Sue, Janet and Mum but I realised just how many lives are impacted by cancer in one way or another. So this triathlon is for all of you, in honour and memory of your mums, your grans, your sisters, your daughters and your friends.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Polar Bear Swim, Vancouver 2014


Monday, 9 September 2013


I've only gone and bloody done it....

I rode solo and unsupported across Canada from Vancouver (British Columbia) to Halifax (Nova Scotia), travelling 7074 km in 61 days and raising over £11,000 for cancer research and support, Holy cow. 

Week 9 Salmon Beach to Shubenacadie

Or how I learned to love New Brunswick. Kinda. After the glory days of the gaspe peninsula, I crossed over the border to NB in blazing sunshine to be greeted by a group of line dancing pensioners. My belly was full of the enormous farewell ice cream Yan bought me as a leaving gift (yes I shared it with Wilson), the mornings hangover was a distant memory and l was feeling particularly enthusiastic about entering a new province. I cruised along for a while then set up camp for the night by the sea. So far so good. But then overnight the cycling gods got together, decided I'd been having way too much fun recently and sent me some terrible weather to wipe that smug grin off my face. 

First they tried wind. Pah, I rode across the prairies, tis but a mild breeze. Try harder guys. So then they added rain. A lot of rain. So much rain I had to keep pulling over because I couldn't see the road. That's ok though I'm British, standard summer bank holiday weather innit. Plus I hadn't showered in a few (ok 3) days, and the downpour got rid of most of the flies on my tail. I'm sort of joking there. Sort of. Anyways, so this being the east coast, the Timmy Ho's density is pretty good. It appears that when Maritimers aren't eating crab, they're drinking coffee.Towns that don't even have stoplights have a Tim Hortons, so clearly I was forced to seek refuge amongst the locals, and the errrr donuts. Ahem. However, being A) on a bike, B) a girl, and C) foreign makes you stand out somewhat, which combined with D) the daytime population of rural Tim Hortons being composed of 90% retired elderly gents, I was lucky if I got more than a slurp of coffee before the questions started. Once they discovered I could speak French, I was a goner, all hope of a peaceful 5 minutes was abandoned and I started turning down offers of (crab) dinners with sons, grandsons and sometimes even the old dudes themselves. But it was all in good fun and these were some of the nicest and most genuine people I'd met across the whole trip. I started to realise that maybe they don't get so many visitors round there when the old boys club in the Timmy's a couple towns ahead were expecting me and had their cameras ready to capture my arrival. I'm a pretty big deal in New Brunswick dontcha know. 

The rain did not let up so I struggled on, and ended up sleeping in a super 80s games arcade after a campsite lady took pity on my pathetically sodden state. I got up at 2am to disconnect the power after the Street Fighter II machine went off and for a brief sleepy second I thought raccoons had learned how to talk. 

I awoke the next day to more rain, but at least I started dry. It was all about the little victories in No Funswick. I met a lovely group of ladies in Miramichi who renewed my slightly dampened enthusiasm (haha geddit? I made a funny) and also made a super generous donation to the fundraising pot. The rain finally eased off as I pulled into Shediac, home of the worlds largest lobster and possibly my favourite side of the road "sculpture" to date. The monsoon continued for the next couple of days as I crossed the border into Nova Scotia, by which point, after a sustained and heroic effort, my rainproof jacket finally gave up. Sigh. I got super cold super quickly despite many layers and started to get slightly concerned about how I'd survive the night if this continued.... right on cue a Timmys appeared on the horizon. Aaaaah. As I dripped onto the floor, I began to contemplate how many donuts I'd have to buy in order to spend the night in there. One an hour? Two? Which was when I met Joe. We chatted about the usual stuff, he gave me some advice on the local roads then told me the weather forecast. Not good. So this complete stranger then goes "if I asked you to stay at my house with my wife and I would you come?". Hmmm. My motto is that it's easier to spot a good egg than a bad apple, and my first impressions are usually pretty spot on. I liked this guy, so I said yes. We packed my bike into the back of his truck and off we went into the woods down a single track road. Eek I hope I called this one right. I had, and I spent a lovely evening with Joe and Rachelle on the beautiful Caribou Island being thoroughly spoilt. What a welcome to the final province of the trip!

Salmon Beach to Sunrise - 147 km
Sunrise to Shediac - 135 km
Shediac to Pugwash - 111 km
Pugwash to Pictou via Caribou Island - 86 km
Pictou to Shubenacadie - 91 km

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Shit long distance cyclists say

Or maybe just me, but whatever. Sharing's caring.

1. My ass hurts 
2. I'm hungry 
3. My ass hurts and I'm hungry
4. Is there a Tim Hortons near here? 
5. Il y a un Tim Hortons pres d'ici?
6. Is that a bear? No.
7. Shit, that is a bear. 
8. Is it free?
9. Hey man. Share the road. Or not. Asshole.
10. Do my thighs look big in this?