It’s Probably in a Bin

It is very early in the morning, and I’m sitting here, drinking coffee, watching the day start – with the sun coming up, and Team Knit stirring as we get up and get going in four separate spots all over the city.  Funny to think that after this, we’ll travel together every day for a week.

(Yes. I am drinking coffee in the bath to save time. It’s efficient.)

I’m nervous.  I know I say that every year, and I know that people shrug it off – you’ve done it before, they say. You’ll be OK, they say.  The truth is that it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done it, it just isn’t easy to ride your bike 660km.  (For my American Friends, that’s 410miles.) This year I compounded the difficulty by not training much.  There were so many times when I could do a job that would benefit the whole Rally, or just me (the training) and I opted for the former. I’ve spoken with lots of the former Co-Chairs, and they all say the same thing. They years that they embraced leadership were the years that they trained the least.  There just isn’t time, and opting for the Rally in general has absolutely seemed more responsible, right up until this minute when I’m thinking about putting my untrained arse on a bike and riding out of here.

There will be many times over the course of the next week when everyone on Team Knit steps up to a Leadership role, and each of us has our own reasons for doing so.  I won’t speak to the rest of Team Knit, but I can tell you that the things my mother taught me have been figuring largely in my reasons for riding my bike this year. My mum believed, wholeheartedly, that the world was  a different place for women than it is for men.  When I was a younger woman I thought that she was a tad extreme in these beliefs, but the older I get, the more that I see that it’s true. I feel now the way my mum did, that there is absolutely no reason to be bitter about this, but she was rather firm that you couldn’t just… ignore it.

So, when my mum died, I thought about giving up the Co-Chair gig. (Don’t tell that to Ted – the other half of Co-Chair equation) I thought that it wasn’t going to be my best self, and that someone else would be better at it, and I thought a lot about quitting, and then something started to happen.  I started going down to PWA. I started doing the work. I started looking around and listening and realizing that there was something going on, and that thing was that when I went to PWA? The place is full of women and children.

 HIV/AIDS is now regarded mostly as a chronic disease that largely has to do with gay men, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  While it’s true that we’ve got treatment now for a great many people who have HIV/AIDS, the regime is expensive, difficult to comply with, and hard to access for many people who are living complicated lives – the primary risk factors for HIV/AIDS are now poverty and lack of power.  (Here’s a great example, in Saskatchewan (that’s a province in the middle-ish of Canada) 79% of the new cases of HIV are in indigenous people.)
We see this in the shifting client base at PWA. These days almost 30% of PWA’s clients are women and their children.
The truth is that if one of the main risk factors for HIV/AIDS is poverty and a lack of power, than it is only going to continue to disproportionately affect poor and dis-empowered women since we haven’t solved that whole equality problem yet. I could (and have) go on forever about this topic, about how robust the solution to this problem needs to be – how diverse we have to think, and when I think that? I hear my mum. I hear her problem solving, her ideas, her knowledge that communities fix things, and investing in communities is always helpful, and her belief that if you have some money or power (or both) you have a responsibility to get firmly on the side of people who do not. My Mum wouldn’t have wanted me to quit being Co-Chair because she got sick and died.
So, this morning will be the first time that my Mum hasn’t been with me for departure. Last night was the first time she didn’t call to see if I was ready, or text this morning to ask (for the 387time what time departure is. (Geez Mum it’s 9am the same every year.)  I’m going to go invest in this community, and I’m going to trust that investment to carry me.  I’m going to put my love and care in Team Knit, in Ken, and Cameron and Pato, and believe that they’re going to do the same thing, that we’ll get through it together, if we stick together. I love those guys, and they love me.
Team Knit wants to thank you too for all of this.  Each of us is at our (public) goal, though each of us has hopes and dreams and a private goal we haven’t disclosed, and we’re still hoping to reach.  We have you to thank for it. We put our energy, time and money towards this problem, ad you did too – and we can’t thank you enough.
You are the only reason Team Knit makes a difference, and we’re so, so grateful.
We love you. Thank you.
If you find an extra fiver hanging around this week, or you decide that something in your life can be rearranged a little bit to redistribute some power and luck in the world, Team Knit remains:
Me                         Ken
Cameron                Pato
(PS. Kim at Indigodragonfly summed all of this up so well, when her fundraising colourways for the Bike Rally this year were to honour her mother, and mine.  Kim knows a ton about redistributing luck and power. She’s awesome.)
(PPS. I don’t think I can blog over the next week, but follow me on instagram and I’ll try to show you everything. I’m @yarnharlot.)

63 thoughts on “It’s Probably in a Bin

  1. Good Morning Dear Stephanie and Team Knit,
    I so admire your commitment and your determination to help those with less.
    Wishing you all the best on your ride with sunny skies and the wind at your back!

  2. Just watched the whole group of 400 +/- on CP24. Everyone at Nathan Phillips Square prior to leaving. I am currently about 900 miles east so glad to have local TO City and CP24. I looked for your team in the crowd but no luck. Race on and good luck.

  3. May the wind be at your backs! You are doing such an amazing job! I have driven support for my husband and his buddy on the Bike Ride Across Nebraska, about the same distance over the same time. When you get home, you should read “Blood, Sweat, and Gears” it’s about a family doing an epic bike tour together. Simply amazing.

  4. I’ll echo the above sentiments. Be safe. Ride like the wind. I’ll be thinking of you all, Team Knit. Thank you for riding, and thank you for spreading awareness. We’re proud of all of you.

  5. Thank you, Stephanie, for this post. As we in the U.S. deal with the increasing noise about “bootstraps” being all one needs, it is important to continue to expose the underlying, systemic causes of illness, poverty, and what those from a privileged vantage point label “failure.” I wasn’t going to donate this year — not because I don’t care, but because I have been funneling as much money as possible to other good causes — but I will now.

    Ride strong!

    • Re: your reference to people thinking that others should pull themselves up by their bootstraps —
      “people who think they pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps often forget that someone had to make the boots.”
      Karin Slaughter, author

  6. Sending you all the love and good vibes for a ride with the best weather and the cushiest bike seat. You’ve got this!

  7. I admire your strength and determination! Your mom is smiling down at you I assure you saying “that’s my girl!”. Ride safely!

  8. This post, with the entire team’s early morning picture’s, just broke my heart wide open. Have a great ride!

  9. You’ve got this. Also, your mum is there with you… she lives on through you, your girls and little Elliot Tupper…. Also think about this, how many kids get to say they have a cool grandma who rides her bike over 400 miles every year to raise awareness to help others? Each time someone sees your posts and sees you busting your butt to help others, you’re inspiring someone out there…

  10. Oh my God! Four hundred and ten miles. I’m in shock. Twenty miles is a long way. You are in my prayers. I was wondering why we could see your bare shoulders, and then you wrote that you were drinking coffee in the bathtub. I do that sometimes, too. Best of luck on your journey. I’m a bit worried about you. I used to dance professionally, and we trained for hours each day. Please be careful. Our bodies change as we get older. That kind of stress can really cause problems. (I had a rude awakening at 50. No cartilage left in either hip.) I am rooting for you and your team…

  11. Have a great week, Stephanie, and remember: while there is no way to really count, you and I both know that there are a LOT of Moms (and Dads) following you with their Mom and Dad hearts. (Including me!) Be safe: ride like the wind! And hugs to you and your golden team.

  12. Ride well Team Knit! The Blog will be watching, Stephanie, and cheering you on. May your bum stand up to this challenge! 🙂 Are you taking some knitting?

  13. I don’t remember how long I’ve been reading your blog but I’m proud to have supported your efforts with PWA during that time…. and as usual your post just before heading out has encouraged me to make a second donation. Looking forward to reading how your ride went – good luck!

  14. Good luck and a good ride!
    You truly are amazing. Thank you for sharing your life and sorrow and joy with us. You are inspiring.

  15. I am cheering you all on from afar this week. I know you’re worried about how much you trained, but your heart is fully in this, and that’s the most important muscle.

  16. You go girlfriend! It’s going to be hard, but you can do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I also made a donation in your honor to keep you moving forward :0)

  17. OK. I haven’t contributed, but I’ve found myself in Montreal these past few days thinking about you and the rally, and where you all will be entering the city, and how cool it is that Justin Trudeau knows what you are doing, and how much you do all year every year. So when I get home in two days, I am contributing. If you can get through all that’s been thrown at you this year, plus write a blog that entertains and informs, plus take a leadership role in the rally, plus all the private things you must do to love and support a family, then I can use one of my fingers to tap the proper keys and send some money to your team.

  18. We were driving from Trenton (well, actually, from Whitby) to Picton today, and saw so many cyclists, signs, people cheering. I wondered if it was your rally–but I thought that makes quite a long detour through the island. Now I feel bad that we got a little annoyed with having to go so slow because of so many cyclists. Our fun day trip is nothing compared to what you were doing, and the reasons and people you do it for! If I had realized, I would have tried to be there earlier and have a sign or something!

  19. ” ….and her belief that if you have some money or power (or both) you have a responsibility to get firmly on the side of people who do not.”
    I read this and got out of my lethargy to donate to a cause I have been meaning to support for a month or so. It’s one closer to home in the UK, and I’m grateful for what you wrote.

  20. All of you are amazing – I want to be you guys when I grow up. So much support and warm thoughts from Australia on your epic ride!

    Thank you for being you and doing your thing.

  21. I hope our donations are binging your phone again this year and keeping you motivated on your massive trip.
    I’m sorry I couldn’t donate more, but I know it all helps.
    Have a safe trip and we’ll be thinking of you and all those with HIV/AIDS who you are helping!

  22. Your Mum is right; things are different for women, and one cannot ignore them.
    I was thinking of the traditional Irish blessing for travellers, when I realized that “May the road rise to meet you…” may mean something different to a bicyclist! So, just, “May the wind be ever at your back, and may all roads be flat”, is as far as I’ll go.
    Best wishes from North Carolina, US, with a niece and grandniece (who is wearing a hand spun, handknitted cap) in Toronto. Donation made, and thank you.

  23. So I went to the Brockville Railway Tunnel this afternoon and saw a gazillion riders and welcomed them all. A sweet young man named Dallas pretended to be a knitter . . . Stay. safe everyone!

  24. I love you, and all of Team Knit. I think it’s so amazing that Pato is still riding, that Ken got you all into this (that Ken, he’s a great instigator, I’m forever grateful he gifted you the Blog), that Cameron learned to knit and is part of Team Knit, and I know your mum would be so very proud of you.

    All the riders in the Rally are magnificent and I’m so glad to donate a little money to Team Knit. Goodness is real, and kindness, and generosity, and you guys inspire me so, so much!

  25. I gave weeks ago, and I can’t find anymore to give right now, but I still wanted you to know that this post moved me to tears. You all have made so much money to help the people that need it most. Thank you for loving people and giving so much of yourself to the world, and for pushing back harder when strong people would give up.

  26. Congratulations on another successful bike rally. I just checked your team’s donations and it looks like you topped $100,000.00!!
    You rock!

  27. I found another fiver for each member of your team! Congratulations on completing the ride, you are an inspiration!

    • I keep looking and thinking – nope, she’s still in the bath.
      And she might be! 😀
      I’d still be in a coma if I’d done what Stephanie did.

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