After a restless night and a joke of a continental breakfast, we headed out for day two of the RSVP. My legs were tight after the miles the day before and I was slow for what felt like the entire day. The first rest stop was only 15 miles in but I was already struggling. As I walked to the rest room I glanced over at my group and saw Sean dancing and suddenly I realized what my entire group probably felt around me 95% of the time. Hatred. Complete and utter hatred. Obviously all in good fun but generally I’m the one with the energy and upbeat attitude. Today was not my day.
Not too long after our first stop we neared the border. I had only ever been through the Peace Arch border by car to enter Canada This was a smaller border crossing where we could go through on our bikes. It was pretty amazing as I biked down the street and to my right on the road next to us the signs were in kilometers per hour. Right there, with nothing but a ditch dividing us, was an entirely different country. Of course it is illegal to cross the ditch so we headed to the official border crossing. They lined us up and had us go in groups through. After an uneventful we crossing we were finally in Canada! But there was still about 60 miles to go.
As we continued I tried to ignore my tired body and appreciate where I was and what I was doing. Just as I began to forget about my troubles I noticed up ahead a rather large looking hill and I wondered if this was “the wall”, a steep climb that Matt and Sean had warned me about the day before and my dad had claimed was “no big deal”. It hadn’t occurred to anyone to mention this hill before that, Chuckanut had always been the focus. All I knew was that it was steep and there was “no shame in walking up it”. As I crossed the street I saw Sean pull over to wait for me and I knew that this was it. As we began our uphill climb I watched again as my team pulled ahead of me. My tight and tired legs screamed at me as I climbed slower and slower up the hill. I focused on Mike, not too far in front of me, urging myself to get to where he had been. Then as I watched him dismount his bike I told myself I would too – as soon as I got to that spot. And then I just couldn’t go anymore. My body was too tired and I was psyching myself out. As I clipped out my left foot, my bike and body decided to go to the right. As you begin to fall off your bike everything goes in slow motion and you understand that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. I landed on a curb at an angle with my bike on top of me, the chain ring digging into my leg. Struggling bikers asked if I was okay and I told them I was fine and to NOT stop. I had been going too slow to safely clip out. It was just the way it was. As I gathered myself and began my hike up the hill, a boy of about eight on the back of his dad’s tandem looked at me as they passed and asked “What? You give up?!” It didn’t occur to me how rude that question was until his dad (who was doing all the work by the way) gritted through his teeth “It’s really hard!” I yoyo’d with them the rest of the day but I’m pretty sure I beat them across the finish line – so we all know who the real winner was.
Our first stop after the border was in Langley. I loaded up on PB&J’s and took some SportLegs pills my dad had given me the day before. They handed them out at every rest stop and as we continued I wondered why I hadn’t taken them sooner. I was suddenly feeling so much better. There were 30 miles to our next stop and I needed all the help I could get.
We finally made it to our last rest stop. It was crowded and I was tired but eager to get the last 20 miles finished. We pushed through busy streets, stopped at lights and rode through traffic which helped me concentrate on something other than my sore body. I ended up falling again, on another curb, as we dismounted to hop onto a sidewalk. As Sean helped get my bike off me a lady in a nearby car asked me if I was okay which made me smile as I was reminded how friendly Canadians are.
At no point in the entire duration of this ride did I ever think I would finish, even when I was five miles from the finish line. It was as if I was living in that moment, the now. I needed to get to that next rest stop, make it to the top of this next hill. The end result had never been the finish line. And then as we weaved through Vancouver things began to look familiar from when we had been in town a few years before. Then we were in a park on a trail with families and children on their bikes. This was not the same RSVP we had been doing. We were almost there. And then I saw the bike corral, saw the finish line and heard my teammates who had already come in screaming my name. And that was it. I had biked to Canada! After a few tears and hugs with my team my dad reminded me that I still was not done – it was time to finish the last part of RSVP.