Like many getting ready to participate in this year’s Ride to Conquer Cancer, Lisa Kingsley-Correia is fired up in a very real, very personal way. What might make her unique, though, is the road that she took to get here.
Kingsley-Correia took the hard road. An experienced global cyclist whose various transcontinental routes have taken her through Africa and Central America, Kingsley-Correia enters the charity ride this year with a huge, gruelling degree of training behind her. Much of that training, too, is couched in how to adapt to new kinds of terrain, something gleaned directly from her first-hand experience on various roads. But unlike most other participating cyclists, her preparation has been a global expedition in itself.
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“The most glaring difference,” she said, referring to what makes Canadian roads unique from overseas treks, “is that the roads here are far more predictably paved and in reasonable riding condition.” The conditions of Africa and Central America stood in striking contrast with those that she—and other riders this year—can expect. “While the people I’ve ridden with around the world have chosen various styles of bike to ride all manner of terrain, I have to say that I’d rather push a little harder on the nicer road with my Kona Kula than suffer what comes from having a fancier but less all-terrain ride.”
But it goes beyond the physical preparation, she said, incorporating something less corporeal, even more elusive in how the mindset of a rider might change based on the conditions traversed. “The solitude is remarkable in Canada,” Kingsley-Correia added. “You can ride a very long time without seeing another person or car. I think that’s pretty rare and a unique feature of riding here relative to many other places in the world.”
Kingsley-Correia first considered the Ride to Conquer Cancer seven years ago, when a colleague asked her to sponsor her in the two-day, 200-km ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls. “This was the first I’d heard of it,” she said, “or honestly, [of] any kind of long distance riding. Of course, I sponsored her and was intrigued by the idea of riding long distances.” After a bit of research, Kingsley-Correia — whose 2015 Ride to Conquer Cancer is her first attempt at the trip — was pulled deeper into the cycling world, becoming increasingly bold about tackling long, ambitious rides. “Rather doe-eyed, under-trained, and overly optimistic,” she said, she took to the roads of Africa. Central America was next. By then, she said, she was “addicted.”
The next on her shortlist of expeditions was the Ride to Conquer Cancer itself. “I’d been wanting to do the Ride to Conquer Cancer from that first introduction,” she said, looking back, “but had never prioritized it. However, when a friend asked me to join him in it this year, on June 13 and 14, I knew it was time this story came full circle.”
Getting into it with her wealth of experience, Kingsley-Correia has a few tips for first-time riders. “If you really want to enjoy the Ride to Conquer Cancer, you have to train,” she said. “Do a few long rides, space them well enough for recovery. That, at the very least.” A personal trainer by profession, Kingsley-Correia learned quickly that there are specific details about cycling that make the preparation involved very much a concentrated effort—if nothing else, a matter that is incomparable to any other sport. For Kingsley-Correia, though, it was learned on the first day of her ride in Africa, a single-day’s trip of 134 km. “If you want to endure in any sport and still feel good,” she said, “you must not just be fit overall, but actually trained in that sport more extensively. This will assist not only in endurance, but recovery and also reduce likelihood of any joint and muscle discomfort from being in riding position all day.”
“Definitely take advantage of the resources provided through The Ride,” she added, specifying massages in particular. “And if you’re still not confident before a big journey, you can always hire a coach.”
There’s the athletic and experiential roots of her journey, taking her across Africa and Central America, but then there’s the personal odyssey that brought her to the Ride to Conquer Cancer as a matter of heart, a journey worth the 200 km of sweat, burning muscles and sacrifice needed to endure. Like others involved in the trip, she can trace the foundations of her ambition back to a place very close to home—perhaps home itself.
“I’m participating in the eighth annual Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting Princess Margaret Cancer Centre for my mother,” she told Canadian Cycling Magazine. “She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer during a lumpectomy she’d been assured was benign. She awoke from surgery having undergone removal of much more than [was] anticipated when she went under anesthetic to a grim diagnosis, and with a future of scary treatment ahead.” Dire as the situation was, though, Kingsley-Correia said that the benefits of that treatment for mother were real, and overwhelmingly significant—and they’re benefits that the young cyclist wants others to share, too.
“Despite the whole experience being very hard on her body and soul,” she said, “the doctors and nurses at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre were amazing. Not only did she receive incredible care, but she is still with us. It’s been five years and she’s cancer-free.”
What would she say to prospective riders? “If you’re on the fence about [the Ride],” she said, “take the leap out of your comfort zone. I never rode more than 60 km in a day until the first day I embarked on the trip across Africa. I’d also never really travelled and we were camping the whole way. It was definitely the scariest thing I’d ever done, and until doing The Ride to Conquer Cancer to raise funds, help and serve others, it’s certainly the greatest thing I’d done, too.”
“If a naive 30-year-old, untravelled woman can make it through Africa untrained, you can make it through Ontario’s picturesque countryside—or whatever province you’re in, as there are Ride to Conquer Cancer events in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec, too—for a fantastic cause with a few weeks of training under your belt.”
Registration for this year’s Ride is closed, but you can still get involved in the 2015 event by donating or signing up to volunteer. Visit www.conquercancer.ca or call 1-877-699-2453 (BIKE) for more information.