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Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013 – Two Days of Sweat and Tears

10 November 2013

A few weeks ago, I took part in an amazing charity event, The Ride to Conquer Cancer. We cycled 220kms over two days and raised funds for cancer research.

1336 riders took part in the event, and in total we raised an incredible $5.2 million dollars!!

For my own fundraising efforts, I raised $8,350 with the help of friends, family, my community and my wonderful blog readers – thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

So this is me at the start line. I woke up at 4am and was all geared up and ready to go by 6:30am.

I was feeling relieved that the day had finally arrived. I was happy and excited to be part of such a significant event. I was proud of myself for doing something so worthwhile. And I was emotional and humbled by the touching speeches. The organisers pushed a rider-less bike through the crowd to symbolise all those lost to cancer… and seeing that empty bike being wheeled towards the start line made tears well up in my eyes.

We set off at 7am.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

About an hour in, my riding buddy had a flat tyre! She rode over some broken glass and we had to pull over on the side of the road.

Oh man, I felt so bad for her. If that were me, I would have been in a fumbling mess… and would have lost all my confidence in riding the rest of the way. But instead, I joked around to calm her/our nerves.

Thankfully, a volunteer bike technician arrived in 3 minutes. He fixed the tyre, pumped it up and we were off again in less than 10 minutes! Amazing!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

THEN. The weather hit us.

Look at the storms clouds rolling towards us! The wind was strong. The rain poured. It was cold. It was a pretty miserable day to be riding.

Riding INTO the wind was difficult. It was bloody hard work! I struggled. I was in pain. It honestly felt like 5 hours of agony.

I wanted to cry and give up. My shoes were filled with water, my arms were shaking from the cold, my muscles were screaming in pain… and there was a moment where I thought to myself – WHY THE HELL AM I DOING THIS??!

But then… I’d see a rider pass me, with a yellow flag tied to his bike, indicating that he was a cancer survivor. Yup he was here on his bike too, struggling with the wind and rain, just like I was. Then another yellow flag would pass me. And another.

And yep, it put my own struggles into perspective.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

This is me, with my new attitude. Just cheer the hell up and enjoy the ride Karen!

There was so much rain and wind, that it was almost comical.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

I managed to finish the first day’s ride with a smile on my face. I rode 103km.

Man that was hard. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life.

I wasn’t very talkative that evening. I just wanted to have a hot shower, get changed into some dry clothes, put on some dry socks, eat some hot food, then go to bed.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

I was a little worried that other people’s snoring would keep me awake.

But there was so much rain throughout the night, that the sound of rain drowned out all the snoring. I slept very well!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

The next morning, the sun was shining! HOORAY!

But it was cold – I think it was 6°C or something.

I went to collect my bike from the bike racks and I felt – surprisingly – excited!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

Me again. All rugged up and ready to go!

The weather warmed up and the day turned out to be sunny and spectacular. It was perfect riding weather.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

My poor riding buddy had ANOTHER flat!

Same tyre.

On the last 20kms of the ride, I took it easy and enjoyed the ride to the finish line.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

WOOHOO I DID IT!!!

No words can describe the feeling when you choose to do something really difficult and you conquer it.

I know that I did this charity ride last year. But this time around, it was definitely much harder for me, because I was not as fit as I was last year. I had a few tears in my eyes the moment I crossed that finish line. It was hard work and I did it.

And just like when you watch a movie a second time around, I was much more aware of the little details… the people, the stories and the purpose… it really brought the whole experience to life. And I was so much more thankful for that.

I really want to thank the organisers, the volunteers, the riders, my team, and everyone who donated to this wonderful cause.

Thank to you, my readers, for following and supporting me on this journey!

xxx


The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer – Perth 2012

29 October 2012

Last weekend, I rode 200km in two days.

As you might know, I have been preparing and training for this fundraising cycling event for the last 11 months and to have the moment FINALLY ARRIVE was both mind blowing and terrifying!

I spent the few days leading up to the event being very excited, nervous and unable to sleep. I even had cycling dreams! You know you’re a serious cyclist when you have cycling dreams haha.

The night before the event, I packed my bag, my sleeping bag, my tent mat, my bike and all my gear… I put everything into my car and I was all ready to go.

After that, I felt very calm and I was REALLY looking forward to the next day. A bit like Christmas really. Or like I was getting married next morning. THAT’S how excited I was. I went to bed at 8:30 pm.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

The next morning, I woke up at 4am. I leapt out of bed in complete darkness, and went about getting ready.

I met my team mates at McCallum Park, just south of Perth City. The sun was rising over the river and there were hundreds of people with their bikes. There was pumping music, breakfast was being served, and there was an incredible buzz in the air.

I strolled through the crowd with a huge grin on my face – knowing we all were about to do something pretty damn cool.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

At 6:30am it was time to shuffle into position for the opening ceremony.

It was announced that there were 1219 riders in total, raising an amazing $4.6 million! Holy cow!

There were a few inspirational speeches where one young lady shared her cancer story… which was so heart-wrenching and moving that I had tears streaming down my face. I looked around and saw that everyone else was sniffing and crying too.

It was such a powerful – yet unusual moment – because here I was, sitting on my bike, looking up at the rising sun, squished together with thousands of other people on their bikes, everyone was dressed up in yellow lycra, helmets and sunglasses, everyone was crying… and it was as if I could feel everyone’s heartbeat sharing this one resolve – we’re doing this to conquer cancer.

Phew. It was a heavy moment.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

And off we went.

It was a slow start, because there were so many riders on the road.

We practically scooted our bikes over the start line… then for the first 3kms we were riding very slowly at 10km/hr. Everyone was finding their own pace and everyone was being courteous, careful and trying not to crash into each other.

After that the pace picked up and ahhh the ride was fantastic! There were so many people lined up along the roads cheering us on and waving flags and banners.

My group of 12 was split up because of all the traffic lights. But I stayed with a few people from my group and we rode leisurely at 25 – 28km/hr.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

At the first 25km pit stop, the queue for the toilets was so loooooong.

However we were well looked after with free fruit, muesli bars, biscuits, water and electrolytes.

Our team gathered together again for a quick chat and soon we were back on our bikes.

There were a lot of instances when I was separated from my team mates again and I was riding with complete strangers. But that was fine, all the strangers seemed like friends, and we all just chatted merrily and enjoyed the ride.

I was actually really surprised by how many “non-serious” bike riders were participating. There was lots of people on hybrid bikes, mountain bikes, fixies (single gear bikes), and even cute, stylish bikes with baskets. Lots of people I chatted to, said they had never ridden further than 50kms in one go.

But hey – they were here, riding for a cause. And really, this was a ride not a RACE.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

After another 25km, we stopped at the next pit stop for lunch. Chicken wraps never tasted so good!

We stopped for 40 minutes and on hind sight, I think we “rested” for too long.

Usually on our group training rides, we don’t stop for lunch. We don’t eat heavy foods, nor do we stop for such a long period of time.

So by now – sitting on the soft grass, in the warm sunshine for half an hour – my body was moving into sleepy, shut-down mode… and I needed a coffee pronto!

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

The weather was just brilliant.

Beautiful, big, bright, blue skies, warm sunshine, a gentle breeze.

And the road was just long, straight and flat!

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

This is Cheryl and I, riding along with big smiles!

I was wearing arm warmers (and these are the summer versions, called, sun sleeves) which are just like socks for your arms. They are SPF40+ and you’re supposed to wear them to protect your arms from the sun… but um, I was really hot, so I pushed them down and felt a bit like a rock star.

Also my husband drove himself and the kids down to meet me along the way. They stopped by the side of the road to wave, cheer, hoot and take photos of me as I rode past! Such sweeties!

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

I arrived at the camp grounds (actually the football oval in the town of Pinjarra) and it looked awesome!

A HUGE thanks to all the volunteers and crew members whole gave up their time to make the whole event run smoothly. For example, all the tents were set up by kids from the local primary school – over 600 two man tents!  The sleeping gear of every rider had been trucked down before we arrived, and there were volunteers unpacking it, and helping weary riders carry it to their tents. And guess what? The people unpacking the trucks (in the hot sun) were all volunteers… and some of them were scientists who work at the Research Institute.

Day One’s ride was a total of 97kms and it took me 4.5 hours of riding, with 2.5 hours of rest. Total time to complete was 7 hours.

Of my all my group mates, I arrived last because…… I stopped several times to take photos so I could upload them to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram :P

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

There were a LOT of bikes. From super expensive bikes, to a funny, old kids ‘chopper’ bike with small wheels. They looked like insects, nesting for the night.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

Speaking of resting insects, I found my tent and lay down to take an afternoon nap.

I was only looking up at the sky for a few seconds before I became unconscious.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

As evening fell, everyone had showers, a massage, joined in the yoga tents, and slowly gathered in the main tent, for a beer and to eat dinner. In the picture above, notice someone is having a nap at the dinner table, after having a nap in their tent.

Later there were some speeches and a band played. It was such a fabulous atmosphere. It was like a fun cross between camping, being at a really quiet rock concert, and having joined an army with a yellow uniform and excellent food.

During the speeches, someone shared how cancer had touched his life…how he slowly watched cancer defeat his best friend.

I sat in the crowd and looked around. I looked at people’s faces. Faces of total strangers. There were so many. In that moment, it made me appreciate that everyone had a story. Everyone around me, at some point in their life, cried heavy, silent tears for someone they loved and lost.

If there was one part of the Ride that I will remember forever, it would be that one.  I knew that my tears are not alone.

Phew, another heavy moment.

I went to bed at 8:30pm and fell asleep promptly! But I woke up at 2AM with a really sore back and I couldn’t get back to sleep because – there was an orchestral chorus of SNORING going on in several of the tents around me. So in that way, it was just like being at home :)

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

By 4AM I decided to “wake up” which was a good decision because I was first in line for the toilets, bathroom, coffee (they were damn fine coffees!) and the hot breakfast.

I don’t usually eat such a hearty meal before a long ride, but I was soooo hungry, and who can resist the smell of bacon? The breakfast spread was amazing.

I was quite worried about my ride for Day Two… because of my poor sleep, my sore back, my sore bum, having just eaten too much food before my ride… and the fact that I HAD NEVER RIDEN 100KMS BACK TO BACK BEFORE.

But hey, for Day Two, I think I had my best ride ever!!

I stayed with the faster riders of my group. We rode fast, we worked as a team, it was really exciting. Like REALLY EXCITING. And fun!

Then later on I lost my team because of a pit stop and bad communication (I didn’t shout out loud enough!).

So I rode with some strangers, and lead them peleton-style passed other riders, collecting a train of riders on our tail. Yes I was leading! Ok it wasn’t very fast (about 28-30km/hr). But still, talk about a RUSH!!

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

By lunch time we had rode 60km all in one go and I was quite pooped.

I saw all these bikes lying like sleepy cattle on the grass and it was exactly like how I felt.

So I decided to take it easy for the rest of the ride. You know, try to enjoy the last of the experience rather than ride hard and fast and give myself a heart attack.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

The last 40kms was quite challenging and fun. We rode along main streets, on roads with lots of traffic and traffic lights.

There were quite a few hills that went up and down… I’m proud to say that I was fit enough. I did fine on the ascents and loved zipping down the descents. But I completely lost my group.

And finally for the last 10kms, we rode along my favourite part of the river in South Perth, with spectacular city views and crazy perfect weather!

(Yes I had 3kms left to the finish line and can you believe I stopped to take a tourist photo of the Perth City skyline?!)

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

With the crowd cheering, I passed the finish line with a huge grin on my face. What an accomplishment! Definitely one of my proudest moments!

Day Two’s ride was 113kms, and I finished it in 6.5 hours (4.5 hours of riding with 2 hours of rest). So I rode a total of 210km over 2 days.

Pardon for the confusing photo above. I didn’t actually come second place (SILVER)! After I put my bike away, I wandered back to the finish line and noticed that the media on the big screen was playing a kind of honour roll for people who have raised the most money for the event. I saw my name pop up, got a bit of a shock, then I stood there till my name rolled past again and I took a snap!

Thanks to all my incredible supporters, I was ranked 12th highest individual fund raiser ($16,910) and given the honourary title of Silver Ambassador!

The Perth event raised a total of $4.6 million and was the largest cycling fundraiser in Western Australia’s history. The money raised will help fund life-saving cancer research at Western Australian Institute for Medical Research.

(And if you’re interested, the Brisbane event raise $5.2 million, Sydney raised $5.7 million and Melbourne raised $6.2 million – that’s over $21 million for cancer research… AMAZING!)

It was such a remarkable experience and event. To be part of something so huge was just EPIC! I completely recommend it!

………………….

If you’d like to read about my whole cycling journey, you can follow me as I first rode an agonising 10km distance, to getting my first road bike, to discussing the anti-fashion of lycra, butt creams and having sore lady bits…

Or if you’d like to sign up for next year’s ride in 2013, head on over to the The Ride to Conquer Cancer website and choose your city.

Anyone want to join me next year? :)


A Ride to Conquer Cancer – 200km in 2 Days

7 May 2012

I have some pretty cool news to share!

I am going to take part in a 200km bike ride to raise money for cancer research!!

The ride is called the The Ride to Conquer Cancer, and it is going to be held in October 2012 (6 months away!)

Ride to Conquer Cancer

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll probably know that I’M A TOTAL BEGINNER CYCLIST.

You’ll probably even know that my husband found my current bike ON A PILE OF JUNK. It’s a 15 year old, beat up, old, rusty, mountain bike. I ride it along the river with my son on the back. After I have ridden 6 km, I expect to stop at a cafe for lunch, while the boys play on the beach. And when I get back home, I need to have a nap.

Sooooo, how (and why) am I going to ride TWO HUNDRED KILOMETERS?

Well, this is my story.

In 2004, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. It was a horrifying year for us. We just had our first child. And there was so many investigations and uncertainty.

After months of chemotherapy, and two heart-wrenching major surgeries, he survived it!

That was 8 years ago. Now he is [still] cancer-free. And now we have 3 healthy and amazingly active young boys, aged, 9, 7 and 3.

Since then, as you can imagine, life has been very busy for us. We strive to live happy, healthy, low-stress, balanced and fulfilling lives. Living every day, knowing how lucky and blessed we are, but also fearing the cancer returning. I know so many others are going through cancer, or have lost or are losing someone to cancer, and always, the deepest parts of my heart goes out to them.

In 2009, I was invited to a face-to face interview with American cycling champion Lance Armstrong, while he was in Australia – you can read my interview here.

He told me about his foundation, Livestrong, that has raised over 300 million dollars for cancer research, and how most of that money came from the 70 million people who each donated quite a small amount.

At the time, I was *very* inspired to do something to raise awareness of cancer, and fundraising to find a cure. I started to form a few ideas on how I could use my blog to engage in a fundraising project, but I got very busy…because I had my third baby.

Now. Recently my attention has been brought back to this because of a couple of things. In December last year, a six year old girl in Singapore died of cancer. Two years earlier, I did my little bit to help raise some funds for her treatment. Ultimately, Charmaine died because doctors do not know enough about the causes and cures of cancer.

And then, in March this year, my friend Claire died of breast cancer.

So like everyone else who knows someone who suffers from cancer or has lost someone to cancer, I have to somehow “come to terms” with what has happened.

What can I do to be more positive about what has happened, and what might happen in the future?

How can I honor the memory of those who I have lost, and also make a real difference?

Only a few week ago, an article my friend Claire had written was published in a breast cancer support group newsletter. In it, she describes how she found the strength to be positive, and how she kept raising three kids while she had cancer. She was very honest, and admitted that it was very hard work, but she ended with this…

“I remain positive because so much time and money is spent on breast cancer research and I know that I am not alone.”

SO…

When The Ride to Conquer Cancer event came up, I knew it combined my passion for fundraising, raising cancer awareness, my new found passion for cycling and my spirit of adventure… all into one event.

BUT HOLY CRAP, 200 KILOMETERS??!!

That is a staggeringly big, and painfully scary number for me.

I’ve been trying to ride faster on my bike, and I have been tracking my speed and distances. It tells me that being fit enough to ride 200km… is a long, long way off!

But you know what? I want to do it.

I want the challenge. I am inspired. I love cycling. I love adventures. I love trying to make a difference. It’s crazy. But hey, here’s to life!

I will be writing about the whole of my journey on my blog, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride with me. I’ll be asking for donations, and talking about cancer, fashion, fitness, crazy European cycling dudes, and trying not to look and feel like a total idiot!

DONATIONS

The whole point of this is to raise money for cancer research :)

Cyclists participating in The Ride are supposed to set a fundraising target for themselves – the minimum being $2,500.

The careful and conservative-Karen inside me is going – “Always better to set attainable goals! That way you have a higher chance of success! Just stick with the minimum of $2500.”

But the crazy-Karen in me is thinking – “LET’S GO FOR SOMETHING INSPIRING AND HUGE!!! LET’S MAKE LANCE PROUD!!! HE RAISED $3 MILLION!”

So I’m going to aim somewhere *in between* and go for $10,000.

PLEASE HELP ME RAISE $10,000 to help find the cure for cancer!!

You can go to my donations page and make any donation amount you wish – $20, $50, $100, $500! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax!

The money goes immediately and directly to cancer research.

I want to make a difference!

Please help me!


Volunteering for Cancer Research

26 October 2017

So, you all know how I love to mix things up in life …?

Well this is how I spent my weekend – in a frog suit, being a volunteer for a fundraising event for cancer research haha!

Ride To Conquer Cancer 2017 - Volunteering

Back in 2012 and 2013, I participated in The Ride To Conquer Cancer, cycling 200km over two days.

It’s a pretty big and amazing event, with each year raising about $4 million – $5 million.

The event has a special place in my heart, so every year I make an effort to volunteer to support the event.

You can see all my blog posts about it here.

Ride To Conquer Cancer 2017 - Volunteering

I hooked up with my old team and we all dressed up in onesies.

They hired a couple of Mini Mokes (which look like jeeps), decorated them with streamers, installed an epic sound system and we drove around to cheer and help the participants.

I found all my volunteer gear from the previous years – even my big cat eye sunglasses.

We were on our feet from 5am and we were on the job for about 10 hours each day.

It was absolutely exhausting, but not as bad as cycling 200kms and definitely not as bad as going through chemo.

This was me, sitting in the backseat, next to Captain America, travelling at 40km with the wind in my hair.

Ride To Conquer Cancer 2017 - Volunteering

(There were 8 of us in total, but I can’t find a pic of all of us.)

Pretty much everyone I met, a cyclist or volunteer, had a story about having lost a mum, dad, husband, wife, sister, brother or child to cancer. Yep, it was pretty sobering. But everyone was in this together, with one resolve, giving 110%. It was the best feeling ever.

This year there were 855 riders and we raised $4.1 million!

If you’re keen to participate for next year, here’s the link to the Perth Ride to Conquer Cancer site.

There’s also a similar event in Melbourne and Brisbane too.


We raised $5.2 million for cancer research!!

22 October 2014

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014 - Photo By Ze Photography
(Photo By Ze Photography)

It’s over for another year!

I volunteered for a 2 day cycling charity event, The Ride to Conquer Cancer.

I’ve participated in this event for the last two years and it involves over a 1000 people riding a distance of 200km over 2 days.

For each of the last two years, I have spent about 5 hours of sitting on my ass and pedaling each day! And as I slogged away, part of what kept me going were the cheer squads dotted along the route – volunteers dressed in cowboy gear, pink tutus and Elvis costumes… but the craziest and most entertaining bunch were the Onesie Warriors.

They wore one piece animal suits, sang and danced, cheered, rang bells, hooted and hollered, and got up to all kinds of crazy antics that made us riders laugh and smile when we needed it the most. They made such a big, happy difference to our journey, lifted our moods, and pumped SO much energy and fun into the event.

I remember (during a relentless uphill slog on the bike in the pouring rain) looking at the Onesie crew thinking… where do they get their energy from?? They have been dancing and jumping around for hours! They must be drunk! They must be completely sugared up! They must be pumped full of Red Bull! Were they all fit, young 18 year olds, who are just used to all this raving!?

Anyway, that was the team I joined on the weekend.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

There were 12 of us in the Onesie Warrior team, and we split into 3 groups of 4. We positioned our teams at different locations, where the route was most boring (20kms of flat farm land) or most difficult (long, slow, uphill climbs that go on forever) for the cyclists.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

Basically the whole Onesie Warrior experience was… a crazy, roadside, dance party, with insane amounts of bad karaoke, bad dancing, raving and jumping!

We had pop music blasting from our car. We were shouting, cheering, whooping, waving clappers, ringing cowbells, shaking tambourines, tooting horns, blowing whistles… for 10 hours!

Oh man, it was sooo much fun.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

I couldn’t even recognise myself. I was doing the most silliest, shameless and stupidest dance moves I’ve ever done in my whole life. And I did it on purpose! In front of people! To make them laugh! In broad daylight!

If you know me in real life, I’m usually very contained, calm, possibly soft spoken and maybe a bit shy. I am in no way a natural show pony. I don’t walk into a room and have a presence that commands people to take notice of me. In fact, I’m striving for a kind of quiet gracefulness.

But once I put on my giraffe onesie, I felt like I had permission to act like an exploding, hyperactive, crazy person!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

With our encouragement, all 1311 riders made it safely to the night camp – the half way mark for the weekend.

They did SO WELL for their first day. They rode 105km. There was a very strong head wind blowing against the riders, and I could see them all pushing into it, grimacing in pain with every down stroke of the pedal. I knew their pain! They must’ve been exhausted!

There were a lot of cancer survivors who rode too. They rode with a yellow flag attached to their bikes to distinguish themselves. I thought of my husband, who has survived cancer twice and thought whether he would be able to ride this distance. His health is excellent, but fragile, and shouldn’t really be pushed to this level of exertion. Not to mention he was at home looking after the blessing of our three kids… while I was spending the weekend having this unusual, out of character experience.

I got a bit teary every time I saw a person with a yellow flag that reminded myself why I was here.

In fact, it only took a few minutes of chatting to a complete stranger to find out that every rider had a story or a connection to cancer, and that they were determined and inspired to do something about it. I was constantly teary and inspired!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

As for me, I had woken up at 4am that day, started cheering at 7am, had only a few small breaks, and finished my shift at 5pm (to cheer the very last rider to arrive at camp).

So I went to bed at 7:30pm!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

The next morning I woke at 4am again, and the weather looked REALLY BAD.

There was a 100% chance of rain, thunderstorms, hail and strong winds. Oh my god! I hoped the wind would be behind the riders and push them along.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

For the second day, I was a frog. It was an apt costume for the wet weather. And apt, because my voice was very croaky.

At 6am, I hopped over to the start line and I bumped into these two ladies – Brooke and Sam. Er, well I actually just randomly walked up to them, because hey I’m in a frog suit, and I asked to take a photo with them because their cycling jerseys matched my green costume!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

Then our team quickly drove to our first designated spot for the day and waited for the riders to come through.

We waited and waited.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

In fact, we waited at the zebra crossing.

When the riders went by, we waved signs like “SAFARI SO GOOD!” and “KEEP THOSE CALVES MOOVING”! And other really bad animal puns.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

We placed ourselves in silly positions to wave at the riders. Our chipmunk climbed a tree. Our cows climbed a hill. Our penguin sat on a branch.

I was a squashed frog on the path, but I only took this photo after the last rider rode past haha!

We made our way to several other positions along the route, and then back to the finish line to cheer the last rider through.

We danced and cheered for hours! We were projected up onto the big screen, we were photographed and we were on TV (did you see us?!). It was definitely one of the most crazy, fun and rewarding experience I’ve ever had. It certainly gave me an unusual perspective of the event.

In total, we raised $5.2 million that will go to the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (used to be WAIMR), with all the funds going directly into cancer research projects. I was choked up with pride and happiness!

A HUGE thanks to all the organisers, the crew, the riders, the sponsors and the supporters who donated!!

I’ll see you all next year!!


October Coffee Catch Up

14 October 2015

Phew! With the kids back at school, the house is quiet once again. I can sit down and THINK!

You know, HAVE THOUGHTS!

These last few weeks have been a bit chaotic.

1) My computer hard drive crashed and was told by a Mac guy that “it was cactus”. I lost 6 months of photos, emails, contacts, documents and development work. I was DEVASTATED!

I had a moment where I closed my yes, squeezed the bridge of my nose between my thumb and finger… and instead of letting out a string of curses, screams and tears, I just sighed “Aaaaaah craaaap!” Things could have been worse.

It turns out that I found most of my photos, which were still on my cameras (thank goodness!), my emails and contacts were backed up on my server (such a blessing!) and most of my recent documents were not super critical (phew!).

I did lose 6 months of blog development work, which was – honestly – only 4 months of full time work, and if I really thought about it… it wouldn’t be difficult to redo.

THAT’S WHAT I’M TRYING TO TELL MYSELF! TRYING TO STAY POSITIVE!

2) A few weeks ago, I went for my regular pap test and my doctor gave me an ALL OVER check up.

She found a small lump on my breast and sent me to get a mammogram and ultrasound.

I knew my boobs and didn’t think the lump was anything unusual, but it was a lump nonetheless.

Yeah, there was a little bit of uncertainty at the back of my mind. A niggly, unsettling thought of what if?

I didn’t entertain that thought though. I just went ahead, had the test and waited for the results.

The results were all clear. Everything is all good.

I’ll go into a bit more detail in another blog post.

You can be sure that I’m holding onto the words “thankfulness” and “gratefulness” like precious gifts from above.

3) Speaking of gratefulness, I am working with some amazing clients at the moment!

I know at the end of the day, it’s a business relationship, but working with such lovely, friendly, passionate, creative people, who love and support my work; getting to choose my own projects, come up with fun and exciting ideas, that are realistic for me to do, given my desire to be at home with my kids – is really a dream come true!

I love my work! If only it could pay more! Oh well, can’t win at everything!

4) Oh, I’ve got two trips coming up.

One to Singapore, with a couple of my closest girlfriends!

One to Tasmania, with my husband!

Yes, yes. It’s not exactly magazine-glamorous like Paris, Santorini or Turkey.

But hey, I could be stuck in a 7 hour transit at a foreign airport with my best girlfriends (or my husband) and have the Best. Time. Ever. It’s more about the sharing of experiences and the journey, than the destination for me.

5) So I know I say this ALL the time. And it’s probably an indication of how much I adore my kids and parenting over the years.

But I just have to say: My kids are at such a great age at the moment!

They are age 12 (year 7), age 10 (Year 5) and age 6 (year 1).

They are all funny, quirky, inquisitive, full of personality, confident, smart, interesting, little people, who I actually like to hang around with!

(Yes they are also annoying, loud, rude, obsessed with computer games, but that’s another blog post…)

6) OK I have seriously lost the plot with my exercise and healthy eating.

It’s all been very irregular, sporadic, disorganised, and haphazard… and it’s been um… 4 weeks?

I need routine! I need goals! I need some kind of plan! I just need to put on my running shoes and get outside, really.

I think I’ve put on about 3kgs. I think I’ve lost muscle mass. My super skinny jeans are a bit tight around my waist, hips, and thighs. And I need to unbutton them whenever I sit on my couch to enjoy my bowl of ice cream haha!

7) Lastly, do you remember that epic 200km bike ride that I did (in 2012 and 2013) called The Ride to Conquer Cancer?

I volunteered to be part of the Event Crew last year (2014) and I loved it. I dressed up as a giraffe and a frog.

So this year, I’m volunteering again! And yes, I’m dressing up again. I’ll leave it as a surprise, unless you’ve seen my snapchats, then you’ve probably seen me in my wig already haha!

I’m really looking forward to stepping out of my comfort zone and helping out a great charity event :)

Alrighty, I could go on and on!

Gotta go!

xxx


Riding, volunteering or donating?

26 August 2014

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013, photo by Ze Wong

Photo of me riding 200km over 2 days for The Ride To Conquer Cancer, October 2013. Photo by Ze Photography.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that for the past two years, I rode in The Ride to Conquer Cancer to raise money for cancer research.

The event is a 200km ride over two days, and is designed specifically for people who are NOT already experienced cyclists. It’s for newbies and beginner cyclists!

In 2012, when I took up the challenge to RIDE 200kms, I was very motivated about raising cancer awareness and raising funds for cancer research. This cause is something that is very close to my heart, since I nearly lost my husband to cancer, and because I have lost a good friend, who was, like me, a mother of young children. I wanted to make something good come out of my fear and loss.

But I was also deeply concerned that I could not actually do it. 200km seemed like a long way compared to walking the kids 2km to school! People in my extended family were actually counselling me against it: “Can you actually do it???”

Well, as it turned out… YES I COULD!

It was a fantastic experience… it completely transformed my views about personal fitness. It was a brilliant journey to go on. I learned so much about myself, about bikes, about fundraising, and the power of working as a collective. Over the two years, The Ride to Conquer Cancer event has raised approximately $39.1 million in Australia (the proceeds go directly to research facilities in each state) – which is amazing!

But this year, I am not riding. The truth is… I’ve now picked up a whole lot of other sports like running, netball, yoga and strength training. So while I’m still pretty fit and active, I haven’t actually been on my bike since October last year – 10 months ago! I just don’t have time to do the training.

But my dedication to the RTCC, and the cause, has not diminished, so I am still participating, as a Volunteer/Crew Member. I’m going to be finding out what it takes “behind the scenes” to make a huge event like this work. And of course, I am hoping to motivate YOU! So I’ll be reporting on what I see and do. Of course, I’ll be doing the Perth RTTC… but there are also rides in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

What can you do?

Ride!
I did it, so you definitely can do it too! You can sign up with a friend, or you can sign up by yourself and the RTCC people (volunteers like me) will match you up with a team of new friends you can train and ride with.

When I first started out, I was a complete beginner cyclist. A total noob! I started training with a 15 year old, rusted, mountain bike. Read about my whole journey from when I first started my cycling journey!

Volunteer?
The Ride to Conquer Cancer organisers are looking for people to join the volunteer and crew teams. It’s the best way to experience the event while you support the riders on their journey! Pop over to the Ride to Conquer Cancer Crew Page to find out more.

Donate!
If you can’t participate or volunteer, what about making a small (or large) donation that goes immediately and directly towards cancer research. You can go to my donations page and make any donation amount you wish – $20, $50, $100, $500! You can leave a public message, or a personal message, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

More coming soon!


At The Finish Line

21 October 2013

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013 - Finish Line

Akkk I did it!! This is me at the finish line of my big ride!!

What an epic weekend – in total I rode 220kms in two days.

Altogether, there were 1336  riders, raising an amazing $5.2million for cancer research.

I’m so proud to be a part of such a successful and worthwhile cause.

A huge and heartfelt Thank You to everyone for your support.

I’ll be writing up my whole experience soon!

xxx


Ready. Set. Go!!!

18 October 2013

Ride to Conquer Cancer
TOMORROW is my big 200km fundraising ride everyone!

Eeeek I’m super-duper excited!

I’ll be heading to bed early tonight, to wake up at 4am, to be at the starting line at 5am.

Please follow me on Instagram @karenlycheng and I’ll be posting my pics throughout the weekend.

Please head over here to donate towards my cause, if you haven’t already *wink wink nudge nudge*

See you on the other side of the weekend!!

xxx


This is Why

14 October 2013

This is the hand print of my youngest son.

Handprint

On the weekend, I went out for my final training ride… before my 200km Ride To Conquer Cancer fundraiser.

I returned home in the afternoon and found my husband and my three boys in the backyard, happily doing odd jobs in the garden, and generally messing around in the cool, spring sunshine.

The youngest of my children is Liam, who is 4.5 years old. He was making a huge mess with crunched up blue chalk and a puddle of water, and he proudly showed me how he was making hand prints all over the paving in the backyard.

I was very struck by his hand print.  Because on my long, quiet ride, I was thinking about WHY I am raising funds for cancer research.

His hand print said, “I am here! I am alive!”

My son  and I, and my whole family, are so FULL of life.

We are doing stuff. Loving, eating, arguing, questioning, explaining, playing, laughing, growing older and wiser. And we can do all of this because we have such good health. This is what life is about. Being. Being together, and having a new opportunity to have more BEING each new day.

My husband has almost died of cancer twice, and survived each time only because of the research that had been done into cancer treatments. He and my family are BEING each day because of that research.

So… This is WHY I am riding.

This is my hand print on the world. I am saying to the universe… ” I am alive, and thank you for that!”

And I know that the money that you and I have raised is going to help some mum, dad, son or daughter, keep on BEING somewhere, sometime in the future.

My ride is this weekend (5 more days!)!

You can still make your own gift to the cause here.

Thanks so much!


Training Up For 200kms of Cycling

15 September 2013

With FIVE more weeks until my big 200km fundraising ride… I thought I should get back on my bike and start covering some serious distances!

So I met up with my cycling group and we rode 85kms in one morning.

Sounds really impressive, but I was SOOOOOOOO SLOW.

It was really embarrassing. It was not an impressive effort at all.

See, I was trying to pace myself. I haven’t been on my bike for a couple of weeks, I didn’t want any muscle injuries and I wanted to do the whole “Slow and Steady Wins The Race” thing. You know, like a tortoise?

Having said that… this particular day was really, REALLY WINDY. Perth has been experiencing weeks of rain, stormy conditions and winds between 30-50km/h.

I rode painfully and shockingly slow for 43kms… heading into a strong wind.

At some points I was riding 10km per hour! *Cringe*

Each down stroke of my pedal was really hard work, making my leg muscles burn. Imagine doing that for 2 hours straight :P

But once we turned around… the wind was behind us, pushing us along… and I was *flying* on my bike. It was awesome!

I was cruising along, with hardly any effort at all at 38km/hr… it was fuuuuuun :)

It kind of made all the hard work worth it.

Bike Path on a Windy Day

This is the lovely bike path that leads straight from Murdoch Train Station to Paganoni Road (slightly north of Mandurah). 43kms of flat, straight paths. Effortless right?

Oh and I did something really stupid!

The night before my ride, I adjusted my seat – just down a little tiny bit. I have a bottle carrier mounted on the base of my seat, and so I adjusted that too.

And I did these adjustments IN THE DARK. Which yes, is just genius.

So at the start of my ride, I felt that I was going really slow. Unusually slow. I was pushing and pushing my pedals with so much effort. I thought the resistance was from the strong winds and that my legs were out of practice.

It turned out that the bottom of my bottle was pressed against my tires… and acting like a brake!

My tires were wearing out the bottom of my water bottle!

It was only until one of my team mates noticed my leaking water bottle – that I realised what was happening.

Leaking Bottle

Look at that!

The bottom of the bottle was worn through in three places, because I shifted it around two or three times while riding.

Geez, I felt so stupid :P

OK that aside, I was wondering if you’d like to support my ride?

Donate on my fundraising page here

Donate any amount you feel you can – $20, $50, $100, $500, $1000! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

And if you’re interested, you can read the rest of my Fundraising Cycling Stories here.

Thanks so much!

xxx


Please Help: Mixing Fashion + Cycling + Fundraising!

5 August 2013

Wanderlust + Co Bracelet

Hi everyone!

Many of you know that I’m participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer this year and I’m fundraising for cancer research.

Well I’d like to introduce you all to my latest fundraising project.

One of my fashion sponsors – the lovely Jenn from Wanderlust + Co (who has supported my blog for many years now) – reached out to me about a collaboration.

For a limited time, she and her team will be donating $5 to my fundraising ride for every Yellow XL Buckle-Up Leather Bracelet sold.

Wanderlust + Co Bracelet

We decided on this yellow bracelet because it’s a gorgeous piece of arm candy! It’s bold and bright, it’s good-looking, polished, one of their shop’s best sellers, and it’s a little bit different.

Plus it is symbolically yellow – the colour of cancer awareness and cancer research fundraising.

(It’s also the winning colour for cycling, thanks to the Tour De France, and it’s also the colour of my bike haha!)

So it perfectly mixes all my loves – fashion, fitness, fundraising and raising cancer awareness.

Wanderlust + Co Bracelet

It’s a really a lovely bracelet for the new season – and it’s especially easy to wear with current trends like monochrome, boyfriend jeans, bold prints, florals.

It is made from genuine calf leather and gold plated screw studs, and it is priced at USD$35.

Here’s the link again – Yellow XL Buckle-Up Leather Bracelet

Please check it out! If it’s not for you then maybe consider buying it as a gift to a friend, girlfriend or wife?

This collaboration only runs for 4 weeks til the end of August.

Wanderlust + Co offers FREE Standard International Shipping on all orders USD50 and over — no promotion code needed. For orders under USD50, there is a flat rate delivery charge.

(If you were thinking of bumping your order to over $50, try this nude + gold leather strand bracelet, which I’m also wearing in the photo above.)

Thanks for all your support!

xxx

(If you’d like to read a bit more about my ride, my fundraising efforts and where the money is going… read my fundraising and cycling posts here!)


YEEHAA I’m Cycling and Fundraising Again!

3 July 2013

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2012

That’s right – I’m going to ride 200km over 2 days to raise money to find a cure for cancer.

Again!

Last year, with the amazing love and generosity from my incredible supporters, we raised a total of $17,160 and I was ranked 12th highest individual fund raiser and given the title of Silver Ambassador! Truly an honour for such an important cause.

So why am I doing this again?

1) It was such a fantastic experience – that I want to do it again.

2) It is a worthy cause. I know there are thousands of charities out there… but I feel a deep resonance towards the West Australian Institute of Medical Research. They are an established and large team of scientists in my home town, doing internationally recognised cancer research… and all the money raised will go directly towards their actual research and projects, which will help everyone around the world.

3) I love cycling. I enjoy keeping fit, staying healthy and having a big fitness goal!

4) I want to make a difference. I want to do something significant. I want to use my voice and my blog to get behind something bigger than me. My husband is alive, and my children have their father, because of cancer research that was done decades ago, and now there is so much more work to be done to find more cures and improve treatments.

So… I would love for you to dig deep and support my ride!

Pretty Please?!

(It’s my birthday tomorrow!!)

Donate on my fundraising page here

Donate any amount you feel you can – $20, $50, $100, $500, $1000! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

And if you’re interested, you can read the rest of my Fundraising Cycling Stories here.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

xxx


Asking For Money (For A Great Cause!)

26 February 2013

Yes I’m fundraising for cancer research again!

Many of you might know that I did the Ride to Conquer Cancer last year. Well I’m doing it again this year – cycling 200kms over 2 days through the countryside south of Perth.

To kick start my fundraising, last weekend, I hi-jacked a Chinese New Year Ball!

CNY Ballroom @ Crown Perth

Ok not really. A local Chinese community – my community –  were looking for a charity to support and I proposed that they could sponsor me for my 200km ride, with all funds going to the WA Institute of Medical Research.

My dad, mum, brother + sister in law, and a whole bunch of my aunties and uncles… attended the event too.

CNY Ballroom @ Crown Perth

My mother and I. We just finished placing 500 pamphlets out on the tables.

As the evening started… the thought of having to stand up in front of 500 people and ask them to donate money… was TERRIFYING.

I had that floaty, churny feeling in my tummy, a spaced-out dizzy feeling in my head, and I kept going to the bathroom all night and rehearsing my speech in the toilet cubicle. The amazing 10 course Chinese banquet was being served and I only nibbled on a bit of jellyfish (for the entree).

When the Master of Ceremonies came over to where I was sitting and told me that I was on in just a few minutes, I had a bit of a panic attack – aaaaaakkkk!

“Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean” I repeated to myself.

But I slowly focused my thoughts on WHY I was doing this. Where is this money going. What is this money going to be used for. Who is this money going to help. And it really helped calm me down.

Mr John Fitzgerald, of the WAIMR, spoke first. He sounded so calm, professional, and had such a deep voice.

Then it was my turn. I could hardly hear myself! I wasn’t sure if I was too close, or too far, from the microphone. So I gave my speech – which seemed to take an eternity –  I said thanks, then walked off the stage.

The next bit was pretty hard work. I spent the rest of the night on my feet, going from table to table, loudly talking to people over the noise of a cabaret show and giving a 10 second spiel of where the donations were going (to pretty much every single person at the event). So much talking! So repetitive! Now I know how politicians feel!

Helping me collect the money were two staff from WAIMR, who volunteered their time for the evening, Lesley and Jeanette. They made me feel a lot better about it, because they have done this lots of times before. They were so calm.

Going from table to table, the difference in response was very interesting.

As I approached some tables, someone would stand up with a bag full of money they had already collected. One man told me that his wife died 9 months ago from cancer so he made sure that all his friends on the table donated something (I totally choked up and went all teary on the spot). On other tables, they seemed to have no idea who I was, or what I was there for, or they thought I was part of the Miss Chinese Pageant haha! And it was really difficult to explain myself amid all the noise.

And at other tables, I met people who I hadn’t seen since I was at primary school with them, and we got gossiping, and I went “off-mission”.

In fact I was so busy talking to people, that I did something that is absolutely amazing for me – I didn’t take any photos!

The evening came to an end.

And I got to take home a little black lock-box full of cash!

The next morning, I counted the donations (then I got my boys to double check the total) and we found out that we had $2920 dollars! OMG!

Plus, there were about $600 in credit card donations!

Money Count

WOW! $3.5K!!

The only problem was, that it was Sunday, and I couldn’t get the money to the bank. So, what to do with so much cash?

Well, I hid it in a very secret place… which is, inside a hole in the bottom of one of the couches.

That night as I watched TV, I felt so gangster with a bundle of cash hidden under my ass.

Money Couch

On Monday morning, when I fished the money out, I found that it had been guarded all night by this little guy, who had previously been put in the couch by, I suspect, my 3 year old… along with a couple of dried out old apple cores.

Anyway, you’ll be glad to know, the money made it safely into the bank, and then into the account of the WA Institute of Medical Research, where it is already making a difference to the research to find the cure for cancer.

Thank you so much to those who have donated!

If you are keen to donate money towards my 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer, please visit my fundraising page here!

Or you can read all the posts about my cycling adventures on my blog.


Wearing Yellow at a Chinese New Year Ball

15 February 2013

So, I’m going to wear a canary yellow dress to a Chinese New Year Ball on Saturday night.

Why am I going against the obvious RED theme?

Weeeeeell……

Last year, I decided to try and raise some funds for cancer research. I took up bike riding, and I (and about a thousand other people) rode 200km. Together, we raised a whopping $4.6 million dollars, and I raised about $16,000 of that.

Now, when I say “I”, obviously, I actually mean WE. “We” being all the incredibly generous people who actually donated the money “I” raised.

Well, the whole thing was such an amazing experience that I’m going to do it again!

Cycling! Training! And yes, fundraising.

That’s right, I am riding in the 2013 Ride To Conquer Cancer, and here I am, deeply moved once again and aspiring to do more.

I want to raise even MORE money this year, and I have been doing a bit of thinking about how.

A few weeks ago, I asked for some help from a local Chinese association, because that’s what you have to do… ask for help. And they said YES.

So, my Ride To Conquer Cancer Ride for 2013 – the Year of the Snake – will be the official charity cause of the Chinese New Year Ball on Saturday night at Crown Casino in Perth. A Director of the West Australian Institute for Medical Research, and I, will be asking 450 people to donate money to the cause.

There will be lion dances, singers from China, a “Miss Chinese” Beauty Pageant and a whole lot of other stuff celebrating Chinese culture.

There is only one problem with this. Asking for help means that I will have to stand up on a stage in front of 450 people, make a speech, and ask them for their help. For money. Eeeek.

Did I ever tell you that I am terrified of speaking in public? That I am painfully shy? That I can’t speak English – far less Chinese – when people I don’t know are looking at me?

Suddenly, riding 200km seems easy.

Argh!!

But…

…if you want help, you have to ask for it.

And as part of asking for help, I’ll be wearing YELLOW, which is pretty much the official colour for asking people to donate money to cancer research :)

So… that’s why I will be wearing a yellow dress to a Chinese New Year Ball.

Wish me luck!


Dear Anonymous…

5 November 2012

Ride South Perth

…thank you so much for your donation! In fact there were 82 of you who donated anonymously towards my fundraising Ride to Conquer Cancer.

And also I want to thank these people… Adeline, Ai Ling, Alice, Alice E, Alice L, Amelia, Andrea, Andrew, Angel, Angela, Angelia, Anna, Anna L, Anna N, Annie, Anthony, April, Benjamin, Beverly, Brendon + Christine, Carmen, Catherine, Cecilia, Charmaine, Cher, Cherie, Cheryl, Chien Teng, Chin Chin, Chloe, Choy, CM, Cook Family, Corrine, Cynthia, David C, David S, Debbie, Denise T, Denise W, Diana, Diane, Don, Doris, Elaine, Elena, Eley Family, Eng, Evelyn, Felicia L, Felicia T, Felix + Loreen, Fifi, Fitri, Florence, Frances, Heather, Helen + Barry + Abby, Ho, Honey M, Honey T, Hong Xi, Howard, Hui Jee, Ian, Jaclyn, Jacqueline, James T, James W, Jamie, Janice, Jasmine, Jason, Jeffrey, Jen, Jenny, Joelle, John, Julian, Julie, JZ, Karen C, Karen L, Karen T, Karen W, Katherine, Kevin, Kim, Kimbra, Kinisimere, Kong Wen, Lada, Lawrence, Leong, Li, Li Mei, Lina, Lingzie, Lisa, Livia, Louise, Lynett, Lynn, M + M, Magdalene, Maggie, Marie E, Marie Y, Marna, Matthew, Mely, Michelle, Mindy, Ming Fen, Monica, Narelle, Nicolas + Diana, Nikki, Nurshida, Patricia, Patrick C, Patrick H, Pei Siong, Pei Xian, Peter H, Peter L, Phang, Phil + Aimee, Phillip, Polly, Preeta, Rachel, Rachel L, Rajinder, Randall, Rick, Rob, Roz, Ruth, S, Sandra, Sapphira, Sarah, Serene, Sharon, Shealyn, Sherry, Shio Peng, Sho Mae, Shujun, Siew Hui, Simone E, Soo Mei, Stacey B, Stacey N, Steven, Sue Cing, Suk Yen, Susan, Susanne, Tanith, T H, Urika, Vanessa, Veronika, Victoria, Wean Sin, Wei Li, Wen Keng, Wendy, Xin Li, Yang Ping, Yen, Ze, Zhi Lin… and a few others, including family and company names I can’t mention here for privacy reasons.

Some of you donated $5. Others donated $3000.

From the bottom of my heart, I really want to thank you all for your support.

By all giving whatever you gave, how ever much it was, you gave $16,910 under my name, and that was part of $4.6 million from the Perth Ride, and over $21 MILLION Australia wide, which goes to do cancer research that will make a difference GLOBALLY in years to come.

You should be so proud of yourself!


It’s HERE!

20 October 2012

I am writing this on my mobile phone, standing in a chilly park with a bike leaning on my hip, surrounded by 1200 other very excited people, at 6.30 am on Saturday morning. In literally a few minutes, we will set off on the beginning of our ride.

There are very few serious bike riders here, so for most, this the biggest thing we have ever done. Like me, many of us didn’t even own a bike a year ago.

Announced: 1216 riders in total raised $4.6million!! Amazing! #rtcc #rtccpr

It has just been announced to us that 1216 Ride To Conquer Cancer riders have raised 4.6 MILLION dollars! Amazing!

I am just giddy with excitement, and so buzzed to be part of something so huge and important.

(We’ll see how excited I am in about five hours, though, when I am tired, sweaty, and have a sore butt!)


4 More Sleeps To Go!

16 October 2012

Road Bike

Eeeeep!!

My fundraising cycle for The Ride to Conquer Cancer is in 4 DAYS!

I can’t believe how quickly it has come about.

It felt like it was just last week when I was telling everyone that there were 10 weeks left. Now it’s happening THIS WEEKEND!

I’ve been doing lots and LOTS of training and I’m really, really excited about finally doing the 200km ride!

But I’m also very nervous. Apart from childbirth, this is the biggest physical challenge I’ve ever undertaken.

I’m packing my one little bag allowance of luggage, and wondering what it will be like to sleep in a two person tent with a complete stranger, on a sports field with about 2000 other people.

I’m currently up to $13,034. I would LOVE to hit my goal of $15,000!!

So if you were going to donate towards this cause, but haven’t done it yet, THIS is the time to go on over to my fundraising page and click on the big green button!

Yay thanks :)

I’ll be updating my adventures live on instagram, Facebook and Twitter – do follow me!


THIS is where the money goes

5 October 2012

Many of you will know that I’m doing a fundraising charity ride, called The Ride to Conquer Cancer, which is a 200km cycling event over 2 days.

All the funds raised will go to the Western Australian Institute of Medical Research.

Well, the other day I organised to go into the WAIMR labs to talk to some actual scientists. I wanted to know more about how the money will be spent.

WAIMR Tour 2012

Dressed in polka dots and lilac skinny jeans, I braced myself to meet some very brainy people in white coats who speak in big scientific words.

I was a little nervous, because the last time I was in a SCIENCE LABORATORY, I was in high school biology dissecting an eye ball (from a cow) and dead frogs. Not that I expected to see eye balls or frogs… it’s just one of those memories that makes me nervous… about laboratories. And scientists.

I was met by WAIMR staffer Carolyn, and I found out that she is ALSO taking part in the cycling event. Cool! She gave me a tour of the offices and labs.

There are over 200 researchers working at WAIMR. 200! I had no idea.

Everyone was in the midst of working, so the place was bustling… in a good, tidy, productive way!

WAIMR Tour 2012

So this is a typical lab where they do their research. Thankfully, no dead frogs. It was just what you’d expect from TV – benches, sterile medical stuff, test tubes. And lots of machines that look like really expensive little fridges or microwaves.

WAIMR Tour 2012

I was introduced to Ellen, who was working with cancer cells. She’s moving them from one place to another, just like on TV.

WAIMR Tour 2012

A dish of cancer cells. Right there on the bench. Wow.

Then I met Associate Professor Evan Ingley, one of WAIMR’s top  researchers – which is probably why they gave him the TOP JOB of trying to explain what WAIMR does, to someone (like me) who spends a lot of time working out what to wear to parties (or just to pick up the kids from school).

WAIMR Tour 2012

On Evan’s left is a special machine like a fridge, where they keep some of the cancer samples. He assured me that they have a different – and much less expensive – fridge where the researchers keep their lunch.

I asked Evan – So what do you researchers actually do?

He explained that his own work is to do with protein-protein interactions. I could see he was trying really hard to make it simple enough that I could understand it, without making me feel like an idiot. And I stood there and tried really hard to understand what he was talking about. I kept nodding and after a while, I realised two things.

One, that my brain hurt.

And two, that I could never be a scientist.

BUT… I did get the big picture. By studying the enzymes and proteins in cancer cells, WAIMR can discover new ways to influence the way cancer cells grow. They are also finding ways to use enzymes to disrupt signals between cancer cells. I think.  Overall, they are finding ways to prevent disease developing and to create improved treatments.

You still following?

Evan sped through the numerous ways they were going about their research, on all the hundreds of different cancers, and he told me about some different combinations of their approaches and testing. As he listed a few out, even I could work out that all the different combinations and variations were EXPONENTIAL … and I was overwhelmed by all the work that needs to be done. The task seemed enormous.

I was thinking, “Oh my god, I can’t believe you’re standing here talking to me! Go back to work and find a way to beat cancer! I mean, why don’t you have more people working for you??”

And BAM! That’s why the money is needed.

WAIMR Tour 2012

Evan showed me some different cancer cells that they work with. They all looked the same to me!

For the rest of the tour… I felt very humbled.

These scientists go to work every day and work on ground breaking information, preventions and treatments that might save my children and grand children one day in the future. This is the kind of work that saved my husband’s life, but hadn’t yet been done for my friend Claire (who died this year), and the many thousands of others who have lost their fight with cancer, and who WILL lose their lives in the future if more research is not done now.

And you know what? Quite a few of the people I met at WAIMR are also using their own spare time to raise money for their own research work.

That knowledge alone fills me with amazement, admiration and gratitude. And it further cements my passion for raising more money for cancer research.

Can you help get this research done by making a donation?


Hello $10,000

30 August 2012

I have some AMAZING NEWS!!

Fundraising for my Ride to Conquer Cancer Event has gone extraordinarily well. I have currently raised $9,944!! Which means I need something like $56 to get me to my goal of $10,000! YEEEHA!

I’m so excited and thrilled… I feel an explosive combination being overjoyed from the bottom of my heart and being totally crazy scared!

It’s an incredible feeling to have a dream, set a goal, and now be so so so close to reaching it. I’m grateful, humbled, relieved and still very driven and focused to make a big difference.

I have decided to raise my goal to $15,000 now, because I feel that I can still do even more fundraising work. There is so much work to be done to defeat cancer, I just can’t sit back now and say “I’m done”.

Anyway, to celebrate, I thought I would share this picture.

Cycling 100km

I rode my first 100kms (all in one go) the other day!

Yes, I rode my bike until it was 99.98km and walked for 20m until my clock ticked over to the big 100. Woooot!

To put this into perspective, my cycling event in October is 200km over 2 days, so I’m halfway there, kind of! (Riding 100 km for two days back to back is bound to be much more difficult!)

Thank you to all the kind, wonderful, generous people who have made a donation to this worthy cause so far. Your support means so much to me, thank you.

If you are interested in supporting my ride, you can go to my donations page and make any donation amount you wish – $20, $50, $100, $500! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

The money goes immediately and directly to cancer research.

Thank you for your support.

And if you’re interested, you can read the rest of my Fundraising Ride Stories here.


Cycling Update – Bikes and Girly Bits

3 August 2012

Here’s an update of my cycling adventures as I train towards my Fundraising Ride to Conquer Cancer – 200km in 2 days!

1) My New Bike!!

New Bike

Yes I got a bike for my birthday!! Ain’t she hot?!

Brand new road bikes are pretty expensive, so I spent a bit of time looking in the second-hand market. It took me ages to find a bike in my size. But yay, I finally found one that was super light, super small, bright yellow and fit me PERFECTLY. She is 7 years old, and I’m so happy with her!!

The bike is a 2005 Giant TCR 1 Aero, with Shimano 105 groupset, a Selle Italia Nova seat and other cool bits which I won’t bore you with.

Haven’t got a name for her yet. Any ideas?

2) Cycling Buddies!

I’ve recently joined a cycling group to help me train for my ride. Our team leader is awesome – he’s a seasoned cyclist with tonnes of experience, he is attentive, supportive, patient, and gives me lots of great advice and tips while I’m riding.

And now I’ve been cycling 70km every Sunday morning! Amazing!

My fitness and energy levels are up, as is my confidence and spirit. I’m feeling so damn fine, and I’m so thankful for my husband for making it possible (ie. looking after the kids all day)! Definitely couldn’t do it without him, or all my supporters. Thank yoooou!!

OK, back to my cycling group…

It seems that I’m the only female in the group. There are supposed to be a few other women, but they have been sick, or nursing an injury, or they forgot to set an alarm – so I’ve never actually met my female group members yet.

I hope they turn up soon. You see, the guys don’t seem to do much talking WHILE cycling. And I like a bit of a chat. I want some Sunday gossip. I want to know what was the last thing they bought, what they think about different brands of energy drinks  and what they are cooking for dinner tonight blah blah blah.

But more important than that, I want to talk about…

3) Vaginas.

That’s right. After a long ride, male cyclists talk about being “Saddle Sore”…

But for us women, we’re talking about our lady bits.

4 hours on a bike seat? VERY SORE VJAY.

See? That’s why I need some women in my cycling group!! Can you imagine me cycling along on the path, next to my male team mates, chatting about the Olympics, the Tour de France, the weather… and my sore vagina? Neither can I.

When I first started this crazy adventure, a few women told me that it was very common to have a sore nether region after a long bike ride. I guess having three kids – au naturale – made me somewhat confident that my magic flower could cope with anything. Hoo boy was I wrong.

I bought padded cycling pants, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

At the time, I was told that you have to wear the padded pants with NO UNDERWEAR, to avoid chaffing. No undies? I simply couldn’t imagine it. But when I started riding longer distances and spent 2-3 hours on the bike… I got very sore. Eventually, on one ride, I was in so much pain and so desperate for relief… that I stopped to take my underwear off!!

I can’t remember the last time I walked out of a public toilet with my panties scrunched up in my pocket. Ahem.

Amazingly, it worked. I felt free, wild and a lot less chaffed!

But alas, as my riding distance increased (3-4 hours on the bike now), the pain has returned.

So I did a bit of research. I found a blog by a female cyclist who talked very honestly about her saddle-stressed labia (not as bad you as think). And on her recommendation, I bought a tube of Women’s Chamois Cream – designed specifically for friction and chaffing. Meaning, it will prevents your delicate region from being rubbed raw. Oh joy.

dznutsbliss

It’s called DZ Nuts Bliss and it’s not exactly the most classiest looking product. On the packaging, there are a bunch of pink, penis-shaped bike seats arranged in flowers. Eew. It looks naughty. Like lube. Which it is. But not that kind of lube.

Verdict. It is DISGUSTING with a capital D. It’s a totally and utterly GROSS. It’s like walking around with what feels like 3 tablespoons of cold mayonnaise squishing around in your knickers. BLEEERRRGH. But it WORKS. Good lord, it works a treat.

Moving right along now.

3) C-C-COLD

It is winter where I am right now, and it has been soooo cold lately. I’ve had to stop riding very early in the mornings, because the temperature drops down to 2C… and my toes, fingers, nose, ears get so numb and sore – it’s just not worth it for a 1 hour ride.

Cold Weather Cycling
This is me all rugged up for cycling in the cold weather!

You’re actually not supposed to rug yourself up too much, because you get too hot from all the cycling. But I’m a wimp. When I leave the house at 6am in the morning, I have 3 (sometimes 4) layers on my body, beanie, gloves, 2 pairs of socks… and while I ride, I shed them layer by layer and toss them into my backpack. It’s such as hassle!

4) 10 WEEKS LEFT!

I have 10 weeks left until the big ride! So far I have raised $4,159.08!! But my target is $10,000.

I’d love it if you could help and support my ride by donating $20, $50 or whatever you can to fund research to find the cure for cancer.

Please head over to my donations page and make a donation!!

The money goes immediately and directly to cancer research.

Thanks for all your support!


My Birthday Weekend

9 July 2012

Hi everyone, I just want to say THANK YOU for all the birthday messages over the week!

I had a really wonderful, simple, but meaningful day.

I woke up early on my birthday and was out the door at 5:30am to go for a 30km bike ride.

It was pitch black when I left. But I discovered that riding in the dark is just awesome! I have some badass night lights mounted on my bike, so it’s like riding in a big, black tunnel.  I have so much focus and there’s nothing to distract me. It was so coooool!

And the glowing sky before the sun rose was out of this world:

Birthday 2012 - Dawn

I got back around 7:30am, had a hot shower and leisurely washed my hair (bliss!).

The kids (and husband) made me a fancy breakfast of poached eggs, bacon, herbs and hollandaise sauce. I opened presents and cute handmade cards. I sent the big kids to school. I ran a few errands with my little kid.

Then I met up with my parents for lunch. Picked up my kids after school, and we all had a walk in the park.

Karen and Liam - July 2012

When we were in the park, my 2 big boys ran ahead, so my 3 year old and myself walked behind slowly, swishing in the fallen leaves, singing and dancing away like nobody was watching :)

Got home and made dinner, then hung out with my family. And haha I had to go to bed early because I was so tired from my morning cycle!

So yes, a lovely and simple day.

(I’ll be having a few other celebrations over the next few weeks!)

Also I want to say a special thank you to everyone who generously donated a birthday gift to my Fundraising Ride to Conquer Cancer too!!

Have an amazing week ahead! xxx


The Evolution of Karen’s Bikes

7 June 2012

Bike Mummy

I call her “The Mummy Bike”

I’ve had this bike for a few years. My husband found it dumped by the side of the road. He put a child seat on the back of it, so I could ride with my toddler to the river. But this was when I was riding with my other two kids on their bikes, and we would go very slow, about as slow as a fast walk.

When I first became serious about cycling, I simply rode faster, without the toddler. And it was very, very hard work. Even without the toddler, the sheer wind drag of the baby seat was huge. I was exhausted and disheartened.

Then my riding friends explained it to me – I was crazy trying to make the bike go faster…it just isn’t designed for it. It is made of heavy steel, it is rusty, and it has huge, knobbly tires. And a baby seat.

I was only riding distances of 5 – 10kms on this bike. Veeeeeeery slooooowly.

Bike Huffy

HUFFY the Trainer

When I decided to do my Fundraising Ride to Conquer Cancer – I was given a new(ish) bike!

It just so happened that a friend of a friend of a friend happened to have a small sized bike they wanted to get rid of (which was my size). They gave it to me and I was soooo excited.

Why? Well, it was much newer than my Mummy Bike, it was lighter, it had low resistance “slick” tires, and a bike computer that actually told me exactly how SLOW I was going. And no baby seat!

I called this bike “Huffy” but I couldn’t decide whether it was a “him” or a “her”.

I had it for a few weeks and I started riding distances of up to 20-25km.

But I was still really unfit. After a 20km ride, I felt totally trashed and my whole body would ache for a week!

However, as I got fitter, I was inspired. I could go faster, and it felt good!

And then…

Bike Monzi

MONZI came into my life! (Swoon!)

(Monzi is definitely a he.)

I was researching to buy myself a proper road bike, just like the ones that kept going past me on the bike paths. It looked like it was going to cost me $2000 for a reasonable entry-level, road bike. Yikes!

I was very reluctant to make a purchase before I even *tried* to ride a road bike.

Anyway, in the midst of my deliberation, some friends (Hi Lia and James!) kindly offered to lend me their son’s road bike. Their son had just turned 13, and he was too busy being a teenager to ride the bike right now. That’s right, I am borrowing bike from a 13 year old boy!

So, this is my current bike and it is still *slightly* too big for me. I will be riding Monzi for a few months, before I decide what to buy.

And what can I say? Monzi is glooooorious to ride. I am absolutely *hooked* on cycling now.

I feel like I’m running – no, flying through the air – as opposed to crawling.

Excuse me while I go technical for a moment… He has a rigid, light-weight alloy frame. Rigid, light-weight wheels. High pressure, rigid, skinny tyres. He’s very rigid all over, actually. Noiseless, finger tap gear changes. And other stuff I don’t understand, but love.

After riding this bike, I can say that I’m now a cyclist for life.

I’m looking forward to more training!!

Bring it on!!

Oh and in case you didn’t catch it… Please help me raise $10,000 to help find the cure for cancer!!

You can go to my donations page and make any donation amount you wish – $20, $50, $100, $500! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

The money goes immediately and directly to cancer research.

I want to make a difference!

Please help me?


Getting Lost. On Purpose.

1 October 2013

A few weeks ago, I joined a cycling group to do a 50km training ride along the beach!

Beach Ride, Cottesloe

This is me looking all fresh and energetic at 6:30am!

We started at Port Beach (North Fremantle), made our way up the coast, past Cottesloe Beach to Scarbourough Beach, and then back down again.

We didn’t ride ON the beach. Just along the paths… sort of.

See, I thought we would be doing more “path riding” beside the beach. I thought we’d be able to look out to where the big blue ocean meets the big blue sky and smell the salt and sand.

But instead, we just rode on the roads. Bleh.

I did not enjoy riding along the large highway. Yes, there was a dedicated bike path next to the car lanes.

But there were just SO MANY trucks and cars zooming by at 60-70km/hr. And they were like 1m away from me? Sometimes less?! Yes I know this is normal road riding. But I was really, really frazzled. I was grinding my teeth with stress the whole way. I wasn’t used to it. I couldn’t think straight. I was bound to do something stupid and get hurt. I didn’t like it.

Beach Ride, Cottesloe

So… I was riding with a friend and she and I decided to TOSS OUR MAP – to hell with the planned cycling route!

We decided to “get lost” and take the scenic route home haha.

Yep, we rode along the glorious view of the ocean and followed the path back to the finish line.

We even stopped to take a selfie at Cottesloe Beach!

Unfortunately, the path was FULL of pedestrians, runners, walkers, dogs, kids on bikes, parents pushing prams… so we had to ride reeeeeeaaallly slow to dodge them all.

We thought that we would be the LAST ones to arrive at the finish line! Thankfully we weren’t.

In fact, we felt a little embarrassed, because the whole cycling group seemed to have a lot of “serious cyclists”… and here WE were having a Sunday toodle on our bikes! Tsk tsk.

Beach Ride, Cottesloe

And to add further embarrassment, the organisers of the ride put on an incredible hot buffet breakfast for everyone’s hard work! Omg!

My friend and I are used to riding 85-100km each weekend… and it turned out that we only rode 35km in total (because we “got lost” right?) and we didn’t even feel tired, or sore, or that we had any kind of significant workout, OR that we even deserved all the free calories!

HAHA!

We were the joke of the table but we thoroughly enjoyed the cycling banter :)

Anyway, this ride was in preparation for my big 200km fundraising ride!

It’s in TWO weeks, and I was wondering if you’d like to support my ride?

Donate on my fundraising page here

Donate any amount you feel you can – $20, $50, $100, $500, $1000! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

And if you’re interested, you can read the rest of my Fundraising Cycling Stories here.

Thanks so much!

xxx


Behold My Pink Baboon Bum Pants

19 June 2012

While training for my Fundraising Ride, I’ve noticed that…

Cycling makes my bum really sore. And I mean REALLY sore.

Everyone I have spoken to, instructed me to get some proper cycling leggings – with padding!

My first thought – OMG there’s no way I’m going to wear BIKE PANTS! They were a hit in the 90s, when I was 12 years old. I had 3 pairs, one in fluoro pink, orange and green. Not doing THAT again!

Anyway, after a few more sore bottoms from my training sessions… I reluctantly went to a bicycle shop and found a pair to try on.

I stepped into the shop’s change room and inspected it.

I had never seen one in my life.

Cycling Padded Pants

What the? It was like I was looking at the pants of a kinky cat-woman suit with fake muscles and lifty-up bits in *totally* the wrong places.

Cycling Padded Pants
Hello down there!

Padded cycling tights are just that. They have an ergonomically shaped padding, special countoured grooves and specially designed bumps and lumps in all the right places for maximum comfort.

Cycling Padded Pants

I turned it inside out. Looks like a baboon’s ass! Eeew!

How are people supposed to walk around in these things?

AND GET THIS… they have been specially designed so cyclist are not supposed to wear any underwear with them. Ahem.

Cycling Padded Pants
Ewww lumpy.

It’s like I wedged a cushion down my knickers, and I have to walk around with it between my legs!

The lumps and bumps make my ass feel like a LEGO BIT that click-fits onto a bike seat!

(I guess that’s the whole idea.)

Cycling Padded Pants

I’m so not impressed.

But we shall see.

AND… apparently you can buy bum creams to reduce chaffing!

This cycling business is crazy I tell you!

….

Please help me raise $10,000 to help find the cure for cancer!!

You can go to my donations page and make any donation amount you wish – $20, $50, $100, $500! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

The money goes immediately and directly to cancer research.

I want to make a difference! Please help me?




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