It came into being rather quickly that I was going to be on the caboose team again for this year's RTCC . After doing the MS ride in June two weeks before the "RTCC", I told myself I would not be on the caboose again for a charity ride. I would rather do the ride as a participant. It was difficult to ride slow at times and it's challenging for me to find patience within myself when all I want to do is ride. Well, never say never again.
Once again I was taught a lesson in humility On the first day of the MS tour, there were times when the slow pace was almost painful. It drove home the message that we, as the caboose, are there in support of others. If we were doing the ride for ourselves, some of us would rather ride at a much faster pace. But we weren't. These charity rides made it clear to me that the people participating in them are not necessarily cyclists. They do charity rides because they are somehow personally affected by the disease. The ride is attempting to raise funds for finding a cure.
I came home with my mind made up that I would not do the caboose again. Then a couple of days later we received an email at the shop (where I work). Someone stated just how much of a difference it made to them, having us there as the caboose. They felt that, had we not been there, they likely would not have been able to carry on. This is the reason for the caboose I realized. It's not for us; it's in support of others. It was a great reminder to be in service to and for people.
Cancer is something that affects us all. Surely you know someone that has passed away or someone who is close to you that has been diagnosed with this dreadful disease. I lost both my mother and brother-in-law to cancer within a year of each other. I personally have three friends that have had their own personal battles with cancer and won. It's because of modern research and medicine that they are still alive today.
There is a young fellow that I work with that lost his mother to cancer recently. He did the "RTCC" in honour of his mother. The Monday after the "RTCC", his riding team and his family celebrated her life. This was his riding team . Cancer affects us all. I believe it is our responsibility to find a cure as well as to make lifestyle and environmental changes to help in the prevention of this dreadful disease.
I ask that you look inside yourself and see whether this is something you can ignore. How many of our loved ones have to die before we take a stand and offer our support. I was asked to be on the caboose team so I donated my time over two days to assist people that were struggling along the 100 km a day ride. I believe it was where I could help the most. How will you help? Please support with whatever you can: time, money or energy.
Francisco's story continues and comes to a bittersweet close.
For those of you that have been following along, here is Francisco's last entry after the "RTCC".
The “Ride to Conquer Cancer” weekend has come and gone, but it will be an experience I will forever remember.
Three weeks before that weekend, I was riding to Chestermere from downtown Calgary with my friend. I was still having thoughts about whether or not I would be able to complete the 200 km trek. At this point in my life, the farthest I had ever ridden was the 55 km distance of mostly flat bike path. The week before the big event, I tried to save my legs by taking it easier on my training by doing light bike rides and a lot of stretching.
So now it was finally time for the “RTCC”. As I was waiting to start the ride with my teammates, I was nervous as heck. But at the same time, I was excited because I was doing something that people thought I was crazy to do.
All of a sudden I heard someone say “Go!” And there we were, starting the ride as a team moving towards our long journey ahead. Within the first few minutes of the ride, I already encounter my first (of many) challenges; a huge hill. It was a big wake up call. Even though it took quite some time for me to climb up that hill, it forced me to put my “game face” on so that I could keep moving forward and not give up on myself.
Over the two days of the ride, we had rolling hills and hot weather which continued to test my mental strength and fortitude. Despite the challenges, there is something to be said about riding by yourself on long stretches of highway with the hot sun and gorgeous scenery, where it is only you and your bike working as one unit. It felt like a dream to me.
One of the most supportive experiences for me was having the group at Saddle Up helping me with my training. I’m not sure I would have been able to finish the race or even have a thought about doing it again next year, if it wasn’t for them. I’m pleased and ecstatic to say that I was able to cross the finish line with my teammates. It was one of the greatest achievements of my life and it hit me emotionally at my core. I’m truly grateful for the experience and have learnt a lot about myself.
With the “RTCC” 2010 already in the past, I thought I would be putting away my bike for the rest of the year. Instead, I have embraced the cycling lifestyle. At this point, I may not be as hardcore as some people. I consider myself more of a weekend rider. But like I mentioned before, the only reason I started cycling was because it doesn’t feel like exercising to me. It’s fun!! One of the things I realized was that exercising doesn’t have to feel like a chore.
As my blog entries come to a close, I personally would like to thank the following people at Saddle Up: Rick, Scott and Jennifer. Each of you has in your own unique way helped me to achieve my “RTCC” goal. Before all of this happened, I was overweight, never rode a bike and I was battling cancer just over a year ago. And now, as I finish writing this, I’m going to grab my bike and enjoy a ride on a Saturday afternoon! Thanks for your support!
See you on the bike path!
This post has been in my drafts since the third week of June 2010. It's been there because I just didn't have the words to end it. It has been the hardest one to finish. I now know why I did not want to end it. It's because it doesn't end here, it starts here.
Francisco is the best example of what we are trying to do here at Saddle Up. We have assisted in creating a cyclist. We put another person on a bike. Ultimately, this is the goal: turning people onto the joys and benefits of cycling. It's a great goal! What's interesting is the positive repercussions from putting one person on a bike.
Below in this photo, is Fransisco's team for the Ride. Fransisco is not just one cyclist; he actually has a team rallying around him. He had six people working with him towards the same goal. Brent, another fellow in the group, is also a cancer survivor. He is third from the left. He also has the support of his team.
I am privledged to be the person that put six out of the seven people in this picture onto their bikes. It started with one person and then went from there. Never underestimate the power of positive influence and inspiration.
Here is Francisco on his first training ride. Fransisco's bike is a Rocky Mountain Sherpa, a bike built to take you around the world.
I think this becomes a story about how much we can do and what happens if we involve others in furthering a cause and working as a community. We multiply our efforts and instead of one person raising funds for a cause, we create more cyclists to each raise funds. Each person that does the ride brings other people into it. If we, at Saddle Up, can assist in putting people on the road, it furthers our goal of creating more cyclists and the many positive affects it has.
After all, Fransisco did all of the work, we just went out and road our bikes.
Coming into the final few metres
Here is Fransisco at the finish line.
In the end it's not the finish line it's a new beginning. I've already committed to the 2011 RTCC, never say never.