LapDogs Strava Charity Challenge, Looking Back… and Smiling

Written by Gerry Ugalde, LapDogs Cycling Club Member.

This was my first year back on the bike. After giving birth twice in a 13.5 month span and being diagnosed with a major illness, I doubted I would ever be able to ride hard again. Last year I got ahead of myself and signed up to join the LapDogs Cycling Club only to find that my health and motherly commitments meant I could only make it out to two rides. Deflated by not defeated, I signed up again this year. You see, after watchingthe Lapdogs at races for a couple of years, I knew they were the type of group Iwanted to belong to. As a spectator I found it odd that many teams almost seemed to have an air of animosity – some might called it competitiveness – but not the LapDogs. Even though they are serious cyclists and racers, whenever I saw them at a race they were united and smilng. And there were one of the few teams with women!

So when the time came to sign up again this year, I was quick to get my registration in so I could ride with the pack. And then reality set in; teaching high school, having two small boys and being married to a cyclist doesn’t leave much time for me to ride. Luckily the LapDogs were out early on Thursday mornings so I could do some hill repeats with them before work but again, I was always rushing. I spent the summer cycling alone because I could never make a group ride and well, most people don’t have 9am to 3pm off in July and August.

Just as I was thinking the season with the LapDogs would see me with only having ridden a few rides with the club, the Charity Challenge came to the rescue. The challenge was to commute to work as much as possible for the month of September all the while raising money for charity. I was in luck! In June I had be transferred to a new school in Scarborough, 25 kilometres from my home in Bloordale. During the summer I had done a couple of trial runs on my bike to figure out the route and timing, but I wasn’t convinced. The LapDogs Strava Charity Challenge spoke to me: here was my chance to do something with the club at my own pace and on my watch.

The day after Labour Day I set my alarm for 5:45 am (gulp) and set out for Markham and Lawrence. To my suprise the ride was faster than I thought (though it still felt really far) and although I had to ‘shower’ in the girls’ changeroom hand washing station, I soon found my groove. Day after day, week after week, the rides got faster and I got stronger as I varied my routes. Into Rosedale Valley and up Pottery Road, or along the Danforth to Danforth Road, I started to learn that the East end really isn’t so bad and that the cyclist in me is still very much there. The highlights of my rides included racing strangers on ‘segments’ of my route that others had plotted out on Strava, and of course seeing a fellow Lapdog riding in the opposite direction.

At the end of the month, not only had I saved money and lot and lots of time (work-out and commute at the same time!), I also finally shed the last 5 pounds that put me back at my pre-baby and illness weight. Oh, and I won the women’s division of the commuter challenge to boot! Being able to compete again was so much fun that I’m now following other LapDogs and virtual strangers on Strava so that I can race against their time.

Thanks LapDogs for thinking outside of the box and coming up with this great event!

Editor’s Note: The LapDogs Cycling Club proudly supports the local charity, Ability Gives , which helps to provide mobility solutions for developmentally challenged kids