A Tribute to Marcella

“Hey,” Marcella says, “do you want to be on our team for a bike race?”

I was visiting Marcella in her store above Shoppers on Main Street. My answer was ” … uh, I don’t have a bike.”

“Oh, that’s OK, I can lend you one.”

We’d met the previous spring, training for a Mothers’ Day 5K Fun Run with the Yellow Snow Running Club.

A group of us were so proud of our 5K achievement that we decided to put together a team for the Klondike Trail of ’98 International Road Relay that same September.

She had asked that question at a most vulnerable time. Only a month before, I had made my most dramatic New Year’s resolution ever – to do something I had never done before, every week, for the entire year.

It was only February, but the resolution had already created a habit of my saying yes, first, and thinking about the consequences later. So, I said yes.

A couple of weeks later, I found out I was on a four-person team. They told me they were giving me the easy section: legs 7 and 8. I had to go on the Internet myself to find out it was also the longest section.

We rode the race, three of the four of us sharing Marcella’s bike. We were hooked.

The next year, it seemed that all my friends, which included Marcella, were planning two-person teams. With a lingering hangover from a year of yeses, I decided I wanted to be on a two-person team, as well, and set out looking for a partner.

I found Michael, the first rider ever to ride the Kluane Chilkat race, solo. He was 60 years old and had decided to scale back a little. Training rides were a little challenging that spring (if I haven’t already done so, I would like to thank all my friends, particularly Michael, for their patience).

We were registering for that race on the Friday night, and Marcella and her teammate Sylvia were in the line in front of me. They asked the volunteers how many two-person women’s teams were registered, and found out they were the only one.

Marcella turned around with a huge grin and exclaimed, “We won!” Good attitude.

Those races were in 2001 and 2002. We’ve all gone on to ride several more.

Marcella and Sylvia rode three races as the “Derailler Wanna Duo?” and came in first, all three times. They weren’t always the only two-person women’s team, by the way.

I, myself, have been in five more Kluane-Chilkat races since that first one, and I’ve ridden every leg except Leg 1. In-between, there were countless training rides and mountain bike rides.

It’s hard to go out on a long ride without thinking of Marcella, at least once. I think of that first invitation and of her continuing encouragement as I became obsessed.

Then there was her delightful ability to tell a story or to bring you on a soaking-wet, cold, mud-covered ride in the hills – both resulting in sore sides from extended, non-stop laughter.

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