The power of friends in any fitness journey

This past weekend I took part in an amazing journey: 400kms on my bicycle,

in one day.

Kelowna, B.C. to Delta, B.C. (near Vancouver).

We left Kelowna at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 22nd. We arrived in Delta at around 10:30 p.m. that same night.

We rode up more than 12,000 vertical ft. during the 400km

journey and faced everything from cold to wind to light rain to sunshine.

The Ride 2 Survive is a fundraiser for cancer research and what I love

about it is that 100% of the money raised goes directly to accredited

cancer research.

The event is run by a volunteer organization, and we pay an entry fee to participate, that covers all costs.

Zero administrative waste. As a small group of under 100 people, we raised nearly $400,000 this year, pretty impressive I’d say. On the Friday night before the ride, we

all met in a large room in a church and talked about why we were riding.

Who we were riding for and how cancer had touched our lives.

It was an emotional night to say the least, and very powerful.

Some of the riders are survivors, and some currently have cancer and are battling right now.

The group was diverse, everything from very strong elite riders to inexperienced first timers, people who had just bought a bike and started training this year. Older people, younger people, fit people and not so fit people. A total mix.

So how does a group like this all start in Kelowna and arrive at the same

time in Delta?

Easy, well, ok, maybe not easy, but simple: the power of friends.

As a group, we all worked together to make sure that nobody got left behind for any reason. The stronger riders could pull against the wind by riding up front and letting the weaker riders draft in their slipstream.

Stronger riders would put a hand out and onto the back of a weaker rider on a hill

climb and push them up.

Stronger riders would ride at the back and encourage other riders and give them a push when they needed it. We also had a ‘sag wagon’, a vehicle that you could jump into and catch a ride to the next check point if you needed to skip a particular hilly section, or

just needed a rest.

There was a crew, oh my, was there a crew!

Around 40 people formed an entourage around the cyclists (called the peloton) for the entire ride. The lead police vehicle (donated by Delta Police), then the pilot car, the

riders and trailing behind: and ambulance, a bike mechanic truck and trailer, then a long train of support vehicles.

After a rest stop, the crew would pack up the moving village, drive up, around the peloton, and off to the next stop to set up camp and wait for the riders. They would feed us, help us with anything we needed and send us safely on our way.

There were 11 rest stops and every one was a welcome relief as a rider.

To ride for 18 hours requires calories, a LOT of calories, whether your body feels like

eating or not and the crew was there to make sure we had what we needed.

Riding a bike 400kms in one day is ridiculous, it’s impossible but not with a team. The whole group is required to make the journey possible, and Together Everyone Achieves More: that is the definition of a TEAM.

This is just like your fitness journey: it may seem impossible, or even just really hard, but if you build a team, you will succeed.

There are lots of ways to do this; Boot Camps, Group Fitness classes, Summer Camps, Sports Teams, etc.

Hire a personal trainer, make sure your family is onboard, get your friends to help out and you have a team. Create a facebook group about your fitness journey or goals and get all of your key friends on the group.

Work together, make sure you support each other, share stories, struggles and above all: successes.

When you have energy, help someone else, when you are tired, ask for help. Stay focused, set a BIG goal and with the help of your team: reach it.

Arriving in Delta totally exhausted but happy, knowing we did a great thing and made our goal was an incredible feeling, and I with you success in whatever big goal you have!

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.