May is National Bike Month, so I thought who better to talk to about biking than my friend Jacqueline (Shaw) Stanford? Cycling is and was her life – she was on the Canadian National Cycling Team, held the Ironman bike record for years and years, and has helped many questers learn to love their bikes!
My friendship with Jax began in 1983 at the Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii. We were hanging out at Kona’s famous Dig Me Beach on the Big Island where the Ironman race starts and all the triathletes go swimming. I heard a rumor going around that there was a lady who had won the race in Maui and placed first overall. That meant that she had beat all of the men, and she was going to race the Ironman.
Five minutes later, I met this amazing woman. It was Jax, and we have been best friends ever since. We were roommates and racing buddies in California for many years, and we have bundles of funny stories to tell.
Here is a wonderful anecdote from Jax:
After my long, long, long bike ride up the pacific coast highway from LA to Canada, I settled down to an incredible teaching job in Calgary. I was teaching high school math and PE — a dream position at one of the best schools (how I got the job is another great story). I loved teaching, and I volunteered to coach any and all sports — loved the kids, loved the teachers, just loved life. One day I came up with a FANTASTIC idea… Why don’t I let my PE students experience the love and joys of cycling?
The next day I shared my idea with my fellow teachers and principal. I was going to take my students on a bike trip from Jasper to Banff (in the middle of the Rocky Mountains). This ride was only 200 miles, which in my mind was a very short distance, and we had four whole days to do it… should be a piece of cake, right? Well, this stellar idea had to go through my PE Department Head, the Principal, and then the School Board. But with a lot of work and perseverance, I got it through! Then, three nights before we were leaving, I was to have the Parent Teacher Meeting to tell them what a wonderful, safe experience their kids would have.
Well that morning on the way to school — riding my bike, of course, as I didn’t own a car — I was crossing an intersection and this guy turned left and ran straight into me. After so many miles on the bike and not one incident — why now?! I got up, my bike a bit crumpled and my hand a bit sore, but all was good. He paid to fix my bike, but my hand continued to hurt a little more. Well, I ended up breaking a couple of bones in my hand and had to have a cast. OMG!! So when they were putting the cast on, I grabbed an instrument about the size of my handlebar and had them mold the cast around that.
The meeting went well (hiding my cast for the evening). Now comes THE RIDE. We were off: my mom and dad in their winnebago and trailer with all the bikes, the kids, and I drove to Jasper. THE TOUR DE BANFF! The kids did incredible! We rode 50 miles a day with many rest breaks. We also went on a few hikes and even found a sauna at one campground. The kids played a few tricks on me, like putting my bike on the roof of the washroom — it was hilarious! I remember one evening when I was setting up my tent, the hammer was being used, so lucky thing I had my cast to pound in the stakes. The students thought that was pretty cool, so now I am the cool teacher…
Our last night was in Banff where we treated the kids to the Banff hot springs to soak our weary bodies. A FANTASTIC Tour de Banff was had by all. A few weeks later, the kids presented me with a “BRAG BOOK” with all the photos and fond memories. A few of them even said it was the “BEST BIKE TRIP EVER!” It might have been their only one, but it was the best ever.
Also, Jax is a wonderful potter — check out her pottery sale on May 30th-31st: