Dream come true

For the Hartridges, great ride but good to be home

  • Sep. 11, 2013 6:00 p.m.
Heather and Chris ride their bikes on stage in Salt Lake City

Heather and Chris ride their bikes on stage in Salt Lake City

After seven weeks of pedalling in our home province and five states, we were approaching the end of our Ride For True Health from Kamloops to Salt Lake City, Utah. The journey was aptly named, as we love the long slow nature of cycle touring and we had chosen the USANA True Health Foundation as our fundraising beneficiary for the ride. What a great combination!

The actual tally was just over 2,700 kilometres, or 1,700 miles of riding. We had no flats, no broken spokes… we suffered no setbacks at all. Weather-wise, one major thunderstorm in each country was pretty good odds for seven weeks of outdoor travel, although the one near Bear Lake, Utah turned out to be a doozie. The high winds that ripped our tent from its pegs and sent it skyward rolling down the rocky shoreline were also responsible for creating a dust storm of biblical proportions. Four hours of huddling behind makeshift barriers kept us occupied that day. The expected high temperatures in August in the southern latitudes didn’t materialize – thank goodness. Our plotted route through western Montana and Wyoming kept us at a high elevation for a major leg of the ride and it wasn’t until we descended into the Salt Lake flats that we noticed any real heat. By that time we were becoming acclimatized and 100 degrees F was okay to ride in. Overall, the journey was everything we had hoped for. Physically challenging, mentally relaxing and spiritually fulfilling. Looking back at it, the stars were definitely in alignment.

The actual arrival at our destination had a bit of planning behind it. As we rode in, we were to be met in front of the Salt Palace Convention Centre by our USANA Team, an ABC TV network crew, photographers and social media people. At a specific time – 10 o’clock. On the dot. The night before, we camped in a Salt Lake City campground not willing to let go of the nomadic lifestyle that was now all too comfortable and familiar. In reality, our tent was pitched just a short ride from the convention centre.

Wanting to be on time the next morning, we left far too early and found ourselves aimlessly cruising the sedate streets of downtown. If in doubt, stop for a coffee; do some window shopping; meet some more new people – anything to postpone the end of the ride. Soon though, the time was close at hand and we staged ourselves around the corner from the finish line. Peeking into the intersection, we finally let go of the brakes and coasted to the bitter sweet end. Our emotions were on a roller coaster but the huge welcome tempered our sadness. Our team were all wearing yellow Team Vitality T-shirts and seeing them brought back memories of our departure from Kamloops. It also gave perspective to the scope of the ride. It really was a long and wonderful way. There were hugs, tears, more hugs, smiles, cameras with huge lenses, video cameras and microphones, interviews and even more hugs. Celebrating the achievement of our goal with friends was one of those once in a lifetime events. The smiles on our faces were big… really big!Later, we cycled to our hotel and with not nearly so much fanfare, wheeled our bikes into the lobby and checked in as if loaded touring bikes in hotel lobbies was the norm. We found the elevators and took our rides to the room. It felt so strange.

The USANA Convention was a fun-filled four days that featured entertainment including MC Hammer for all the Gen Y’s, Kenichi Ebina from America’s got talent, compelling speakers, training workshops and of course a 5K run to raise funds for a worthy cause. The run even had a guest celebrity – Dr. Oz. He ran right next to us!

One of the things on our “list” was to one day ride our bikes on the stage at this convention. We used to think of it as a fantasy but this time the dream came true. The President of the USANA True Health Foundation, Elaine Pace, had been in touch with our team and at our send off in Kamloops we were invited to watch a YouTube video of her thanking us for our commitment to raise funds for the foundation. She also invited us to appear on stage riding our bikes. Really? In front of thousands of people? Ride our bikes on the stage? We called Elaine, accepted her offer and seven weeks later our entrance onto that stage was otherworldly. Cycling on the super smooth surface seemed a little like flying, all the while watching out for the edge of the stage to keep from riding right off. It was a huge amount of fun. We were elated to hear our efforts paid off. Donations to our chosen program, the Sanoviv Medical Assistance Fund had risen noticeably during our ride. Mission accomplished!

We were humbled by the recognition our ride received. Our feelings of achievement gave way to the contentment that comes from doing something to help others on our planet. We know that 100 per cent of the funds raised from our ride will go towards helping people receive the treatment and world-class medical care that Sanoviv provides. This fund allows for those who would not be able to afford Sanoviv’s services to experience care and healing in its special environment.

We love to travel but it’s always great to come back home.

We’re looking forward to seeing all our friends at our fitness studio and to meeting new people interested in how cycle touring fits into a healthy lifestyle. We hope to inspire others to do all they can to make their dreams come true.

Chris Hartridge is a cycling enthusiast and regular Observer contributor.