Lou sunning at the Beach (July 4, 2015)
Clara Hughes is Canada’s most celebrated olympian.
“A six-time Olympic medalist in cycling and speed skating; she’s the only athlete in history to win multiple medals in both Summer and Winter Games. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Member of the Order of Manitoba, holds honorary doctorates from various Canadian Universities and has been awarded the International Olympic Committee’s prestigious “Sport and the Community” award for her commitment to promoting the values of sport and play around the world. Clara also has a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.” – clara-hughes.com
Clara also suffered from depression, and made it her goal to raise the awareness of mental illness by cycling throughout Canada, stopping at communities along the way, speaking out, sharing her story, and encouraging those suffering from depression to get help.
She is also the National Spokesperson for the Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health initiative, including Bell Let’s Talk Day. Hughes uses her past struggles with depression to relate to others and to help combat issues including the stigma involved with mental health issues. “Hughes battled deep depression, which threatened to derail her life, after winning two bronze medals in cycling at the 1996 Olympics.” Since 2013, Hughes has initiated annual bike rides across Canada in order to raise awareness about mental health.
I went to hear her speak when she arrived in Vancouver. I was overwhelmed with her enthusiasm, commitment, and sincerity. She moved me (and everyone else in the crowd) to tears.
Clara was interviewed on CBC radio this morning, speaking about depression and her personal battle. She said she had a lot of help, reiterating the importance to talk to someone. She said she leaned on her psychologist, and her “2-wheeled psychologist” – her bike. She talked about how cycling grounded, and relaxed her. Helps her to deal with her problems, even today. She referred to cycling as “moving meditation”.
I like, and relate to this expression. The repetitive spinning motion and single-minded purpose puts me into a meditative state. Other thoughts melt away as I focus on maintaining an efficient stroke and a fast line. When I finish and slip my shoes off, I am physically tired, but at the same time, energized. My mind is clear, and what I thought were problems before the ride have dissipated. Not gone. But manageable.
Lou and I did the loop to the big lake and back. This has become our favourite ride here. Smooth, fast, quiet rural roads. It is a 45 km loop with three 8 km stretches ready made for a race. Lou and I put the hammer down, and go all out on these sections. By the end of the last stretch, at the 40 km mark, I am spent. There is a slight incline at the end, and I stop pedalling and simply roll to the top.
Lou: “You are getting faster. It must be those glistening legs.”
Tomorrow Chas and I are going to explore the area north of here.
Chas: “Are we going to the small lake where they catch the really big fish?”
We are heading out for a long, slow, exploratory ride looking for new routes, a hill to climb perhaps (I haven’t given up on hill repeats), and places to rest.
Swimming Beach (July 4, 2014)