Leading up to this past weekend, Mario and I kibitzed about how my grandpa and his pops were hanging out “upstairs,” congratulating themselves on a job well done.
See, we have this theory that it was the two of them who pulled strings in the two of us meeting six years ago. It was four months after the death of my grandpa and just a couple of weeks after the death of his pops, when I walked into the Burnaby newsroom as a pretty green, and yet still a somewhat jaded journalist. Mario was the first face I saw.
Little did I know then that the guy who grunted at me in that very first meeting would become the love of my life who I would celebrate the most amazing year of marriage with this past Sunday. My grandpa and his pops, though, they knew 😀
We spent the weekend in Whistler, which was absolutely amazing, filled with good food and great company. And it all started with a bike race – the first ever Gran Fondo, a 122 km ride from Vancouver to Whistler that had more than 4,000 cyclists participating, my husband included.
While Mario was riding, I was volunteering at the Team Diabetes aid station, which was located at 88 km into the total ride. Now, before you all start thinking I’m a super good-hearted, giving kind of person, I’ve got to come clean about something here. Volunteering has never really been my thing. And I know that sounds super selfish, but please hear me out on it.
When I was a kid, the Abbotsford chapter of the Canadian Diabetes Association sponsored me to go to camp for two of the six years I went, and as a thank you, my mom insisted I volunteer at their raffle booths, which sounds reasonable, right. For most people, yes. But for a 14- and 15-year-old teenager, not so much. I hated it! And really, what teenage kid wouldn’t hate sitting in a booth, dead centre in the mall, answering questions about her disease when all her peers were walking by, silently mocking her?
So when Mario asked if I’d volunteer, those not-so-fond memories of yore filled me with great amounts of dubiosity. But how could I not do it? My husband had committed to riding his bike 122 km, and yes I know he’s an avid cyclist, but in that, he also committed to raise at least $800 (in total, he raised $1,060) for diabetes research, for my disease, for me. There was no way I could say no. It was the least I could do.
Shockingly, though, it wasn’t that bad. I actually enjoyed myself – even with the 4 a.m. wake-up call!
I had to get Mario downtown by no later than 5:50 a.m. if I was to get on the Lions Gate Bridge before they closed it off. We got there at 5:40, but a keener cop had already closed it down. And knowing my directionally challenged ways, Mario got a little stressed.
I had to backtrack across town to get on the highway. I was really hoping to make it to the aid station by 7:30, which would have enabled me to have a nap. But because it was just one lane and reduced speeds the whole way, the drive, which should have only taken an hour, took an hour and 45 minutes. When I arrived at the Salt Shed, people were already setting up, which meant no nap for me 🙁
Our first riders came through just after 9 a.m., two hours after the race started – they were core. No aid-station GU or bananas or bagels for them, they had their own crew.
The recreational riders, the ones who actually needed wanted an energy boost, or a refreshing splash of H20, or a refill of potassium, or some bagel bread to soak up the nausea started coming through around 10 a.m. I liked them! I’d say probably 90 per cent of the cyclists were amazing, so thankful, so appreciative, so complimentary. One guy even said I was the prettiest girl he’d seen all day … I think all he wanted were my bagels 😉
I had initially taken up the banana station, but I quickly learned that I was no match for the aggressive banana chick, who was practically shoving the bananas down the cyclists throat. I kid you not, I couldn’t even ask if they wanted a banana before she’d already have one, half peeled in their hands.
So I quickly moved over to the bagels, and believe me, I sold those bagels like there was no tomorrow. “Get your fresh, baked bagels right here folks… tastes just like grandma’s biscuits… slaved for hours… just for you…” And when I got tired of words, I just started calling out “Bagel… Bagel…” in the same monotonous tone as “Beuller… Beuller…”
Mario came through the station just before 11, and my goodness it was so great to see him. He had the biggest smile on his face, and he was so energized, telling me all about how great his legs felt climbing the killer hills, passing other riders, and how he sampled wine at the feed station (hmm … was it really wise for the event organizers to offer up wine half way through a cycling event?)
Truth be told, it was a pretty awesome experience. I got to pull out some cycling trivia. I told a tired-looking dude in a Columbia HTC jersey, who turned down my bagels, that if he wanted to be super speedy like Mark Cavendish, he best be eating my bagels. I told another guy in a Sexy Bank Saxo Bank jersey all about my love of the Andy Schleck, “he’s hot,” I said. I wondered about the guys (and there were a lot) wearing the Leaky Gas Liqui Gas jerseys. And I drooled over the two peeps I saw sporting a vintage, toothpaste green Bianchi bike.
Would I do it again? Well, the sweet, lemon-yellow Lulu Lemon hoodie the organizers gave me as a thank you the fact that I’m doing something good is a pretty darn good incentive I’m thinking 😉