Sloggin' Up Seymour in a Two Man Slinky

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Saturday's ride over to the North Shore was an enlightening experience. It seemed like a regular training ride like many others: good distance (110 Km), great scenery rolling through Stanley Park, over the Lions Gate bridge, hugging the waterfront along North Vancouver and then climbing up from Deep Cove towards Indian Arm road. The plan was to do  a loop back on Indian Arm Road and then climb Mount Seymour Parkway up to the ski lodge. The weather was great: over cast, cool, little threat of rain. We had good group formation along most of the ride. I was managing to stay in the lead group for most of the way...and then...we turned up the road to Mount Seymour. Not much of a preamble, like Cypress. Just a corner and then up you go. Damon took the lead with a steady pace of about 10-11 Km/hr. He did warn us that the climb was going to be steeper and longer than Cypress. I thought, OK, I have been logging the hours every week doing my commuting from Richmond to Surrey, over the Alex Fraser and up Nordel Way 2 to 3 times per week. How hard could this be? Hard it was.

I managed to stay with the lead group for maybe a third of the way and then watched as they slowly left me behind and disappeared around a corner. Ray McF had slipped back earlier and so before long it was just the two of us. Steve F was just visible ahead and we couln't see anyone behind us. Just us and the sound of grouse thrumming in the forest. Ray and I chatted for a bit and then as we crept along, I felt my legs slowly start to fade. Ray was pulling away and there I was....thinking how simple it would be to just stop. How seductive it was. Just stop, give up, turn around and head down to the coffee shop at the bottom of the hill and wait for the group to come down. But.. I realized that stopping to rest would be alright. Just  to eat something, rest my legs and get back on the bike. Maybe I could catch up to Ray. So, I did that. Stopped, rested a few minutes and slowly dragged myself up the road to keep pace with Ray. I did that 3 more times, like a two man slinky. He was the leading edge and I was slowly moving back and forth trying so hard to keep going.

The effort reminded me of why I was there. Why we work so hard training for Ride Day. In order to gain strength hard work is required. Work to exhaustion. In my work as an oncologist, I see this kind of effort all the time. For example, chemotherapy is given in a cyclical fashion. Once every few weeks. A burst of treatment, a day or so of feeling awful, a steady downward descent and then the slow grinding climb back to near normal and then all over again. Just like a slinky: up and down or rather, down then up. As much as I try to understand what it would be like to have to go through treatment, I can never do that, until my time comes one day to take that road.  It takes a grim determination and courage to go through these treatments. Treatment can take months with patients' lives revolving around the cancer centre, suspending normal life for what seems like an eternity. Their courage involves not just the effort to deal with the effects of their cancer and treatment but also the courage to Rest...stay still for a while. There is no harm in stopping and regaining strength to get back on and keep going. There is a goal at the end of all that effort. For me on Saturday it just to get to the ski lodge. If I could do that, then the day would be worthwhile. I didn't have to be fast, I didn't have to do it non-stop, I just needed to get there so I could be with my R2S compadres. So I could rest up before the long descent and the ride home. Thanks for keeping me company Ray.