Tip to Tip – A Journey – Shannon Courtney

April 16, 2008

This is a friend of mine, Shannon Courtney, this is how she is thinking about what may unfold for her as she trains for Tip to Tip. If you have a story about this and would like to share it please let me know – Rob

“Every journey has a beginning, but we often miss the first steps of our own journey to an unknown destination.

We don’t realize that we are moving away from the familiar, towards something that will revive and redefine who we are. There are baby steps in the beginning. A thought that sneaks up from some unknown place in our subconscious or a dream that we can’t shake the next morning. Maybe a comment by a friend that strikes a nerve, or a piece of music that speaks to something deep within. We
don’t catch sight of it yet, it still hasn’t surfaced.

But if we are ready, then the synchronicities begin to emerge. It’s only chance that four people have mentioned that author’s book to me this week. Maybe I’ll check it out and see what it’s all about. Then there’s that writing workshop that’s coming up. I keep seeing notices for it everywhere, and then my old professor asked me if I was interested in going. How strange is that? Well, I have been dedicating a lot of time to my writing lately and I am looking for some guidance. I guess it couldn’t hurt to check out what a workshop is all about… We call them coincidences and flukes because it makes it easier for us to dismiss them OR accept them.

And then there’s a moment where everything shifts, where you realize that you have crossed the line between the familiar and the unfamiliar. Your heart began the journey awhile back and your head has just caught on to the fact. And when that happens, you are filled with such overwhelmingly contrasting emotions – fear and giddiness, anticipation and doubt, pride and shame. Then there’s the choice that your mind imposes – retreat or forge ahead. Ah, but if your heart has already begun the journey, there is nothing to be done but forge on. The heart will ALWAYS triumph over the logical mind in matters that involve the self’s evolution.

And so it is, that I have crossed over the line.

I have crossed the line before, most often my journeys have been leaps of faith that literally involved journeying to far off destinations. I think perhaps my first journey was when I moved to Ireland in 2003, but really that journey began a year and a half before I found the courage to get on a plane and move to another country where I knew not a single soul. That journey really began with me ending a relationship that was holding me back from my dreams of traveling the globe. Oh how the world opens up wide to embrace you when you choose to follow your dreams.

Now I am doing it again. I have set myself a challenge to bike 400 kilometers, from the Western tip of PEI to the Eastern tip of PEI. To my mind it seems a daunting challenge. I know there are athletes that would see it as a breeze, but I am not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination. And while I have been steadfastly dedicated to working out and eating well for quite a while now, this is still very much a leap for me.

Biking is not my forte. I am full of fears, mostly that I will injure myself, or my eyes will water constantly as they sometimes do at the most inopportune times. I worry that I will be last, that someone will have to keep coming to the back of the pack to make sure I’m still actually on my bike. I stress that my bike will give out on me and I’ll be stranded because my mechanical abilities have been absent since the day I was born. I worry that I won’t be able to sit or walk for days after the 4-day adventure.

But I am excited too. Almost giddy with anticipation. I LOVE a challenge. I thrive on setting a goal and reaching it. I decided, just ten days ago, that I would do the Tip to Tip for Africa, committing to not only completing the 400 kilometres, but also to raising at least $600 for the Townships Project.
This is what is driving me – if I am raising money for a worthy cause and people are so willing to support me, then I WILL complete my end of the bargain or injure myself trying (not planning on that, just trying to get a point across!).

Already, I have devised game plans for both fundraising and training, and things are happening. Call them coincidences or flukes, but I know they are synchronocities..opportunities and occassions that are presenting themselves because I AM ready for this journey.

And on that note, I will sign off. More to come re: my training and fundraising.


Rob’s Tip Ride Part 2 – The Cross

April 12, 2008

The first 2 days were what I will call the “Cross”. The third day was Resurrection and the last day was Redemption. My point? That real community is formed from individuals who are doing something very difficult.

So off I went, alone but with 43 others.

We all set off alone in our fear and uncertainty. Would we be OK? Would we be able to meet the challenge?

As you can see in the pictures, the day was glowering with low cloud, rain and a 40k headwind. We had 60 k to do.

I and others went inside. At first into our fears and into our thoughts and then into our bodies. ” Fuck Fuck Fuck” was my mantra as the grade uphill turned into yet more grade. The wind was blasting in my face and the wet gravel slipped under my tires. There were times that first day when all I had left was my will. This was not fun!

But in the background were the shepherds. Every now and then one of them would whip up beside me. “How are you doing?” “Fine” I would say even though I did not feel that it was fine. Just as I thought I could not go further, I came around a bend and there was the break station. Volunteers had food, water and encouragement. Then back out again – grind grind grind. But all the time the shepherds were there. Had a puncture, they fixed it. Put your back out, they had Midol and carried your gear. Could not go on – there was the truck.

As I saw how the weak and the unlucky were being looked after, I began to realize that I was safer than I thought. Heh maybe this was not a race. Maybe the point was that we would all make it in our own way? The organizers had created a safe container in which we could be ourselves.

We were on our own. No one was pedaling for us. But we had support. All around us was a framework of support.

The shepherds, the system facilitators, were the obvious support. But so were all the breaks, the lunches and the first night at a resort hotel with entertainment put on by two of the most experienced members.

This was for many of us the most challenge that we had ever faced. It was a challenge of body and more important of spirit.

In the first two days, the ordeal was so great that each of the members could only rely on the official supporters to help us. We discovered the meaning of “the silence of his personal despair” Being in pain, and hence being inward looking, we could not help the other members much. But the design of the ride mean that there were people there who were above our pain and who could and did help.

By day three, most riders had done over 170K. Something changed inside us.

We had each overcome our fears and had discovered that we could do this. We had also spent 2 nights with each other. The first night I went to bed at 8.30 exhausted. But the second night I closed the bar with a large number of the gang. We were starting to see and know each other. We had shared something.

We had each of us carried a cross of our own. Every cross was different but all had carried one. So when we looked at another, we saw a fellow and not a stranger. We had respect and the beginnings of love for each other. For each of us had been on our own cross.

Now we could begin to help each other. Now we broke free from being alone and could be a group. How different from the false community that parades itself frequently on the net. Now the process of resurrection and redemption could begin. We felt like a band of skilled veterans at war. We were becoming a band of brothers and sisters.

Our motivation was starting to transcend our own needs and extend to the whole group. Then something really amazing started to happen to us all …. More tomorrow