Sheryl Trotter does not call herself a cyclist. She only began cycling in earnest in April.
Yet that didn’t stop her from biking 500 kilometres across the province of Alberta in an effort to raise money for underprivileged children.
Trotter is an employee of Sport Chek here in Stratford. The sporting goods retail chain, part of the Forzani Group owned by Canadian Tire, takes part in its parent company’s Jumpstart campaign every year.
Jumpstart runs a number of events aimed at raising money for children whose families cannot afford equipment, travel, or enrollment costs for organized sports. It was this that attracted Trotter to the idea of participating in this year’s Pedal for Kids event.
Last year, participants biked from Kingston to Niagara Falls, and next year the route could possibly take them from Ottawa to Quebec City. 2013’s riders, however, had a substantially more rugged route: the notoriously mountainous path from Hinton, Alberta to the City of Calgary.
Prior to the trek, Trotter began exercising with a personal trainer to prepare for the arduous trip. However, a calf injury sidelined her for a number of weeks. Before the Pedal for Kids bike began, the farthest she had ever cycled in one day was 30 km. Meanwhile, the trek had her cycling for five to six hours a day, for a daily total of around 100 km.
“My legs are pretty sore,” she says in the aftermath.
Additionally, a tumble off her bike late in the trip resulted in a large bruise down the the side of one leg.
However, Trotter says she’d do it all again in a second.
From July 13-17, Trotter and 44 other cyclists wound their way through the Rockies, visiting locales like Jasper, The Crossings, and Banff.
“The scenery was breathtaking,” she says, adding, however, the mornings were cold, with the cyclists sometimes heading out in weather measuring in at around the minus one degree mark.
Trotter says Lake Louise particularly stood out in her mind as one of the prettiest locations she’s visited.
“It’s so blue,” she says.
She even had an opportunity to canoe on the glacial lake once that particular day’s cycling was over.
The troupe also visited flood-ravaged Canmore three weeks after the Bow River overflowed, damaging large parts of Alberta.
“There was still road damage ... houses boarded up. It was awful,” says Trotter.
Other highlights included Jumpstart Games, held to coincide with the ride, in the communities of Cochrane and Carstair. Young people of all ages took part in organized sports like soccer and baseball.
“It was fun to see what all your hard work was going towards,” she says.
The ride ended on the grounds of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Following a speech by Canadian Tire’s CEO, 25 new bicycles were presented to area youth, and the Olympic cauldron was even relit in honour of the participants.
In total, Trotter raised $5,300 for the event.
“I decided to keep it in Stratford,” she explains, adding her money will benefit the Stratford-Perth YMCA, the Salvation Army, as well as help underprivileged local kids in purchasing hockey equipment.
She reminds readers that donations can still be made to the local Jumpstart cause, either through the charity’s website or by coming into Sport Chek in Stratford.
The 45 riders that participated in Pedal for Kids raised a collective total of $326,000 – $15,000 of that will benefit the community of Canmore.
“I’d totally do another ride,” says Trotter. “I really enjoyed it. Seeing the money being used back here is going to be amazing.”