Photo caption: Elaine Hofer and her sister, Alice Hofer, ready to head out on their 100 kms ride for their GO! 100 challenge.
The following republished story was written by Elaine Hofer and was first posted on her private Facebook page. Hofer lives in western Manitoba.
In early July, while I’m enjoying my afternoon coffee, Darryl Loewen’s #go100 video stops my scrolling and sticks to my brain (Darryl Loewen is the executive director of MCC in Manitoba). Because they love fitness challenges and the work that MCC does, some of my dearest friends and I decided to do 100km as an expression of support and celebration. The 100 km goal was a marvelous incentive to move and be outside.
Our girl biking group probably thought we’d be trained and have completed this goal a long time ago, but it was only during the last two weekends that some of us completed the #go100challenge to celebrate the MCC Centennial. Just like the rest of 2020, which had so many plans and dreams altered, this also turned out differently than we would have wanted and hoped for. In the end, we couldn’t all ride together as friends as we had initially planned.
This challenge was a twofold treasure. Thank you to MCC once again for taking me to places where I grow and am completely humbled. In the surrounding country, I had picked berries and herbs for many years, as well as picnicked on hard boiled eggs, ham sandwiches and pickles in shady ditches hundreds of times. In recent years I hadn’t picked there, eaten pickles and eggs or gone back as much. Back then, we drove through the roads in cushioned seats, but hot vans and made memories that I can still smell, taste and sense today.
The ability to move for hours on the bike and take in new views, sagging barnyards with family histories engrained, swishing horse tails, and smelly marshes scented with cranberries was incredible.
I haven’t breathed thank you as many times in a while.
- Elaine Hofer
That view is an entirely different experience from the bike. Experiencing the same countryside on a bike is deliberate, slow, special, and intimate. It’s also dustier, bumpier and hungrier. Gravel road washboards feel rougher, snacks are buckled in your backpack and batteries go dead on the bike, too.
We decided that blinking away dusty country dust and sitting on hard cut wild roses in the ditches during rest stops is about as non-elite an experience as it gets, right? And ten years ago, I wouldn't have believed I’d find it enriching to sit in a ditch on a vast prairie and feel whole and not lost at all. I only felt lost in the wonder of the world and whole enough to just lie and be. The wind on the prairies loves circling and taunting us, but no it didn’t win, though it gave us its full force to deal with on the last weary stretch where we pedaled right into it. Alice blew off of her track a few times, but by then we smelled the end and we just gutted it out.
We had our true blues checking in on us, and we stood at an unmarked intersection in confusion once and someone came up over the crest and helped us. At one point when things were just getting dicey, one friend showed up and drove beside us in support, at another time other friends brought us fuel food, and our family had warm food waiting for us when we got home just a sliver before dark.
Photo supplied by Elaine Hofer
The ability to move for hours on the bike and take in new views, sagging barnyards with family histories engrained, swishing horse tails, and smelly marshes scented with cranberries was incredible. I haven’t breathed thank you as many times in a while. I used to fantasize about the east and west coast and I still feel like touching my toes on them. But the country scenery here also made me feel so alive and small, yet still part of a huge experience. I came out on the other side quieter and calmer, though I had anticipated feeling only sore and beat.
During the last stretch, our bodies started to set like hardening clay into the biking position, and when we got off the bike, we had to reshape our legs into a straight position. It’s not a pretty sight or experience. The fascinating part was how our bodies bounced back. Our sore muscles the next day were just twinges and when I felt them, it only made me remember I was healthy enough to be able to push through and complete such challenges. I grin when I load the photocopier and feel my muscles or when I bend to cut parsnips in the garden the next day, and the soreness brings back surges of the adrenaline that helped us the day before.
It had rookie moments, quality sister time and memories that we’ll laugh at and hold onto. We can’t wait for the next challenge and ways of growing with MCC. My regret is not doing the fundraising just yet; I hope to become better at the work of asking people to support us. I am grateful for the joy it brought us as we planned, trained and strengthened each other during this summer and fall. It means the world to me.