I don’t usually like to ride in the rain. Having said that, there are times when I’ve cycled in pretty nasty conditions (winter, mud, rain, wind). Often, these rides have occurred during races (downpours during 24-hour mountain bike relays) or charity events (2017 Ride for Heart). But typically, when it’s raining out, I’ll avoid getting on my bike.
On Sunday June 24, I woke early to ride in the 2018 Ride Don’t Hide event for the Canadian Mental Health Association (Waterloo-Wellington chapter) in St. Clements, Ontario. When I looked out my bedroom window, I saw endless grey clouds and steady rain falling. When I got to the community centre, one of the organizers told me that there were 14 people who signed up to ride the 80 km distance. She also gave me the option of riding the 80 (which started at 8 am), or waiting until 9:20 am when the 40 km ride started (the 80 km ride was two laps of the 40 km route).
I checked some weather apps on my phone to see if there was any lightning in the area. There wasn’t, so I really didn’t have a good excuse. It was raining, but not heavily, and the temperature was fairly mild. Of the 14 who had signed up, there were only three of us who braved the rain.
We started the ride at 8 am to a handful of enthusiastic volunteers who cheered as we departed the St. Clements Community Centre and headed north on Herrgott Road in a steady rain. The 40 km loop followed roads that I’ve ridden many times. The clockwise loop features some rolling hills on Kressler Road and Weimer Line and includes a fun little hill on the aptly named Greenwood Hill Road.
The first time around the 40 km route was quiet and pleasantly uneventful. Within the first 10 minutes, I was soaked, head to toe. I was wearing a rain jacket, which held the rain out, but I was also sweating. The temperature, despite the rain, was quite mild. The three of us kept together for about 5 km until we hit the rollers on Kressler. One of us (not me) slowly pulled away from the other two. The two of us continued together for most of the rest of the first lap. Towards the end of the first 40 km, we came across the other rider. He was fixing a flat. We continued to ride together as we started the second 40 km and he gradually pulled away from us again.
On this second lap, we started to merge with the cyclists who were riding the 40 km distance, so there were a lot more people around. This was a pleasant change, but I still spent most of the lap riding alone, which I didn’t mind at all. As I mentioned in my previous post, cycling is meditative for me. My brain is often clouded with all kinds of random thoughts and worries. Cycling alone in the rain surprisingly meditative, as the conditions required that I focus my thoughts in the present moment and nothing else.
I finished the 80 km ride in just over 3 hours to a cheerful crowd in the rain. I quickly changed into dry clothes and joined the group inside for lunch.
For the modest registration fee ($60), this event was excellent value. All cyclists were given a blue tech t-shirt, plus lunch after the ride. The route was very well marked with signs at every intersection, plus police support that waved us through intersections. The three of us on the 80 km ride also had a motorcyclist follow us for the entire ride and because I was the slowest of the three, the motorcycle was always right behind me.
And… my very generous family, friends and co-workers sponsored me over $1000, and for this, I was given an awesome Ride Don’t Hide 2018 jersey, which I will wear proudly!
This year’s Ride Don’t Hide was the most successful to date with over 7,700 riders who raised more than 1.8 million dollars for community Mental Health initiatives in Canada. Thanks to the CMHA Waterloo Wellington for hosting a fantastic event. And HUGE thanks to everyone who sponsored me for this ride and this great cause.