My Ride to Remember Story: Resilience in the Making

My Ride to Remember experience has become a living example as to how the keys of resilience work: growing self-mastery through supportive relationships within the process of cycling.

The Ride to Remember began as our way to honour our heroes, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their community and to ensure the magnitude of their sacrifice is never forgotten. On September 24, 1998, the Government of Canada officially proclaimed the last Sunday of September of every year as the Police and Peace Officers’ National Memorial Day.On September 27, 1998, the Solicitor General of Canada stated that “A formal, national Memorial Day gives Canadians an opportunity each year to formally express appreciation for the dedication of police and peace officers who make the ultimate, tragic sacrifice to keep communities safe.”

 

My R2R Story

My story begins much earlier than the five years I have been riding with the R2R; it begins with a 15-year friendship. While hiking the backcountry with a good friend (a Staff Sargent with the Saskatoon Police Service), my knees were giving me serious grief — my self-mastery was challenged! My friend encouraged me to start cycling as a way to build strength in my knees. When I first started riding, a 4 km ride on level road was a challenge to my knees and my lungs (I am also asthmatic), and hills would instantly have my heart rate soaring into anaerobic ranges around 200 bpm.

Ride, fail, encourage, repeat — this has been the road to nurturing and growing my resilience in cycling. My friends have had to be patient with me (enter grace), as I have become seriously dehydrated in the hills and the heat, often enough to grant my wife the freedom to perform hydration nag (it’s a thing). I have also bonked several times. If you are unfamiliar with “bonking” you can find out about it here. It can be serious stuff!

Ride to Remember 

Some have fallen and lay beneath the ground
Some are hurtin’ as the battle rages on
We face our demons – leave no one behind
Sharing the burden as we form the double line

The first day of my first year with R2R was difficult. We started out in rain and cold (about 5 degrees celsius), with a head wind that gusted to over 40 kph. The weather, combined with bad gear, led me to not finish the first day. My body was shaking so violently from the cold that I couldn’t open the wrapper on my energy bar.

We saddle up – head into the wind
There’ll laughter off and on again
There’s joy in living, We see it in the eyes
This pain we’re feeling only proves that we’re alive

The second day was better for me. My spirit rebounded from discouragement, and I began to shift my focus from my own pain to encourage others. It’s an amazing part of R2R, and you have to experience it to know the difference, but a group of cyclists riding in draft are exponentially stronger and faster than any solo rider could ever be. The keys of resilience at work: growing an internal sense of self-mastery through the external supportive relationships within the process of cycling — and when the mind turns from it’s own pain to support others, we reach the realm of transcendence; providing meaning and purpose for our own living.

We ride to remember
We ride to honour
We ride to remember
We ride….to celebrate life 

When I showed up for the first morning of my first R2R, I was an outsider; a civilian among the members, with only one friend in the group. I was determined to endure the rain, cold and headwind, but I was forced to bow out — to load my bike in the trailer and ride in the support van) on the first day. I was discouraged — but as we gathered together for supper that evening, I was welcomed by the group, invited to the table, and included in the discussion. Camaraderie(2)! We all hurt, but we had all worked together to overcome a common challenge.

Not every day is trial not every day is rain
We’re sure to see that sun come round again
The hill’s a challenge that breaks up the line
But give us one more gear and we’ll make it there with time

These men and women move me. They work together to serve us every day, facing the worst of our societal diseases. Some have fallen, and my new friends all know that they could be next. They are heroes in life, as they rise each day to serve and protect, while they carry the memories of far too many traumas. Riding together, and walking together in life, gives us the opportunity to encourage each other, to remember that no day is so long that it has no end; that the sun returns after the rain; that tears come in sorrow, pain…and in joy – each in their season.

 

 

 

 

 

I started riding with the R2R on the invitation of a friend, a Staff Sargent with the Saskatoon Police Service. I continue to ride as my friendships have expanded, and I have a sense of the duty that we have as Canadians to be thankful and to encourage them in their service to us.

One way that I felt I could express my appreciation, was to write a song titled, Ride to Remember (video above), and to create a full-length album as a fundraiser. Here is a link to the songs if you’d like to give them a listen:

It’s READY – buy your copy of OPEN WATER today!

If you would like to join me in thanking our police officers for their service, you can purchase an album, with funds going to support the expenses of the Saskatchewan Police Memorial Ride to Remember.

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