I Can Always Get Into SAG



I thought that doing the North Shore ride again would be easier because I knew what to expect. I knew which parts I hated (almost all parts) and which ones I surprisingly liked (Cypress). I was wrong. Second time was harder, and not just because of the rain.


Hate is a strong word yet I used it liberally on both rides.(Like the f bombs) Caught myself more than once using the word on the second and decided to change it to love. Its all in the attitude right? I also knew, since it was my second time, that I could jump into SAG at any point. Now, I know SAG is available 100% of the time, but knowing I had already done this mandatory ride, this time was like a free pass. I could get into SAG on all the parts I hated….


My non riding friends thought I was crazy for doing this ride the first time, let alone a second time. Hell, even some my riding friends thought I was crazy for doing this ride again. Yet. I knew I could get into SAG at anytime. It was refreshing to see that I was not the only 2 timer on this ride, and we lamented our craziness at putting ourselves through this again. But we ride because we can and its for a good cause and “yada yada yada” is what it sounds like when you’re climbing, and digging deep and giving it all you can.


I remembered last week how hard that first climb was, heading to and up Burnaby Mountain and SFU. I hated it. I said to Denise (a second timer) “ I hated this part last week. This seems harder than last week already. Wha wha wha. We are 10 minutes in. Someone yells from behind- “Well its early, its gonna be harder.” And then I remember- its Sunday of a long weekend. Its 745am. People are sleeping and here we are climbing….not even really into it yet. I know what’s ahead. And I hate it already. Nope, I LOVE it. I say sarcastically to myself….or maybe I used my outside voice….


One mountain, two mountains, 3 mountains almost finished. I am dreading each hill as it comes. Oh, now I remember this part from last week. Hated it. Oh yes, this is where I think the hill stops, but oh no, we go around that corner first and climb some more. Hate it. The rain is starting to smatter. We all knew it would rain sooner or later. I’m checking out bikes for fenders. We stop at Grouse for our food break before Cypress. Its raining more. Someone questions my rain jacket. “Aren’t you going to over heat?” I think to myself- its okay if I do. I can always jump into SAG. I’ve been up this road before baby, its all good.


So we start our ride over to Cypress up the #1 highway. Climbing. It’s raining more. I hated this part of the road. Now there are cars going past us at 100km spraying rain at us. How fun. We gather at the bottom of Cypress, where, lo and behold, there is a vision to behold. Vicki and Kerry have arrived to climb Cypress with us. A morale boost for me and I am sure others. I mean, who interrupts their long weekend camping trip to climb a mountain? Oh ya, Kerry and Vicki do. Because that is who they are and that’s what they do.


So off we go. Last week, I enjoyed Cypress. It was like taking Grandma shopping- slow and steady. I align myself with Graham. He is consistently steady and grounding for me and I need grounding. We are in the last group.  We start our ascent. This time however, I am hating it. This time, its like granny has 100lbs of watermelons in her cart. I take comfort in Grahams wheel beside me, Kerry’s voice behind me and Rich whistling ‘popcorn’ . There is comfort with these people. I wonder where SAG is, cause, you know, I can jump in there anytime.


Riders pass us. I lose Graham at some point. Rich and Al carry on. At some point I look back, it’s me Kerry, Mike and some other guy. That’s it. It’s starting to really rain. Its getting colder. Kerry keeps talking. He asks me if he still has scotch at home. I laugh. These are good people.


We finally arrive at the top. Being last doesn’t leave me much time to eat, fill water bottles, and quickly change. “Quickly change” is an oxymoron, for those who have ever tried to quickly change out of sweaty, wet clothes. When you’re cold, and shaking, and wet, and laughing, because what else are you going to do when your sports bra is stuck around your neck and they are calling 2 minutes??? The dry clothes are a welcome comfort. Changing for the descent down. The stupid, crazy, 60km/hr descent. I hate descents.


Its then that I realize- I CAN GET INTO SAG! I did my descent last week. I am almost singing- get me a space in SAG for the descent!!! I am not the only one with this brilliant idea. There a few of us who have decided to screw the descent. We relish in the warm vehicle on our way down and give kudos to those riders who actually white knuckled it down in the pouring rain. Cause its pouring rain now.


Onward to Stanley Park and our last stop. Now I hated the last leg through downtown and through suburbia hell back to Burnaby. No more mountains, but stupid rolling hills, and traffic, and lights, and pedestrians. I hated this part in the sunshine. It wasn’t looking any better in the now pissing rain. June asked if I wanted SAG. I could SAG it back from Stanley Park…..no. Everyone else was riding, I would too. Who cares if I can’t see out of my glasses, my brakes don’t really work, I am cold and wet. I did it last week, why not again.


So off we go. I am second guessing my choice of not taking SAG. June asks again- I can get Tony here now, she says. Nope. I am going. Up and down the hills we go. I am tired. I am emotional. At one point Al McNabb gives me a pep talk up one of the hills about people suffering from cancer and not having choices. I get that. I think of my sister, hearing those words ‘You have cancer.” And not having a choice. I think of Rich, and Dennis and Graham, and my friends Rick and Sandra. My mom, my step mom….


We are getting close. At some point we come out from a path and its uphill again. I start to cry. Like lose it cry. Graham comes up beside me and hugs me. I look up to see what cross roads we are on. I wanted to remember where my break down happened. We are on the corner of Forrest and Bumf*k Rd in Suburbia hell. I don’t know. All I hear is Graham saying “It’s you and me Siobhan. We will ride the rest of the way together” And we did.

Because we can.


I am humbled and honoured to be a part of this journey. After the ride was done and hugs were given and pats on the back were a must , I sat in Boston Pizza waiting for my chicken parmesean to go. As most of the riders packed up their cars and left, I watched the remaining team members- our SAG team- Tony, Pam, Kathleen and Cheryl pack up the rest of the stuff. In the rain. Grab things from the SAG vehicles, organize themselves, figure out who’s stuff got left behind (I left my shoe in the parking lot last week). These people who spend their days in vehicles, supporting us, feeding us, helping us. These people who leave the parking lot last, after we all have gone.


I can always get into SAG :))))