I have 2 amazing, strong, beautiful sisters.  They have been super busy raising amazing families and taking care of day to day “stuff” which limits most people’s participation in sporting and recreation activities.  They are both super athletic, competitive and gifted people, thanks to the genes from our parents.  But, a few years ago when my middle sister asked me if I could coach her to be able to run her first 5K (she was at this point in her 50’s and still a smoker.)  I said, “Yeah, sure.”  Honestly, I wasn’t sure if she’d follow through with the plan, but to my delight, she quit smoking and became a RUNNER and a Killer Coach athlete.  She really embraced running, following the plan and running her first running race in Toronto at the 2012 Bang and Olufsen Yorkville 5K. Kath finished that first 5K under 30 minutes, in 29:43!!!  She was 167/403 women that day and 15th in her age group.  Since that amazing accomplishment, she has been busy with running other distances and just completed a 10 miler!

Here is my sister, Kath with her husband, Mike after finishing their first 5K

When she turned 50 she decided she wanted to do her first triathlon on her birthday weekend in Key West, Florida.  That spring she bought a bike and started swimming too.  In December she did her first triathlon and didn’t die, nor did she get eaten by a shark.  A few weeks ago, she asked me if I would help her train for a 200K charity ride from Toronto to Niagra Falls.  By now you can see that she is always looking for new challenges.  So, when I sent her a pair of riding shoes and clipless pedals to make her cycling more efficient, she took the challenge on with reckless abandon.

My sister, Kath (middle) finishing her first triathlon on her 50th birthday weekend! Still alive!

I made sure to tell her to practice on a soft grassy surface before venturing out onto the open roads. She needed to be confident unclipping whenever she needed to.  It has been quite awhile since I have tried to learn to ride with clipless and actually forgot how challenging it was.  I was in my 20’s when I learned how and it’s funny how we forget. When she sent me this “synopsis” and photos of her bruised legs, I couldn’t help but giggle.  I think we have all “been there” and I still have some issues getting out of pedals on my mountain bike, with slow-motion falls in the worst possible circumstances.  Generally, it’s something most of us take for granted, as I am sure she will too, in due time.

Yes, her learning curve is steep, but I am confident she will stick with it and look back and laugh.  Persistence always pays off!  Here is her email to me the day after going out in her back yard and practicing.

Hey Sistor!

Thanks again for the shoes and pedals – they arrived on Wednesday!  The shoes fit perfectly (and are super cool – love the color!!!) and Mike took my bike to the bike shop yesterday to have the pedals installed.  Hit the backyard last night to practice before our run – ugh… fell twice but very glad I was on grass!!  I’ll do another test run on Monday, maybe on the track which is flatter and less bumpy and poohy than our backyard!

Notes to self:

  • Clip in shoes are stupid… but I will overcome, and master them!
  • Now I know why helmets are soooo important!
  • Don’t try to practice with the new clip in shoes three days before a big running event!
  • Bruised knees (from the fall) make you look like a real athlete (just don’t tell anyone how you got them)!
  • Your bike really will ‘bite’ you!
  • Something more to practice – falling gracefully!
  • No, you cannot wear knee pads and elbow pads when riding … or strap pillows on your butt and hips to help cushion your fall – all that looks really stupid and defeats the purpose of having super cool shoes!
  • Have back lawn flattened next time you want to practice riding a bike on it (oh and pick up the dog pooh before you attempt this again)!

I’m sorry Mike didn’t have his phone as he was out there trying to help me – would have been great to send you some crash pictures and would have been a cool photo to put up on Strava!

Feeling good for Sunday then on to the challenge of prepping for the big ride!

Good luck to my sister and stay tuned for an update soon on her 200K ride on June 10-11, 2017!  You can help support her team here and fuel her ride to the finish line.  It’s a great cause because cancer SUCKS!

******Here’s an update with another email from my sister…. She says she is “good to go!” ********

Hey there – well, good to go!  See picture attached, a bit hesitant, knees and elbows covered with cloth for a bit of protection, padded gloves to protect the hands… all ready to go.

Started out on the track (which is super soft and spongy) at the school across the street.  Did a couple rounds practicing getting in and out of the clips.. which foot to lock in first, which one to take out first when slowing down.  NO FALLS!  Off for our ride… NO FALLS through the whole hour and a half.

Amazing how you take for granted how easy it is to ride a bike… and how you need to re-check and be so conscious of your feet when you have riding shoes and clipless pedals.  Funny – at the beginning when we started, I was unclipping my right foot on uphill’s and way before each road crossing/stop sign on the trail.  Wouldn’t let Mike ride beside me cause I was afraid we’d collide and I’d wipe out.  Took me a bit of time to figure out the position of the clips on the shoes to hit the right location on the pedals…

Happy to report that on the return trip, I had relaxed and lost the nervousness.  I could get out at will and only when necessary and I was re-clipping pretty quickly when getting started after a stop.  I am AMAZED at the efficiency of the pedal stroke and the final hill on the way back up to the road to get off the trail seemed so much easier than before (stayed clipped in the whole way)!!!  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them!!

Just wanted to send you this update.  I think I’ve turned the corner!