Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mike's Final Thoughts

As I'm sitting here at UBC campus, it's hard to believe that our Bike Trip has been finished for over a month. It seems like yesterday that the five of us were having a weekly video conference, but it has been about 10 months since we had our first meeting. So much has happened since I decided to do the trip; is hard to put into words. I remember Keith's reaction when I first mentioned that I was going to bike across Canada, it took him about half a second to decide that he wanted to do it too. I can honestly say that in that half second my life changed. In that instant, the trip went from being an average cross country bike ride to something extraordinary. Keith's idea to make it a fund-raising effort and the addition of Pat and Jon to the team sparked the beginning of Moving Muscles Ride 2008.

It took months of planning both the logistic and the fundraising aspects of the trip. We all shared the work and by May we were more then ready to start biking. I think the only thing that lacked in our planning stages was training but, in hindsight, no amount of training would have fully prepared us for the first few days of the trip. I always tell people that just worked ourselves into shape over the first few weeks. I remember having lunch in the back of Brian's Dad, Dave's, van and being colder, wetter and hungrier then I ever thought possible; at the same time I was extremely excited to have finally begun and didn't think about quitting for a minute. I had no idea what the next few months had in store but I knew that I was embarking on the experience of a lifetime.

For me, and I think the other guys would agree, the first few weeks were physically the most challenging of the trip. Keith, who had spent more time on a bike in the previous year then the four of us had combined, was definitely the driving factor through BC. On the second day, when the rest of us had nothing left, Keith was the one who raced ahead to catch the ferry (too bad he missed the turn). He was also the one who always wanted to go further and bike longer. By the time we got to Revelstoke, without a rest day and not having done laundry since Vancouver, we were thoroughly exhausted and filthy. We took a day off and, on the advice of a professional, we decided to change a few things - like taking more rest days and spending some time in laundromats. We were always finding out better ways to do things and adapting to situations as they happened.

The most meaningful memories that I have of the trip are of all the people we met along the way. Almost everyday my spirit was lifted by someone who heard our story and went out of their way to show us support. There were lots of simple acts like the lady outside of Revelstoke who stopped at the side of the road to write us a cheque because she saw us on the news the night before. There were also all the great people who offered us meals and a place to stay; most of these people we only knew through friends, or friends of friends. In Brandon, we stayed with the Mennies who were connected to Keith somehow, but neither Keith nor Lloyd could figure out how. Despite this, Lloyd and his family welcomed us to their home like we were family and even sent us a few emails as we continued along the trip; it was very inspiring.

This trip was probably the greatest learning experience of my life. Obviously I learned about biking and maintenance - I can change a tire in record time and can tell the PSI in my tire just by feeling it. I also learned a great deal about Canada, we saw the country from a completely unique view point. Very few people can say that they have seen, and experienced, this country from the Pacific to the Atlantic and I am proud to say that I have. I also learned a lot about the four guys I rode with. I knew each of the guys really well before the trip, but after spending essentially every day with them this summer I know them inside and out. The five of us built a bond over the summer that will last a lifetime.

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