CFFF Courage Vol.14 NA

Vol.14

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I t all started with an email… "Is anyone interested in cycling from Toronto to Ottawa, to raise awareness and donations for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation?" Before I could even finish reading, my heart rate was soaring at the prospect of a new and exciting challenge. It was the perfect opportunity to socialize, push the limits of fitness and performance, and support an incredible cause. Preparing for this ride alongside my friends would be an awe- some way to motivate, train, and push each other hard. And so it began…solo rides, group rides, flat rides, hill rides, windy rides, rainy rides, hot rides, and even the out and back rides where it felt like we had a head wind both ways. Hours upon hours, with lots of laughs, and hundreds of kilo- meters later, an entire summer had disappeared. Before we knew it, the early morning of September 6 had arrived! The first and most striking part of the journey was our arrival at Station 243. The warm welcome and positive energy of our fel- low riders helped quell the restless pre-ride jitters. Nerves transi- tioned to excitement as we mingled amongst ourselves, met the support team, and stuffed free swag in our kits. Meeting with David Cossitt, the ride's organizer, was both motivating and inspiring. We donned our Celtic themed jerseys, gathered for the media, and listened to a moving speech from the Chief. Following that, the marching pipes, big smiles, and well wishes of the recruits was the perfect send off. From a pure cycling and fitness standpoint, the ride was what one would expect…challenging. Unlike the usual highway drive, this route was rich with hilly terrain. The consistent climbing, headwind, and ten hours of seat time made for a very long first day. Having never been in a group this large before, I was skepti- cal of how well we would stay together. Some riders were experi- enced in a peloton, and others, like myself, were not. The first few hours were a learning curve for many, but by the middle of day- one we were a well-oiled, fast moving, and efficient Celtic- inspired machine. We quickly learned to space ourselves correct- ly, keep pace, communicate, and properly rotate the pairs who pulled from the front. It was crystal clear that teamwork is at the heart of our profession, both on and off the job. What wasn't expected, was the incredible level of support we received everywhere we went. We were warmly welcomed with cheers, encouragement, and sugary fuel at each fire hall we visit- ed. Our brother police officers escorted us safely in and out of town, and the passing motorists sounded beeps, honks, and cheers of motivation. TORONTO FIREFIGHTERS CELTIC SOCIETY MEMORIAL RIDE TO OTTAWA Written by Ottawa Firefighter Anthony Wu EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS IS THE SECOND YEAR OF THE TORONTO FIREFIGHTERS CELTIC SOCIETY MEMORIAL RIDE TO OTTAWA. THE SOCIETY OFFERS THIS FIRST-PERSON INSIGHT INTO THE PLANNING, LABOURS AND PAIN THAT MAKES THIS EVENT SO SUCCESSFUL! 51

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