What to say? Where do I even begin?? Well, like I tried to say at our meeting on Friday night before our ride, in my squeaky voice, while desperately holding back an ugly cry...My R2S Family and Friends, I love all of you so much!! You are a group of exceptional human beings! You each hold a special place in my heart, and I will carry my experiences with each of you in my heart and in my life forever. You all give me purpose and a reason to continue to fight for myself, my kids and my life. You are all truly amazing! THANK YOU! As many of you know, I started this year as a member of the organizing committee and crew for ride day. I soon learned this was the final year of the Kelowna to Delta format, and knew in my heart I needed to do this, some how, some way. So, after a series of events, I was all set up to ride; I had now registered as a Hope to Delta rider, Eek! I set out on our training rides as a total beginner, not knowing even the slightest bit about a road bike, and terrified of those clips! I held back on the clips for a couple rides and then just dove in. Whew! I didn't die on my first go around with clips. Hey! maybe I can do this! Whoop! Whoop! I had made many great strides and many success' through our training rides.  Riding the most kilometers ever in my life, with that number growing each ride.  What an amazing feeling!

The universe however, had other plans for my actual role in R2S on ride day as I had slipped and fallen in the bathroom on one of our rest stops mother's day weekend (Happy Mother's Day to me..ugh haha). I soon had to make the gut wrenching decision that I would be unable to ride on ride day.  However, I am still able and going to crew at 110% for this amazing group of riders I had gotten to know on our training rides.

To all my fellow riders and crew members, THANK YOU! Thank you for allowing this extreme novice rider the opportunity to ride beside, in front and behind you.  Thank you for taking me under your wings and not only giving me plenty of tips, tricks, knowledge and skills, but for making me not only feel like part of the family, but for actually making me part of this crazy family!  Thank you for digging me out of the deep, dark hole when I questioned my abilities.  Thank you for reminding me to believe in myself.  Quite simply, Thank you for just being YOU!  I've said it a million times, and will say it a million more, you are all truly amazing, excpetional human beings!

The reason the riding was so important to me this year, is much like evryone else.  I was riding for my brother whom is an 11 year cancer survivor, for my kids whom I hope never have to face cancer head on.  As well, to show them what we can do physically, mentally and emotionally if we focus ourselves.  Most important and dear to my heart though, is for my dearest of friends in this entire world.  She quickly and tragically lost her husband, best friend, father of their two children and soul mate to cancer on February 14th, 2018 after being diagnosed on October 31st, 2017.  She drove out with another close friend whom had lost his wife in June of 2018 (they actually shared a room in palliative care) to Merritt at our rest stop to join us and see what the hype was all about that I have been talking about since last year's ride.  And then again in coldwater, I looked over and suddenly focused in on these figures and faces I knew outside of R2S. They were both blown away at what we do together.  They felt the energy, love and support from all of you.

Thank you to my R2S family for accepting my personal family (my kids and friends) with open arms.  Thank you for giving them the same love and support we give each other. 

This season, I have gained many great relationships.  Some will remain as just strava or fb buddies and some as lasting friendships.  I am eternally grateful to every single one of them.  I am a true believer in everything happens for a reason, just the same for the people in our lives.  The situations and people cross our paths in the moments we need them and for the reasons we need them.  As I have said many times, I love and cherish each and every one of you.  Thank you for an AMAZING Ride2Survive 2019.    

WE did amazing things this year!  WE raised over $1.1 Million dollars; Much love to all our gracious donors!  What an epic achievment! CHEERS to an incredible year!  

Next time you see me, I will be on that damn bike, just keep me away from the bathrooms in my cycling shoes!  LOL! 

Together, we are better. Together, we are stronger. Together, we have already kicked cancer's ass! 

It has truly been an honour and privilege to have you all in my life thus far, and to ride with you all.  I am truly blessed! Much love, respect and admiration to all of you!  Until next time...

Love always, Jaimie Gentles

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    I'm sorry we (Agnes and I) will be unable to attend the windup event this of all years. We are in Bordeaux preparing to cycle to Toulouse along the Garonne canal bike route.  

    Yesterday we were both affected by the massive beauty and sacred stillness of the Bordeaux Cathedral St. Andre, built 800 years ago by hundreds of stone masons over several generations. It occurred to us that for many of them it would have been an experience like a vocational lifetime of R2S: each doing their small but essential part, interdependently working together to create something good for human kind.

    These past seven R2S seasons have been a life changing priviledge.  I am grateful to Vicki, Kerri, to the executive and committee, the Ride Captains, the crew and all the volunteers and to my fellow riders. 

    Thank you for the opportunity to participate in something very, very good.

Ray and Agnes Baker

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Over the last few days, I have been piecing together what was a spectacular day, and recalling the decisions that eventually brought me to Ride2Survive. With every decision we make, every experience, every new thing ... we learn right? Otherwise what's the point? Well, in December I took a step, a turn, a somewhat terrifying turn ("400km what am I thinking") into the welcoming arms of the R2S family and I had no idea what I was about to learn. 
I knew I would find a community of like-minded people, because I discovered this fact 2 years ago as support crew on the National Kids Cancer Ride, an event that changed my life. But there were new lessons waiting. I learned that more people want to make a difference, leave the world a little better, just like me. I learned that there is a community of these people in my backyard, led by 2 passionate & giving souls Kerry & Vicki Kunzli, who have a loyal following spanning this country. I learned that we could become a cohesive "fundraising team with a cycling problem" (quote by Kerry) in a matter of a few short months led by the remarkable Rich Gestle, raise an incredible amount of money for Cancer & form what I believe are lifelong friendships. I learned that we are better together. And finally, I learned that what matters the most is setting the goal and doing your damndest to get it done, even if it means sitting out for a moment. 
Which leads me to this: My body is strong, but not unstoppable and that is okay. My stamina is improving, but not unbreakable and that is okay. My bike is not immune to bad-luck mechanical on ride day, so get out of my head and get over it. The reason I am here is to band together with my people and stand up to Cancer. My team needs me, but they need me with a full tank, not running on empty ... SO when that strong but beaten body said "nuh-uh you're done right now", I listened and was better for it. Why? Because A/ it's ok to ask for help. And B/ my distance doesn't matter.
Did I quit? Hell no. I looked down at the names on my legs and the photos on my top tube & I acknowledged them. I am not here for me, i am here for them. Every pedal stroke mattered. Every-single-one represented something or someone, and I worked hard. And what happened as a result? Shouts of encouragement ("well done girl", "great job") as I pulled off, crew rushing to help & asking what I need, a new friend handing me a plate of food with simple instructions: "eat"! Nothing but positivity and acceptance. 
What else? I participated in a massive group fundraiser for a cause near and dear to my heart. With my generous donors, I was able to raise over $5,100 for Cancer programs (THANK YOU), contributing to the final team tally of near $1.1M. I trained & pushed my body harder than i ever have, climbed mountains, met crosswinds, cycled on roads only travelled by motorists. It was incredibly hard at times, but that was met with some incredible rewards: I descended the Kelowna connector into Merritt at a pace that made me smile & heard my friend Al behind me say "hey Caryl, you liked that didnt you", knowing full well I had a giant grin ear to ear, loving the open road on this massive downhill. I felt the speed of our police escort passing the rider "package" to close highways roads and intersections ahead & fully appreciated the "dance" they did as they escorted us into Merritt. I caught my breath realizing I was RIDING MY BIKE THRU THE BLOODY SNOWSHED for crying out loud. Who gets to do that?! I shouted at the wind when it tested me. I pushed through pain. I witnessed and experienced relentless kindness around me & watched a hundred strong "support and crew" (SAG) & cheer team members do everything in their power to keep the rider team motivated, hydrated, warm, safe, hold our gear & literally feed us if required. I saw new friendships develop, nicknames coined, learned the importance of lipstick, sang to my favorite songs while mountains faced me, and laughed at ridiculous jokes as cycling delirium set in. I saw crowds of people cheering, others crying, had dear friends show up unexpected when I needed them the most & heard shouts off of balconies urging us on. I saw my legs withstand the longest day ever and arrive safely home to Delta to the sound of pipes and the waiting arms of friends & family. I finished with my team. Feel my heart here, there's symbolism in all of this. And then I blinked and it was over.
But it wasn't over. It isnt. This community is now a part of me, and they're stuck with me. This fundraiser & ride has meant so much. I did it for Mom, I saw her sun-ray creep thru the open clouds in Mission. I chanted under my breath "Caitlyn is only 3, keep going" and "chemo is harder" when my legs were screaming. I wrote more names on my legs that reminded me why: Taylor, Addie, Billy, Cherri, Steph, Shannon, Tracey. We have farther to go, but caring people can make change. WE are stronger together. Watch for the evolution of Ride2Survive. We will be back.

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