It has been just over one week since my family and I arrived back in Toronto exhausted and fattened by adventurous travel. It has taken this long for us to get back into a rhythm and a routine without daily heightened expectations of an epic adventure.
When the Friends for Life Bike Rally left Toronto on July 28th, I'd already had the extreme luxury of being on a team of experienced riders and generous first times. These three characters here gave me heads up to pitfalls (no LCBO on the first day, camp chairs are worth it) and kept me inspired while getting ready without ruining any of the amazing surprises that would follow in the next six days.
Luxury is having one's high school shyness waylaid by a good posse of people keeping one company.
Luxury is laughing like 14 year old girls at a slumber party, when we are closer to 50 than we are to 14. This is a picture of us laughing to the point of getting called out by other campers. We felt totally bad ass.
These guys. All of them. Luxury on the ride. So smart, gracious, funny and inspiring. Not to mention asskicking riders.
Arriving in Kingston to see my favourite people in the world watching me do something I'm so unequivocally proud of? Luxury.
Fenner's face as I rode up in a sequined dress? ECSTATIC.
To be invited into a family for the riveting process of 'cleaning oneself up' and napping? Super luxurious. Steph's Aunt Yvonne made it so we wished we'd never left. My kids are still referring to our stay there as though they were in a magic wonderland...and they were right.
beautiful coffees that seemed to carry us for 80 kms.
Large rocks, gravel, loose dirt, puddles hiding pot holes, 15 riders following us. All of us cycling carefully. It was terrifying and, once it was done, exhilarating. We all had to step right outside our individual comfort zones. It was a brutal and exhilarating day. Once we knew none of us would be alone that day, anything could be accomplished.
We crushed Day 5. That tetra pack French Cross was divine.
Day Six. Stephanie and I are still friends. Despite my ability to make a cheap shot and her ability to lose a knitting needle in a mattress...vertically. As a tent partner and biking partner she was the best an uppity difficult woman like myself could ask for. Don't get me wrong, we were both nervous about how much time together was too much time.
But in the end, making things nice as possible for each other made everything as nice as possible for everyone. When I was flagging she was there to inspire me to press on and vice versa. Although, she and I are shit at creating a wind shadow. 5 feet of rage is not enough to block wind effectively.
By the end of the week I couldn't count all the moments that cumulatively changed the way I see myself. The friends, the inspiration, the stories and the laughing...so much laughing.
After all the fundraising, the training, the cycling, the camping, the learning, the friendships; getting to Montreal was the cherry on top of one enormous epic adventure.