Biking To The Viking Event in Gimli, Manitoba
Since 1989, cyclists of all ages and fitness levels have joined together every year to ride through scenic and often spectacular parts of Canada while raising money to help end Multiple Sclerosis – a disease which is more common in Canada than anywhere else in the world. Every year more than 10,000 cyclists participate in a number of one- or two-day tours between June and September.
Biking to the Viking is a 2 day event in Manitoba, in which over 700 riders participated. The RRT teams from Stonewall, Woodlands and Winnipeg were privileged to be involved in the event – from the setup on the Thursday to delivering forgotten personal possessions after it had all finished!
RRT began on Thursday, unloading truckloads of equipment and supplies to be used in marking out the course and sorting through the items. This continued on the Friday, as the 170km return course was set up.
Saturday morning was the start of the biking event and RRT was in place to assist with parking as well as loading participants’ luggage into a truck for transport over to Gimli, the destination.
The cyclists had planned to commence the ride at 8:00am, however due to unfavourable weather conditions the start was pushed back to 10:30am. RRT members were at the start line, holding cyclists back until the appointed time for them to leave. After the ride started, it was then these team members’ duty to break the riders into groups so everyone didn’t leave at once.
There were approximately 20 RRT “Route Marshals” positioned along the route. These people had the very important role of ensuring the safety of the cyclists, helping them cross busy highways and encouraging them on.
Halfway along the route, there was a lunch stop set up at a private residence. RRT members were also positioned here to help serve up lunch. When the bulk of the cyclists were approaching the halfway point of the ride, the weather turned extremely nasty and the ride had to be cancelled! There was extreme rain (zero visibility) wind, and thunderstorms making it unsafe to continue the event.
RRT stepped in, transporting cyclists and their bikes the rest of the way to Gimli. In Gimli, there was unloading, sorting and storing the bikes in a compound that had been setup. The few cyclists that had made the whole journey were cheered in when they arrived.
After unloading supplies for the dinner to be held that evening, the RRT started sorting out the supplies for the various rest stops on the next day’s ride.
Sunday morning the RRT arrived in Gimli as early as possible, discovering along the way that day 2 had also been cancelled due to the weather conditions! (Extremely high winds was the reason). Arriving in Gimli the MS event coordinators seemed stressed but they greeted the team members with “Boy are we ever glad to see you right now”!
The scene greeting the RRT was the cyclists sitting indoors waiting for their ride back Stonewall in the school buses being used. RRT set to work loading up all the luggage and bikes, cleaning up from the dinner the night before, taking down tables/chairs, emptying garbage’s, etc. All of the bikes were then put into trucks along the equipment and supplies necessary. One of the MS event coordinators said that “you going to make me cry 3 or 4 times today” she was just so thankful to have the RRT helping!
Everything was transported and given back to the cyclists. RRT also assisted in the setup of lunch in Gimli and other general work – just doing whatever was necessary. Everything finished up very quickly and RRT stayed right to the end to make sure everything had been taken care of. Team members from the RRT then went back to collect a few pieces of luggage that people had left behind and then delivered it to their homes for which they were extremely grateful.
The Mayor of Winnipeg, Brian Bowman and MS Board Chair, Joe Healey, (who both cycled) specifically asked us to thank all of the RRT volunteers for what they had done.