- for Mike Woodard and his response when I first asked him in July 2012 if he would be willing to join me in cycling across Canada. He said, “I can’t give you an answer right now but if we do this we need to do it for a cause.” Eventually he said yes and together we found a cause: Global Aid Network (GAiN) and formed cycling4water.
- for Bill Blainey and Dennis Fierbach of GAiN who from 2013 through 2016 believed in us and allowed us to partner with them in promoting and fund raising for their “Water for Life” Initiative.
- for the original team of Mike, Richard Blaschek, Timo Itkonen and Jacquie Bird who in 2014 accomplished the awesome feat of cycling across Canada in 54 days and raising around $285,000 for the drilling of 33 wells giving 33,000 rural Africans clean drinking water for decades to come.
- for our 2014 sponsors, Columbia Cabinets, FamilyLife Canada, Fraiswerway RV, GAiN, Home Hardware, Meridian and Prairiecoast Equipement, who covered all our 2014 expenses ensuring that every dollar given went to GAiN and the wells.
- for the four 2016 sponsors who again covered all our expenses but chose to remain anonymous.
- for Timo Itkonen who accepted not only to loan the use of his and his brothers’ RV from July 26 to Aug 16, 2016 but also for accompanying me over 2000 km on the bike for this second leg of cycling4water.
- for Alain Dupont who accepted to be our 2016 support vehicle driver.
- for my wife, Anne-Marie, Mike’s wife, Karen, Timo’s wife, Marjatta, and Alain’s wife, Georgine, who blessed us on our way and supported us in the accomplishment of this dream.
- for Peter Kotelles, Jennifer Mullen and Bill Vexavanis of GAiN who gave many hours and hard work on phoning, promotional material and web site development.
- for every one of our hosts (couples or individuals) who welcomed us into their homes, their lives, fed us and helped with many other needs. I wish I could name everyone of you but that would take a long time both to write and to read. In 2014 there were over 40 of you and in 2016 you were 14.
- for every meeting organizer that allowed us to speak to their group, church or gathering.
- for every donor, no matter how small or large the amount, you are the real heroes, the ones making a difference in providing the clean drinking water.
- for the hundreds of people whom we met along the way again both in 2014 and 2016 who made the adventure so interesting.
- the beauty of Canada and the privilege of being able to see it from coast to coast from the slow vantage point of a bicycle.
- for the 1000’s of photos that recorded or 2014 and 2106 trip.
- for the scores of people who followed, commented aon and like our blogs and Facebook posts.
- but my greatest thanks goes to God who created me with a passion for exercise and in particular for cycling, who inspired the dream to cycle across Canada, who gave me strength and stamina in my legs, who gave me the will and to do the work, who provided a team and friends along the way, who inspired the donors to give, who gives vision and great people to GAiN, who lifted me up when I was injured, who spoke to my spirit when I was down and who gave me perseverance to continue the dream,
- thank you, thank you, thank you!
As you can imagine, cycling across Canada gives the opportunity to encounter hills, lots of them! There were some long uphill grades that were really difficult! At times, wind and bad road conditions added to the challenge. The rewards for long climbs included some great views, as well as the thrill of the long downhill grades and the break they provided!
Along the way I developed a technique that helped me face hills. In the difficult uphill sections I found if I focused on the long road ahead leading to the crest of the hill, I tended to be overwhelmed and was tempted to stop pedaling. But if instead I focused on just the next few meters of road ahead, I was less overwhelmed, seemed to have more energy and was able to conquer the hard road ahead. The key to succeeding with these hills seemed to be where I placed my focus, the next few meters or the long road ahead. The physics of the ride does not change, but just focusing on getting through the next few meters makes a world of difference.
In life, like cycling, I like the “long downhill grades” where I just sail along. I would like to avoid the hard uphill stretches, if possible, but they always seem to find their way into the road ahead. In the overwhelming life moments, staying focused on the next step, the one small thing I can do to move forward rather than the long road ahead seems to make the overwhelming tasks of life circumstance less overwhelming. Like it or not, the difficult moments and life challenges do provide some new “views” along with a deeper appreciation and understanding of life that can only come through facing life’s hills.
Jesus has some words of encouragement about focusing on the road just ahead in these moments of challenge… “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 –The Message
Drafting is a strategy where two or more cyclists line up in such a way as to provide a greater efficiency in the ride. The lead cyclist provides an air stream draft for the others which can, according to some estimates, provide up to 30% greater efficiency. The optimum distance between cyclists is about 20 inches– being closer, cyclists run the risk of accidents. A greater separation diminishes the benefit of the draft.
We found the benefit of drafting was accentuated in strong head wind conditions. The stronger the wind the greater the benefit to the cyclist, but at a significant cost to the lead rider! Because the lead rider expends a great amount of energy, the lead position is rotated to utilize the fresh strength of each team member. We found the discipline of drafting was intentional and required focus for all team members. There were times when drafting was so effective that it provided profound moments of satisfaction along the way.
Drafting is a great illustration of team work:
- Each member of the team is important and carries responsibility for the success of the team.
- The importance of team work increases with the difficulty/complexity of the task.
- A team should never underestimate the importance of the “relational distance” in team efficiency.
- Effective teams accomplish more than any one member can on their own.
- A shared common goal provides the motivation and discipline required for working as a team.
- Trust is required for effective team work!
A thought from Patrick Lencioni in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable: “Remember teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.”