The Guardian (Charlottetown)
The Province,
Wednesday, May 25, 2005, p. A4

Weather creates esprit de corps among Tip to Tip cycling friends

MacKay, Mary

Been there, done that.

This was my thought when I looked outside the Quality Inn, Garden of the Gulf resort in Summerside, witnessed the wicked weather conditions facing the Tip to Tip for Africa fundraiser troop on our third day of cross-Island riding and realized I was in no way able to cycle to St. Peters.

I'd completed the full back-to-back trail ride last year in the balmy bosom of August when the only obstacle I faced was my own physical fitness. In this blustering wet weather, the difficulty was 10-fold.

"If this was snow, it would be a blizzard," I opined to the breakfast group of four who'd gathered after our evening impromptu auction laugh-a-thon, thanks to the antics of Erskine Smith and Alan Buchanan.

The two performers sold off souvenir items brought directly from South Africa by two Tip to Tip for Africa cyclists Aravinda and Jasmin Maheshwari.

"Wasn't that just absolutely incredible and just out of the blue," says Tip to Tip for Africa organizer Martha Deacon.

"It was improbable. It was impromptu. It was impossibly successful . . . We made more than $580 and that's going to help pay for the gas (costs) today because our helpful bus people have just gone way over and beyond the call of anything charitable. We need to at least help them with gas money for all this shuffling around."

The Trius and MacQueen's Bike Shop buses were filled with those headed for Trinity United for a church blessing of the bikes ceremony and those who decided not to cycle on this horrid, strainful day.

Only a few stalwart souls pushed on from the previous day's stop point in Emerald toward St. Peters, determined to finish the trail in its entirety, no matter the weather.

"Nineteen riders left this morning, there are a lot less of us now," said one thawing Brookvale Ski Patrol shepherd at the Brackley Community Centre where we found lunch and refuge from the nasty windstorm.

Just five hard-core riders and the Ski Patrol shepherds continued from there. Two who could fit that category were my Tip to Tip for Africa roommate Catherine Vardy and her friend Gerard Moss, who travelled from Moncton to be part of this Townships Project fundraiser that provides small entrepreneurial loans for poor people in South Africa.

Supporting such a project is part of the ride's appeal for the couple. The other is the prospect of adding P.E.I.'s well-known tip-to-tip cycle count of more than 300 kilometres to their annual road tally with the Canadian Kilometre Achievement Program (C-KAP).

Moss, who joined in 1995, is about to earn his 25,000-km medal, which he says pales in comparison to the super cyclists.

"Some people do 55,000, sometimes 75,000 a year," he says.

"And there are different challenges for different clubs. The more members you have (the more) you can get trophies and bragging rights."

The idea of the C-KAP fitness incentive program (www.ckap.ca) started in 1976 for the Montreal Olympics as groups of cyclists from different points of Canada cycled to Montreal. Tom Parry, who was the first recreational director of the Ontario Cycling Association, wanted to extend the challenge and sense of participation in the Olympics by extending and encouraging all cyclists to log their kilometres.

By 2004, C-KAP members have logged more than 15 million kilometres.

"There are at least 1,042 members because I'm number 1,042," Vardy said with a smile.

Though the cycling season has barely begun, Moss has tipped the 1,500-kilometre mark and Vardy has passed 1,100. This year each has a goal of 5,000.

"One year I did 5,400," Moss said.

"What he didn't want to point out, of course, is last year I got more kilometres than he did which is why this year he's trying to get ahead," a grinning Vardy added.

As our third day of the Tip to Tip for Africa progressed, there was definitely no moss growing under the vehicle tires of volunteer drivers such as Trinity United Church Rev. Bob Lockhart, Ken Richard and Florence and Donald Wonnacott, who pitched in to pilot the unexpected number of cyclists and their bikes stranded in and near Charlottetown.

Despite the difficult conditions, everyone just rolled with the flow and gave the determined five bikers and the Brookvale Ski Patrol shepherds who were watching over them a stupendous reception at the last night's stop of Greenwich Gate in St. Peters.

A lobster feast provided by several members of the Women for Environmental Sustainability was tasty reward for everyone.

"I think (the weather) has created within our group this sense of camaraderie and esprit de corps," says Deacon. "We're all going to see it through to the end and we're all going to do what is necessary and we're going to help each other."

Look in Thursday's Guardian for the final story in Mary MacKay's series on the Tip to Tip for Africa fundraiser.


Illustration(s):

MacKay, Mary
By participating in the
Tip to Tip for Africa fundraiser, Catherine Vardy and Gerald Moss of Moncton not only raised funds for the Townships Project, they are also adding to their kilometre count registry with the Canadian Kilometre Achievement Program (C-KAP).


Category: News
Uniform subject(s): Sports and leisure
Length: Long, 725 words

2005 The Guardian (Charlottetown). All rights reserved.