As of May 11th, 79 athletes are in the midst of Riding the Rock. For some, this challenge appears to have lit a spark (or a fire) in them and it would appear that they are determined to ride the length of Vancouver Island not once, not twice, but perhaps even 4 times. Although, we might think they are a little crazy (special shout out to Garth Campbell, Gary Scriven and Donna Wilson who are over 1000km already) …. Our hats are off to them.
We recently asked a few of our Ride the Rock athletes to comment on why they decided to join the Challenge and how they are coping with being an athlete in a physically distanced world. One of the comments that was made most often by athletes is how they are missing their daily connection and interaction with other athletes, coaches and team mates. We at Human Powered Racing could not agree more. We too are missing the connection with our triathlon and multi-sport community and look forward to the day when we can use the fitness gained from Human Powered Racing Challenges to be put into practice.
One of the great things about Human Powered Challenges is that they can be done from anywhere. We have athletes from all over the globe participating in Ride the Rock including some athletes from Bermuda who were only recently let out of lockdown and a strictly enforced quarantine. When asked was it was like, triathlete and Canadian transplant Jenn Wilson commented; “For 4 weeks we were only allowed to exercise off our property for 1 hour a day within 1km of our house. I know all the side streets in my neighbourhood and am very aware that I live in a very hilly area!”
One common theme during the pandemic is how much day to day life have been altered and how working at home has caused massive disruptions to well established routines. Lou Wells of Bermuda, preparing for her first Ironman World Championship put it this way; “Work life has been way busier than usual and working from home makes the distinction between work and non-work harder, there is always something that needs doing and no hard cut-off e.g. having to leave to pick up the boys from school. I have to be disciplined and organised to fit training in, if I don’t get it done before I start work it can get hard to fit in later in the day.“
Gerald Smeltzer, a Victoria cyclist who would normally be racing his bike in the Victoria Cycling League has found the Challenge has given him a chance to have that weekly banter with his training and racing buddies and he has noted that the daily results being posted has added fodder to their conversations. He provided us with a sample of a recent back and forth on their virtual ride; “I blew thru Campbell River today hoping to make it to Woss, but never made it. Maybe that is a blessing. Tonight I am camping in a clear-cut at km 317 near Spirit River Road halfway between Campbell River and Woss. I have secreted two bricks and a very cheap 1.5 litre bottle of Chateau Niagara wine in Charlie’s panniers to try and even out the pace between the three of us.” This group is clearly getting into the spirit of this virtual thing!
For many of us, Zoom meant something entirely different than video conferencing before this pandemic, but now it has allowed athletes on lock down to have a connection with fellow athletes and friends. When asked about Motivation, Jenn Wilson remarked on how this technology has been a blessing; “Our Tues/Thurs MissFits rides moved to Zoom/Zwift which has been great. Add in Zoom swimcord workouts and long rides with you on Saturdays and training has continued to be quite enjoyable.” One of the great things about these Challenges is that they can be done indoors on trainers and treadmills if that is the only option. As long as you verify and document that you have ridden (or run) the distance you can be a part of it.
With so many races having been cancelled or postponed, our goal at Human Powered Racing was to give athletes a challenge to work towards each month that will keep them in “pursuit” of something. . Monique Moore, a very accomplished Ironman athlete who works as an educator and counselor in Victoria summed it up this way; “I have to be honest that I am not ‘race fit’ motivated, but being active and fit is part of who I am so I have been able to continue running and biking during this time. Mentally, I am like most people, and often feel sad and overwhelmed about the impact the pandemic has had on our world. Again, being active and fit is a key strategy for my mental and physical well being. Ride the Rock has been a super fun motivator as we enter the warmer weather and although we can’t train with our friends, we can post and share what we are up to. The plaque will be a unique momento of this pandemic period of our life.”
As we approach the half way mark, we would like to simply remind everyone that the Challenge was set by us and it is the only Challenge that you really need to focus on. Some athletes may be embroiled in their own battles and have set the goal post further than we did. We applaud them for that! And we are enjoying seeing some friendly competition here, but again, this was a Challenge laid down by us to you and accomplishing this Challenge and receiving your Ride the Rock Plaque and markers will be something that you can cherish. Perhaps Mo put it best in that it will be a unique momento of this pandemic.