End of the Road for Ride For A Dream 2014
By Claire McFarlane
Photos by Will Noack, Margarita Brighton, Kyle Widomski, Brian Ejar and Claire McFarlane
Words cannot express how happy I was to arrive in Montreal on day six of our incredible bike trip. I’m pretty sure we all felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment that brought some of us to tears as we pulled in to our final destination. We were greeted by a First Nations drumming group as well as women who advocate against violence against women who spoke to us about gender oriented violence and how it has affected them. This acted as the perfect reminder as to why we all decided to embark on this crazy bike trip in the first place.
After being able to change into a pair of pants that didn’t have padding in the crotch, we met Martin, an amazing person and avid cyclist (he even had a share the road tattoo on his calf) who was offering us an empty loft next to his where we could spend the night. Although the building had its quirks (there was some interesting graffiti as well as some creepy nooks and crannies), it made for the perfect place for us to celebrate our ride and to enjoy our last night together. That evening also allowed us to see a whole new, and awesome side to some of the quieter members of the group and made it that much harder for us to say goodbye to everyone the following morning.
The loft building in which we were staying is apparently going to be torn down within the next two months to make way for an overpass so we thought we should go exploring and photograph it while we could.
From Toronto's Yonge-Dundas square to Darlington Provincial Park to Campbellford to Sharbot Lake to Ottawa to Voyageur Provincial Park and then to Montreal we did just under 700 km in total (697 km to be exact) and not once did my Giant Avail 3 fail me. We biked between 75 km and 140 km a day although we were never quite sure exactly how many km we covered because whenever our leader and navigator, Alexander, told us there was only 10 km left we knew there could be up to 20 km or 30 km left to bike. (Alexander-kilometers have yet to be made into a meme.)
This year was the third Ride For A Dream and the very first time women had participated. We, of course, kicked butt, and lead the group for most of the journey. The goal of the ride of course is to help put an end to violence against women and to fundraise for the Barbra Schlifer Clinic, which is one of the biggest centers in Toronto that provides counselling, legal aid and translation services as well as the White Ribbon Campaign which strives to promote gender equality.
Although it at times felt like the trip was cursed (a support vehicle broke down right before the launch, bags were stolen and some riders got sick), deciding to embark on this journey was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I’m sure the memories we created will stick with me for a very long time. The trip also had a profound effect on a lot of the other riders and Lavinia, who ran the workshops throughout the trip, even got a tattoo to commemorate the ride.
I walk away from this experience feeling incredibly inspired with a new found appreciation for peanut butter, some new killer quad muscles as well as whole new group of amazing people to hang out with. I can’t wait to see what net year’s ride will bring.
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