In some ways, the hardest part is behind her. With training tapering off as the start of the Tour de Rock approaches, Louise Hartland knows that, at least physically, she’s been through the toughest stretch already.
“The reason that we train so hard is they don’t want us to have to think about the physical part,” explained Hartland. “If you can do the training you’ll be fine on tour. The emotional part of the tour is so hard that you shouldn’t have to think about the physical part while it’s going on.”
And make no mistake, it has been a gruelling few months for the Victoria-based CTV reporter, one of three media riders on this year’s Tour de Rock team. The three-day-a-week training schedule, which alternates hill climbing, speed rides and long-distance sessions has been a new experience for Hartland. Prior to the tour, which covers 1,000 kilometres in two weeks, the only major cycling she had done was in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a comparatively modest two-day, 260-km affair.
But Hartland has surprised herself with her ability to keep up with the rigorous routine.
“It’s really a mental thing,” she said of her approach. “You go into it thinking, ‘There’s no way I can ride my bike up to the observatory,’ and now we do it three times in one night. It’s getting your head around the fact that you can actually do this.”
The physical toll is only part of the battle, however. The wide range of emotions that Hartland has felt since being named to the team in February, and which will intensify over the fortnight of the tour, have been just as intense, sometimes fluctuating vividly within a single day.
One such day was when the team visited Camp Goodtimes, the prime beneficiary of the tour’s fundraising efforts. The camp, on the shores of Loon Lake in Maple Ridge, is a summertime sanctuary for pediatric cancer patients and their siblings, giving them a place to just be kids.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect emotionally, so it was kind of draining on me,” Hartland said. “When you don’t know what you’re going to see, it’s hard to deal with, but it wasn’t at all. It was the opposite. It was the happiest place on earth. There are some kids who are sick and some siblings, and you don’t know who is who. They’re just having fun and they feel they can be themselves there.”
And while kids with cancer are the focus of the tour, one adult will be prominent in Hartland’s mind throughout the ride. October will mark two years since her father was diagnosed with cancer, and he’s still undergoing treatment.
Balancing her work and training schedules, along with a busy calendar of fundraising events, has left precious little time for the two to spend together, but Hartland says her family has been in her corner the whole way.
“They’re very supportive of me,” she said. “Obviously my dad can’t do anything physically to help me out, but he knows I’m doing this for him.”
Hartland’s mother has attended every one of her fundraising events, highlighted by a single week in which she and “tag team partner” Brittany King, a fellow media rider, raised over $60,000 via a golf tournament and a bachelor auction.
“(My mother) has been the money woman,” said Hartland. “She’s the one sitting in the back counting the cash box. She volunteers for everything.”
Even Hartland’s brother, away at school, is making plans to visit her on at least one of the tour stops.
Now with the tour just days away, all that physical and emotional investment is about to play out, one community at a time.
“It just dawned on me a few days ago: ‘Oh my gosh, I’m actually ready for this.’ For so long, it seems such a huge distance, but then suddenly you’re ready.”