75km and Onward

I did it.

Thanks to so many folks who supported me. That includes my friend who trained with me for her 75km, the wonderful people who made a donation to the Heart & Stroke Foundation in supporting my ride, and of course — the many kind and supportive words that I received along the way.

This is for me just the beginning as I journey towards 500km.

So how’d it feel? Uhm. Challenging. Even with the training. For the first time, I really felt how much slower I was going with my current bicycle. Throw in some headwinds (I learned about that recently … thank you Suzan!) — and there were times when I was wondering if I was moving in the right direction…

So waking up at 4am is not much of a problem for me. Same goes for getting soaked in a thunderstorm just from setting up the bike on the car rack in order to get to the event. The toughest part was trying to keep up with my former coworker who was on a road bike! Alas, I didn’t have the opportunity to ride with the person I was training with but I was happy to hear she killed it! Made it to the finish line 40 minutes before I did. I can only say that I was stopped numerous times for photos … and they were not for me. 🙂 Anyhow, I was simply happy to see friendly faces and content that I made the first major step towards the Greenbelt route.

What was it like?

Here’s a glimpse of what happened on Sunday in this very brief time-lapse video. I’ll post the full thing later.

So now what?
I keep training. I’m planning a number of cycling routes with friends (more news to come on that front).

I’m also planning to take my bike in for a tune-up and change up the wheels to something more appropriate for the road and gravel. I spoke with a guy at the Trek store over the weekend about my goal for next year and was informed that fewer manufacturers are making 26 inch wheels … but fortunately there are still some being made that will work for my mountain bike. I breathed a small sigh of relief because I really don’t want to be buying a new bike. Not any time soon anyways.

Doing some research on some good cycling routes in the Greater Toronto Area.  Preferably not on the road so if anyone has any suggestions … feel free to throw it on the table.

I’ve had the opportunity to bike much of the Waterfront Trail in Toronto, the Lower Don trail, the Beltline, as well as a number of other trails scattered within the city of Toronto.  I am taking a closer look at the trail around the Humber River but I feel like I need to go a little further out of the city for a longer route.

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’tis the Beginning of a Journey

Since I returned from my trip in Tanzania, I’ve been itching to do something new.  I wasn’t really sure why I was so restless.  Perhaps it was a result of being away for a month and getting back into the groove of things was a challenge, but I didn’t think so.

One day, I happened to be chatting with a bunch of folks at work about the Ride for Heart (disclaimer: I used to work (up to May 2016) for the Heart and Stroke Foundation) and one colleague happened to mention she had completed the 75km bike ride last year.  We were all commiserating amongst ourselves about how cold and wet the ride was last year, although I thought it was worse before in the past.

In case you aren’t familiar with the Ride for Heart, it is a fundraising event hosted in Toronto where two main highways (the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) and the Gardiner Expressway) are closed down for half the day so that cyclists get to ride on these highways while fundraising for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Route Map for the Ride for Heart in Toronto
Route Map for the Ride for Heart in Toronto

I’ve cycled the 50km route for the Ride for Heart over the past 6 years and although I always wanted to tackle the 75km, things just never worked out.  When I heard that one of my colleagues had done it and toughed it out through the rain and cold — I suddenly felt as if I needed to take on the 75km as well, but it still wasn’t enough for me.

So I began browsing some training routes for cycling in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and I came across the Greenbelt Route.  About 475km long, it follows environmentally-protected land that surrounds Toronto and the municipalities (GTA).

Now the thing is … I don’t know the first thing about bicycle touring or even bicycles themselves.  The only thing I know is how to ride one.

Looks like I have a lot to learn first… this blog is to detail my journey…