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”.