“The extra riding was such a gift, it really brought a lot of peace to my life in what was otherwise a kind of scary and stressful time. I will treasure my little plaque for what it represents: doing something to remind me of strength and the ridiculous pleasure of the long ride even when the world is spiralling out of control around me.” – Leanne, RtR participant

The Ride the Rock Challenge came to a close on May 31. For the month of May participants challenged themselves to ride the equivalent of the length of Vancouver Island once, twice, or in one case 4 times!

I didn’t know quite what expect when we came up with the Challenge. We were looking for something to give athletes in our community something to focus on. When Covid 19 hit and every event for the foreseeable future was postponed or cancelled the impact was felt throughout the athletic community. People who usually spend a good part of their year preparing for events were left hanging. We wanted to help.

The idea for the Challenge was born in 1999 when I rode Vancouver Island as part of the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team. It was one of the most moving experiences of my lifetime and inspired me to share the spirit of that experience during these troubled times. People from across the country signed up to ride.

I’m not sure what motivated people at first but many participants surpassed their expectations for their ride. Some who started off to ride the length of the Island found themselves re-evaluating part way through the month and ramping up their commitment to do the double. Some used the Challenge as an opportunity to ramp up their training and to achieve new levels of strength and fitness on the bike. Garth set out to ride 2500 kilometres with 25000 metres elevation gain and achieved his goal. Brad set a new personal record for power output on the bike after completing the tour. Our youngest rider, Eva (16), far exceeded her previous best monthly mileage total.

People started off to get some kilometres in on their bike but found different benefits to the Challenge along the way. A common comment was how great it was connecting with other like minded people. Gary voiced what was thought by many when he called the Challenge “a great distraction to all of the crazy things going on these days.” Leanne is a community health care worker and used the challenge as a way to incorporate cycling into her work day. This meant that she did her Challenge with a backpack full of PPE! People had fun. Laura did her Challenge for a bag of chips (who wouldn’t) due to a good natured bet with a teammate. Oh, yeah, and the plaque was a big hit too.

As we move into June there are two more Human Powered Challenges for the month. The Big Island Challenge is a run challenge to run the equivalent of from Kona to Hawi on the Big Island of Hawaii. The PEI Challenge is a ride challenge to ride the equivalent of a lap of Prince Edward Island. We hope you will join us for one (or both) of these challenges.

An image of the Ride the Rock plaque with the 1/2 way and finisher medals attached.