This weekend, Jack and I and my brother in law, Matt did the Riding Mountain Challenge, a 140 km round trip bike ride from Dauphin, MB through Riding Mountain National Park, to Wasagaming and then back again to raise money for the MS Society.
I’m sure this won’t be the most entertaining post; I am mostly documenting it here for posterity. My inner Facebook Status Update monologue while out on the bike for 9 1/2 hours was much funnier. Unfortunately (or maybe not…) there was no service in the park, so both of my Facebook friends were spared hourly comments on the utter misery.
It was tough. Prairie folk don’t do hills well, at the best of times, and certainly not when there are 35 km/hour winds involved, but we managed to get ourselves up the “mountain” on Day 1, and back down again on Day 2. I use the term “mountain” judiciously, although Matt tells me it would be considered a Category Three climb, if we were professionals riding in the Tour de France, which I will never do, and not only because of my distinct lack of male parts.
Besides the finish, the highlight of Day 1 was seeing a bear cross the road in front of us. I was a little scared, to say the least. We rode near the back of the pack (ok, we rode AT the back of the pack) and we were pretty much alone on the road when it came out of the forest, stopped on the road, looked at us and took a couple of steps toward us, and then sauntered on its way across the road and into the trees on the other side. I have extra laundry to do as a result.
Second only to the bear was the joyous discovery of the ultimate trail food: graham crackers, peanut butter, and chocolate chips. Most. Awesome. Meal. Ever. Never mind the fact that at that point I was hungry enough to have eaten the bear.
The highlight of Day 2 was reaching speeds of 44.5 km/hr coming down the mountain. I’m not sure I am coordinated enough to be going that speed in any vehicle without airbags, but I did it nonetheless. Nearly created yet more laundry, but made the climb worth it. I guess.
Besides the bear, the hills and the wind, though, it was a really nice ride. Very scenic and picturesque in the park. Some sun and nice cool temperatures – we were never chilly but never really overheated either.
Jack was the youngest rider by several years, and he covered the entire distance under his own steam. We walked a couple of the hills, but he never gave up, even when the wind kept knocking him off the road (we were literally stopped almost dead by a wall of wind near the finish on Day 1). I was so proud of him – he is a tough little kid. Despite frustration and discouragement, quitting was never an option for him. Bodes well for his future.
Today, my butt is a little sore, but Jack is fine. In fact, ten minutes after we finished and got out of the wind, he was fine. He’s even been out on his bike already. I can’t stand the thought of it.
Oh, and did I mention that our team, “Where’s Jack?” raised over $1500 for the MS Society? Thank you to everyone who donated for your generous support! Mark your calendars. I had enough fun that we might even hit you up again next year. I may even be able to convince a few more family members to join us – take the weight of the bad-weather blame off Matt.
I enjoy accomplishments like this because it was so hard, and we did it anyway. I am thankful that my body is capable of that kind of endurance; many aren’t. We are really just lucky, lucky people.