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News Report: Asthma Cycling Hero

Cycling Challenge:
“Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done”

We think Pepper Couelle-Sterling is an inspiration to all asthmatics who ever sat on the sidelines because of their asthma. At 49, she recently completed the challenging TransRockies mountain bike race: seven days of biking seven or eight hours a day, for a total of 600 kilometres (373 miles), and 12,000 metres (39,000 feet) of uphill pedaling.

“You’re going through mountain passes, so the vertical is crazy and the downhills are scary and crazy,” says Couelle-Sterling, who partnered up with her friend and physician Dr. Shayne Soetaert for the ride from Panorama to Fernie, in British Columbia.

A former endurance athlete who used to race marathons, Couelle-Sterling first took on the TransRockies in 2003, but her asthma left her gasping for air, and she was barely able to finish the event. It took her months to recover, and five years to get her asthma under control. This year, her team and another pair of cyclists entered the event not to race it, but to raise money for the Asthma Society.

So far, the four have raised over $10,000. “I hope it goes into education more than anything,” says Couelle-Sterling. “Too many asthmatics think that because they’ve got asthma they can’t do activity and be fit.” She’s going to continue raising asthma awareness by talking to students in local schools.

As for doing the race again? She laughs: “No, never. It is so hard. It’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Donate in honour of Pepper’s race until the end of October here– Claire Gagné