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Up a mountain & around an island – For Volunteers

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Always expect the unexpected

H. Weiland
H. Weiland schrieb am 06.07.2017

Dear friends, family and colleagues,

It’s been quite a ride the last two and half weeks, in the one sense literally and in the other figuratively. I’ll begin by saying that unfortunately my/our race in Iceland was cancelled after being two of five legs in due to an unexpected storm with high winds that hit the east coast of Iceland. What was at first an extremely frustrating situation, considering the amount of effort, time and financial resources associated with the trip, turned out to be a true lesson in life for our cycling teams and all others involved. As I’m sure you know the story goes, always expect the unexpected ...

A few moments of course stand out from my trip to Iceland, two of which I wanted to share. Also, I wanted to share a 'so now what?' (see last paragraph) and if you're interested I’ve put together a few pictures from the trip, which you can find here.

First of, probably the most lasting impression from the trip was our initial cycling team meeting, where in Reykjavik all the Give to Live riders came together. While of course raising funds for Care in Action, Give to Live is the Canadian organization that invited me to join their group of 40 riders in Iceland and who were raising funds for a Halifax, Canada based cancer clinic. In the joint team meeting, as we went around the room introducing ourselves, I was foremost floored by the sheer number of people affected by cancer in this group, directly or indirectly and across age groups, from young to old(er). Also I was struck by the stories of perseverance that everyone displayed despite all the hardship they had gone through. It’s truly a blessing to have not be affected immediately myself, strengthening my resolve to make the most out of times where I am able to pursue my dreams and assist others along the way. Undoubtedly it was therefore an emotional and extremely personal introduction by the team that I hadn’t anticipated, which at the same time perfectly set the stage for the welcoming and yet very ambitious group I’d embark the trip on with.

A second lasting experience was the period following the decision to cancel the race by the Icelandic race organisers (for of course the right reasons — 60-70 km/h winds are not meant for biking). From a timing perspective completely out of our hands, it meant that our teams had to in a very short time coordinate travel from northern Iceland back to Reykjavik, heading into the storm and out on the other side to the south to hopefully meet flight schedules of some of our cyclists. In effect this meant that our volunteer drivers and support crew were up non-stop, not only driving but also herding cyclists that continued to be keen to get back on the road. In the end, the Canadian laissez-faire attitude surrounding a truly unfortunate situation and the spirit of our volunteers that hung in there until complete exhaustion got us back to Reykjavik in one piece. I’m again blown away by the power of volunteerism.

So, in the spirit of not giving up… what's next?!

I’ve taken some time to think about if I should call the fundraiser complete following the race. The more I though about the collective and individual effort of the trip, it seemed only right to tackle an alternate challenge, albeit it would have to be a different finish line. Without further ado, I’ve decided to pursue a running race in Verbier, Switzerland (link), where last year I had my first ‘did not finish’ ranking. It’s not the running / cycling combination which I was originally after, but with 64km and ~ 4000 meters in elevation gain it’ll again be a tough nut to crack. Here’s to hoping it’ll work out ;-)

Before finishing I also want to thank the many sponsors that have jumped on board with my campaign for Care in Action to date. The notices I've received on your financial contributions have all been received with great pride. Following this race I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop on what with your finances we’ve achieved together.

Now it’s time to find some sleep before heading to Saturdays race. I hope you'll continue to follow along on my journey and consider supporting Care in Action (http://care-in-action.org/).

Many thanks and