A Wild Ride… for a good cause

Written by Claire Humphrey and Bevin Reith*, LapDogs Cycling Club Members.

From the beginner mountain biker [Claire]:

It seems like everyone I know has a favourite charity event: the YMCA Relay for Strong Kids, the Friends for Life Bike Rally, WWF’s CN Tower Climb. I’ve always liked these events: they raise a lot of money for great causes, while also providing fun and fitness for the participants. But for years I limited my own role to handing out donations to my office buddies, cheering them on from the safety of my desk chair.

The turning point came when my friend, Jenn McCaw, began planning the inaugural Wild Ride for the Lung Association. “I’m thinking I should hold a mountain bike race,” she said. “You guys will ride, right?” She was looking right at me, and she’s my best friend in the world, so I stammered, “Sure, I guess.” And once the words were out of my mouth, there was no backing out.

Sure, I was reasonably fit, but I had no idea whether running, boxing or climbing could prepare me for a bike race, especially when I hadn’t touched my bike in about a decade. Bevin and I made sure to get out on the trails as early as we could that spring, but family events and business trips made it hard to log much distance. And I’m not what you’d call a naturally gifted rider. By the time the race rolled around, I still didn’t feel ready. What if I fell off my bike in front of everyone? What if I came in last, very last, hours behind everyone else?

…So what?

It was time to swallow my pride. I knew I wasn’t going to win that race. Heck, it might be a challenge to finish. But that wasn’t the point.

What was? Well, the Lung Association, for one thing. My grandfather died of emphysema. My mother suffers from asthma, and as it turns out, so do I. I had lots of motivation to raise money—so much that I ended up #1 fundraiser last year and #2 this year.

More than the fundraising, though, the point of an event like this is community. Everyone who comes out to a charity race is there to help others. The volunteers are there to help the event run smoothly, the participants are there to help the cause and the spectators are there to cheer on the participants.

So what happens when you come in at the back of the pack in a race like this? Your friend’s mom gives you the signal to dismount. Your sister-in-law is there clapping for you at the finish line. You get handed an electrolyte drink by your husband who finished an hour ahead of you. Your friend gives you a big hug and doesn’t even care that you’re all sweaty.

No one cares about your time. They’re just happy to see you.

There are a lot of ways to race. For the win. For your personal best. For heart, for the cure, or just for fun. Never raced before? Join me at next year’s Wild Ride, where I’ll be proudly bringing up the rear once again.

From the engineer [Bevin]:

Claire beat her last year’s time by 1 minute – with 2 stitches in her scalp after an out of control cyclist crashed into her 3 days before the race.

Our four person mixed team ‘The Fast and The Curious’ topped the podium in a field of one for gold medals all around.

111 folks participated in the event which is a 46% increase over last year.

Check out this great article and video – there is a split second of me at the 19s mark J.

Most importantly, the Wild Ride increased their stature in the 2nd year and may have chip timing next year. The Lung Association matched last year’s fundraising of 15K in this tight economy and have some valuable lessons learned to apply for next year. Here’s hoping it won’t conflict with MTB fest in 2013 and we can send a mixed LapDog Cycling Club squad to give everyone some more exposure.

* Bevin is also a member of the 2012 Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Race Team