During the summer, Cpl. Laurel Konschuh of the RCMP Central Region Integrated Traffic Services was a woman on a mission.
From May to early September, she raised $12,000 to participate in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation LINKPINK Ride for breast cancer.
While she surpassed her fundraising goal of $10,000, she still came up short of her goal to be one of the top two individual fundraisers, which would have earned her a special yellow jersey reminiscent of the one the leader of the Tour de France wears.
“There were a lot of people in the community who were very supportive and very helpful,” Konschuh said after returning to Stettler. “I am very appreciative.”
“The fundraising was an incredible experience for me, very humbling.”
The LINKPINK ride took place Sept. 8 west of Calgary and the participants enjoyed beautiful weather for their 60-kilometre ride.
“We were just out on some back roads,”
Konschuh recalled. “I don’t know the exact number, but I think there were around 30 to 35 riders.”
Each participant had the chance to ride alongside Lance Armstrong and talk with him.
“I found him very personable,” Konschuh said. “What I really understood, which I do not think I understood before, is that he has a passion for beating cancer. He is amazing.”
During the following evening gala dinner, pictures of Armstrong sick with cancer in 1996 were shown to the crowd.
“It really hit me that he had been very sick,” Konschuh said. “He had, I think, less than a 40 per cent chance of surviving it and he did.”
Armstrong then went on to win the Tour de France seven times, from 1999 to 2005.
During her talk with him, Konschuh asked him how fast he normally rides when he is just by himself.
“What we were riding at is what he said he normally rides at,” she said. “It was a nice pace. I was happy to keep up with the group.”
While Konschuh wanted to take a good look at his shoes and try to pick up tricks from him, she just managed to look at his bike.
“That bike is very special,” she said. “I bet it weighs less than 15 pounds. I understand it has no gear cable. All the gear shifting and the derailing are done electronically, which is way over my head.”
Konschuh suspects Armstrong’s bike costs as much as her car.
“Having said that, it is not the equipment, but the human machine running the equipment,” she said.
“You still have to be strong, fit and a good athlete —and he clearly is.”
Now that the fundraising and the training for the LINKPINK ride is over, Konschuh feels a little bit at loss at what to do with her free time.
“I don’t know what I want to do next,” she said. “I will be thinking about what is next.”
Because she was recently transferred to the Grande Prairie detachment, packing boxes and moving will be her main task as soon as she manages to sell her Stettler house.
Konschuh, however, is already thinking about next summer’s bike events.
“I will be back on my bike next summer,” she said.