4 TCoB Members Cycling Adventure with Wounded Warriors Canada

A Historical, Fun, and Emotional Cycling Adventure

This past June 4 TCoB members (Wendy Fretz, Glen Innes, Greg Button and Shawna Button) embarked on a cycling journey. A journey organized through the Wounded Warriors Canada, and by Magic Places Cycling Adventures.

We rode 560 km over 7 days starting from Vimy Ridge and ending in Nijmegen Netherlands. During this ride we gained fitness, but we also gained insight into the effects of PTSD, and our Canadian history.

We had the opportunity to meet veterans and hear their stories. We met Mother’s riding for their son’s who were killed while on duty, sisters riding for their grandfather who served in WWII, serving members of the forces from Canada and Australia, and the Dutch Wounded Warrior team.

We even had our own Padre and historians with us.

Please read what Wendy and Glen have to say about our adventure…

This spring I had the privilege of riding through France, Belgium and the Netherlands with an inspiring group of people, helping to raise funds for an organization called Wounded Warriors. This organization supports servicemen and women dealing with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

When I first signed up for the trip, I was excited about visiting historic WW1 and WW2 sites, and the opportunity of learning about Canadian history, all the while riding through beautiful countryside, villages and towns.  I wanted the opportunity to ride (we averaged 80 km a day) as much as I could, and all these things did happen.

What I did not expect, was to meet and become part of a community of people that had a tremendous affect on me.  They taught me more about my country’s history than I ever knew.  There were times when I could not understand the emotions being displayed around me, and other times when I was overwhelmed.  I saw evidence of the darkest part of mankind, but more miraculous was the evidence of the incredible courage, compassion and resiliency of mankind.  I learned more of what it is to be Canadian, and how we are truly loved and honoured in these countries, and I was proud.   I met people from the military community, which was foreign to me, and have made life-long friends.  I heard stories of everyday heroes, and I realized I was riding with some everyday.  Men and women who may not have defended and protected me personally, but protected people like me.  They have risked and sacrificed, and it has cost them.  Their healing is so gradual it comes in shades of change. Some know their healing may never be complete and live with that knowledge, but they still celebrate life.

So yes,  I was changed and challenged in many ways. You can’t help but be changed when you’re around that type of courage.

Wendy Fretz

The 2015, Wounded Warriors Canada, Battlefield Bike ride is now in the books.  It was quite a journey ( with some bumps and bruises) crossing 3 countries, traveling over 560km  over 7 days, and visiting some of the most hallowed and sacred ground in Canadian history.

I am a big believer in the thought that healthy bodies equals a healthy minds and that physical exercise, especially cycling, helps minimize the effects of PTSD.  I also believe that if we can get more Canadian Forces Members,who are suffering from these forms of injuries, riding bikes it will help them in the long run.    Cycling not only promotes a healthy body but is a very social activity as well.  Riding over 7 days with  serving, retired veterans, and 1st responders , suffering from various forms of injuries has allowed me to personally understand the true severity of what someone struggling with PSTD  goes through.  It has also allowed me to see the positive effects that cycling has had on their lives and to hear 1st hand accounts of what it was that got them to this point.   I take great pride in the fact that I can make a difference in someones life by riding alongside and listening to what ever it is that they want to share.

We at Cervelo are extremely proud to be part  of what Wounded Warriors Canada has accomplished over the last couple of years, with over $1,000,000 ($500,000 and counting this year alone)  raised to support programming to support Canadian Forces members and their families suffering from Operational Stress Injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

This charity is near and dear to my heart and I look forward to sharing some more stories with all of you out on the road.

Honour the Fallen Help the Living

Glen Innes

Chris and Kathleen’s Excellent Adventure: IronMan UK, by Christine Walsh

After the rock star drive to the Toronto airport Kathleen Robb and I boarded our plane to London with a prolonged stopover (delayed plane) and then into Manchester. Kathleen had booked a vehicle for us from an imaginary car rental place—Fox. After much delay trying to locate said imaginary car rental company we booked a HUGE car to hold our bikes from a real company at an exorbitant price. Kathleen proved to be a skilled driver on the ‘wrong’ side of the road with our helpful Garmin guide, Kate. Kate did manage, however, to direct us round and round and round the roundabout on several occasions and she became quite surly at times.  The day after our arrival we took our bikes to be checked out post-flight (see Greg we do listen to you) and got directions to the hardest bit of the bike course—Sheep House Lane—think Sydenham longer with some breaks. Selfies, high fives concluded our successful climb.  Not too bad at all—however it was harder during the race in the two-loop section and there was actually a second harder hill included in the two-loop portion of the bike course. Then some fun and brief workouts prior to race day.

Race day began at 3:00 am and we were at the course by 4:00 am. What started as a drizzle—hey I was ready, this was England after all– became a torrential two-hour down pour in about 13 Celsius prior to the 6:00 am start. No shelter or anywhere to sit. The mostly Brit athletes were either prepared or nonplussed. We were not. I was shivering and miserable; my only consolation was looking over at Kathleen who remained cheerful while sodden—what a day for being a spectator and supporter—she did however, excel.

The rolling swim start began. It was a two-loop course with a rather long Australian exit (exiting the water and running between loops- what were those Auzzie’s thinking?). The rain picked up on the second loop making it rather choppy with very limited visibility (sorry Miguel no successful spotting techniques were employed). I decided that my ‘race’ was over and it was a matter of survival (Swim 1:13). Into transition—taking my sweet time, the alternative was exiting into the downpour. After having a cup of tea and biscuits (just kidding),  left T1. I put on arm warmers (they were in a zip lock bag to keep dry—bahahaha) and grabbed my bike, waved to Kathleen, and headed onto the course. My Garmin (generously donated by Kathleen) was not working neither was my watch, to be fair I put my Garmin on upside down and was pressing the wrong button and had inadvertently touched something on the watch—have I mentioned technology is not my forte. The course was challenging, made even more so with rain and strong winds. Think no mile markers, narrow country lanes smattered with unmarked potholes, gravel, sharp turns- both uphill and downhill, a couple of bicycles not in the race but on the race course including a father and daughter in a tandem—thankfully I beat them up the hill – a woman wandering in the centre of the bike lane, two chickens at the side of the road which thankfully did not decide to cross the road and some roads open to cars—yes in your lane—food stations manned by youth—ie, unsuccessful left hand grabs, and a Tour de France type of spectator file on the steepest part on the course—no room for weaving– straight up or die. I fell once (steep turn from downhill to uphill), and watched my Kathleen carefully packed race food fall in the gravel (I might have ate one or two bits from the gravel—did I mention that most of my taped gels had long since been blown of in the wind and I forgot to put my additional food in my tri top?), two other guys came off the road behind me. Got back on my bike and passed all the guys who whizzed by me lying in the dirt as they called out, “are you, ok?” I knew I would have to do that bit again and hoped not to repeat. The wind was so bad I saw some spectacular crashes, that it required intense gripping; this was the only ride I have ever done that at the end of the day my forearms and chest muscles were aching. On the plus side a beautiful country side, dotted with ever so cute sheep, amazing spectators even in the bad weather and glimpses of sunshine about half way through the bike, very lovely athletes who reminded me I should be on the left—passing on the right and constant Go Canada Go.

Throughout the course I rarely ever saw any women—at one point near the end of the race (of course I had no idea where I was in time or kilometers at any point) a woman passed me and I thought I am tired, let her go—but I chased and caught her up a hill (frankly it was all hills) and saw she was 30-34, so then I let her go. After that I never saw any woman remotely near my age. Also, it was cold—didn’t warm up until the last hour or so. Saw the signs for T2, “thank God I am finished the bike course”– hardest I have done). After riding further and further no signs—if I am going back for a third loop I am going to die. Stopped and asked a spectator, which way to T2 and he pointed. Finally found it, and headed in. (Bike 6:56).

Began the run (er, run walk), and for the first time I asked the time, of a fellow runner—he said, “half two”—2:30? I confirmed. The timing seemed ok; I was aiming for under 14 hours, the age group winner last year, and according to information available on the other athletes my competition, had done it in over 14 hours. My goal was to come first to claim a Kona spot (came 2nd in Austria last year and missed the elusive Kona spot). About 10 km into the challenging run course (about 10 km into the city and then three loops of uphill and downhill and heartbreakingly close to the finish line each time) I saw Kathleen—“How am I doing?” “Good, you are doing great” “My place?” “You are second—she is five minutes ahead.” Apparently she was ahead of me the whole course.  Advice from Greg, “hold your pace until the last 10km”. Good advice but did I mention that there were no mile markers and I was in survival mode. Not much on the course to eat—gels each time–yuck. Saw Kathleen each loop Yeah! Got my green band, my red band and finally professing my love to the ‘blue band volunteers’ got my blue band and finished (run 4:29, thanks Mark for all those endless circles around the track in Calgary, best ever) my race (12:57, slowest of three IM). Second, but beat last year’s winner in my age group by more than an hour and would have placed in the two age groups below me.  Hugs from Kathleen at the finish line (could not have done it without her an awesome friend, supporter and fellow athlete) and congrats from Greg over the phone—who unbelievably asked me what’s next for me—“never to do another race in my life”. Headed to the tent for food. Pizza? I told the volunteers, I came all the way from Canada for fish and chips (friends who raced it a few years ago bragged about the fish and chips); she offered tea as a consolation. Kathleen tracked down a fish and chip place that was still open—although didn’t look that promising—I was hungry and dove in on our way to pick up the bike in transition. Upon exiting the car threw up several times (first time ever)—and Kathleen insisted that she would get my stuff—they sent a volunteer instead. Kathleen threw her fish and chips away. The next day at the award banquet got my trophy and no Kona spot (always a bridesmaid never and bride). One of the course photographers came up to me and said he had taken pictures of me on the course and would send them to me—how lovely (the first is me and the second is the hill I am about to do); it was also featured on the race slide show at the awards banquet. The winner in my AG, a Brit, first time IM, was also very lovely and complimentary—“you should do Wales an even harder course—you would do great”. Hmm fear is my motivator. After some additional touring, including a visit with IM Mary Goodacre and her family who almost had me convinced to do another IM in two weeks time in Holland, flew back Friday night rock star flight with champagne—ok I spilled the first one and rock star limo—I could get used to this—just need to learn to sing and play guitar. Drove to Gord and Ester’s cottage late Saturday night and did the Bala sprint triathlon on Sunday (one week post IM)—1st in my age group.  Now I am truly exhausted.

Ironman UK was a great race and an excellent adventure. I feel so fortunate to be able to do this sport and am extremely grateful for the amazing and courageous athletes and friends I have come to know and been able to train with. I am so thankful for the support of my family and friends while on this crazy pursuit and the skilled coaches who have given me such great support and advice.  See you across the finish line, Chris

Splash and Dash Wednesday July 22nd

Join Ana Rivero-Lemus and the TCoB for a SPLASH & DASH next Wednesday, July 22 at Beachway Park Pavilion for a swim/run. The swim (splash) will be approximately 500m (out from the beach, along the buoy line and back) and the the run (dash) will be 5km along the waterfront trail. Starting at 7:00pm.

A Swimming Poem by Paul Goodrow

A Swimming Poem by Paul Goodrow

I Learned to Swim in Gulliver’s Lake

I was learning how to swim, but most of my time had been spent in a pool, swimming laps. You could easily touch bottom if you needed to, and it was easy to hold on to the wall and take a “cheater break”. But I needed to be able to swim in a lake where you couldn’t stand, or rest …. or cheat…

So off I go to Gulliver’s Lake All angst and nerves.
Can I do this…..
Or am I a pretender?

No warmth this summer’s day Clouds descend upon the earth. Light diffuse and soft, Enveloping and surreal.

The lake all calm and smooth as glass. Not a whisper of a breeze.
Gentle rain not falling
But alighting softly upon the surface.

There are no crowds today
No tanners sunning on the rafts, No children running on the beach, No divers exploring depths below.

The lake is left for only me Alone with all my doubts. Can I do this….
Or am I a pretender?

I ease myself
Slowly into the water,
Not wanting to upset the mood, Lest the lake punish the intruder.

But I feel the waters beckoning. “Be calm” she soothes.
“Give me your trust, and
I shall reward it a hundredfold”.

How can I resist
In such a setting?
Amid such beauty and serenity? And a wonder begins to unfold.

I swim.
Quiet and effortless. Reach…glide…breathe… Reach…glide…breathe…

I experience the marvel of the lake – Grasses reaching for the light, Rolling undulation of the bed,
Fish unmoved by one above.

A body floating
As a child flying in a dream. The lake caresses –
She eases my soul.

I swim the length of her. Again…
And yet again. Reach…glide…breathe…

The lake and me.
Alone and together.
As one. Reach…glide…breathe.

In time I stop.
Arms leaden…exhausted.
I lay in the shallows
Not wanting to break the bond.

Throughout the summer
I return to her as often as I can. But never again
Do I have her to myself.

Still, she greets me,
Asks me for my trust,
And rewards me a hundredfold. Reach…glide…breathe.

Never will I forget the day When magic came,
And I learned to swim
In Gulliver’s Lake.