Day 8: Saturday 20 July, 2018

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But we will continue


Today we made the decision to discontinue the record attempt across Canada. We were 3,000 km (1,864 miles) in on day seven when things went bad and we called it around 9:00am on day eight. I was devastated.


What happened?

On day three I got a saddle sore which progressively got worse. I thought it was manageable as I have had numerous over the years. It changed my riding position and then in turn placed my right leg in a different position. I had pain associated with it but again nothing unfamiliar. On day six I had a magic day; tailwinds helped push me over 500 km (311 miles) for the day and my body felt strong and getting conditioned. We were only 60 km (37 miles) off record pace at completion of day six and I could picture in my mind a really close finish with the attempt. This was getting good.


On day seven I woke extremely tired and disoriented. For the next 4-5 hours I struggled to stay awake and alert on dodgy roads. My tiredness disguised a bigger problem. My right leg was now noticeably inflamed and in pain. Because of my fatigue that morning and swelling I made the call to do less km on day seven in order to get extra sleep/recovery. That same night we bandaged both legs, as when I took my shoes off I saw my left ankle was even worse than the right. I slept with them elevated, woke 6 hours later and took the bandages off.


I couldn’t believe it. They were worse than the previous night and I just stared at them. Glennis handed me my porridge and Nat was sitting beside me. I just started crying. Trying to hold it together I was saying to myself to “Stop!” but I couldn’t. I tried to wipe tears away and hope they did not notice but when Nat came back with some tissues I guess it was obvious. I don’t really know why I cried specifically. Maybe too many reasons. I was really hoping for a grandstand finish that people could watch unfold. After day six I was semi-confident I would come very close. Mostly though, from previous experience, more donations come in the longer you last on your bike. But now it was game over.


I set out to see how the legs would cope. I could not sit down on the saddle at all and I pushed into a strong headwind for the first few hours just grinding away. I knew that my support team would be talking about the way forward and maybe seeing who would be the one to tell me it was over? So I hit them up when I saw them. “So what are you guys saying to each other?” But I knew it was over so I told them the record attempt is done. Let them off the hook. But I cannot contemplate getting off the bike and walking away so I asked if they were happy with following suggestion...


1) We don’t stop until 13 days and 6 hours to honour the record attempt and holder of record, Arvid Loewen. Arvid rides ultra cycling events in order to raise funds for disadvantaged children in Kenya. His record across Canada is extremely good. I just want to honour that and the reason he rides.


2) I also keep riding for that period to honour our vision as an organisation - assisting vulnerable children to reach their God-given potential. I don’t want to quit just because I’m injured, when I can still ride. I can’t ride 450 km with the injury, but I will definitely ride as far as possible until it is inflamed, then rest and repeat.


My support team are happy to make this happen, which I’m thankful for. I think they have all known me long enough to expect nothing less.

I’m sorry for not being able to finish as we had hoped. But we will finish what we started.


On behalf of the Canada Challenge Team,