This last weekend was a challenge.  I’m trying to call it that – instead of a crapfest, because I think a good attitude is important and really, it was more challenging than anything and I really think it helps to frame it that way – and darn it, that’s what I’ll be doing. There were two rides this weekend, both in a kind of heat that makes everybody smart nervous about long exertion in the sun. (Now before anybody goes off and says that us Canadians don’t know from heat, with the humidity it was about 40 degrees, which is 104 in Fahrenheit. I think even the Texans will say that’s pretty hot.)  The training ride was 100km long, and it was hard.  It was mostly hard because of the heat and the distance, but it was also hard because I was riding with Ken and Pato.

Now, they’re both lovely men.  Wonderful men, in fact, as you can probably tell by the fact that they’re out in searing heat training for a ride for Charity… but they are probably not people I should be out riding with – although they are very kind to stay with me.  Ken is in the best shape he’s ever been, having recently trained the snot out of himself for the ALC ride, and Pato… Pato is a 24 year old man in the prime of his life. A semi-dumpy 47 year old woman shouldn’t be riding anywhere near them – which is what I did, and it only took a few hours before the horrific realization that I’m a terrible cyclist came over me like a wave.

Now, this idea, that I’m a terrible cyclist, is completely and totally inaccurate. As long as you compare apples to apples, then I’m actually a pretty good cyclist, and if you compare me to me… I’m getting better all the time. I’m a lot stronger and faster than I was when I started this a few years ago, and I haven’t fallen off my bike in a good long time.  When I ride with Jen, I feel like the wind. When I ride with Jen, and we head up a hill, at the top we practically leap off our bikes and high five each other for how amazing we are – or we would, if we were not gasping for the very air we need to live.  We high five in our hearts.

When I ride with the guys though, Ken is so patient, and so kind, and at the top of the hills I ride along, pouring sweat and waiting for my thighs to stop burning and my heart to stop pounding and I’ll look at Ken, and he won’t even be sweating. Not so much as a glisten. On Saturday he said something like “After the ALC ride I don’t really even register these as hills” and of course he’s earned feeling like that. He trained so hard, and he totally and completely deserves the shape he’s in, and I still wanted, for just one tiny second, to push him off his bike. Just give him a little nudge, and watch him land on the grass by the side of the road.

Pato? He’s 24. He’s so strong that it isn’t fair – he’s faster than me without even trying.  (I’ve been experimenting with the hashtag #downwithyouth) He ghosts up the hills like nothing, and sometimes is so far ahead of me that he’ll pull over and while he waits for me to catch up, he’ll text people, because, you know. He has time.

Riding with them is hard. Like I said, they are the very nicest men on the earth, and would never say or do anything to make me feel lessor, or like I’m not awesome, but it all happens in my head, where I have so little control.  I make myself feel bad with how amazing they are, and how I don’t measure up. This is always made worse by the heat, or the cold, or not feeling well, or something hurting, the little things that put a little layer of suffering on top, and weaken your resistance to the voices in your head that aren’t always on your side.  This is where I was this weekend, and it was made worse by knowing something before you knew it.

By this morning, everyone who sponsored Jen has gotten a letter from her explaining what all of Team Knit had sort of figured out, but didn’t want to face. Jen isn’t going to be able to do the Rally.   Jen’s gutted,  we all are. The loss of a riding and camping partner in crime has me feeling lonely and lost, and a little worried, but I’m proud of her too. I’m so proud. It takes a lot of guts to stand up, when you’re this committed to a cause, and in this deep,  and say that you’re sorry, but you’ve misjudged what your family needs and there’s something more important right now – and that’s what Jen’s done.  She’ll be spending the week of the rally with her children, and I know that’s where she really needs to be, or she’d be on her bike for sure. I trust her.

Me? All my thoughts this weekend were selfish. How would I manage? How would I cope? Who would I ride with? Who was going to help me set up the tent? I felt per-emptively lonely, before I had even been left.  For the most part, I kept it inside, watching Ken fly up hills while I trudged up after him, following Pato on the flats, and watching him make it look easy while my legs begged me for mercy and I tried to keep up.  I went to bed early both nights, wallowing in a little self-pity.  Today, I’m better.

Today I remembered what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and who it matters to that I get it done.  I’m pulling the tent out of the basement, and making sure I can set it up without Jen. I’m checking to make sure that all my stuff will fit in just my bins, and I am going to actively start seeking ways to be happy on my bike without Jen, which is going to be very, very hard, because frankly, she’s so awesome that over the years she’s become the number one thing that gets me through the ride.  I know she knows this, and I owe it to her not to let this get me down.  I told her I could cope, and I will. I’m going to figure it out, and make my own sunshine for this thing, along with Ken and Pato. Game on Bike Rally.  We’re rolling out of here on Sunday, and I can do this.

To that end, you know what really makes me feel better? Fundraising. It’s the whole reason that I’m in this thing, and I’m so grateful to the way that you make it amazing. (That’s idea number one, for starters- every time I get a little down about it, I’m going to think of the good that you guys are doing. Real people are going to have really better lives because of you, and all I have to do is ride my bike? Dudes. Okay.)  I’m going to do a lot of Karmic Balancing gifts this week, just to keep things moving, and to try and get them all done by Friday. (There is still, um… a lot. If you’re still in the queue, trust me, I see you there, and I’ll get to you.)

If you’re super late to the party, here’s how it works. Team Knit is going to ride their bikes from Toronto to Montreal  -more than 600kms, and anybody who helps make that worthwhile for the People with Aids Foundation is cool with us. There’s lots of ways to help. You can donate to one of the people on the team:




or you can tweet, instagram, tell a friend, send an email, talk to someone in the grocery store, anything you can think of to spread the word, that all counts as help.  Once you’ve helped, in your own way, you can send an email to me at StephanieATyarnharlotDOTca (note the .ca, not .com. It’s Canada, yo) with the subject line “I helped” and include your name and address, and if you’re a spinner, and that’s it. You’re in the pile for Karmic Balancing gifts.  I’ll pull names randomly until they’re all gone, which, I think I mentioned is going to take a while because knitters are ridiculously generous, which is something that should make us all feel like a million dollars.

First, Joyce would like to give away 5 copies of her beautiful shawl pattern, Fleur de Mariage.  It’s a really gorgeous thing that can be worked as either a half or full circle, which is frankly, pretty darned neat. I hope that Jess S,  Nicole H, Lynn J, Sierra B and Sherry R all enjoy it.

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Anne Blayney has been good enough to contribute five copies of her pattern Brightness and Contrast.  

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(Love this one as a way to tame wilder yarns – and she’ll be sending those along to Maria V, Jennifer C, Samantha N, Barbara S and Michelle S.

Finally, last, but never least, good friend of the show, Teddy, is doing a little stash tidying to make sure her karma stays high (I don’t know how it could ever be low) and fourteen of you are going to be the lucky recipients of that.

1. Cat Bordhi New Pathways for Sock Knitters, 100 gm/448 m King Cole sock yarn from UK, color blue/purple variegated – for Jaclyn A.

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2. Ann Budd Getting Started Knitting Socks, 100 gm/420 m Serenity Sock Yarn, color chili for Jane N.

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3. Melissa Matthay Little Box of Scarves II, 100 gm/500 m Alize Angora Gold yarn from Turkey, color gold/orange/cream for Leslie C.

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4. Lizbeth Upitis Latvian Mittens, 100 gm/220 m Fortissima Sock yarn from Germany, color plum, 100 gm/260 yds Knit Picks Essential, color green/purple variegated for Christine R.

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5. Maggie Righetti Sweater Design in Plain English, 200 gm/500 m Magic Garden children’s yarn from NZ, color black with rainbow flecks for Cheryl B.

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6. Cat Bordhi Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters, autographed, 100 gm/425 m Opal sock yarn Herbstmelodie, color Roy G. Biv for Peg L.

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7. Lynn Vogel Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook, 4 oz/420 yds Cherry Tree Hill superwash merino, color Monet for Kate D.

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8. 140 gm/300 m Lion Brand Wool-Ease from Turkey, color variegated rust and brown, 100 gm/300 m Patons Kroy Jacquards from Canada, color lavender and gray for Julia C.

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9. Melanie Falick Weekend Knitting, 100 gm/250 m 100% linen Flax, color Turquoise for Amie P.

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10. Kris Percival Knitting Pretty 30 Fabulous Projects, 4 oz 450 yds Dream in color Smooshy, color Ruby River for Judy H.

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11. Laura Irwin Boutique Knits Must Have Accessories, Yarn from our wonderful Northwest local dyer, Myra Hanson: 4 oz/250 yds Fancy Image Hand Dyed Merino, color orange/cream painted, 4 oz/250 yds Fancy Image Hand Dyed Merino color tan/brown/cream painted for Hester S.

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12. Handmade small note book, 100 gm/350 yds Claudia hand painted yarn from Italy, color purple/green for Diana C.

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13. 50 gm/114 m Patons classic wool DK superwash from Turkey, color seagreen heather, 50 gm/114 m Patons classic wool DK superwash from Turkey, color claret, 141 gm/233 m Red heart worsted acrylic, color artist print for Ann M.

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14. 200 gm/240 m Lana 100% wool from Greece, color teal, Yarn from our wonderful Northwest local dyer, Myra Hanson: 4 oz/250 yds Fancy Image Hand Dyed Merino, color Seahawks for Lorraine M.

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Whew! See you tomorrow with more.  Also, I knit a hat, and some socks. I’ll show you that tomorrow too.