Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Just like yesterday

Hello everyone!

I'm guessing not too many people are still following this blog (or they're going through it reeeeally slowly), but we all thought it would be a cool idea to give people an update on what's going on in our lives one year later. Could become a fun annual tradition!

I am STILL working through my Engineering Physics degree at UBC, one more year to go and I will be done with it. Not too hard of a workload, so I am hoping to get involved with the Model UN delegation here at UBC (New York, baby!), and will be volunteering at the 2010 Winter Olympics here in Vancouver when they come. I am incredibly excited for that, it should be an amazing experience. After I am done, I hope to travel wherever the money will take me before touching down to reality and the real world! I have started saving up money this past summer, working on Co-op in Vancouver, and applying for every scholarship that will take my application. Every little bit helps. The bike doesn't get out quite as much as it did last summer, but I've still used it a fair amount and am still loving it. Getting out on the road brings back fond memories as you can imagine, and I was even able to help a friend train for the Ride to Conquer Cancer which helped keep me in shape and pay forward what I can to others trying to accomplish their own cycling goals.

As for the ride, I never imagined how much it would change me as a person, and my life in general. In the past year, I've had two speaking engagements with Muscular Dystrophy Canada, one alongside Mike here in Vancouver, which were truly amazing experiences. I was recently informed that I was selected as Muscular Dystrophy Canada's Client of the Year, and will be flying to Toronto in October to receive it at their annual awards banquet. It is an incredible honour! Mike, Pat, and I were also recognized several times by our Sigma Chi Fraternity, both at UBC and on the International level. Give and you shall receive, I guess, but we certainly never expected the accolades that have been given to us. We also put together a book from the blog and pictures we kept along the way. It is great to have such a nice-looking log of the trip, and to see how many people have enjoyed reading the stories from their own copy.

Personally, the ride has lent a great deal of perspective on what's important in life. I've found myself enjoying the little things more, and have been more RELAXED. The other four will all be happy to hear that, as they tried many, many times to loosen me up on the trip when I was so wound up in the experience, sometimes too much to truly enjoy it. I could not have asked for better people to be with and to have as friends now.

I think what is most special to me about the ride, beyond the amazing memories and the great experiences and friendships, is the impact I have seen the ride make in others. Every time someone comes up to me and tells me how amazing they thought our accomplishment was, it means a great, great deal. It's most noticeable when we're in a group talking together about the experience around friends: you can notice how carefully people listen. Even more fun was having both Brian and Jon come over to Vancouver this summer, seeing them for the first time since last August. It was an absolute blast, and I can't wait for the next time they come around and hang out with Pat, Mike, and I over here. Or maybe a houseboat or Calgary reunion? Who knows.

Beyond that, thank you to everyone who followed us and supported us along the way! It absolutely blows my mind at what were able to do just one short year ago, but it never would happened without everybody giving us a helping hand. My Mum Judy immediately comes to mind - Nin, thank you so much for everything you did, and I love you so much. You helped take the Moving Muscles Ride from a cool idea to a project of epic proportions! And my cousin Andrew deserves another mention. He took a gamble on five essentially non-cyclists, got them Specialized bikes and gear, and watched them ride it all the way to the finish line. Andrew, I will never, never, never forget it, and I hope that jersey is smiling down on you. To all of you reading, I gave Andrew my light blue jersey from the trip, which my Mum framed. It was the least I could do to thank him. There are many others to mention, but everyone's families are at the top of the list. It makes it so much easier to do something of this magnitude with support from loved ones.

One year's gone by, but the memories are lasting forever, and only growing more fond. Thanks for continuing to be a part of our journey.

Enjoy the ride,


Thursday, August 6, 2009

One Year Later

A lot has changed in my life since being a part of the Moving Muscles Ride last year. When the trip began last May, I was a recent university graduate, having written my final exam only a few weeks earlier and the prospect of no upcoming school for the first time in recent memory. Since our trip ended last August, I’ve worked in construction - building airplane hangars and other steel buildings, harnessed off and working at heights of up to 75 feet - I’ve gone back to school briefly, I’ve worked as a research assistant on Vancouver Island investigating an ugly fish known as the midshipman, and I’m currently in charge of maintenance at Silver Lake Mennonite Camp, the place I’ve spent the majority of my summer months for the last 10 years. I like to joke that I’ve become transient, moving from place to place and job to job.

As I look back on our bike journey last summer, I think of all the different scenery we saw across this beautiful country, the determination it took to get back on that bike seat day after day, and I think about the incredible amount of money we were able to raise for Muscular Dystrophy. But there are two things that really stand out in my mind: the people we met in the course of our travels and the good times we had among the five of us guys. Even today, it amazes me how people we’d never met before were so generous and willing not only to open their homes to us but also to help in whatever way they could, from providing meals to riding with us for stretches, to helping out with last-minute bike repairs. I think it really speaks volumes about human nature that so many people were so willing to help perfect strangers, especially scruffy, spandex-wearing strangers like us!

And then there’s Mike, Brian, Keith and Pat. You’re never quite sure how well you’ll get along with someone you meet for the first time, but from that first cold rainy day leaving Tofino to the arrival in St. John’s, we all hit it off really well. Going through an intense experience like we did together, I’ve learned a lot about each of the guys and we have forged a friendship that will last for the rest of our lives. As the years continue to pass, I’m sure I’ll look back on this trip as one of the best experiences of my life.