Dana Kaluzny didn’t know she was pregnant when she signed up for the Ride to Conquer Cancer last year. “I planned on being captain for the Steam Whistle team again, and when I found out I was going to have a baby, I just thought, ‘I’m still doing it.’ I remember telling my family and they said, ‘no, you are not’ and I said, ‘I definitely am.'”
The 2014 ride wasn’t only significant because of her seven-months-in-utero “riding partner”—her son, Calvin. It was also her fifth anniversary participating in the 200- kilometer, two-day ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls to raise funds to support cancer research, and the twentieth anniversary of her father’s death. Her father died of brain cancer when she was eight-years-old.
Once her family realized how committed she was, the next step was training. She found a trainer who had been a pregnant cyclist herself, and they set a special workout plan with indoor stationary cycling through the winter, then outside in the spring (although she did not commute to work by bike while pregnant, largely due to lack of protected infrastructure), and swimming to build endurance.
One of the main modifications she made was a switch in bikes. “Road bikes are very uncomfortable for a pregnant body – so I used my commuter bike with thinner tires, so I could be more upright.”
“I was obviously going at a slower pace than most riders,” she says. Her first day took seven hours, instead of five. “When you are pregnant the worst thing you can do is get your heart rate too high.” Leg strength helped her push through to the finish, but she says, mental endurance is also key. It’s all about enjoying the ride: “Remember, it’s not a race – it’s a ride!”
Stopping at all the rest stops (about 20-km apart) for food, drink, bathroom breaks and even massages helped, as did the company of her family and the 5,000-plus other riders. The Ride is the largest fundraiser in Canada in terms of dollars raised – over $262 million so far – and is heading into its eight year.
On June 13 and 14, 2015, Kaluzny is riding for her 4-year-old cousin “Sonja, the little ninja princess” who was diagnosed with rare form of brain cancer.
“I’m doing The Ride in her honour because I know the money I raise, it’s going directly to her treatment,” says Kaluzny. In Ontario, funds go to the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre – one of the top five cancer research centres in the world. “We can’t make the cancer go away but we can put some of our energy and angst into doing some overall good; into The Ride,” she says.
“Anyone can do this ride – me doing it pregnant shows that.”