I moved to Brisbane in 2009 having through the years lived in The Netherlands, UK, South Africa, Qatar and now Australia. I'm a single mum with three kids always looking for penny pinching ways to have fun and discover new places and things to do.
Two days, two hundred kilometers, too much fun
2 DAYS. 200 KILOMETRES. 1 EPIC RIDE
With 1 in 2 Australians being diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, none of us can ever do enough or too much to help find a cure for this terrible disease. Participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer is probably one of the more fun, exhilarating and rewarding ways to help fight this terrible disease.
This year the ride will take place during the weekend of 17-18 August. Two days to cycle the scenic 200km route from Brisbane towards the Wivenhoe damn. Intimidating? Yes. Challenging? Yes. Possible – YES! For anyone.
Personally I'm not a competitive nor am I an enthusiastic cyclist. I'm your run of the mill family cyclist. Sunday rides with the kids, maybe the odd long cycle on my own. My bike is an ordinary push bike for commuting. A little lighter than a Mountain Bike but heavier than a Road Bike. It has gears – probably helpful to know exactly how to use them to my advantage – but nothing spectacular. With that portfolio I still completed the ride.
Alongside me where an array of people; each of them with their own story of who they are cycling for – The daughter cycling for her mum who lost her struggle against breast cancer, fearful that she has the same genes in her. The son, cycling for his dad who currently is undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The dad, cycling for his little boy not understanding what this word cancer is but knowing it's the reason he has to live in hospital and not at home. The survivor – the one we all cycle for and there were many of them - all identifiable by the yellow flag on the back of their bikes. One survivor having lost the use of his legs, cycled the ride (and does so every year) using his arms. Personally I was cycling for two victims who suffered from cancer; in 2010 I lost a dear school friend at the young age of 34 to cancer and a colleague's son, aged 3 was fighting against liver cancer. Little Dylan has since sadly lost his life.
The first day of the cycle starts off with a buzz of anticipation and dread. Because let's face it – this is going to be hard. Around 8 hours to cycle 100kms with a rest or water stop around every 20-30kms. That means around 15kms per hour which for the average weekend cyclist is pretty fast, not to mention that when you do your Sunday cycle, you probably avoid hills and challenges and stick to nice cycle lanes. All of this intimidation is overcome by power in numbers. Because on this morning I was stood with 1343 other people taking on a meagre bit of exercise to help the Queensland Institute of Medical Research find a cure for one of the world's top killers – cancer.
As you cycle along you are never alone. There is always someone close. Someone to chat to and tell you the reason they are putting themselves through this challenge and the consensus is unanimous; compared to what cancer sufferers face and endure each day, this ride is a walk in the park. Everyone is willing to take that walk in the park to hopefully never see their loved ones, another friend or just plain simply anyone else suffer from this disease again.
Of course there is the more personal and selfish enjoyment involved in this ride – The joy of reaching the campsite. There lies await a massage for those tired sore muscles, a refreshing short shower (There are 1343 of you wanting one after all!) and a couple of cold refreshing FREE beers and a celebration dinner because together you have raised $4.7 million dollars that will go to the research for finding a cure of this deadly illness. The amazing stories of the challenges that some survivors have to tell continue through the evening as you chat to more cycle companions and if, like me, you have never personally suffered, you realise how lucky you are. How important it is to save future generations from this terrible disease and acknowledge how brave each of these survivors are.
A good thing really – because day two is a little bit harder to face than day one. Your ignorance of the amazing challenge you've set yourself is now well informed by your tight and reluctant muscles. It takes about half an hour to 10km for you to loosen up and feel comfortable in the saddle again. Possibly you will not be cycling every hill like you did yesterday – you might get off and push your bike at times; It is a PUSH Bike after all – and the scenery is just too pretty to not stop and take in. This is the time where you really WANT to stop and smell the roses. (And your legs will thank you at these times!).
I have not quite decided yet whether day two's weather was heaven sent or a pain in the bum. The day started slightly cooler and a bit overcast and everyone was happy that heat had stayed away because when you have 100kms to cycle and the sun is hiding no-one is complaining. Then it started chucking the rain down and I started to wonder why I didn't want to see the sun. It rained for most of day but instead of dampening spirits it seemed that the rain lifted the mood. Laughter was bountiful and water and rest stops had a different atmosphere; everyone was "dancing" in the rain today and looking forward to meeting friends and family waiting at the finish line to congratulate them on completing the ride.
Arriving in Brisbane the University of Queensland is indescribable. For about the last hour of the ride around every bend, before every undulation and at every crest you have one question in mind – "Is this the last one - are we there yet?" When you are though, there is no question. Scores of supporters line the roads for the approximately the last kilometre. Everyone is shouting encouragement, clapping their hands, telling you that you have made it. As you look into the crowds you see that there are more stories to be told – some still fighting and thrilled at the thought that this event had brought a cure a step closer, some happy that their survivors had not only made it through the cancer ordeal but is celebrating in competing and completing the ride, some quietly crying as the people who've cycled in memory of others have completed the ride.
I cycled and completed the ride in 2011 and together 1343 cyclists raised $4.7million, in 2012 1519 cyclists raised $5.2million, in 2013...
Have you read this and thought – wow, it sounds hard and challenging and fun? Good. That is what it is supposed to be –a challenge. A fun charity challenge giving you the opportunity to dig deep and find the fighter in yourself so that hopefully, through the funds raised, one day there will be a cure; a day the little child, the new mom, the hard working dad, the old granny, the mischievous granddad would not have to find the survivor in themselves or the fighter in the family they love so much and have to leave behind. It's hard but it's guaranteed possible, unlike surviving every cancer out there.
Go on Challenge Yourself! Or if you're a back seat driver – support the riders here.