Keri posted this on Facebook and I thought I’d share it here…
Where to start ….(sorry it’s a long one)
I’m not one for blogging or big lengthy posts on social media, however, this month I feel deserves recognition. A month dedicated to raising awareness and the ability to promote a life beyond paediatric cancer.
First off, to Ron Mitchell Sharon Andres, Jeff Rushton and Mike Smith….
Thank you so much for all your tireless efforts in planning and executing such and incredible event. I can’t tell you how proud and privileged I feel to be chosen as one of the few crew, for the inaugural 2017 “Chase” team. I would be short 18 new family members if it wasn’t for your combined efforts.
Only my NKCR family would understand what it’s like to try and explain the ride when asked how it was upon your return. It’s impossible, the sheer depth of raw emotion shared can never be explained in words. So instead, to try and honour all the feelings, all the times I was blessed with goosebumps to remind me to be present in this beautiful life, for all the times I got to stare at the stars and be grateful to be alive and healthy, I’ll try, ill try to explain the day to day life for all those inquiring. It’s clearly taken me a few days to even remotely grasp all that I experienced.
We started out as complete strangers, I maybe knew 4 or 5 people from the previous national ride in 2016. We met in White Rock, BC on Sept 12th and the rest is literally a part of history. As a group, we had 2 days to prepare and introduce ourselves before we embarked on an incredible 8 day, 24/7 ride across the country. 2 Days! To gain 100% trust in strangers. Trust that they could hold us up when we needed a shoulder to cry on. Trust that they would care for us and keep us safe on the roads all day and night. Trust that they would hold on, without judgement, to our rawest emotions when we took a leap and let them surface. Not something easy to do in today’s society. I’m so thankful I took the leap…..
The ride is initiated with a back-wheel dip in the pacific ocean at White Rock beach. So sure enough, after little to no sleep (because we were up packing our entire lives into two RV’s), we arrived at the beach shortly after 7am on Sept 14th. We are greeted at the beach by family members and onlookers, either supporting their loved ones or curious as to what kind of a production they are looking at? We of course don’t do anything lightly or without a bang…tends to attract some eyes every so often. And not just because we were often all running around in matching dresses! (Men included ;p)
After a heart felt dedication from the Coast to Coast Against Cancer founder Jeff Rushton, we all gathered in a group, committed together arm in arm, with tears of joy, sorrow and excitement, that we would get to the other side of this country – safely, raise funds and bring awareness to people along the way, all while arriving in Halifax in better shape mentally and physically then when we departed 8 days earlier.
Once we departed, the daily routine remained quite similar. I often referred to us as a well oiled machine! Our goal was to keep the riders healthy, fed and in good condition to get back on the road for their next shift. We had 8 completely immortal riders in total (I can say that now that we are all home safe and unharmed). There was 3 riders on the road at all times. They each were entitled to two 9 hour breaks all week. Otherwise they had 3 or 6 hours in between each 3 hour ride. They barely slept, barely had time to recover, but never batted an eyelash. When it was their turn to get out there and commit to the road, commit to getting us however many kilometers ahead they were responsible for, they just did it. They woke up at 3am some days after a 60 minute nap, ate oatmeal we shoved down their throats, got taped up with radios and accomplished what to me, was the impossible.
The dedication that existed in this team was incredible. As they rode across the country, the immediate follow vehicle would read them dedications of all the stories Coast to Coast has accumulated over the last 10 successful years of the national ride – either of direct friends, families or special children they have encountered over their journey. Stories of sick children and their families. Stories of some who did not survive, stories of the despair families go through and some stories that bring tears of joy, tears of survival. Stories about the lucky children who lived to talk about their illness and beating the shit out of cancer. This team was full of dedication for all those that couldn’t be on the road fighting for themselves.
For eight days straight we managed to shower in an actual bathroom, twice. These guys will forever remember the blue bucket shower, conveniently located on the side of any major highway or back road they were so lucky to transition at. We were limited as to how much water we could put in the bucket to make sure we would have enough water to get to the next refill station. We’d fill the bucket with 1/3 of warm water at best. They’d get their 2 minutes of privacy in a tent on the side of the road, standing atop of a children’s colourful puzzle piece floor so they wouldn’t step on anything too sharp. Not ideal conditions for anyone, as I’m sure you would agree.
As the days and nights all started to roll into one, you’d think something would start to fail, someone would fall behind, moods would suffer from lack of sleep, lack of toilets, or the simple comforts of home. BUT, it didn’t. When things got hard, we rallied together, when people needed to sleep – they got told “get in that bed, you’re off duty”, when people suffered from repetitive bowel movements in the bushes, we all stepped up and became the Food advisory board (and cheered out loud for solid poops!). When bikes broke down, we found people to help roadside. Nothing mattered, nothing made us falter. ALL 19 of us were selfless and committed to the same goal. We were a team, we did everything together, if one person was struggling, we all stepped in to hold them up, to complete the job, to step in and support in any way we could. This ride was full of people: doctors, finance, media, technology, truck drivers, insurance, nurses, passionate volunteers. You name it, we had it covered. But out there, out on that road, none of us had individual roles. None of us had professions that put one above the other. For a brief 8 days, a group of 19 strangers became completely aligned for a cause greater than the shit society fills our days with.
I’ll never forget the feeling I had upon our arrival in Lower Sackville, NS on Sept 22nd,in the pitch black. It was a tough last stretch of road, a dangerous one full of traffic and re-routing. But of course, the team pulled it off. I went running from the RV that parked after its final follow commute. It didn’t matter if I wanted it to come out or not, the emotion and tears just started rolling out of my eyes. Every one of us, running around to hold each other and congratulate each other on what we just accomplished. Not a single accident, not a single fight or disagreement. We just did it, what most said couldn’t be done, we did it! We all stood in this parking lot wiping tears out from our eyes, hugging each other shaking. A surreal, proud moment. Sharon – thanks for holding me up.
On Saturday Sept 23rd, (after joining team 1 & 2 from the full ride) the riders dipped their front-wheel into the atlantic ocean, 6000 kms away from their starting point and 1.1 million dollars richer in donated funds to this amazing cause that brought us all together in the first place.
I went on this trip to give to the children and families who need us, who need the support from the people who aren’t in the middle of the crisis. But us, as NKCR family, we leave this trip with so much more than anyone could imagine. We are there to selflessly give to others who need us, and yet we come out full of life we didn’t know we had. We gain family members, lifelong friends, we gain perspective, we gain second chances. Our hearts learn to expand and welcome so much more than just what the eye can see.
There’s a little thing called NKCR withdrawal, we all talk about it, it’s the transition back in to reality when you get home from a life changing trip like this national ride. I know I was warned of it last year, and this year I went in wiser to it. But this fabulous Chase team, you’ve hit home harder than I anticipated. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking me in, for letting me be a part of something so fabulous. Thank you for all the permanent memories. Thank you for holding me accountable to a second chance. Thank you for the clearer perspective and new-found gratitude towards the daily struggle with my beautiful HEALTHY children. There aren’t words to describe the importance of the universe and its timing. Until I get to hug you all again, I’ll hold on to these transitional emotions and memories of greatness that keep gracing my mind with your presence.
(Also to my friends who aren’t on FB – Craig Tyndall, Erik Jensen, Brent Wilson, Mike Britten, & of course #wheresmylarry )
It’s taken me a few days to gather my thoughts about the National Kids Cancer Ride. To be honest it’s taken a few days to get my emotions in check as well. The Chase was an absolutely incredible experience for so many reasons. It was an epic cycling experience. It involved some of the very best people I have ever had the pleasure to know and work with. We exceeded our fund raising goals and increased the level of awareness for childhood cancer in Canada and its devastating affects on kids and their families. On top of all that we had more fun than adults probably should have. I was able to celebrate Canada 150 by travelling across this beautiful country. Friendships have been cemented in the foundation of this experience and I cannot wait to see where they lead to next. #TheChase2017 #NKCR
Me: “Excuse me, how long does this flight take to get to Toronto?”
Passenger sitting next to me: “Just over two hours. Didn’t you fly in?”
Me: Actually, no.
Passenger: So you came in over the land? From where?
Me: Yes. From Vancouver.
Passenger: Wow, that’s a long drive.
Me: Yes, it would have been … (yadda yadda that we rode, but more importantly about the cause).
Passenger then leans to his left, raises his right buttock (I braced myself to lose more nose hair, cos of all the time I’ve spent with Henry), but instead pulls out his wallet and plucks a fifty note “Am I too late to make a donation?”
This is a noble cause that gives others the opportunity to be noble too.
As I sit here at the Halifax airport awaiting a flight to reality after my third cross Canada kids cancer ride, I reflect back not just on the past 10 days or past 4 times I’ve shared the Pacific with National riders but all the way back to 12 years ago. All 3 time frames cemented together by 3 of the most important things in life: family, friends and fun.
First a reflection back to 12 years ago, For it was then, I had the opportunity to work in the Atlantic and was very fortunate to have landed in Hammond Plains. I wanted to jump at the opportunity but it took more than me to make that happen. Kim graciously and selflessly agreed to leave Ontario and take the challenge head on with me. And of course, Monkey was our main focus. I’m forever grateful to Kim and the opportunity because it was these two years living in Atlantic Canada that changed our lives forever. It was filled with the 3Fs, friends that became family and fun. Having had an opportunity to see them along the ride and spend Sunday evening with them, there is no more an important family/friends than the Landry’s. Simple the most wonderful people who We love to pieces. Thanks for blessing our world and welcoming us into yours. This time also taught me about a 4th F, fight. For it was during this time, kim was gravely diagnosed with cancer and given days to live. Needless to say it turned the world upside down. Somebody needs to be that miracle and thankfully Kim was but it wasn’t with unparelled fight and commitment. Once the challenge was accepted, she dove in with determination, will-do attitude and commitment to be here for Monkey and I. Thankful she won and continues to win, providing daily thankfulness and inspiration. To all the folks in Hammond Plains that played a critical role in keeping our world together and moving forward during that most difficult time, thank you. I love each and every one of you. So that’s a snapshot of my 12 year reflection, and a reason we always look forward to coming ” home”.
Now for the ride, each time provides a totally different experience but it ends the same, more friends, more family and most definitely more fun.
This year was a little different though. The Chase challenged us in a way that you can’t even be remotely prepared for, getting across this great but vast country of ours. I’m happy to say we did it but that was the destination, the journey was spectacular and will continue. There has been much said about the 8 riders, 11 volunteers but like everything the words ring true but the action speaks louder. We united as a team, moved as a cohesive and high functioning team, tackled obstacles, met our goals and did our part to give back. You were an outstanding team but most importantly you are amazing people. Thankful we shared this together. Family you are.
More importantly everyone involved with the National Ride sacrificed – time, money, boundless energy etc etc – selflessly doing their individual part to make the world a better place and fight kids cancer.
A touching moment is always the group photo on the last Saturday ride, all united and together. We may have had team 1, team 2 and the Chase – call us what you want but what we are is one big family, one great team, doing one extraordinary event to end one devastating disease.
So to each and every individual involved and all those that supported us thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Until the next adventure,
I need time.
Time to rest, time to recover, time away from my bike and especially time to reflect.
I’m looking out of the window of my WestJet flight at the Halifax airport waiting to go back home. It has been an incredible journey and I find myself very emotional and a little overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. There is an incredible amount of information to process as I think back on this trip that started 10 short days ago. It’s not just information, like data on a hard drive, that sits inside me waiting to be used, it is also feelings and emotions that I haven’t quite had time to deal with. Because of the 24/7 non stop nature of the event it never really felt like one day passed into the next, it actually felt more like one long 192 hr day. Every once in a while a memory will bubble up to the surface and trigger a smile, a sense of satisfaction or a feeling of disappointment and it creates an urgency in me to write down what I have gone through before the data is wiped clean of the hard drive, gone forever.
Let’s start at the beginning in Vancouver. Arriving in White Rock and meeting many of the people on the team for the first time. It is incredible to think of how these people would effect my life over the next 10 days. Working out logistics and getting to know each other we had no idea what an impact this would have later in the trip. Then at White Rock for the inauguration of the ride seeing Rajiv and Lou there for the send off, two of my closest friends, gave me such a boost and helped tremendously in setting positive thoughts towards my goal.
Then came the first of many dedications reminding us why we ride. Story after story of children and families enduring extreme hardship, pain and suffering in a fight for their lives that didn’t always end well. Even those children fortunate enough to survive the disease didn’t always survive the treatment or were left with permanent long term complications that they would have to learn to live with. These kids didn’t ask to be dealt these cards but they played them with courage, compassion and bravery. In the end they just did what they had to do to give them a chance of getting better.
I saw this sense of selflessness in our volunteers who worked incredible hours end on end to keep the group moving forward.
Connie and Lawrence in the follow vehicle taking care of our medical needs and capturing the event on video. Connie, a trauma nurse, was the true professional dispensing advice and meds with honesty and a dry sense of humour. You could tell how personal this cause was when Connie read us dedication after dedication usually on the verge of breaking down. Lawrence cycles for Louis Garneau’s pro team and volunteered as a navigator, mechanic, videographer and photographer. Being from Quebec city he was not fluent in English but he had no problem communicating how much he cared for us and the cause. The passion they carried to their work was inspirational.
Robert and Will rotated shifts with Connie and Lawrence in the follow vehicle keeping us safe and informed and capturing moments of the ride on Rob’s camera. Robert would give us heads up on weather sports and current events over our rider radios which helped distract us in the middle of those cold nights in the Rockies and Praries. Will a doctor from Equator trying to get his licence in Canada was always attentive to our needs and well being. They worked well together as a team in the van riding behind us so that the big trucks didn’t come close. I should add he is also a heck of a dancer as we found out last night in downtown Halifax.
Steve, Missy, Q, Sharon, Ron, Keri and Brent were the rest of the crew taking care of the RV’s along with laundry duties, setting up the transition points for the incoming riders and outgoing riders so that we minimized down time, charging lights and radios, planning logistics of safe points along the highway to stop for transitions, calculating how far each shift was able to go depending on the conditions, buying groceries and supplies, cooking, cleaning, massages by Keri and Missy which were critical for those of us with injuries and finally any other necessary trips needed to take care of the crew and keep caravan moving.
After doing all of this the volunteers could steal a few hours of sleep, maybe. They did this all with a smile and a warm hug. You will never find people better than this. I love these people.
My fellow riders were an inspirational group of guys as well who showed resolve and mental toughness of the highest degree. These are my brothers and I spent countless hours on the road with them fighting the elements, the road conditions, the trucks, sleep deprivation, the blackness of night and illness to push us east to our final goal.
Craig and Swinny were consistently our strongest riders and we used them as our diesel engines by keeping a steady pace into the wind when out on the road helping us all stay in check. These are the guys you want in front of you when the headwinds blow. Craig is a close friend from home whom I’ve trained with and ridden with for years. When I was asked to ride in this event he’s the first guy I thought of asking to join this group. He’s captain of our velocity team on tour for kids and works harder than anyone I know. Swinny is funny as hell and has a twisted way of seeing things which is why I get along so well with him. He’s also the voice of reason and can block out the chatter to see what really is going on.
Henry and Bretton were our entertainment center. They took our minds off the cold or the head winds or the lack of sleep with ridiculous routines or just being the beautiful people they are. Henry is the reason I am on this ride in the first place and this is the second time that we are riding across the country together. Bretton I just met on this trip and I feel like I’ve known the guy my whole life. Hip hop aficionado and all around funny dude from Scarborough who lives in Quebec city, go figure.
Morland had us laughing especially at times when we needed it most. He was able to pick the right time to say something that you needed to hear. Incredibly knowledgeable on many subject areas, an uncanny memory and a terrible sense of timing.
Erik was our Danish Viking and although quiet most of the time he was there when you needed a moment of sanity and serenity in this group of clowns and lunatics. As the days past I got to know Erik better and found him to be a great guy to chill with, no drama no over reactions just calming energy. Definitely what this group needed.
Jeff, our leader, always kept a positive attitude even though we gave him plenty of reason to throw us out of the RV while it was still moving. Jeff’s strength is motivating people through his passion and he does it incredibly well. Jeff is also our strongest rider even though for the first half of the trip he and I were suffering from intestinal issues that sapped our energy away. To give you an idea of how strong a rider he is by the second last day of the trip, after riding over 1,500 Km in some of the worst weather I have ever ridden in and going through dehydration issues due to his earlier health issues, he rode 320 km from Moncton to Halifax at a hard pace usually in front of the group. The rest of us put in 250 km and we had to keep telling him to ease up the whole ride.
Finally my job was to provide the laugh track for this movie and help where I could by providing some musical distraction on the bike especially at night and hopefully make a few people laugh along the way.
I love these guys and will do anything I can for them.
This was one of the most challenging things I have ever done in my life because it effected me on many levels. It was physically, mentally and emotionally tough and at times pushed me to my limits. I can’t explain the satisfaction I got from meeting those challenges and breaking through those obstacles in my path but the bigger lesson for me was dealing with the frustration and disappointment when things didn’t go as planned and we had to shuttle past sections of roadway or we messed up transitions. I imagine, in a small way, this is what the families we ride for deal with on a daily basis but with more dire consequences than the ones we had and more serious outcomes. How we as individuals deal with failure tells us much more about ourselves than all the accolades and success in the world. It humbles us and grounds us and reminds us that the most important things in the world are the people we love and the relationships we build around us.
I’ll finish with two very apropos quotes from two British bands I loved and grew up listening to as a kid.
“In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
“You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometime you just might find you get what you need”
I think this sums up what I’m feeling right now.
Love you all
( Rob the dentist )
The ride was over, but, like the end of the Return of the King, this adventure would have many small endings. Like weening off pain meds, it would be less painful breaking up the group if it was done gradually.
First order of business – the sh!t-show of cleaning out the RV (and searching Britton for our stuff. We joked that he had shown up with nothing and borrowed everything he needed, and we weren’t far off. Mike is such a great guy and his sense of humour has been shining through very strongly of late. The RV was a disaster, but we quickly turned to the task of working together to get it all cleaned out, and have our stuff organized and packed together. Strangely, Jeff’s glasses did not turn up, but pretty much everything else did.
We made our way into the hotel, some more creatively than others….
We had a great night out last night…. lots of beverages, music and dancing. Some even managed to eat the worlds worst pizza at 4:00am. Not me, Beth managed to drape a few of us home by 2:30 – thank you!
I’m in the airplane now (in a headwind, if you could believe my luck!), and I wanted to close off this chapter with some notes on our team…. words can’t express enough about how lucky I feel to have been a part of this epic event. At the moment, the 8 of us have raised over $200,000 that will go directly to childhood cancer research. As Jeff said in his speech at IWK yesterday, we know of over 50 families that have benefitted directly from cancer treatment protocols developed with the funding Coast to Coast has provided. I wanted to bring it back to that, because that’s why our team of 19… yes, 19… was brought together. So here it is, in semi-alphabetical order and truly childish yearbook style…
Brent – inspiring, a constant reminder of why we are here, courageous, truthful, open. When we first met and shared a cab together to the hotel in Vancouver with RTD, I was in awe. Many people are damaged when they suffer a traumatic loss, but your ability to openly share Katie’s story and let us use those memories and your spiritual power to get us across the country was a true gift. I can’t believe you joined us just five days before this crazy event. Feel the love Brent…. we sure did.
Britten – funny, tough, grinder, father of the year, diesel, street smart, rapper, Scarberian-Francofalse. When you were down and injured, I reminded you not to lose your sense of humour…. your chuckle brought you back, strong, and then you returned the favour when I was down. Your hip hop moves were second to none. Howmayyouhave? Nine…. always nine. The apparition. Creator of the Night Train. Bunk buddy. Stealer of stuff, returner of stuff :-).
Connie – direct (lol), compassionate, strong, steady, matter-of-fact. It’s important that we be direct on these 8 days, for example, Jeff….. —– —!. Pain meds, coming up. The three step process. #wheresmylarry. Your calming influence on the team was very important. I love your ability to have fun, at all hours of the day. Your voice reading dedications over race radio was heart warming and heart breaking at the same time. Thank you for watching our backs 9 hours on and 9 hours off at a time.
Erik – quiet, tough, no complaints, faithful, entrepreneur, hard working, steady. It is, what it is. A thumbs up, hand shake and hug have more meaning with you brother. You rock those shoes. The Viking. The Great Dane. This guy loves his wife!
Henry – gassy (lol), true hearted, amazing father, fun, calves. Your calves are huge, for sure, but I’ve got cleavage. Amaretto. Bunky. You’re always up and have a huge, compassionate heart. We were always on the same page. Love you bro.
Keri – kind, knowledgable, capable, positive, resilient, caring, smart. Can you just flush my legs? I tell you what you need to get you back on the road, not what you need to worry about. Resourceful and cool. Nobody can massage, cook and take sarcastic torrents of humour quite like you.
Larry – quiet, resourceful, even keeled, talented, strong and steady on the bike. Bring out the drone! #heresmylarry. Thanks for letting us shove your to the front of the pack and work until you almost dropped…. but you didn’t.
Missy – positive, generous, balanced (mentally and physically, though sometimes with a foot in the back for support!). Great riding with you – Henry and I vowed to volunteer when you do the ride. Co-creator of the panini pressed stuffed-with-wonder bagel. Smile a little will you??
Morland – steady, brilliant, funny, fact-full, movie buff, and hydrated, of course. Your knowledge of the world made for some nice discussions on and off the bike. Your movie references were enviable, if sometimes confusing 🙂 and your overall positivity was amazing. It was a pleasure riding your tail for an hour straight one night near Ottawa – and they call me the night train… hah.
Q – Truly positive, grounded, confident, intelligent, resourceful. Grace under fire comes to mind. Same comment about Missy – future rider and future volunteer – let’s swap. Remember, 30% and an extra 3 weeks vacation. You always kept us fed, warm, washed, prepared, asleep and awake when we needed to be.
Robert – Talented, resourceful, strong, driven. I will never forget your voice over race radio – calming when we needed to relax, inspiring when we needed a kick in the pants, funny when we needed to smile and grounded when we needed to hear a dedication. Your photography skills are unparalleled. I would love to take a spin with you on your Bianchi. The story you shared with us made me cry but made me look at you in awe as well. Thank you for sharing.
Ron – Strong, quiet, resourceful, reflective, big heart, awesome dance moves. Your speech at Terry Fox will continue to resonate with me forever. The way you lead and manage crisis will change how I do the same. Your constant ability to bring it back to what we are trying to achieve is a fantastically brilliant technique – one that served us well on the 8 days, and one that I hope will serve me well for years to come.
RTD – Friend for life, strong, grounded, family man, wickedly smart, wise, surprisingly flexible, generous, easy. You sucked me into the vortex, and I thank you. Groupo compacto. Quattro stagione. Di fungi – I could go on. Thanks for sharing all those training hours. Thanks for the music. Thanks for your sense of humour and your laugh. Angela, can you turn the hot tub on? We’ll be home in half an hour….
Sharon – Calm, steady, multi-tasker, mother of her kids and her riders, leader. You said in Vancouver that the things you’d been through over the last couple of years has made you calmer and more present – I can’t compare as I didn’t know you well enough before, but you were a rock. I don’t know how you do what you do. And I think you still have better dance moves than your daughter :-).
Steve – Big, strong, sarcastic, direct, funny, gets-stuff-done. Like many with sarcasm woven directly into their soul, Steve can
surprise you. Knowing his heart is as big as they come, the sarcasm always brought a smile to my face. Keep on trucking.
Swinny – Diesel, strong, even keeled, relaxed, smart. You are a quiet observer who sends in zingers where appropriate that land with a burst of laughter. Voted least likely to throw a pie in my face, thus having the greatest humour impact – you’re welcome. 2nd best draft in the peloton. Note for next time, Henry loves whip cream.
Will – Smart, caring, hard working, great energy, bad hombre. For someone so new to Canada, he has picked up sarcasm and mock insulting very well…. he gave what he took – which was awesome. Please work on your tan soon. You deserve every opportunity to further yourself on your path to becoming a doctor of internal medicine. Can the real Will medic, please stand up, please stand up.
Jeff – Inspiring, thoughtful, powerful, brilliant, motivating…. and on and on and on. Without you, we wouldn’t be here. The squirrel was in full effect. Founder’s privilege cabinet. Where’s my? Oh, here it is. Did you take my? Hey guys? You guys! Hey yous guys! INKCR… Immodium National Kids Cancer Ride. It started out rough for you my friend, but you finished stronger than everyone. You are our leader, you are an inspiration, and your complete selflessness is the main reason why this organization has grown so big and successful and will continue for years to come. It’s not very often that you can meet a truly great man, it’s rare that you can get to know a truly great man, but to call a truly great man a friend, is truly great.
We had a great sleep last night…. amazing what a first class shower in an arena, a sit down dinner and a six hour sleep back on our RV will do! We rolled out at around 8:15am. The Chase team decided to roll at the back and make sure any stragglers in the pack of now maybe 50 riders kept together as a group. We had a royal police escort or the roughly 100km ceremonial loop into Halifax for the final wheel dip.
We were surprised and excited when Melissa and Q suited up and bikes we arranged for them to ride with us. It would be our turn to serve and protect them today, as they had done so well for us during the past 8 days. The team as giddy – relaxed, chatty and not to concerned that we were the last out and had to chase the main pack for a while…seemed fitting – this would be our final Chase.
Even though the loop was ceremonial, it as still quick and we had to work to get everyone up the hills together. This was Saturday, so occasionally the armada had to be pulled off the road by the police to let the group of cars patiently waiting get by. On the first stop, I’m chatting with the guys and this beautiful blonde comes running up next to me and hugs me. The first thing I could think to say, unfortunately, was… how to say this so Rushton would approve…. “whiskey tango foxtrot!”. It was Beth, of course, and I was completely shocked. What an amazing surprise. I never expected her to come but I was thrilled that she did… and to pop up out of the blue mid-ride was so crazy. Wow. Wow. Wow.
Wow. Ok. So we continued on the trail around the coast, heading eventually towards Peggy’s Cove. The road was winding and hilly – a great tract. Q and Missy were doing fantastic…. we still could not crack their smiling demeanours, in fact, they’d amped up the positivity even higher. Ron was supposed to join us as well, but something had screwed up with his pedals and he was following in one of the vehicles instead.
As we passed the Swiss Air memorial, the weather turned hazy and overcast. Rob remarked that the weather could be very different here than nearby Halifax. I saw the lighthouse in the distance along the coastline, and we amped up the ride just a bit in anticipation of reaching one of our small milestones winding down thus incredible ride.
When we stopped in Peggy’s Cove, I got a real hug from Beth and met her friend Julie who had been nice enough to accompany her today (not that she would have gotten lost…. follow the police going 33 kilometres per hour!).
We got a final pic of our team together in front of the lighthouse. We will have to bring the kids back here one day – it’s so beautiful.
Back on the road and in about an hour we reached downtown Halifax. The traditional stop for the National ride is IWK hospital who specialize in children’s oncology. We had a beautiful dedication from a mom of a survivor, a short, always inspiring talk from Jeff and then a brief talk with one of the National riders who is a childhood oncology doctor at IWK – a very inspiring man.
Finally, it was time to finish our ride. We headed to the port, about 3km downhill from the hospital, to perform our wheel dip. It was amazing how many friends and family members came out to the finish to support everyone. We were surprised by Velocity’s own Rob Saunders – such a great surprise seeing him when we rolled in. Erik’s wife Barb was there – she thanked me profusely for providing some updates indicating Erik was still alive throughout the week (lol – by the way Erik, as a reminder, you’ve been married 29 not 27 years!). Henry’s daughter Hanna and former neighbours were there – that was a predictable, beautiful five-alarm cry moment for sure. Jeff’s daughter Brooklyn, who had surprised him last night, rode with us today and was ever present. Morland’s oldest daughter from the UK was there as expected and he was absolutely beaming.
We did our wheel dip… front wheel in the Atlantic this time, we had a rousing speech from Jeff and glass of champagne and were presented with medals that were drawn by a child at one of the camps supported by Tour for Kids. It was a beautiful moment, and though the Chase would not be done until we were on the plane and all on our separate ways home, we could finally stop pedalling and reflect on what we accomplished.
I saw a little girl with a head covering on that had clearly been going through treatment. She looked to be about three or four, but it was hard to tell. It was a sad, proud moment. Our team never forgot the why of what we were doing. We had no egos. We weren’t on the bikes to prove who was the strongest, who could climb the fastest or who could suffer the most. We helped each other, we stayed together and we remained true to our purpose.
I will keep on chasing with my team and this foundation until no parent ever hears these words again: “your child has cancer”.
After my freezing cold morning shift, I hit the upper bunk hard with Mike and we were asleep within minutes. The cold weather has a debilitating effect on your energy when you’re pushing hard on the bike. I was out very deeply.
We were awoken to a call for lunch! We emerged from the RV and found that we’d arrived at a seaside restaurant with a fantastic beach view. This is the maritime setting I was hoping to see. We sat down and ordered deep fried fish and clams that came with greasy fries and coleslaw….so good.
RTD, Henry and Swinny apparently rode with Jeff on the second maritime leg and his energy was very high. Having lunch together was awesome. We’ve had very few moments to take a breath on this adventure as a team, yet we’d become so close.
We decided we were going to finish as a team. We had 180km left to get to Sackville and meet up with teams 1 and 2. Lawrence joined our eight, which meant 9 (always 9) riders would finish together. The ride was great. I drugged myself up and didn’t feel my Achilles much at all for the first 4 hours or so. It was really fun to ride two up together, as we’d spent so much time over the past 8 days riding three men, single file. The wind was of course, headwind, but the temperature ranged from 15 to 22 degrees. The scenery was beautiful – very much what I had expected for maritime countryside.
At around 7:30, it was getting very dark and a little sketchy arriving into Sackville – luckily he support car had the lights we needed, and we soon came upon the RV who had our amazing volunteers equipping us with reflective vests and more.
We arrived at the team restaurant just after 8pm. Teams one and two and all of their volunteers (close to 70 people!) were just finishing up dinner, and they gave us a big cheer when we rolled into the place. However, it was us that owed them a big congratulations.