Roger Friesen

12 May Tip 2 Tip – What IF I could? :: Part 3 of 3

Miles melted away, punctuated with food stops and leg stretches. These stops beside the road generally felt like mini picnics, in part because we were all having a great time, and secondly, the weather could not have been better – perfect summer conditions ideally suited to picnics. The one thing I had been curious about before departure was tedium. Would I get mentally fatigued after a time and simply want to pack it in? Surprisingly enough, this did not happen; at no point did time drag. I fully and thoroughly enjoyed the entire ride. As it relates to setting and obtaining goals, celebration is important for several reasons, part of which is that it produces energy.   Consequently, Bert and I celebrated each 100km marker. A high-five was all it took.

As miles passed, so did daylight. A warm afternoon melted into dusk which melted into darkness. As darkness came, so too did the cold – an unexpected twist. It got really cold. I started adding layers, and more layers. Eventually, after 5 layers, and bundled up from head to foot, I found the right combination. At 1:00am, Bert and I were once again on our own. As we rode away from the 1:00am stop I turned to Bert and said “just you wait, we are in for a treat. It won’t be long before we see the light dawning on the eastern horizon.”

As would be expected, the ride was loaded with sport psychology lessons. One of these occurred in the night ride stretch. In performance psychology we often talk about ‘being in the moment.’ This concept is critical for many reasons, not least that it helps to maintain an uncluttered mind. Night riding provides an ideal opportunity for ‘being in the moment.’ A bike light, no matter how powerful the light, still only illuminates a relatively small sphere around you and so visually, that’s all you get. It was a cool experience taking information only from legs and lungs. When riding in daylight we are constantly looking ahead at what’s coming our way. If we see an uphill section, we process how steep and how long. If we see a downhill, of course we become excited about a free ride. If the road is flat, we process how far is the ‘straight.’ Is the area one is passing through interesting? Or tedious? In the dark there is none of this information being processed. Now the sensations of the legs and lungs tell us if we’re going uphill or downhill, how steep and for how long. I found this to be a highly engaging portion of the ride.

The crack of dawn did eventually appear and the song that played in my mind was Cat Steven’s “Morning has Broken.” Songs often occupied my thoughts along the way.

Early morning slowly turned into full daylight and brought with it warmth once again. Daylight also signalled the home stretch. With 80 kms to go we were joined again by Yosh and Alistair for the final leg to Mile 0. On the home stretch into Victoria, Bert and I rode alongside one another and did a spontaneous de-brief, commenting on what a pleasure this whole ride had been, that our bodies were feeling great, and relishing in the fact that we were actually going to do this. The finish line was completely in reach.

Wending our way through Victoria we finally arrived at Mile 0. The western start point of the Trans-Canada highway. And oh, what a feeling it was to arrive at Mile 0. I now knew how the story ended. The initial question “What IF I could?” now had an answer! I can, and I did.

The bike ride started as a personal quest; however, other threads got woven into the fabric of this ride. There were many sport psychology lessons in this. First, recognizing the importance of setting a goal and then setting in motion the tasks needed to turn that goal into reality.

Second, the importance of ‘team.’ Monica was a great motivator from the time she caught the vision. Several days she helped me get out the door for a long training ride, when I could have convinced myself that I was too tired or too busy. She was also a fabulous support organizer on the road – managing to stay awake all through the night providing vehicle support in the dark. Yosh was an amazing teammate in that he offered his knowledge and support in nutrition preparation and all-round enthusiasm. It was great having an unexpected riding partner in Bert for the whole length of the ride. And it was great having family member Alistair get excited about joining part of the ride. I was thrilled by the energy of the team. Yosh was responsible for the initial idea, but then through injury was sidelined. This did not stop him from becoming an enormously enthusiastic supporter. He and I many long and animated conversations about ideas, approaches and most importantly, nutrition. Having Wanita as teammate, was an unexpected gift. Her abundant experience with long distance events made her a fabulous teammate in her enthusiasm and well timed insights and support. Such energy and enthusiasm is essential in accomplishing goals, and the great fun such energy brings to a task!!! I was also blown away by the interest and support given from people who learned about this project. This sort of energy is a major contributor in finding energy when things get difficult.

A third lesson in an event such as this is the practice of persistence and dealing with obstacles and barriers. Overcoming barriers is a combination of problem-solving and developing an appropriate amount of grit and determination (persistence) to get through a difficult stretch.

These are reasons why I’m a fan of Innovative Fitness’ (IF) motto: ‘What IF you could?

Mile 0. Mission accomplished. 503 kms, 21 hours riding time. Team of 6. ‘Challenge’ ‘Adversity’ ‘Victory.’ IF I can, you can too!!!!!

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