A very long bike ride

I’ve written the start of this blog post about five six times. When I left on the Rally, I really thought that I was going to come back and be so filled up by the experience that it would be all I want to talk about. That it would colour every conversation or moment I had for weeks,  the way that big things do.  You know how that goes? Like – someone would tell me that they like bananas and I would be all "Did I tell you how many bananas we ate on the Bike Rally?" and then watch the other person flinch and realize that not only have I told them about the bananas on the rally, I’ve probably told them about the bananas a thousand times and really, the bananas weren’t that interesting in the first place.  Instead,  I have almost nothing to say about it – it’s not that there’s nothing to tell or nothing to say – and it certainly isn’t like nothing happened… it’s just that so much happened that I’m at a loss to come up with any of it.  Ever have a time like that?  It reminds me of when the girls were tiny babies, and every day seemed so long- but together they flew by in a blur.  That’s what the rally was like.  It seemed like forever, and no time, and all the time, and like it would never end and like it was happening so fast.  It was a crazy, crazy experience, and to try and tell you the story of the whole thing would be impossible and ridiculous and never work anyway, so how about I tell you what didn’t happen on the bike ride.

I didn’t fall of my bike.  Mostly this didn’t shock me. I was pretty sure that I’d completed the learning curve on clipping in and what you can and can’t do on a road bike (tip #1. It’s way different than the bike I ride every day) but I still had visions of falling either right at the beginning, or right at the end.  You know, sometime when falling down wouldn’t just mean that I fell, but that I could knock down a bazillion riders coming behind me and turn into a human speedbump that was loathed by all.  That didn’t happen, although my terror that it would explains why I look like I’m being marched to my doom in the departure photos. I was so afraid that morning.  So afraid of being a speedbump, so afraid that I couldn’t do it, so afraid I would be last, so, so afraid that I was going to let my girls down, or my sister down… so afraid that I was going to find out that I couldn’t do it and it would be so disappointing.  

I wasn’t last. This amazed me.  Starting out there were a few things I knew.  I knew that the minimum speed for the rally was 20km per hour. I knew that when I started training I wasn’t riding that fast, and when I was done training I was – and I knew about The Sweeps. The Sweeps are team leads who take turns riding as slowly as the slowest riders. They ride at the very end of the 300 cyclists, to make sure nobody gets left behind. Getting caught by The Sweeps means that you were having a challenging time – for whatever reason, and I was determined  to avoid being swept. This seemed totally reasonable until I realized that the 20km minimum is total crap.  The rally is moving faster than that by a good chunk, and I had to haul arse pretty hard.  Turns out though that abject terror is a good motivator, and I don’t suck. Erin and I shot out on our own one afternoon and we were flying.  Not flying like the big boys on the team, but flying.

(Photo by the rather amazing Brian, who I hope doesn’t mind me lifting it.)

My kids don’t suck.
As a matter of fact, they’re made of iron. The rally isn’t easy- it’s hours and hours and hours of riding, and getting up at 5:30am (they don’t put that little gem in the riders handbook) and by day three you feel pretty tired and hurt and sore and I lay in my tent wondering how the hell I was going to do another day, and there my girls were. Smiling, laughing, talking about how they were tired and sore and they got on their bikes anyway, and were generous with other people anyway and really, I knew they were young and strong and that would help with the physical stuff… but I was so impressed with their outlooks and hard work.  Riding that far is as much a mental trick as a physical one, and as a mother, it’s breathtaking to watch someone who used to cry if their socks were too tight woman up and get on that bike.  I can’t believe they did it.

I wasn’t alone. On the first day I got separated from my little pack as the 300 cyclists spread out over kilometres. Some were ahead, and some behind, but I didn’t know that, and I thought I was last.  It was a thousand degrees, I was riding as fast as I could, and I truly believed that The Sweeps were right behind me.  I couldn’t see them, in fact, I couldn’t see anyone, and I started to get worried.  I’m super, super good at being worried, so I was able to make it to anxious in no time, and desperate shortly after that.  It was hot, I was tired, I was alone and I was last.  Five minutes later I had managed to convince myself that on top of all of that I was lost, and I was riding like thunder, about to burst into tears on my bike because I’d screwed the whole thing up, when road safety drove by and gave me a thumbs up, and written on the back of the van was "Follow me".   The whole ride was like that. Road Safety was a bunch of amazing people in vans and on motorcycles that mark turns, yell encouragement, re-supply you with water and food and generally make you feel safe the whole time.  I was desperately fond of them all by the end.

It wasn’t just road safety either. All the riders were so kind to each other, and our team? Our team was amazing – not just our little family team, but the larger team we were on as a group, The Derailleurs.

By the end of the ride, these men and women all felt like friends and family. Erin and Ken made hard-core efforts to pull us all together before the ride, and by the time the first night’s camping came – it was really a team. The fastest riders collected our bins and staked out space for all of us (special shout outs to Pato, Geoff and Steve, who were magnificently kind and helpful.) We ate together, camped together – dressed in matching red dresses (and helmet facinators – we were nothing if not fashionable) and the support, love and good humour through every moment was amazing.

Beyond that, there were the knitters.  At least six times on the ride some of you were waiting on the sidelines, and I can’t tell you how amazing it was to see friendly faces as I rode.  I even came away from one stop with a wicked finger-knit bracelet from a charming young man named Sam, and there was a really great banner at the finish line – more than that, the tweets, comments and emails (when I was able to read them) were unbelievably supportive and kind.  I’ll never be able to thank all of you properly.

I didn’t quit.  I know quitting was never an option, but let me tell you – there were moments. Riding 660km is HARD.  My arse still hurts, and there were a few nights where the aching in my legs kept me up.  My hands hurt from gripping the bars (that’s not a good scene for the knitting, let me tell you) and a blister or two on my toes from the shoes.  Day three, which was supposed to be the "easy" d
ay, was marked by a cramp that took up residence in my left calf just 5km in – and only got more painful as the day went on.  I’m not a weepy person, and I try not to cry in public, but that day just about had me sobbing on my bike.  Seconds after the ride ended I went straight in to see the RMT and got it fixed. Amazing relief, but it was so hard while it was happening.  I felt really proud of me and everyone, because dudes, I was not the only one hurting – and my problems were small compared to some of the challenges other riders were meeting.

(Yeah, that’s two beers in the back of my jersey.  There was a beer store right before camp one night, and you wouldn’t believe how much people got in those pockets to carry in. Tip of the hat to Jesse, who miraculously got a six-pack to camp, much to the delight of the whole team.)

I didn’t forget to have some fun.  Fun was, some days- a little hard to find.  Towards the end of the ride I was just so tired – and until I rolled right up to the finish line in Montreal I didn’t really believe that I was going to make it for sure, but there I was, and I turned to the rider next to me (Hi Brandon!) and said "I RODE MY BIKE TO MONTREAL" and promptly burst into tears.  It wasn’t until that moment that I realized that really could do it, I’d been a skeptic until that second, and I was so completely overwhelmed. 

It was amazing, and part of what made it amazing was you guys, and how much money you raised, and how much meaning and value that gave my effort, and I stood there just gobsmacked that a dumpy writer/knitter had ridden her bike that far, because until that very moment, I didn’t really, totally, absolutely know that I could do it… but I did. 

I thought a lot about something that someone said to me at a Rally meeting early on.  They were talking about the rally, and what it is, and what it does, and what it takes, and why to do it… and they said this:

I didn’t say it would be easy. 
I said it would be worth it.

They were right.  Now if you don’t mind, I’m thinking about lying down again. I’m a little tired.  Thanks for everything.

245 thoughts on “A very long bike ride

  1. I’ve been so excited for this post since I read on Twitter that you got in safely. Great job! You’re such an inspiration! Thanks to you I’m going to look into doing a 5k or something like that within the next year, something I never thought I’d be able to do. Keep up the great work!

  2. Congratulations to all of you! What a fantastic accomplishment that just happened to help so many other people!
    Additionally, what a great thing you did for yourself to be able to say you completed that ride. My mind can’t begin to understand how you sit on a bike that long, let alone peddle such a distance,
    Way to go, girl!!

  3. I’m in tears. I’m so proud, even though I really have no right to be. I’ve been thinking about you all week, and I was worried when I didn’t see any more mini-posts. I worried you in, as my husband’s family would say. You da bomb, YH! You da bomb!

  4. Congratulations! I’m so proud of all of you! You did AMAZINGLY and I never had any doubt that you could do it. You’ve inspired me to get my bike out of the garage later too. WELL DONE TO ALL OF YOU!!!

  5. Hooray for you and the whole team! I made only a teeny tiny contribution to your effort, and I am awed by what your team accomplished.

  6. Stephanie, I’ve been rooting for ‘Team Knitters’ and I’ve been using the Bike Rally as my “restore your faith in humanity” story recently, especially after your post about cumulative action. I was leaving work when I saw your tweet about hitting $50,000, and you had beaten in by the time I got my computer on at home. I was so pleased to be able to donate, even just a little, and I am overjoyed that you all made it safely there and back again. Thank you for the update, the effort, and the muscle aches, and enjoy your well-deserved rest!
    P.S. If you get the chance, would you/could you post what the whole team raised when all was said and done? Thanks!

  7. Thank you for posting this. I’m still training for my Giant’s Half Marathon on September 16th and it is hard and there are days that I’m not sure if I’ll make it past mile 4 when I have to run 8 miles just for training.
    I know that it will not be easy and that it is worth it for the people it will help. My race also helps those with AIDS in San Francisco.
    Keep on riding and I’ll keep on running. In the end it’s not really about us.

  8. By the end of your account of the rally, I was cheering and crying. A pale imitation of what you experienced. So happy for you, so proud of your team, and especially your girls. So pleased knitters helped. So….so…..well, words just fail. Have a lovely lie-down and later, maybe some more adult beverages to celebrate.

  9. Oh Steph, huge congratulations! I loved following your tweets and cheered for you all week back here in Toronto. Every time I almost complained about biking around the city in the heat, or up a hill, I thought of you and stopped.
    You are such an inspiration, and what you have achieved is wonderful and huge. Revel in it.

  10. I fell in love with each of the guys in the pic up there, on sight. You rock. I get off *my arse and get on my bike!

  11. Congrats on a great accomplishment – but I’m thinking just knowing you did it is congratulations enough. What’s next on your knitting queue?

  12. Your achievement is all kinds of awesome. Be extraordinarily proud of yourself, and have a well earned and deserved rest. Well done xx

  13. Way to go, Stephanie. I knew from the beginning that you’d complete the ride and probably without falling down, though I wasn’t sure how much knitting you’d get done. VBG You’re one of the most competent people I know of (“of” because brief exchanges at SSs and book signings don’t count as “knowing”), and I am convinced you could do anything you put your mind to, especially since you have more sense than to tackle something impossible or even improbable.
    There are no comments above as I type, but I will not be first since I’ve read the whole post before commenting. Not that it’s a contest or anything. LOL

  14. Huzza!!! Bravissima!!! So happy for you and your team, and all the rest of the 300 cyclists. You have all done a great thing, and your stories are making me think yet again about how we do our lives, and the difference each one of us can make by the actions we take.
    Now go ahead and have a little lie-down, you deserve it! (((YH)))

  15. you are amazing. you have raised amazing children. together you have done something amazing. congratulations!

  16. I’m so proud of you Stephanie! And of all your family team too. 🙂 You did it! You really truly did it. Congratulations to you all.

  17. Congratulations!!! I am positive it was the helmet fascinators that were a crucial part of your winning stategy. Very fetching indeed.

  18. Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.
    Congratulations to you, your daughters, and your whole team.
    Well done!

  19. I did a two-day ride to raise funds for multiple sclerosis research one year. The first day I rode 75 miles, which was the most I had ever ridden in a day. I was pretty choked up when I finished. I congratulate you on your far larger accomplishment and wish you much rest.

  20. You GO GIRL! As someone who has done this on a smaller scale, I can feel your excitement! Makes me want to do it next year! (and I LOVE the red sequined dresses!)

  21. I’m unspeakably pleased for you and all your biking family/team – what an awesome accomplishment!

  22. Now I’m at a loss for words. You and your team and all of the riders and support people and donors have done a wonderful thing. Not just for those who are HIV+ but for all of us. You proved people are good, and they can do amazing things–not for themselves, just to help others!
    With some of the recent news stories I was beginning to doubt the goodness of people. I have to start looking around me and stop watching the news. Brava!

  23. I’m glad I’m not the only one in tears reading this post! Congratulations to you and your team. Am walking a half marathon this Saturday that benefits a small rural school in the mountains. I’ll be thinking of you as my inspiration to not trip and fall or quit! Thanks!

  24. YOU are amazing. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I got all teary-eyed about it being worth it. It sure is! 🙂

  25. Welcome back! and congratulations to you and all of the riders. It is a fabulous thing that you have done. Now for the ride next year, maybe a little yarn bombing on the way? (nudge/wink). Lanolin on the hands, moleskin on the blisters on your feet, and you’ll be fit as a fiddle in about a week. Oh, and Dr. Ruth says red wine is also a great healer.

  26. I’m so proud. I’m so happy. Love love love that you were willing to do this, that all of you were. Thank you. Go team go!

  27. You and everybody that participated are AMAZING!! Hats off to all of you and congratulations! YOU ROCK!!!

  28. Amazing indeed! Very hearty congratulations to your friends and family on the rally as well.
    The wine must have been really enjoyable at the end. I hope there was prosecco/champagne/something special at the finish line.
    I am very happy to support your efforts!

  29. Congratulations – we knew you could do it. I did have visions of you laying on your sleeping bag at night moaning from exhaustion (that’s what I would have done!). We’re all very proud of you and your girls.

  30. Congratulations!! This amazing feat of fabulous courage and strength by all the participants, is such a selfless gift to humanity. As the widow of a hemophiliac who died of AIDS, I’d like to express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart.
    As a knitter, I’d like to thank you for your blog-spiration (yes, I made that up) – you inspire me to be a better knitter and a better person; by putting yourself, your goals, your challenges and your successes out here for us to read. xoxo

  31. Tears in my eyes, pure admiration in my heart. Have been waiting patiently (well, not really, but I tried…) for this post since you tweeted your arrival. Well worth the wait. I stand in awe of your accomplishment, your team’s accomplishment, knitters’ generosity, and, as always, your talent for saying it all so very, very well. Now you inspire me not only to knit and to write, but to get the bike out of the garage and fill those tires… Thank you!

  32. Congratulations, Congratulations!
    I’m glad you’re okay. I didn’t see any posts and was worried. You probably don’t want to hear it today, but you know there is always, “Cycle Oregon”, this years is in September and you have to sign up in January, right away. Here’s the best part: How?
    You pedal; we’ll take care of everything else. Beautiful campsites, plentiful food, hot showers, massage, cold microbrew, Oregon wine, live entertainment and a fully supported route. It’s
    usually sponsored by the microbrewerys, so well you get the point. You”re inspiring, thinking seriously of getting out my bike. Glad you’re also alive! and well.! You are amazing! d

  33. So proud of you – you have been in my thoughts and prayers all week. I am so glad to read the story and know that you are safe & that you did it!
    BTW – I am buying a bike and going to start riding after I recover from the knee surgery I just had – you’ve inspired me!

  34. I am so proud of you! What an amazing accomplishment. You really are an inspiration on so many levels.

  35. Stephanie, for the rest of your life you’ll have this Rally to look back on. And when you have to do something difficult, you’ll be able to think, “I trained long and hard for the 2012 Rally and I did it. I can do this too.” Brava!

  36. Congratulations!!! You are amazing and make us all believe that no matter what, we all can do it (whatever IT is)! Thanks!

  37. Congratulations, Stephanie! You are an inspiration to all of us to go ahead and do something hard. I’ll never do a bike ride like you did, but there are other challenges I could take up and you will have helped me get up the courage to do them. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  38. So proud for you and your team! Great work.
    My Son had worked the food detail for several years and he has several friends who usually do the ride. Remember how impressed he had been by those involved. The support staff are very important.

  39. Thank you for everything you, Ken, Amanda, Sam, Erin, Pato and the others did over the past few months! Thank you for your immense physical and mental investment in the Rally. Thank you for being the catalyst for the outpouring of donations to such a great cause. Thank you for the lessons in holding to a goal even though you were terrified. Thank you for the reminder that every tiny stitch counts. Thank you for more excitement and involvement than I’ve ever had before, for the miniscule donation I was able to afford. And thank you for coming home safely. All of you are absolutely fantastic people, and you are all my heroes.

  40. Fantastic! Congratulations. I seem to have gotten something in my eyes while reading this post.

  41. Well done! I was so worried when we did not hear… I guess I’ve been a Nana too long. You have really proved a lot to yourself, your family and your knitters!!!!!

  42. FANTASTIC!!! You are amazing! I am more impressed by you and your family than all the Olympic athletes rolled into one!!
    GO HARLOT!!!!!!

  43. Congratulations! We are so terribly proud of you and your girls and the group and of all of the knitters and non-knitters who donated so much and worked so hard.
    Thank you for doing this for *this* charity, for being kind-hearted and brave and amazing!

  44. I’m so glad you made it, and that you think it was worth it. I thought about you guys when the rain was falling along the route, and mentally kept track of where you might be. Congratulations! Wishing you a leisurely recovery.

  45. I started reading your blog quite some time ago for the knitting. Now I read it for the inspiration! You have encouraged me to be a better person in so many ways beyond the yarn and needles.

  46. Okay, you have too much of a way with words. I’ve run two 1/2 marathons and felt most of what you wrote you felt….and I’m fairly certain that your race was WAY HARDER! But just the pain/triumph from my little races put your pain/triumph in perspective and I teared up a little when I felt a smidge of what you felt.
    I was so proud of your race that I very nearly grabbed my boss to shove him in front of the monitor and say “Look at what this amazing lady did!” Thankfully, I didn’t…but I really, really wanted to brag about what an excellent role model you are for people of all ages.
    Congrats Steph!

  47. I’m glad that you did this and that while it was hard you were able to pull through. It has been amazing to follow your journey from the decision to training to completing the ride. It is inspiring and a reminder that we all can be awesome if we’re willing to put in work.

  48. Congratulations!! You and your team are truly amazing and beautiful beyond words.

  49. I was following blogs and pictures from riders and viewers as you went along. You all did just great and you deserve to be proud. And to rest.

  50. It this actually gets you to lie down and take it easy for, o ridiculous dream, say … a week? it will have been absolutely worth it. This may be exactly big enough to unwind you from all the winding. Well done, lamb. Well done.

  51. I read about your achievement while I was at work (paying job not dream job) and WHOOPED out loud. My poor co-workers thought I was crazy but I was/am so excited for you!
    Way to go!

  52. Congratulations on your journey! Thanks for a wonderful recap of what didn’t happen. I loved it!

  53. Congratulations!!! I thought of you today while I was out riding (for “fun”). My longest 1-day ride to date, I converted it for ya, 81km. Nothing like your amazing 660km but with 2 bulging discs, I’m thrilled (& sore). Thank you for sharing the trip highlights, I checked your blog every day for news. Big HUG from PA USA! You rocked it!!!

  54. Woooooooooo hooooooooooo!!! to you and your team.
    I can attest to the “worth it” idea. I did the Avon Two Day in Chicago, but I was only able to complete about 10 miles. Considering that the weekend before, I was in the ER and I had to wear a 30-day heart monitor during the event? Well, ten miles is a good thing.
    You did it all. I am in awe. Good for you. It’s NOT easy, but it IS worth it.

  55. Congratulations to all! What an amazing experience. I kind of want to join your team now.

  56. Congratulation, on so many levels.
    You are an amazing woman and an inspiration to us all.

  57. I am so proud of all of you; I am getting weepy. Congratulations, and thanks for telling us. I rode the Courage Classic over Snoqualmie, Blewett and Stevens Pass in three days. I was second to last, but I did it. Good on you!!!

  58. Congratulations, lady. You rocked it, you rocked it with your daughters and friends, and you rocked it for us knitters. You are amazing and I say CHEERS TO YOU!

  59. Okay, you made me cry AGAIN. You guys are amazing.
    You’re inspiring me to try something I’ve never done. I hope I do half as well as you guys did.

  60. You? You rock. Like a boulder. Like a mountain. Like the rockiest of a rocky thing. You, lady, are amazing.

  61. Hurray! Congratulations! Amazing achievement!
    Your whole team rocks, and I’m so glad you stuck with it and pushed on through.

  62. Whooo hooooo!!!!
    An inspiration as I contemplate signing up for my first 100. Your words of wisdom will be carried with me if I do take on that challenge!

  63. Y’all are amazing! And I hope that I can raise my daughter to be just as tough and dedicated as yours!

  64. Brava! I’m so proud of you! Congrats to you and the whole team! I know we’ve never met, but we’re friends in my head. Is that crazy?

  65. Adding my CONGRATULATIONS!! to the pile. Thanks for the inspiration in so many ways. You’re awesome.

  66. Congratulations to all the riders.
    And Steph? Whoever said you’re dumpy? You rocked that red minidress so much I’m sure you made all the other riders green with envy! (I’m also fairly sure Joe has some plans for you and that dress, wink, wink, nudge, nudge!)

  67. Well Done! I completely understand the tears~I cried as I rode the final miles of the 500 mile bike ride across Iowa (RAGBRAI). There were lots of people cheering and the realization I had finished something that was hard. You did good! Rest up and find your knitting needles again!

  68. Stephanie, I’ve never commented on your blog, but I read it religiously, because I think you are funny and a great uplift on days when an uplift is needed. I totally enjoy your wit and sass! I also read your blog because in the last few years I have taken up knitting, self taught and rather slow, but I really like it and find it to be very relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable. I love looking at your knitting and completely enjoy the envy that pushes me to try more things! And I very much have found your recent bike-a-thon to be most encouraging and inspirational! Congratulations for not falling off and becoming a speed bump and for finishing and crying those happy tears from doing something that was totally and completely worth it! You Rock! =)

  69. So proud of you! Rest, put your feet up, have a beer and knit! Thank you for a wonderful post, congrats !!

  70. i have been anxiously awaiting your post on this topic. i can only say congratulations.

  71. CONGRATULATIONS!! I am all teary reading about your wonderful trip, well done on not falling, not being a speedbump, not being last, but most of all for getting back on your bike everyday and doing it!!!

  72. Yay! You worked so hard, that is why you made it!!! N
    I have to brag, too. We just went to California (8/3/12) to pick up our son, who rode the US coast to coast, Georgia to California, 3018 miles! In 6 weeks. He describes some days sort of the way you do ;-). He went mostly 80-100 miles a day, 13-16 mph.

  73. Congratulations Stephanie!
    Your wonderful attitude gives me something to draw strength from. I love what you share with the blog.

  74. I am thrilled for you and inspired for me. I once rode 100K so I had a little taste of what you did… but only for one day. It’s getting on again the next day (and the next, and the next…) where it becomes exceptional. I never doubted you’d make it. Equally inspiring is your reason for riding and how you act on your values. I really, really admire you.
    Congratulations to all of you!

  75. …lump in my throat….yay for ALL of us, and YAY for you, Steph, for REPRESENTING.

  76. So very very worth it! I am so proud of you. I have the tiniest inkling of how overwhelming it felt because I felt the same way when I did my one and only full marathon (half marathons are soooo much easier). You are totally exhausted when you come in but it is such an amazing feeling to know that you did what so many others can’t even imagine doing! You go girl!! We love you.

  77. As someone who fights a daily battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis and can no longer ride a bicycle, you have my utmost respect and admiration.

  78. The best of times, the worst of times…
    You and your family are an inspiration to all of us. See you at Vogue Knitting Live-Chicago!

  79. I was getting worried about you! Glad it was worth it. It looks like fun all in all.
    Boy, Pato has grown!!
    Cheers to the team!

  80. Congratulations to all of you. Such an amazing accomplishment. I thought of you riding your bike as I was riding up the 401 heading back to NY after vacationing in Georgian Bay. I once worked on the camp setup/pickup crew on one of the Tanqueray AIDS Rides and was in awe of the riders.

  81. Congratulations and thank you! If I were in Canada I would have been there cheering you on. Your efforts are greatly appreciated and truly inspirational. You see, my brother is HIV+. Although he is relatively healthy, there are so many more who are not. Thank you from sunny Southern California.

  82. Congratulations, Stephanie! This is such an inspiring post, so full of truth about finishing a hard thing. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

  83. You are amazing. Congratulations to you, Amanda, Sam, Erin and the whole team. And congratulations on raising a truly incredible amount of money to make the lives of people living with AIDS a little easier.

  84. It’s good to have you back – but VERY WELL DONE (not that we ever doubted you would!)

  85. Congratulations I am full of admiration for all of you , especially you as I have just discovered that it is possible to forget how to ride a bike .

  86. I am so proud of you! Which is a ridiculous thing to say to someone you dont know at all. But what a HUGE accomplishment! What a great brave wonderful accomplishment in every single way. Bravo! A thousand gold stars.

  87. You just made me cry! You’re awesome. Congratulations on the wonderful job you and your group did!!

  88. Thank you & team knitters for this whole inspirational event. I work in HIV prevention in central Africa and sometimes feel jaded by the day to day frustrations of non-profit work and the challenges of HIV prevention. Reading your posts and the amazing outpouring of support by knitters has touched me and reminded me of how good people can be. Thank you.

  89. (this is so impressive that words sorta fail me)
    to you and the girls and the whole team!
    You *rode* your bike to Montreal!

  90. Okay! green finger mitts..knit with fingers? Really! They will be the best momento of the rally and I suggest you put them in a glass wall frame and hang them in your knitting rooom. They will remind you of the fact that big things can be done and that you can do wnat ever you put your mind to.
    Many congrats miss bikey! Ride well done!

  91. Sue @ 5:37 PM said “Knitters kick arse. Well done!”
    I say ‘Knitters kick arse VERY VERY GENTLY … like the feather-breath touch of a lace-weight angora on your little finger.”
    Hoping your body heals fast as you very very gently knit your way back to earth.
    I’m so proud of you for FINISHING. I am crap at finishing.

  92. You did it! I’m sure I speak for all your fans in saying how proud we are. You rock!

  93. Congratulations to you and your team, Stephanie. What an amazing accomplishment for such a great cause. I am so awed by you all!

  94. I knew you could do it! Congratulations on a well-done effort. As many have already said, you’re an inspiration.

  95. Huge congratulations to you and your team! I love how through a list of what didn’t happen you convey so well a lot of what did.
    You know you’ve touched people when steven a uses capital letters in his comment.

  96. Yeah! Congratulations to you and your team!! What an amazing and wonderful thing you all have done. I am sitting here at work a little teary because the strength you have shown. Not the biking but the strength of spirit and resolve to overcome your fears and just do this crazy thing you never thought you could do. And by God you did it – in style, with family, friends and a love. Now you deserve a good long lie in and a marathon of easy knitting. 🙂

  97. So very proud of you!
    Just one question (I have to do it!): Did you at least wear a sports bra?

  98. Totally inspiring. I can see myself saying several times in the future “If The Yarn Harlot can ride her bike to Montreal then I can do this…”. So, so proud of your determination and success!!!

  99. Congratulations to you and your whole riding family!! This is absolutely inspiring, and I’m so happy that so much money will be going to this wonderful cause.
    Knew you could do it!!!!

  100. I LOVE that you are wearing sequins and looking fabulous! I would say “congratulations”, but that doesn’t seem big enough to contain your acheivement. So how about…ROCK ON!

  101. I am totally awestruck by you and everyone else who participated in this Rally!
    By the way, you most certainly are not dumpy…you are merely vertically challenged and incredibly fit!

  102. I’ve been watching for this post! What a wonderful achievement for you and the team (and all of the riders). I loved the helmet fascinators. 🙂 What was the final tally?

  103. RELIEF that you didn’t fall and thanks for putting that right up top! It was bad enough reading about your falls during training, but to have re-runs in my mind of the accidents that happened in the Tour de France earlier this summer – bloody shreds! So well done, especially for someone who thinks nothing of tossing an almost finished project, no matter the initial cost. I’m so impressed with your commitment. Heal well.

  104. Girl you rock! You are my hero – when I grow up I want to be just like you!!! Ya don’t think 63 is grown up yet do ya?

  105. Absolutely amazing! You have no idea how many people cheered and worried you through this journey. Thanks for the wonderful “report”!

  106. Congratulations, Stephanie! That is an accomplishment-and-a-half.
    “Dumpy” knitter, indeed. Not no more, you ain’t!

  107. Congratulations! You’re an inspiration to us all. By the way, now that this all over, I just converted 660km to miles. That’s 410 miles! Holy crap, that’s almost the distance from my house in Florida to our place in North Carolina! It takes us 8.5 hours by car to get there! I can’t imagine riding that far on a bike. No matter how many days I have! Now I’m really in awe of you & your teammates.

  108. Hurray !!! So very excited for you. What a journey. I hope you felt us with you every step of the way.

  109. I told my husband about Team Knit, what you were doing, and how much money you raised. He was astounded. I’m terribly impressed but the collective power of knitters is not a mystery to me. Way to go!

  110. Congrats Stephanie! I wish I could have taken the day off work to greet your team as you arrived here in Montreal. You are a true inspiration!

  111. You and your family and friends are amazing! Congratulations on your success! Your post brought tears to my eyes.

  112. YAY! Congratulations! We were all pulling for you! I’ve been religiously stalking to hear about your ride! I’m glad that your team made it safely! It’s been really fun to follow you on your journey. Thanks for including us. Next year??? 🙂

  113. Okay, firstly, you totally rock for making it through that ride! Secondly, you totally rock for blogging about it afterward – I know exactly what you mean by coming to the end of something like that (by which I mean, of course, that I have NO IDEA what it’s like to come to the end of a 660km bike ride, just what it’s like to get through something big in some way) and thinking while you’re approaching it or in the middle of it that you’ll have all this blogworthy stuff to talk about at the end, and then being so completely drained and overwhelmed and at the same time full to the brim with the experience that you literally can’t talk about it coherently, and kind of don’t even want to. So go, you, on both fronts!

  114. Congratulations! Well done, Steph. We knew you could do it. Rest well.
    I look at the beer pic and think “Does this beer make my butt look big?” snerk 😉

  115. Fan-freaking-tastic! I was looking forward to this post. I know exactly how it is when it comes down to trying to chonologize (is that a word?) an experience and its almost impossible. But I’m happy you posted what you did. Maybe as the days pass, you’ll find ways of telling little stories about the trip – or maybe not.
    So the question remains: please tell me you got a tattoo in Montreal!

  116. You are AMAZING!! Congratulations on such a monumental acheivement! I doff my hat to you and yours.

  117. You are beautiful and amazing and fill others with inspiration and hope. I just love you! Thanks!

  118. What an inspiration! A humble knitter/writer… The Little Engine That Could… reminds me of an incident I saw… people were whispering to one another at a large man on the street, kind of looking like a speed walker but on low speed… when he went past, the back of his shirt read “Yeh, but I’m moving faster than those on the couch.” AMEN! You go girl! So very proud of you!

  119. To you and BJ who commented she is crap at finishing….as I am, sadly gazing at unfinished socks, shawls and scarves as we speak! Finishing is everything and in your honor I will try to finish everything I do today…because I am totally inspired by your getting past all that pain and fear and anxiety and push on!

  120. Congratulations, Stephanie. I knew you could do it. The commitment and dedication came from your heart and you never gave up, no matter what. Move over, Olympians. Make room on the podium for this amazing woman.

  121. I am so happy you made it back safely, I am inspired and very proud of you. I can’t imagine how hard that was and it is just another reason why I think you are one amazing women who raised three amazing daughters!

  122. Congratulations!! what an accomplishment, well done! I walked the Breast Cancer 3-day several years ago, and one donor asked me, “why do you have to walk so far? why not just collect donations?” I had lots of time to think during my training (some 7-hour walks for the longer ones) and I was walking in a beautiful state park, and I thunk on it. Why do humans push themselves to extremes? Marathons, climbing mountains, walk-abouts, bike rallies, all pushing ourselves to our limits. Spirituality by Jenn: I think it’s because, when we are physically at our limits, there’s a euphoria that comes, really a spiritual feeling. I think that is what the ancients called “getting closer to the gods.” When we are pushed beyond what we think we can withstand, we are closer to our gods and we can ask for what we need more clearly. You just asked in a very clear manner! …or it’s just our bodies releasing endorphins to cover the pain and telling us to “stop it already!!” but I like the more spiritual reason. XXOO

  123. There is nothing I can say that has not been said by the others, but I want to add my voice. I am so inspired by you and your whole team. I followed every tweet and post. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  124. congratulations! thank you for ending with those indelible words, they are truly ones to live by.

  125. Congratulations and job very well done! You deserve all of the free fiber there is!

  126. You are all just totally amazing. I’m not sure I would ever have the mental or physical fortitude for what you have just accomplished. Well done!

  127. I have tears in my eyes – the fact that you took on this ride and all that it entails, and that there is so much good all over the place – I am in awe!!! Thanks for…….doing it and sharing it!!!

  128. On your left!
    It’s was amazing riding with you, The Derailleurs and the family team this year!

  129. YAY!! There’s nothing so satisfying as finishing something really, really difficult that you weren’t sure you could do. You did it! Congratulations!

  130. You look fantastic Ms. Pearl-Mcphee! Well done to you and well done to all the others who did this great ride.

  131. Wow! You are awesome. There’re tears in my eyes too – and a lump in my throat. Congratulations!!!

  132. Yay Steph!!
    At mile 24 of my first marathon a Team in Training coach stepped out into the road. I was running with AIDS Marathon and we cheered for them, they for us.
    He asked “Are you suffering?”
    We answered “Yes!”
    He said “Today, because of you, fewer people in the world are suffering.”

  133. Congrats! I was so excited for this post. the sheer enormity of what youve accomplished awes me. Love to you all from WA.

  134. Oh Harlot. No one who just rode her bike 660 km can be described as “dumpy” least of all by herself.
    Also, does anyone remember the movie Labyrinth? With that clanking machine that swept through the tunnels crushing all in its path? That’s what the Sweepers make me think of. They sound terrifying. So proud of you for not getting swept.

  135. Congrats! Way to go. I’m sorta envious–we all need such a wonderful challenge and it helps others, which is the BEST part. You should be so proud of yourself and your daughters.

  136. Wow well done. You have inspired me to just get on and do things through the day, even if it is scraping up a slimy tomato from the bottom of the fridge. Peace!

  137. Well done! I trekked the great wall of china this year for breakthrough breast cancer and when i stepped off the wall at the end of what was the most physically challenging week of my life i just sat down and cried, next year i’m biking across vietnam, wanna come? 😀

  138. I cannot express how proud and amazed I am by you, your family, your friends, your team, and the whole rally. Congratulations! Time to bust out the cashmere and vicuna–you’ve earned it!

  139. Congratulations to all of Team Derailleurs, and everyone who rode the rally, and all the support people! It sounds like it was totally worth it.
    Am I the only one beset by a burning desire to knit every member of Team Derailleurs socks? Can you get us a list of shoe sizes, maybe? 🙂
    Stephanie, you’re such an inspiration. All of your team is. What a great thing to do. Yay!

  140. Absolutely fantastic job Stephanie and the whole team. My Dad used to bicycle from Ste-Agathe to Toronto to visit my mother when they were going out. I don’t know how he did it – he did have a trainer but YOU GUYS DID IT. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

  141. I love the comment about the strength of your daughters who “used to cry when their socks were too tight”! Priceless! Can you ever really separate the child from the woman?
    Congratulations to all!

  142. I’m a couple of days late to the party, but congratulations to you and the whole team. You are all totally awesome! As I read through all the comments here, I wish there were “love” and “agree” buttons for them. So much of what’s been said already was in my head; no need to repeat. Except about the awesomeness of you and your team.

  143. All I can say is Wow! You are amazing! You are an inspiration and I am going to find a worthy challenge and do the same! Congratulations on finishing!

  144. Congratulations, a thousand times. You’re amazing, inspiring, and knitters everywhere are crazily proud of you!

  145. Congratulations and I can’t thank you and your family enough for your amazing work and support. I work at the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation (PWA) and I’ve been HIV positive for over 21 yrs. You know my sister Faye who volunteers as Road Safety Co-Lead and I met you briefly in Montreal. One thing that most people don’t realize is that in addition to raising 30-40% of PWA’s funding for critical programs, the Bike Rally has a goal of increasing awareness. Many assume that since HIV is more public through media etc, that stigma and discrimination is gone. As I know you heard through people’s stories during the event, this is far from the case. I still hear stories from people living with HIV that make me so angry and sad from the lack of support and outright discrimination that they experience. You have had such a huge impact on these awareness efforts by putting yourself out there and sharing your experience so broadly with others. PWA’s tag line is ‘making a positive difference’ and you need to be told loud and clear that you’ve made a positive difference in the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS!! thank you

  146. I am so glad I am not alone in the past love present hate of my on the needles works in non- progress!
    And is there anyone out there who is knitting for a friend & you just can not stand the darned thing!?!!!I’ve actually lost it for the 3rd time this month!!Seriously!!I have no clue where to look!!Maybe there is something in the water?I seem to have a ton of yarn but I only want to spin & knit what I spin.Yet I keep buying more yarn!!

  147. This post made me cry so, so many times. Especially this: “My kids don’t suck. As a matter of fact, they’re made of iron.”
    Your pride in your kids is palpable. And wonderful. Cheers, my friend.

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