Deflowered on Tunkwa

It was cold, wet, long and hard. I screamed in agony, begged for mercy, and closed my eyes tight. My ass was beaten, my legs could barely hold on. It was my first time, and nothing about it was gentle, in fact, it was rough and ruthless. But I came out on top, alive and unscathed; a brand new woman. This is the true story of having my cherry popped on Tunkwa; a one hundred and thirty kilometre up-hill battle of a bike ride from the edge of town in Kamloops to the heart of Logan Lake. She is unforgiving, and as we passed through rain that poured in sideways and right side up, hail, howling head winds, and freezing temperatures, I felt what it was really like to doubt myself.
It started out like any other ride and for the first twenty odd kilometres I laughed in the face of Tunkwa and it’s harsh reputation. I was extremely naive but humility followed shortly afterwards. Upon reaching the lookout point just past Tobiano, overlooking Kamloops Lake, we paused for a couple photos and a brief break. I felt strong, and I thought, bring it on. But after the ensuing playful and fast descent I saw what lay ahead of me. For the next forty plus kilometres rolling hills felt like mountains, and steep climbs felt like Everest flipping me over and slapping me silly. I drained my bottles of water, sucked back gatorade, mowed on bananas, crushed bags of candies, desperately searching for every ounce of energy I could find. At this point, I couldn’t tell whether I was on the verge of bonking or just overly exhausted, or just overly overwhelmed, or just overly crazy. With each breath, which sounded like I was in deep agony, I questioned whether I was worthy of chasing such absurd dreams. With every stroke of the pedal, I asked myself, “what are you doing, who do you think you are?” Then the skies opened and the rain began to pour. Grit and water flew up at my face and dripped from the brim of my helmet. My body started to freeze, and I began to think of which friend might find it in their heart to come rescue me. Then the rain turned to hail, and I saw another long ascent just ahead; “fuck me,” was all that escaped my lips.
After riding for more than 80 kms, we finally reached Logan Lake, and congregated inside the tiny gas station to warm up, replenish our fuel stores, and share stories of the grind. I was confused and lost, as I looked to Vince to tell him I may be calling for a ride home, I felt defeated. This is by far the weakest I’ve felt on my entire training journey thus far, both physically and mentally. I wandered aimlessly, feeling incredibly uneasy and unsure. Here I was pushed almost beyond my limits, miles from home, or anything that felt comfortable and safe, and I was on the verge of quitting.  Yet somehow, as I sauntered out of the store and into the harsh elements, I found myself back on the proverbial horse, and once again peddling my away along.
As we cycled out of town, the chill set back into my bones, and even changing gears became impossible, as I could no longer feel my fingers. I either stuck to the gear I had selected, or if desperate, reached around with my hand and palmed the lever until it shifted.
We were barely a few kilometres back on the road when we were randomly stopped by a guy with truck, apparently someone who knew my fellow riders, offering to give anyone a lift home who wanted it. Vince looked to me, and said, “hey Aly, you wanted a ride home, didn’t you?” I looked at him, with sweat and mud dripping from my face and said, “no, I didn’t come this far to quit.” And that was that.
By the time I reached the edge of Kamloops I was exhausted and just beginning to thaw. I was also talking to myself and singing random Celine Dion songs. Some would say I had gone delirious, but in my mind, I had made it.
My deflowering on Tunkwa wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t supposed to be. Like all first times it was rough, raw, and painful, and I can’t wait to do it all over again, but this time I’ll be much more experienced and ready to go all day long.


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