My beautiful daughter died from CF in March 2010 and I am riding in GearUp4CF this year in her memory.

Eva was a fighter and inspiration to all that knew her. In 2008 I rode in GearUp4CF to celebrate her successful recovery from a double lung transplant that allowed Eva to once again live her life to the fullest. Only months after the surgery, she joined the team in Invermere, painting our faces and cheering us on with her pom-poms in her self-appointed role as chief cheerleader.

This year I will be 65 years old on the ride. That is why I am calling this ride 65 for65Roses; partly because of my age, partly because 65 Roses is a malapropism of Cystic Fibrosis, partly because my daughter’s blog was called 65 RedRoses, and also because I hope to reach the very lofty goal of raising $65,000.

Training to ride for 1200 km over multiple mountain passes to Banff will be very difficult; raising these funds will be just as much of a challenge. Here is where I need your help. Please donate to my ride and help contribute to Eva’s legacy to raise critical funds for CF research and awareness.

Friday 18 July 2014

Last Post

This has been quite a journey, both in distance, in fundraising and in spirit. I was astounded by the response to the request for fundraising and still am pinching myself at the amounts raised by the team and myself personally. So to the 330 plus individuals who donated over $77,000  to the 65for65Roses campaign  for Cystic Fibrosis, thank you from the very bottom of my heart. You helped me climb over the biggest mountain by far!

The actual distance and climbs did not prove to be as difficult as anticipated. Chalk that up to great Cervelo RS bike and adequate training. I have ridden many miles with experienced people over the past decade and I have learned a lot. I'm better at climbing hills and somewhat more disciplined with my pace. Thank you to Mike and all the good people at the Peak Centre for Fitness in Burnaby for insights on zone training and also a big thank you to Lisa, my physiotherapist at Columbia 8 Rinks for keeping me healthy when I overexerted myself with a month to go.

Although I have a great bike it required the attention of Theo Van Tol, bike mechanic extraordinaire, to keep it properly tuned and roadworthy and Dave Howell of BC Bikefit to make sure that my body mechanics were correctly fitted to the bike.  By June 21, 2014, Day 1 at 8 am at Crescent Beach I was physically and mentally all tuned up to go. 1300 km. and 14,000+ metres of elevation later in Calgary (5 of us rode an extra day from Banff to Calgary for a media event at the Calgary Children's hospital) I was still just as keen and could have kept on going. Someday I will ride across Canada!

So that about does it.

Thanks for following this blog.

Signing off

Bill Markvoort
former GearUp4CF 2014 rider.

Monday 7 July 2014

Long bike ride breathes life into CF research

Long bike ride breathes life into CF research

By: Aaraksh Siwakoti
Wednesday, July 2, 2014 1:14:22 MDT PM
Link to story: http://www.thecragandcanyon.ca/2014/07/02/long-bike-ride-breathes-life-into-cf-research

There were tears of joy and there were tears of exhaustion for the riders of GearUp4CF as they made their way to the final stop of the grueling nine-day 1,200-kilometre bike ride from Vancouver to Banff.

As they hugged family members and friends, who had waited nearly two hours at the ‘Welcome to Banff’ sign for their arrival, the riders congratulated each other for finishing the ride aimed at raising awareness and funds for Cystic Fibrosis research.

“Some of me feels exhausted and some of me feels absolutely light,” said Walter Brennen, who rode in memory of his daughter Joanie. “It feels fantastic having achieved your goal and to just know it’s for a good cause.”

Like so many others who did the GearUp4CF ride, Brennen has been affected by CF, not once but twice.

His daughter Joanie passed away from the fatal genetic disease, which mainly affects the digestive system and lungs, at the age of 12 and his younger daughter Ali is also a CF patient but is one of the fortunate recipients of a double-lung transplant.

Brennen described the difficulties of seeing what the disease does to someone and how it affected his family.

“The disease wrecks lives,” he said. “It takes over and stops people from doing things. My older daughter died 11 years ago from the disease, and when my younger daughter was 18 years old her lungs were so congested that basically she was on IV antibiotics 50% of the time to try and keep the bacteria away. A walk around the block was a two-day plan, the disease had basically stripped her life away.”

Although there is no cure for CF, a double-lung transplant, such as the one Ali received, can change the life of someone affected by the disease dramatically.

“It’s like night and day,” said George Keulen, the 32-year-old received his transplant in 2010. “Cystic Fibrosis was killing me, I had only about four months to live before I had my transplant, I was on oxygen 24 hours a day … . So to have my transplant and gain back my strength and to take on a feat such as this, there are no words to describe what my transplant has given me.”
An emotional Keulen added that this nine-day ride was the one of the best ways that he could honour his donor.

“When you get very sick with CF you’re life is so restricted and all you’re doing is breathing — it becomes your full-time job. And a transplant can bring hope for a whole new life,” he said. “And that’s what I have been feeling and experiencing these past nine days, just a whole new life that I never thought I’d be able to have.

“My doctors told me after my transplant ‘I’ve been given these lungs to go and live’ and part of doing that was this ride. This is me living and this is me honouring my donor.”
Raising funds was each rider’s main goal and so far they have managed to raise over $350,000 together.

But 65-year-old Bill Markvoort’s unique goal of $65,000 was one with more significance than his age.

Markvoort’s daughter Eva passed away in 2010 after her body rejected the lung transplant she had received. But before she did, Eva had blogged and made a documentary about her experience with the disease called 65_RedRoses.

“I’m 65, my daughter had the blog, and 65 roses is a malapropism of Cystic Fibroses, so I did a play on that name,” he said, explaining the origin of his team name 65for65Roses. “Janet, my wife, then said to me ‘well if you’re going to do that then you might as well raise $65,000’ and I said to her that I’d rather climb the mountains and bike than raise that kind of money. But it worked and we had support from so many different places, it was just so heartwarming and absolutely beyond my wildest expectations.”

Markvoort exceeded his goal by raising over $76,000 and was the top fundraiser this year because of his efforts with help from his wife and daughter Annie.

Monday 30 June 2014

Day 9 GearUp4CF-Invermere to Banff- The Final Leg

early morning to departure to allow these diehards
the opportunity to ride the distance and not be behind in the end!  
Sunday morning started clear and cold in Invermere at 5 am. The plan today is that Jan Meulencamp, Paula Clark, Tamaki Kano, Kim Shaw and I will leave at 6:30 am, 2 hours ahead of the main group so that we will all arrive at the outskirts of Banff together and ride in as a processional.

viewpoint vista
view riding up through the canyon out of Radium 
Janet, will accompany us with our vehicle for support. And that is exactly how it played out. We had a short ride on Highway 3 to Radium Hot Springs where we then turn right and immediately start climbing. You ride beside a turbulent creek and through some tunnels as they grade kicks to upwards of 9%. 14 km. and 700 metres of elevation later, along with one startled black bear, we summited at the viewpoint. From there we had a long winding descent as I worked hard to get Kim to release her death grip on the brakes and actually go over 20 km./hour. It worked and we covered the next 10 km. in quick time.  The rest of the group caught up with us as we finished lunch so Jan was able to drive ahead to Banff, hop on her bike and ride back to join us.

From that point on you have 80 km of slightly rising grade as you head up after km. after km. of false flats that do sap one's energy over time. Actually for the last 15 km. the grade picks up considerably until you crest the Continental Divide and enter Alberta. A lot of people had a tough day today because of the second long climb. Our group worked just as hard but our speed was somewhat less, lo and behold, by the time we made our final descent to the Banff Parkway junction, all the groups including the 5 Alberta riders arrived within twenty minutes of one another. From there we rode the Parkway to the entrance to Banff where we grouped up and rode into Banff as a group and side by side. There we were met by quite a group of friends and family as we converged on the Banff entrance sign. Hugs, tears and photos all around. The trip is over!

Jan road up to join the procession on the final bit
In all respects we had a terrific, successful trip. It raised over $350,000 and through the singular efforts of Sharron Bates we had excellent media coverage all along the route and again in Banffwhere Walter Brennan, Mike Hamilton and I met with the local media. Meeting up with the Alberta contingent through the efforts of Sandy and Blair also proved very successful as now we had a big cheering section coming home. Some of our riders including Wayne and Paula had family there to meet them.

At this time I want to give a quick shootout to our intrepid and hardworking volunteers. Tracy as our lead kept everyone sane and the trip well organized even as she was providing roadside service that would do BCAA proud. Lisa Brennan looked after our lunch break needs which can be challenging as a pack of starving cyclists descend on the food laden table. Both Kim and Brian provided support services at the front and in the sweep position. Thank you very much for the time and effort that you donated to this ride. Also I want to thank Janet, my wife, for being there and pitching in, for editing my posts and adding photos and for that wonderful cup of French press coffee in the morning.

It is now 7am as I finish off the last of the official posts for this ride. Today a smaller contingent of 5 of us ride to Calgary and tomorrow we head home. Thanks to all of you who supported me so strongly in
this endeavour.

Saturday 28 June 2014

Day 8 GearUp4CF- Cranbrook to Invermere

breakfast at the 'Hot Spot'
Today the gods smiled on us perhaps to make up for yesterday's miserable weather and and as much as I did not enjoy yesterday all was forgiven today. Even though we woke up to cloudy skies and the promise of some mountain weather with just a hint of precipitation in the air, it did not turn out that way. We rode our bikes to breakfast at the Hot Spot in Cranbrook  as it was on the way out of town but by the time we finished breakfast and suited up the weather started to improve. All day long we were shedding weather gear instead of adding it on.

team is ready!! 
Better yet, we had a terrific tailwind which did not let up all day. It made heroes out of us all even though there were plenty of low rolling grades to climb and we had over 750 metres of elevation gain on our Garmins by the time we finished. The bikeaholics as Walter Brennan describes them set a blistering pace and even the A group rode at a 34 pace. The seniors (50+)which encompass Paula and Jan from Prince Edward Island, John Fettes who recently turned 73, Joan Swain, our captain and 3 time rider, myself and Dale who was with us until he flatted out made excellent time and averaged over 29km/hour.

the hoodoos
There was almost no commercial traffic and the shoulders were wide although many people flatted out on wire bits. As Mary Poppins would say, it was practically perfect in every way. We arrive quite early and had a chance to clean bikes in the lot, sit in the sun, drink a few beer and even watch some of the Uruguay-Colombia game which luckily was was won 2-0 by Colombia as there was a huge family with many young kids at the hotel all dressed in their country's reds and yellows who sang Ole-Ole all game long.

John Sullivan and Jan were a little late in arriving in the vehicle as they took an accidental side trip to Fernie, right from Cranbrook, the only possible change of direction available all day. At 4:30 our Calgary contingent and their volunteers and daily members arrived. Andrea rode up the pass to meet them. Unlike us they had headwinds and inclement mountain weather. We will all ride to Banff together tomorrow. I think this is a wonderful idea to bring the two CF contingents from Calgary and Vancouver together. Tonight we will share dinner and war stories. Actually they are outside my bedroom window drinking wine out in the parking lot. I hear them laughing so I will bid adieu.

Day 7 GearUp4 CF Creston to Cranbrook

trying to wait out the rain at the
Skimmerhorn Motel … no luck! 
bracing fora rainy departure
On a better day this would have been a nice club ride. 103 km on a valley run from Creston to Cranbrook with rolling terrain and a relatively easy grade climb as you follow the creek. The major impediment to this was that it was not a better day. Weatherwise, Friday gave the Osoyoos to Grand Forks experience a good run for its money. Today, the rain started in earnest just as soon as left our lodgings and headed South and it did not let up until near the lunch break. We had 23 riders with the addition of Laura and Steven and right from the git go the pace was perhaps a bit high for us middle of the group riders. Walter Brennan and Emily Trant, our visitor from England who is very fit (from rowing) set a strong pace. The speeds were not excessively high but if you add on a steady uphill grade which sometimes approached 3% I definitely felt the burn.
Bill with Laura Brine, Max & Nash

One casualty of the pace was Wayne Darlington our rider from Kelowna who had to pull up as his knee started to swell. That is now the second casualty as John Sullivan has not ridden for 2 days due to saddle sores. The wet, cold weather does not help.

Eventually we got to our first rest stop and once we resumed riding the pace slackened off a bit. John Fettes my steadfast riding partner and I had decided to drop back but with the pullback we were able to tag on with the main group and get the benefit of their draft. The rest of the day was more of the same, although the fast group put in blistering pace from the final rest stop and three of us rode at a more relaxed pace for the final leg. The weather improved and the roads dried out and eventually we reached out destination that being the Sandman Hotel in Cranbrook. My bike was a mess and my gears were growling so it took a major clean to get it all back to rights. This as you might sense was not a favourite day for me. The road was increasingly busy and noisy with lots of commercial traffic, the orange bridges do not have shoulder lanes so you have to be wary about crossing them, and although some of our group were exhilarated by the challenge of riding in the rain, I was not of that mindset.
madness in the laundry room! 

That evening we were feted by the Kinsmen at the golf club in Cranbrook and five of us finished off the day with four holes of golf at the club.

gathering at the Kin dinner

Day 6 GearUp4CF Rossland to Creston- The Kootenay Summit

Bill's glitzy cycling shoes
Every rider has one segment that throws a little fear in the heart. for some it is the Allison Pass out of Hope as it is two climbs back to back. For others it is Anarchist Mountain, coming as it does before you are warmed up. For me it was the Paulson Summit this year. But the Salmo Creston ride over the Kootenay Pass causes major concern for many riders as it is a 23km climb from less than 600 metres to 1750 metres of elevation without a break in between. The profile  looks like a patient's chart whose fever has spiked. It is also the highest paved roadway in Canada.

We start with a glorious but serious descent from Rossland to Trail as we shed 900 metres in less than 10 km. at around a 10% grade. The road hairpins down the mountain past the Trail Smokeater hockey arena (a world champion hockey team in the 50's) and finally passes below the smelter and across the Columbia River bridge. My Garmin unit packed it in and went on auto pause at 70 km/hour and so I have no stats on speed etc. except that Pual Underhill who did pass me clocked 83/km/hour. I think it lost satellite reception because the mountains pass in so tight as some of the other rider's units also went on the fritz. You have to be careful in th hairpins as it is a major highway and there are trucks that ascend this road bellowing away as they grind up the slope.

From Trail we head South down river until we start our climb of the Columbia Valley and into the towns of Montrose and then Fruitvale. This climb gains us 200 metres which we basically hold onto all the way to the base of the Kootenay Pass. Of course as soon as you see the sign "border crossing ahead" that means turn left and let's climb another mountain so the highway can stay in Canada. We  had our lunch break at the base and so fortified people left in little groups to ascend the pass. Again I started with John and Joan and we covered the first 6-8 km together. From then I was on my own. Over the course of the climb I went by a few more riders who were taking the odd break. More interesting, Tom, Patrick and Andrea passed me in the opposite direction as they descended the mountain as they are all doing a double ascent. More interesting yet, Patrick passed me on the way up again as he was completing his double. Tom told me later that it was not the best decision of the day for him!

Bill at the top
The weather worsened on the way up and just as I crested the rain started in earnest. I was quite surprised to see the volunteers huddling under their umbrellas in the 6 degree mountain weather when there was a fine warmup cabin not 100 feet away beside the lake. They had not used it in the past but on investigation the door was open there was wood inside and the old scoutmaster in me came out and a fire was soon blazing away.A perfectly timed moose also passed by the window and swam across the lake. Once we took the obligatory summit shots Joan, John and I began our long and uneventful descent down the rain soaked highway to Creston. Surprisingly about two thirds of the way down the rain stopped and the roads dried up. Mountain weather.

Sydney & her sister
In Creston we met up with my nephew Stephen Brine, his wife Laura and their two kids Max and Nash, who live in Kimberley. They will ride to Cranbrook with us tomorrow while Janet minds the kids. Also we met a CF family who wanted to meet us because of their connection to Eva through her blog 5 years ago. Sydney  was 5 at the time and their family knew no one with CF in their local community so when they came upon Eva's blog through the 65RedRoses movie it was a revelation and a huge support. Sydney sent a beautiful letter at the time which I read out at Eva's Celebration of Life. Yesterday she drew a picture of Eva holding Walker the family dog (which actually belongs to our neighbours ). We had a great visit and George Keulen also visited to show Sydney and her mum Stacey that so much is possible even with CF. So this trip is not only about cycling it is so much more!