It was another whirlwind trip to a National Park but well worth the time and energy. And trust me, it took a bit of energy because of why I was there.
I had signed up for a fundraising event with a twist. This one included a 50 km (more about that later) bike tour and the location was in Prince Albert National Park.
I know the statistics about MS in Canada and more specifically how rampant it is in Saskatchewan. I’ve seen how it can ravage a body. I’ve seen the struggle to maintain a quality of life that most of us take for granted. That’s why I signed up because I wanted to provide financial and mental support to my friends with MS. These women are inspiring with their attitudes.
I had totally forgotten how close the park is to Saskatoon so was pleasantly surprised how quickly we arrived. I asked for a drive by shooting of the sign but we actually pulled over, used the headlights and got a decent photo.
Too many people Prince Albert National Park is synonymous with Waskesiu as that’s the main location to stay. Which indeed is where our weekend was focused. It always reminds me of Banff without the mountains but rather a kick ass big lake. It’s got that lake style down pat in almost all the buildings. It was rather nice being there off season.
This event is like a well oiled machine. As the rookie on the team I had no real idea what the whole deal was. I can say I was impressed with the organization. Friday night check in was easy peasy. Saturday all three meals and a zillion snacks were provided. This is a major event and each year brings in a significant amount of money. The list of corporate sponsors is pretty impressive. Turns out my roomie is also the Ambassador for this event and so did the opening speech.
The setting for the bike ride was really stellar. I was under the impression it was a 75 km ride but the route is actually 50 and it too loops. The first loop is 24 and the second it 26. There is a challenge loop which in essence it just repeating loop 2.
As Kate said it’s a tour event and not a race. My friend Lynn and her boyfriend chewed up the course which is their fitness style. Our team had a much more laid back style and stopped at most of the rest stops along the way. On the second loop we also stopped at important signs as evidenced by the photos below. These are milestone fundraisers from last year so the team and two members had individual plaques.
Our team was all about the camaraderie. It’s a big diverse team that had loads of interconnections within the medical field. Which makes sense in that it was founded by a nurse, Tracey, who’s married up an ER doc (both of whom were in the Haiti mission with me). It was fun discovering all my connections to everyone; even the labour and delivery nurses staying next door!
We finished loop 1 and loop 2 as a team and then for most it was time for a beer and a cookie. I had this need to do a bit more perhaps because I had pumped my head into 75 total. So in the end I chose to do an additional 6.5 Kms out to the river and then back for a grand total of 65 if you add the 2 km from and to the cabin (that last km almost did me in!). I wanted to circle back to the river and get some photos so Kate went with me. So glad we did that and still finished on a high note!
The only disappointment was that I didn’t find any red chairs. I thought there might be a set out at Birch Bay but alas no. When we pulled out 25 hours after arriving I knew I wasn’t going to get the elusive photo. It’s ok though as it was so worth the time and energy. Thanks to everyone who donated and to those who gave me encouragement about the ride. The bonus was one more National Park for my Canada 150 Series.