There are occasions in life when timing really is everything.
That’s the case for Southdale resident Elaine Ross, who will be taking part in Habitat for Humanity Manitoba’s Cycle for Hope 2017 event, which this year is titled the Road to the Rockies. The riders will leave Jasper on July 3 and are scheduled to arrive in Winnipeg on July 13.
At press time, the organization’s flagship fundraising ride was set to feature 46 cyclists, who will be embarking on the adventure of a lifetime to help low-income families own their first homes. This year’s ride has extra special significance, as the riders will return to the site during the 34th Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project, when President Carter and Mrs. Carter will be at the build site to welcome the riders home.
While this will be Ross’ first Cycle of Hope, she is no stranger to high-octane endeavours. She has competed in numerous triathlon events and four Ironman competitions. Ross, who works in corporate communications at Investors Group, also joined the Manitoba Randonneurs long-distance cycling group last year, and already has a 160-kilometre ride for Habitat under her belt.
She said she thought about signing up for Cycle of Hope for a long time, and it was the fundraising aspect that worried her more at the start than the event itself. However, after duly raising the $3,000 required, her only real concern is now being away from her family for 10 days.
"I’m pretty excited the Carters will be there, especially as they’re so involved with the build," Ross, 49, said.
"We’re going to have a police escort from the Perimeter to the build site, so I expect it will feel like a pretty big deal."
In terms of the ride, Ross said the cyclists will be sleeping on gym floors and church basements and relying on the kindness of strangers to help keep costs down and ensure all the fundraising goes to the home build and not on accommodations.
"The plan is to ride 100- to 150-kilometres a day, which doesn’t scare me as I’ve been cycling 100-kilometres plus every weekend for a while now. The difficult thing is training for the mountains when you’re in the prairies," Ross said.
"I’ll be riding with good company and support and there’ll be regular pit stops along the way, if needed. My first Ironman competition was in Penticton, but I’ve never been to Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper, so I’m looking forward to it."
What makes Ross’ quest more compelling is that when she was born her "lower legs curved in" and doctors weren’t sure she’d even be able to walk.
"They had to go in and pull and stretch the tendons, and I had casts and braces put on to keep my legs straight. My mom had to massage my feet all time, and she did a lot of work to help me get where I am today," Ross said.
Based on the advice of a sports doctor, and with her 50th birthday coming up later this year, Ross doesn’t know how many triathlons or Ironman competitions she might have left, so the Cycle of Hope represents the perfect challenge at the perfect time.
"I love a challenge, and the fact that the money raised goes to a worthy cause is the icing on the cake for me. This is a great opportunity for me while I’m still so healthy, fit and active."
And while she’s already reached her fundraising goal, Ross said individuals can still donate to the cause. Go online at www.habitat.mb.ca for more information.