After 16 days, 2008 km in the saddle and countless laughs, hugs and tears, we arrived at Point Pleasant Park in Halifax on Thursday Sept 22nd. This adventure was over too soon and several of my team mates commented that they wanted to get lost (on purpose for a change!) to keep the adventure rolling.
From the majestic mountains in the west, flat of the prairies, rugged terrain of Northern Ontario and the rolling hills of the Maritimes, the physical aspect of the journey was much easier than I expected. Many days our team wished we could put on extra miles. While the route wasn’t flat, it didn’t contain any hills that I thought “OMG, I’ll never get up that”. I’m sure the planners took into account that the roads needed to be manageable for the tandem team of Mark & Josh and their helpers. Mind you, there were a couple of amazing descents that we flew down (my max speed one day was 88.8 kmph) so I am glad we were going west to east! Our team worked really well together and you can see the change in our form from the first ride we did in Vancouver to our final days where we rode as a cohesive group, shoulder to shoulder, wheel to wheel… give or take a few exceptions :-)
On day 11 of our trip we were at our rest stop in Newcastle, ON., when I did one of those stupid falls - standing still but clipped in - and put my hand out to break my fall. A big no-no as every cyclist knows. I rode for another 15 km or so before dropping off the front of the pelaton. I couldn’t change gears properly and when Nurse Linda looked at my wrist you could already see the swelling on my wrist. Having broken my scaphoid in a similar accident in 2009, I put myself in the RV for the next 60 km so I could ice the injury. Every day Linda would tape my wrist and give me Motrin before we started cycling. It all felt fine as long as I could pull my left hand off the bars BEFORE we hit the bumps. It was only when the ride was finally over and I returned to regular motions and activity with my hands that I started to feel the pain. I finally went to the hospital upon return to Toronto and discovered that I had broken the distal radial in my left wrist. Maybe I have a fairly high pain threshold but I’m sure the discomfort I felt while riding was nothing compared to what the kids go through during treatment.
The emotional journey was harder and I am still decompressing and processing. Every day we heard stories of sadness and those of hope. They both made us cry. On the last day we were joined once again by Finn’s dad, Patrick Sullivan, who had done the first leg with us. Instead of reading the daily dedication, he put the book down and dedicated the final day to us, the riders. Huge sobs resounded in the clear morning air as he went on to say that because of our commitment, if we changed even just one child’s life it was all worth it.
Len Pace, who lost his son Alex to cancer, had joined our team for the Quebec to Halifax leg. He was in our RV for shuttling and played a photo montage his family had put together of Alex’s life. All the riders in RV-1A were reduced to tears and that moment really brought home to me the purpose of this trip and why it is so important to help kids and families dealing with cancer. While your own kids may only think of getting the latest and greatest electronics or fashion… when you see up close the impact this disease has on families and those close to them…. when you see the biggest, burliest men on the crew crying openly and unashamedly wearing their emotions on their sleeves… you can’t help but feel so humbled, and proud, to be associated with this committed group of organizers, cyclists and volunteers.
Thank you so much for your generous support and being a part of this journey of a lifetime.