The Pictures I Don’t Have

I started writing this days ago, once I could get through an hour without falling asleep at my desk,  trying to figure out how to tell you the story of the Rally, to tell you all the hard things and wonderful things and I realized that there was so much I couldn’t tell where to start.  I decided to begin with the pictures, and see what I could show you.  I thought the pictures might reveal the words.

Almost as soon as I did that, I realized that these images are only the tiniest piece of what happened, the smallest hint about what it was like. The pictures don’t show you what I really wish I could show you.  My sister Erin took a picture of us leaving. It’s moments after the horns and bells and whistles blew and the whole rally (326 riders this year) rolled out of the starting gate.  Jen and I are smiling and laughing, but that picture isn’t the whole feeling. It doesn’t tell you how scary it is to ride with that many people at once – how afraid both of us were of making a mistake that toppled hundreds of riders and bikes like dominos. It doesn’t show you how my heart had leapt up into my throat with fear and excitement,  or how two seconds after that was taken, someone in the crowd yelled "Thank you!" and Jen and I both burst into tears. It says nothing about the feeling of sweeping along in a force bigger than yourself, of realizing an idea to do something big and crazy, and it doesn’t show you how it’s only at that moment, as you push off on your bike for six solid days of riding, that you realize that it is an absolutely insane thing to do, and that you’re doing it anyway.

I wish when you look at these pictures, you could see what the bike part of the rally feels like. I’m a woman who falls up stairs and can’t catch a ball and I have always, always been the person picked last for teams, and there’s an excellent reason for that. I’m clumsy, I’m not graceful. I’m not good at physical things and I have actual scars from learning how to ride a road bike clipped in last year.  I know that’s who I am.

This year on day five,  it rained hard.  My vision is very poor and  my glasses got covered in rain.  The path was winding and covered in gravel, and I couldn’t see where I was going, and I got afraid.  I struggled and  panic welled up in me, and finally I had to ask my little group to stop.  I stood there, telling my friends they could leave without me, watching them freezing and dripping in the pouring rain, and knew I was making it worse for them, and I was so embarrassed and humiliated.  They didn’t leave me, and I love them for it, but it was a low moment for me.  Eventually, the rain let up and we kept going and I slapped a smile on my face but inside I was feeling like a fraud. I felt like my frailty had been revealed, like Jen and company could have kept going, and I couldn’t, and the disappointment was a hard feeling to shake. 

I was standing in line for supper that night and talking to another rider, a stranger to me. We were chatting in line about the rain, and this guy looked at me and said "well, I’m sure you were fine. You’re a strong rider."
I blinked, and tried to figure out what was happening, but it didn’t seem that he was  trying to flatter me, and it really sounded like a simple statement of fact as far as he was concerned. I stood there trying to imagine myself in those terms. Mostly, I think I get the rally done because I am persistent and stubborn, not physically strong, but when he said those words, I liked the idea a lot, and you know what else?   That bad moment was just a moment, because this year  for whole minutes at a time, I felt good on that bike.  I was better at it, and I think that maybe this is something I could get good at.  Maybe, if I keep trying and working on it, I could be someone that doesn’t hold a group back, someone who doesn’t have to apologize for how slow I am.  Maybe I could be someone who flies on a bike.

(Jen seen here, loving that we are obstructed by a train. It whirled by us so fast, so big and real that it made us feel the same way.)

I wish I had a picture of how it feels to meet a challenge.  Not just the riding part, but so many things that I’m not usually good at. Things like getting up at 5:30 in the morning, or being dirty and exhausted all the time, or being around so many people all day… or putting on clothes with sparkles.  I am, despite my ability to fake the opposite, a painfully shy person, and it is like the Rally was invented to remind me that leaving my house and taking a chance on other people and practicing being outgoing almost always results in something wonderful, and that the wonderful isn’t always what I was expecting.

I wish I had a picture of the feeling in my chest on the fourth day, when everyone who is a top fundraiser wears a yellow jersey, and our little team looked like a ray of sunshine.  The overwhelming feeling of pride I had, not just in me or Jen or Ken or Pato, but in everyone who sponsored us.  You all did what you did because you believe the world is a wonderful place where if we all help each other, things will be  better.   It’s such a simple idea, and I almost laugh out loud with sheer happiness when I think of how many of you believe in it.  What you all did for the rally matters, and I know you believe that, or you wouldn’t have sponsored us the way you did, but I feel like I have to say it over and over and over again.  You are amazing, good people, creating change and helping others with your choices and we were all so grateful.

If I had another picture, it would show you how I felt about the people I love who did this ride with me.  I’m so proud of Ken, for being the inspiration to do this at all.  It was him who took the first step and dragged the whole family down this road, and it was him who convinced all of us it was possible. He’s amazing.  (He also did Jen and me a huge favour and put up our tent every day he was at camp before us, and that was every day.)    Then there’s Pato.  When he wandered into our family at 15, I liked him instantly, but with every passing year I love him more, and he’s grown into a remarkable young man.  At only 21, he’s just used his vacation time to raise money for charity, and was good natured, cheerful, helpful, funny and kind about it – again.   I adore him, and I couldn’t count the number of times I heard someone say "Pato’s a great guy, isn’t he?"

I wish I had a picture that would show you how proud I am of Jen too.  The rally is hard. The rally asks a lot of the people who do it, but the extra effort that you have to put in when you’re a mum of little kids? Ridiculous.  It was Jen’s first r
ally (see what I did there?) and she was bloody fierce.  Not once did she cry (on the outside, at least) not once did she complain (except for the morning there was no coffee, but my God. She’s only human) and not once did she waver in her commitment to the cause. Also, she took the spiders out of the tent and I’m really super grateful for that.  She was more than fabulous, and tough as nails on a bike. 

If I could have taken any picture, it would have been of the way it is when a lot of people do the same thing at once.  There’s a way it feels when you’re all committed to one big idea,  saying "this matters, and look what I’m willing to do to show you." If you had that picture, you would carry it around in your pocket all the time, that’s how much you would love it.  That unity is amazing, but who is united matters even more.  I meet the best people on the rally. The kindest and sweetest and most decent of all people, and I know that shouldn’t be a surprise, because not a lot of total jerks are going to give up days of their summer to training and a week of their vacation time to sweat for a charity, but still – every person from Road Safety to Rider was amazing.   There should be pictures of the thousand million little kindnesses I witnessed. The encouraging words, the help, the people going out on a limb for each other, making a point of trying to be their best selves.  I saw people taking big risks and doing scary things and being met with nothing but love and laughter and acceptance.  The best of people were with us, and over the course of a week, I think I came to love a number of them.

(This picture was taken as Jen and I crossed the border into the Province of Quebec. We have about 90km to go before we’re in Montreal, but that’s not why I look so happy. I look happy because this year, before I proudly hoisted my bike aloft, I remembered to take my water bottles out so that they didn’t fall on my head in front of everyone like they did last year.)

I cried this year when I crossed the finish line. There’s no picture of that either, but I think everyone does. It’s part relief, and part exhaustion, and part pride and part joy.  It was the culmination of months of work, and it felt good. (If by good, you understand that I am not speaking in the physical, but rather spiritual sense. My arse has asked me for a trial separation.)  We crossed from the world of the rally, back into the arms of the people who love us (after a shower) and that was it. It was over.

These are the pictures I have, but they aren’t really pictures of what happened.
From these pictures, you would think I went for a very long bike ride, but it wasn’t just that. It was a record breaking fundraiser, it is real money to help real people and real families with real problems, and it was another kind of journey for me. One where I got to think of myself as another kind of person for a little while, and got to see the best in some people I love a lot. It was so, so hard, and it was worth it.

Thank you for helping me make it possible. You’re all fantastic. 
I need another nap.

1,265 thoughts on “The Pictures I Don’t Have

  1. You are amazing. And because of you, knitters got to participate in an amazing thing. Thank you.

  2. Yes let’s all help each other so we can make the world a better place. Thanks for the reminder and thanks for your amazing hard work during the bike rally!

  3. Congratulations on completing the ride and raising the most money! You are truly an inspiration. My donation to you and Ken was in thanks for the many hours of pleasure I’ve received reading your books and blog and for his work keeping the blog going. Can’t wait for the new book!

  4. You and your team are the fantastic ones! Glad to hear there weren’t any stream crossings. But did those water shoes come in handy on the rainy day? Maybe they should equip you guys with glasses with automatic wipers on them…

  5. Well done you guys, You were all amazing. Hope you are reconciled with your body soon!

  6. And Steph, you cannot possibly know how very proud we are of you and “our” team. For what you do and did, and how you present us , all of us who can’t get out and do it to the world. They so often write us off as “just knitters” , YOU present us to the world as a force, and one to be acknowledged. We thank you for the pride you give us.

  7. You’re Amazing! You’re Team is Amazing! The whole Rally is Amazing! And I’m Thankful you shared this part of yourself with us. Forward is a Pace, Strong Rider!!!

  8. I’m trying not to write something cliche. I’m failing miserably. So stated very simply: Go you, ALL of you!

  9. Thanks for posting. I was worried that something bad had happened. And thanks for sharing so much about the trip. It sounds amazing.

  10. I sat here reading and crying through your whole post. Bless you all for making this a happy place for a while.

  11. Congratulations! You ARE a strong (and gutsy!)rider. Your inspirational ripples reach far and wide and the world is better for many because of that.

  12. Try Rainex on the glasses next year. It makes the rain sheet off and you will be able to see. Also, congrats on completing a ride I couldn’t do the first day of.

  13. You make me want to be a better person. I came once, many years ago, because I read one of your early books and I was a new knitter. I stayed, because of posts like this one. Because you are the best kind of people, and I am honored to “know” you. Thank you for riding so that other’s may have a chance at living. Enjoy your week of rest. You have earned it.

  14. Again, Stephanie, you bring me to tears with your writing, insight, wit, and all around decency. Glad I could sponsor you and do my part for PWA. I’m ready to sponsor you again in 2014! A big thank you for being awesome (again, still, always…)

  15. congratulations! you guys rock! i hope your family is letting you nap as much as you need to to recover. 🙂

  16. Congratulations to the whole team – riders, volunteers and donors! I think you’re all wonderful.
    Steph, you make me believe that at 55, I can actually become fit enough to do something (although not on a bike, not unless it is a trike). I know you’re much younger than I am, but you’re an inspiration to me. Thank you!

  17. As Sue at 4:24 said, was beginning to worry!! Congratulations to you and all the riders. And definitely do not beat yourself up about needing glasses and not being able to ride in the rain. Like Sara at 4:27, try Rainex next year. Yes, we are already talking next year. Starting to save my $$ for bigger sponsor dollars!! You (and Jen and Pato and…) ROCK!! And nap away!

  18. Congrats on a successful ride! It certainly sounds like you are a strong rider to me! Own it – you go girl!

  19. I don’t know why but you just choked me up with this post. Maybe your pictures don’t quite show what happened but I got it and excuse me for now I have to cry for a little….
    You’re just amazing!

  20. I’m crying. Thank you for sharing your adventure and for being so real. I have always thought I was the only “clumsy”. Truly inspiring. Reading your post and listening to Julian Lennon’s new album. A good combination. Like cheese and wine. “You are so beautiful” sung by Lennon. That’s you girl.

  21. Thank you for taking us along for your ride, I’ve been checking the blog every day for your posting. I have to say my favourite picture is of the little girl with the sign saying “Go Mommy, Go Mommy, Go Mom”, what an inspiration for the next generation of little girls. Thank you for demonstrating that anyone can do anything if they put their mind (and butt) to it. Cheers…you deserve some wine and many hours of uninterrupted knitting in the rest of the August sun and heat.

  22. Stephanie- We love you plain and simple. For inspiration and joy and sharing this with us. Amazing. JAM

  23. It has been so inspiring to watch your journey again this summer. Thanks for sharing this bit of your life with us all. If you do decide to do it again next year,I’ll follow and support again!

  24. Thank you for inspiring us and helping us to do good things wthout actually having to do the bike ride part!!

  25. Wow! Great job Steph, I’m so proud! I wish I could have done this race right alongside you, 🙂 it would’ve been a blast! Hope you had as much fun as it looked!
    Check out my blog!

  26. Good grief, woman, what do you think strong Is? It is simply not giving up.
    Not giving up = persistent and stubborn.
    Of course you are strong! Congrats to you and your whole team and to everyone involved with the Ride!

  27. Well said lady! You know… you might be a strong rider, persistant and stubborn; but you are a darn good writer too. Keep up the good work in all your areans of life. Love the blog!

  28. Dang. You got me all choked up. Also, I think persistant and stubborn are better than strong. I’m strong and it doesn’t keep you going the whole way.
    You rock.

  29. Bravo! What a remarkable accomplishment. Thank you for caring, and inspiring, and sharing – always.

  30. We are so proud of all of you. And donating sort of makes me feel like I was part of it, too. Great job!!!!!

  31. Well Done! The knitters, the mums, and the regular non-athletic girls who get picked last for every team… we are all so proud of you!

  32. Wonderful post! So proud of you and the team, thanks for doing the rally. You are good at riding and riding in large groups is even scary for pros. But you are excellent at knitting and writing;)

  33. “I am, despite my ability to fake the opposite, a painfully shy person, and it is like the Rally was invented to remind me that leaving my house and taking a chance on other people and practicing being outgoing almost always results in something wonderful, and that the wonderful isn’t always what I was expecting.” Replace “the Rally” with “3 years of chronic pain and multiplying health problems,” and I know just what you mean.
    Nap away. You have participated in something worthy, and I admire you for that.

  34. I admire you for making the commitment to help those with AIDS and then working so hard to honor that commitment! Quite an accomplishment!! And, thanks from everyone who will benefit!!!

  35. Congrats! Well done. I also wanted to add that every time I think I am doing something good to help other people, something occurs that reminds me that I am also being helped by that experience, That we are all in need of help in this world, even if it doesn’t look the same. Perhaps that moment in the rain when your friends chose to hang with you instead of pedaling on was that moment?

  36. Mazal tov! Well done! Fabulous!
    And it’s all 50 times more impressive because it wasn’t easy, because at times it was a struggle. You’ve got guts, girl! Proud of you!

  37. Thank you. Just … thank you.
    My day is now ever so much brighter since reading this and getting to share some of the awesomeness.

  38. Every single person on that rally gave their body and soul to an amazing cause for 6 days! The least we could do is give a bit of cash. You all rock!!!

  39. Woof!! Harder than hard but sounds fabulous in a spiritual way… One word for rain… Contacts! I’m so impressed with your spirit and strength. Hope you catch up with your sleep and you and your butt make up. Glad you are back!

  40. Lurker delurking to congratulate you and your team on an amazing feat…congratulations!

  41. I was going to say that I am so proud to know you and support you until I realized that I DON’T know you. You write that well! Thank you, though, for putting it all out there in a way that makes me want to cheer you on. Everyday, you make the “ordinary” extraordinary. Imagine what this world would be if all of us “Onlys” (I’m *only* a knitter. I’m *only* a mom. I’m *only* just trying to make it through the day) stretched just a bit further than we though we could for someone else. Thanks. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

  42. Commitments as difficult and huge as this one was, in so may ways make us stretch and grow beyond limits we thought were out of our reach. You will reap the benefits of this experience for the rest of your life, as will those with whom you had the experience and those for whom who had the experience. Congratulations, I am very happy for you and your joy in your accomplishment.

  43. I entered twice by mistake, sorry. Internets being wonky today. But my awe and pride and thanks of and to you and the team are doubled … to infinity and beyond!

  44. You are AMAZING! A wonderful post, and I think the pictures do give us just a taster of what it was like. Well done!

  45. Congratulations Stephanie. Nothing short of amazing. All of it, amazing. The hard work, the dedication to keep getting back in the saddle, the time taken from other things and people, the fund raising, your companion riders and the cause – never forget the cause of helping your fellow man. Yes, simply amazing and beautiful. The funds raised largely from the fiber community didn’t just get there by themselves either. It is because you are such an inspiration to all of us, always willing to so generously share yourself and your wisdom on all levels that we in that community have grown to love and respect you. Stephanie, you set an example every day so much so that we are willing to stand up and say, yes I will support this cause that Stephanie is busting her arse for. You too are nothing short of amazing.
    Much love and blessings to you.

  46. I keep waiting for you to catch up to the way that we see you. You are this amazing person all of the time, not just during bike rally week. Congrats!

  47. Last year I did a 3-day, 60 mile breast cancer walk. It was hot – very hot in Boston that weekend. And we had blisters and were tired. But, as hard as it was, it was easier than having cancer and this small thing, I could do. I know that feeling of pride and unity – the power of walking with others- the fear and excitement. And when it ended I felt like a warrior – like that woman I want to be. And I have worked hard to hold on to that feeling. Congratulations.

  48. Many congrats on finishing such an epic journey. I know how you feel…having tackled something bigger than yourself. I felt the same way after I made it thru Army bootcamp 20 years ago..and then, fimishing 3 MOS schools! That is not an easy feat. That meant that I was qualified to do 3 separate jobs in the US Army.
    Setting up an enormous field generator BY YOURSELF was another biggie for me because women were not supposed to be able to do such hard, heavy work but I did it. It told me that I could do more than other expected and MUCH more than I expected of myself. After those years I never doubted myself or my ability to do what I want.
    I went FAR beyond what I thought I could do. And so have you,. Congrats Yarnharlot. There is much more to you than even you know…

  49. You (and all those other Rally-ers!) are an inspiration! *sniff* I need a tissue, too!

  50. And again you made me cry. I am so very proud of you and your team. I wish I had a drop of the spirit that you have inside you. You’re a real inspiration to all of us.

  51. Yup, you made me cry again, too. I’m not reading all the comments above me because my husband will come home and find me sobbing at the computer, and that’s somewhat disturbing to him.
    You are amazing. I keep saying that, but it’s because it’s true. Thank you for knitting, for being, for riding, and for writing about them all.

  52. I’ll second (or maybe 3rd) the Rain-X suggestion. Also want to ask, can you wear contacts? If you’ve tried them in the past and they didn’t work out for you, maybe try ’em again. The latest generations are fantastic and just continue to improve. Also, a big fat CONGRATS to the whole team. Y’all are amazing.

  53. congratulations, steph, and thank you! i wish i could give you a picture of the feeling i have in my heart after reading this.

  54. I’m so glad I donated this year. You make the world a better place Stephanie. Thank you!

  55. Thank you. Read this today, after a horrid day at work. Feeling like I just might make it to tomorrow after all. Blessings!

  56. Congratulations! I suspect you are a strong rider in both senses of the word and it’s that that leads you onwards and upwards – thank you for letting us trail in your wake, it’s a lovely ride.

  57. I just read this out loud to my 11 year old daughter. You never know when children will hear something that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.
    Thank you for being.

  58. As someone who walked the Avon 3-Day two years in a row, I totally understand. The first was on a lark, and kicked my arse. The second one…I trained better, and coming into camp on that first day with a good friend by me side, when neither of us could the year before…I cried. I am not ashamed of that fact. I walked every. single. mile with hundreds of like-minded people, and we were all supported as you were supported.
    I totally get it. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  59. Just think about this
    All the big corporations,business and everything AND the
    KNITTER is the top fund raiser.
    I’m sure there are lots of people who have a different opinion on the “old lady” in the corner knitting.
    Way to go!!! I’ll knit a few for you.

  60. Congratulations and thank you for sharing. I’m hoping you include your experiences (training to finish) in one of your future books. This type of team event, whether walking, running, bicycling, etc… allows a person to know what it feels like to be on a team where everyone is pulling for the other. Speed does not matter (start at the back next year and you might not be so freaked out). We always start at the back if there is a crowd, too many wanna be racers and those who don’t know how to keep a straight line. We are also slower and like to “smell the roses”. Don’t fret about your companions staying with you when you had a moment (we all have them and I’ve been bicycling for 30+ years). This means they care and are not assholes, they are keepers. I’ll be quiet now, naps are great. p.s. keep riding, fall is a beautiful time…

  61. Oh, My! We only gave money. Thank you for your blood, sweat and tears on our behalf!

  62. I am so proud of you- Internet stranger. I am struggling to get motivated to run the NYC marathon. I was stopped at Boston Marathon with my family 1/2 block away from the explosions- walking towards them. I am struggling to get beyond this. Your adventure is giving me courage to lace up my sneakers and get out there

  63. There are times when I wish my arse would ask for a trial separation but not for the same reasons yours is voicing. Not to worry your arse isn’t going anywhere. You did good!!!!! Really Good!!!!! Is the girl with the dynamite “Go Mommy” sign Jen’s daughter. Some year that young lady will be riding in this rally and won’t you all be proud.

  64. You are my hero!! These pictures tell it all–about what a wonderful world we can make it we only just try and do our little part. “I am only one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something.” Thank you for making our world a bit better.

  65. Congratulations on finishing the ride!
    And I know the kind of panic that happens when you can’t see in a hazardous situation. Your safety was at risk, so it’s understandable that you freaked a little. And don’t feel bad about your teammates waiting for you — they had to be caring people to begin with. . .after all, they were on a charity ride!
    PS: I still say you totally rocked that red dress. Hope you found the same style in one of your preferred shades of green!

  66. You are amazing. I am in awe of your determination and sheer will to make this happen. Not only the fundraising–which was over-the-top impressive, but making it through the practice rides, weather, spiders and myriad other challenges. You are indeed a hero. BRAVO!

  67. Congrats! You are an inspiration–as always. Thanks so much for taking us along for the ride!

  68. You are amazing. Thank you for doing this and reminding me that there are good people out there who will do amazing things for others.

  69. You’ve managed to convey the extremes of the experience despite saying the photos didn’t capture them. Kudos to your team – just amazing stuff! The water bottles? Too funny. And yes, thank you all.

  70. Persistent and stubborn really is what matters. You have earned a week of naps, and a vacation, and a nice swim in the lake. Well done!!
    Thank you for a great post and a great ride.

  71. Congratulations!!!!!!
    i knew you’d make it all the way. And congrats to your entire team for your yellow jersey success as well.

  72. Oh my gosh! The yellow jerseys rock it! You are amazing. All we did was donate money, easy peasy. You did the heavy lifting. Congrats to you and your whole team. (I still don’t understand the red dresses…)

  73. Your team is amazing. Congratulations for your strength and tenacity. You guys are awesome!

  74. Congratulations to your and your group on another successful ride. It always does one good to expand outside your comfort zone.
    Glad to hear that it was exhaustion that delayed the blog post…was starting to worry you might have picked up a bug.

  75. You, your team, the other rally-ers, and all the knitterly supporters are quite simply amazing. Thank you for painting such a wonderful picture with words for all of the pictures you “didn’t get.” Wow. Just wow. Can’t wait to see what you pull off next year (which will, of course, be Jen’s second rally – well played, there). Nap away – it’s well deserved!

  76. Congratulations to you and your team!! What you have done and what your efforts mean to suffering in this world–beautiful and inspiring.
    I have been under a dark star for awhile now–misfortunes from mild to grave–but reading your words and following your story has been a comfort. There’s much wisdom and humour to be found here in your virtual “living room.”
    I’ve gotta go slay a few dragons (and knit some more lace)! Raising an Oakshire Espresso Stout to you and your team, cheers!

  77. Amazing doesn’t seem to be a big enough word. You are truly an inspiration….Thank you for convincing us to be better than we think we can be.

  78. I have no words. I just add to the list of admiration. You also inspire me to do more, give up some comfort, and contribute to the bigger picture. I’m 20 years older than you. Ad I’m going to find a bike rally and train (and hopefully not have rain) and ride for a cause because of you. Thanks Steph.

  79. What a moving post – you have such a way with words. This pulled me out of my very icky work day mind and put happy warm thoughts there. You are awesome!

  80. All the others above me have said the things I want to say, expressed the feelings I am feeling. Thanks Stephanie, for sharing this amazing journey! Congratulations to you, and Jen and Ken and Pato. I was proud to sponsor.

  81. You are amazing and this ride shows how much you give to the cause you love. Amazing. Keep it up.

  82. Congratulations to you all! What we did, sponsoring you, was the easy part – you did the hard part. You’re amazing.

  83. Imagine a thousand little kindnesses every day, it’s a big number! Congratulations to you and the team. Meeting a challenge is hard work, but you find another part of yourself that is yours to keep.

  84. The sheer honesty of your words matched with the pictures was stunning. You showed that doing what seems insurmountable is reachable. And for that I thank you.

  85. I just LOVED reading this. It made me grin from ear to ear the entire time. I applaud you for your incredible wonderfulness.

  86. Of course you’re a strong person! Look at all the time and energy you put in to it, in to getting up every morning and going out on the bike. That is what makes you a strong rider. Your determination. It’s determination that makes anyone strong at what they do. <3

  87. So very proud of everyone involved. The best parts of life are the parts we spend loving and helping each other! Congratulations on your huge accomplishment.

  88. Ditto what everyone else said above (especially Beth) — a resounding “WELL DONE!!!” to you and Ken and Jen and Pato and all the other riders. I, too, have already started saving up for next year, and am thinking of what I can offer for Karmic Balancing. It’s an honour to “know” you, Ms. Harlot!

  89. Ditto to what Jude (4:09) said, and thank you so much for putting so much effort into making the lives of others better! Massive congratulations to you all for completing such an epic journey. I can’t begin to imagine what it must feel like, but we’re all very proud of your efforts. You’re clearly a very strong woman, and I think there is absolutely no shame in admitting that you couldn’t ride on in the pouring rain. Far better to wait it out, than have a nasty fall because you couldn’t see. Good call everyone who mentioned rainex though, gotta be worth a try :). Like Cherril (3:04 AM) said, I too have been thinking of things to offer for Karmic Balancing for next year or for TSF/KWB.
    Well done to everyone who was in the rally!!!!

  90. You and your team are inspiring. You may think that we are the reason you can put in the work, seeing the donations come in, but your hard work also directly inspires us to donate. It is an awesome cycle that I am glad to be a part of.

  91. Such an amazing job Steph. We are so proud of you and I was happy to be a small part of the rally. Well done.

  92. Wow! Congratulations to you and Jen, Pato and Ken as well as all the other riders. You guys are awsome!

  93. You are SO amazing! I couldn’t imagine doing something so big, until now. Thanks for being so inspiring!

  94. I’m proud to know you (even this little bit via your most excellent blog). Sincerely, BRIDGET

  95. Loved the part when your glasses fogged up and you couldn’t see well enough to go on.
    That’s the thing about being a member of a team….you make it through together or not at all. That day it was your “handicap” – next time it may very well be someone else’s. Physically strength rarely wins the day every single time. Your strengths are your own and don’t you forget that.
    Congrats on a job well done!

  96. Thank you so much no only for doing the rally, but for this wonderful post. I’ll selfishly admit I needed to read this to help me get through some tough times of my own. Again, thank you.

  97. Long time lurker here, but I’m de-lurking to say that I am so happy you are you. I’ve enjoyed following your adventures and am so humbled by your generosity and spirit. And whenever I come across a knitting challenge (ahem) I wonder what the Yarn Harlot would do. Thanks for the inspiration!

  98. Being unable to see because of adverse weather conditions does not make you weak or frail or a fraud. I’m sure you would have done whatever necessary to prevent a stop, but stopping — when visibility presumably was low for everyone — really was the best, safest solution for your team. Kudos on your accomplishment! (You are one of the least-frail people I know, however distantly that knowing is!)

  99. Well done! And I can understand not wanting to ride when you can’t see, I love biking but I’d have stopped too. And also- I can totally relate to feeling that you’re clumsy and hopelessly non-athletic- I was that way for years. And then I found a sport I enjoyed and slowly realized that a good chunk of athletic activity is a skill, not an inherent ability. Skills get better with practice. You’ve been practicing bike riding quite intensively- no wonder you’re a better rider than you were. So, enjoy! And keep doing the things you think are important, clumsy or not- you will improve. 🙂

  100. In a world where it seems the only news you hear is the horrible things people do it’s wonderful to hear about the beautiful/good parts of humanity. Thanks for the hope!

  101. I hope you keep on cycling. There’s nothing better. You live near High Park, go and do the loop a few times its fun! Just watch out for squirrels.

  102. Your words, and your actions, brought tears to my eyes. Thank you. And, for the record, I had a moment of panic like that, different situation, and everyone I was with said, “It’s OK. I’ve panicked too. Next time you won’t.” It’s getting through the panic that gives you a better understanding of yourself and those with you! What an achievement and thank you for sharing it with all of us.

  103. I think the people who do this cycle ride when it’s not their “thing” are the strongest cyclists. Congratulations!

  104. I’d like to share a very small clipping from my cork board, positioned right over my computer screen –
    “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”
    CS Lewis
    So very glad you all made it home safely.

  105. What a wonderful post, Steph! Congratulations to all the riders, and contributors. You made me cry a few times while reading your essay, wishing a little I could do this too, and feeling happy and proud that I could sponsor you, even with a very small contribution. I feel like I was part of this rally!
    Well done.

  106. I am completely in awe of you! You dare to do what I only dream of. Thanks for you being an inspiration to me. Thanks for sharing a bit of your world through knitting and biking! 🙂

  107. Wow, that’s amazing! You really are an inspiration, and that was *very* well done. Congratulations!!

  108. Thanks for your great story and pictures and such a wonderful thing you all have done to raise money. I’m honored to at least know you thru books and blogs.. Your an inspiration to us all!!! Thanks for all that you do!!!

  109. Thank you for sharing and being a constant reminder that the world is full of good people who are amazing if we only take the time to look around and notice. The world IS better for each one who helps another. Congrats!

  110. I didn’t realize I’d been talking to you on and off since we I did the last Holland Marsh ride……I’d heard of the mysterious yarn harlet, didn’t know you were her!!! Congrats on completing the ride, it was great to say Hi to you here and there!
    David, team bikecurious

  111. Me again, I didn’t have time to read your blog until now but your words are wonderful, they made me realize what a wonderful thing we all did….and for the record I thought you were a strong rider, in fact I thought you’d been riding for years!Anyway, congrats on being a top fund raiser! I was very impressed when I saw your yellow jersey! I hope we get to meet again some-day……I thought you were pretty special the first time I met you!

  112. Congratulations, Steph!!! You are amazing, Jen is amazing, Pato is amazing, Ken is amazing!!!
    You inspire, truly. I still won’t get on a bike..that hurts. I did 3 spin classes while I was on my cruise, (I know..what was I thinking?) My best parts hurt for 3 weeks after that. Don’t think I’ll do that again.
    Rock on!

  113. Congratulations, Stephanie. I’m not going to try to write anything inspirational, your touching post took care of all that. I’m so glad that you felt stronger this year. You seemed so tired before you went. Try to hang onto that good feeling, because, being the top fundraiser for two years running, well, my dear, you’re between a rock and a hard place when it comes to quitting, and that hard place is a bicycle seat.
    But this is just August. Ages and ages away from next time. Ages.

  114. Well, now you did it: I’m all choked up at work. Once again, my dear lady, you amaze us all. Thank you for all that you do to inspire us.

  115. Amazing. You guys, everyone in the rally, are supreme. You made me cry. Thank you so much for sharing the ride with us. Beautiful pictures.

  116. Bravo to all for showing us the power of commitment. This is such inspiration to the Blog and everyone we touch and know. You all did a great thing.

  117. I am sitting here sobbing reading this. You are so inspiring. This makes me think that maybe I could do something big, even with a full time job and full time toddler. Thank you. For your commitment, your words and pictures, and for YOU.

  118. You may not have cried but I did while reading this. You and your team and all the other riders and those who do walks and races and raise funds for causes that are important to them, are truly wonderful. Congratulations to all.

  119. Your blog often brings tears to my eyes, and this one was no different. I’m so proud of you and your team, and I know that your cause is one that I’m more than happy to donate to. Ugh. Dangling participle. To which to donate. Better?

  120. This rally is like childbirth, is it not? I’m proud of you-proud to tell people about you, and your posts are gifts. Thank you.

  121. Stephanie, you did a fantastic job capturing the feeling of the bike rally. I am glad to know that I am not the only person who shed a tear when we rode past the person who said Thank You. Your fundraising ability is an inspiration and has motivated me set might sights on a gold jersey next year.
    Thank you

  122. Your thoughts on extreme-out-of-comfort-zone experiences reminded me of a saying I love: “A ship in harbour is safe…but that’s not what ships are made for.” =)

  123. It’s always good to be reminded that sometimes we’re not quite who we think we are.

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