Sans panniers, making excellent time. Kyle has the repair kit.
by Carly Schmidt
The faithful readers of this blog and followers of this incredible journey may recognize my name as Jordan’s older sister, and my wedding the cause of the unique Ontario-east, west-Ontario direction of the Bikes for Bricks trip. Before I recap our incredible 3 days with the bikers, I’d just like to say how grateful I am to all three for seamlessly accommodating my marriage into their rigourous schedule, and especially to my brother Jordan for always making us a priority, despite all that he has taken on with this trip. I appreciate everything and I’m so proud of you. This will be a summer that we’ll never, ever forget!
Rare Prairie shot with trees and Carly
As you read, this week my mom Julie and my brother Keenan and I flew out to Regina to support the guys through a stretch of the prairies. Our arrival had a rough start- after waiting for hours in the airport due to delay after delay, we landed so late, tired and disoriented that we all slept in the rental car in a parking lot. We woke up early, eager to stop for groceries and then catch up with the guys. However, we pulled up to the grocery store in Indian Head an hour before it opened- more parking lot sleeping ensued. We felt groggy and grimy. But when we finally caught up to the bikers in Moosomin, you can imagine what relief this sight brought us- first in the distance, then closer and closer, the profile of three bikes, all in a row, riders determined, facing the wind and sun, traveling together as a single unit, a real team. It’s one thing to read about this, another to see the photos on the blog or Facebook, but to see this adventure in action is remarkably exciting and awe-inspiring. Every hitch in our journey thus far was well worth it just to be in this moment. As we all ate our first lunch together on a rickety see-saw of a motel picnic table, the support we would be providing began to take shape: we would pack the heavy panniers in our car, so Jordan, Tyler and Kyle could ride faster and unfettered. We would drive up ahead, sometimes only 10 or 20km, sometimes a few hours worth of biking. We’d stop, and wait for the guys to pass by. Offer cold water or Gatorade, fruit or snacks, a sandwich; snap photos, shoot video, or simply wave and cheer them on. And repeat. The local races that my family puts on always have hordes of smiling faces, friends and family lined up and down the courses, but an event of the Bike for Bricks scope and magnitude can’t offer up this possibility. So my mom, Keenan and I were thrilled to be bringing some local Waterloo Running Series flavour and familiarity to the prairies, also on behalf of those many friends, aunts and uncles, siblings, who couldn’t make the journey, especially my dad and my new husband Chris, both staunch supporters and followers of the guys’ trip. I think they could really feel that every shout of encouragement had a whole network of voices behind it, all of which resonated proudly across the ever flat landscape. (Maybe nothing to see, but nothing to block your view.)
And so it went, our respective groups of three, making our way over the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border. At home, we had read about such obstacles as headwinds, injuries and bike repairs, but not until seeing the trip up close in this way could we fully appreciate the challenges posed by unpaved shoulders, proximity to speeding traffic, the lack of refrigeration, the shaky motor skills from having been clenching vibrating handlebars for hours every day. We truly gained a new and first-hand appreciation for Jordan, Tyler and Kyle’s athleticism, perseverance, and dedication to their cause, as they work together to overcome each setback without ever showing signs of slowing or discouragement. While we observed these negatives, we were also afforded the opportunity to witness up close their many triumphs. Record speeds, record distances. Every day moving leaps and bounds towards their goal. That feeling of getting cell phone coverage after hours of no signal. Their cache of survival skills. The freedom of the open road, the occasion to see our entire country- and what a way to do so. The overwhelming positivity of the responses from people met along the way, back home and all over who are inspired by this momentous achievement. And most of all, in this catalogue of triumphs, the fact that no matter the wind against them, the sun or hills, the breakdown of equipment, the hunger or fatigue, no matter the circumstances that face them, they unfailingly ride forwards with huge smiles on their faces, to which our photography is a testament. Maybe it’s because we were waiting by the side of the road with doughnuts and pepperettes, but maybe it’s also because they know they are doing something huge in their life that most people can only dream of doing, and they’re doing it so well.
See you in TWO weeks!
While this blog is short on the statistics that Jordan, Tyler and Kyle meticulously compile and share, what I really wanted to articulate from our glimpse into their journey is the resilience, the purpose, the joy, and the accomplishment with which they ride. I’m so happy that Keenan, my mom and I were able to help them get ahead of schedule and provide some measure of nourishment and relief from Regina to Winnipeg, but I’m even happier that I will always be able to say that I was a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience that looms so large and so meaningful to the community, to my whole family, Tyler and Kyle, and especially to my brother. I’m so proud of all of them, will always celebrate these 3 days we spent together and I look forward to their safe and victorious homecoming. Good luck through Ontario!