National Kids Cancer Ride

NKCR Day 14 of 18

NKCR Day 14 – Sept. 19
Montreal to St. Augustin-de-Desmaures (Louis Garneau head office)

We arrived in Montreal late last night and set up our parking lot camp at Sears. It was a short night for the riders, but all seemed to be good to go this morning. Our day started off with a quick shuttle to Maskinonge for breakfast at Caillette Restaurant – cool little place, with good portions and quick service. Thankfully, our French-speaking rider Mario was on hand to look after our orders for those of us without a strong grasp of the French language.

The morning was overcast and foggy to start but the forecast was for clear skies and temperatures in the mid to high 20’s all day. I started the day off with my riding kit, vest and removable arm sleeves and kept them on until the first bio break about 25km into the ride. Today we were joined by a few new riders for this leg, Helen, Martin, Claude and Damon – all of whom were experienced riders and really helped pull the peloton through the day.

Today, we rode for Ollie, a bright, fun loving, adorable little boy, who’s story starts before he was even born. Imagine finding out your baby was battling cancer before he even took his first breath.

Suspected of having a tumor on his liver while still inside his mother, Ollie and his parents have been fighting for his life since day one. A routine ultrasound during his mom’s second trimester of pregnancy revealed a mass on baby Ollie’s liver. While doctors initially suspected it might be a twisted bowel, further examination showed the mass was growing.

On June 8, 2015, after his mom safely delivered her beautiful baby boy, Ollie was immediately whisked away for x-rays, which confirmed the mass on his tiny liver was a malignant tumor – the size of a soda can. After being transferred to CHEO, Ollie received a diagnosis of hepatoblastoma, a form of liver cancer needing immediate treatment. Surgically removing the tumour would be the easiest treatment, but since it was so close to one of Ollie’s major arteries, it could have disastrous consequences.

Chemotherapy would be necessary to shrink the tumour so that it could eventually be removed through surgery. To add another complication, with Ollie being a newborn, his little body could only handle so much chemo. The doctors treating Ollie needed to delicately balance his chemo treatment to prevent too much trauma from occurring to his body, which could put him at risk of lifelong hearing loss and kidney problems.

Because Ollie’s condition was so rare, CHEO turned to the world for help. With so few babies born with hepatoblastoma, doctors at CHEO consulted medical experts in Germany, Japan, the United States and several hospitals across Canada to help develop Ollie’s customized treatment plan.

But for Ollie, the outcome has been bright. After several rounds of chemo, his care team was able to shrink his tumour enough to be removed. Today, Ollie only visits CHEO for regular appointments, rather than living there.

Today’s scenic route took us along the shores of the St. Lawrence river as we headed east through Trois Rivière, Ste. Anne de la Perade, Port Neuf and finally to the Louis Garneau Head office in St. Augustin-de-Desmaures. The first 90km of the route was quite flat and the now larger, peloton team maintained speeds in excess of 30km/h and my heart rate remained under 120BPM for most of the ride – definitely a nice change and the ride felt quite relaxed.

Gear issue of the day: My cadence sensor stopped working yesterday and changing the battery didn’t work to resolve the issue… will likely not worry about it for the remainder of this trip. My seat has also developed an annoying squeak, that I am going to have a look at in the morning – hopefully it is simply an issue of cleaning the mounting points.

After lunch, we had another 70 km to go and there was talk of some substantial hill climbing along the route. I was feeling great on the bike and only had a slight concern about the rising temperatures. At the last rest stop, I grabbed a ziploc bag of ice and put it down the back of my shirt to keep me cool – as did a lot of other riders. Today, hydration was the name of the game and I was constantly drinking throughout the day.

On a couple of the hills, I broke rule #90 – “Never get out of the big ring”. A couple of things I know about myself – 1) I don’t look good in spandex , 2) Cyclists like to ride behind me because I block a lot of wind and 3) I suck on uphill climbs. While I have tried to charge up a few hills in the big ring, what seems to work best for me is a slow and steady approach… if there is a downhill immediately before a climb, I will use gravity and momentum to help me up the initial portion of the hill… after that, there is usually a lot of shifting before I settle into my climbing speed, which is slightly faster than a turtle on steep climbs… Thankfully, when I reach the top, the group is usually close by so I can catch up on the flats.

The last portion of the route took us for a scenic tour of some small towns with some awe-inspiring architecture, churches and scenic points of interest. The roads were narrow as were the shoulders, but the drivers were respectful for the most part and gave us enough room to maneuver. The only part of the route that caused some concern was a metal-grated bridge as it was a little unnerving to negotiate – the metal grates were in a somewhat diamond pattern, which did not allow for good traction with our narrow road tires. There was a brief discussion whether to ride or walk across, but the group opted for riding.

We arrived at the Louis Garneau head office to cheers and a lot of the staff lining the road to welcome us. This is one pretty awesome head office… aside from an attached store, there is a museum of old bikes and training devices, and the gym is exactly what you’d expect to see – roller trainers and bikes filled the workout studio. Looks like they are set up for spin classes and a lot of the offices we peeked into had personal bikes in them… looks like the staff is definitely embracing cycling into their work culture.

The LG team prepared a healthy dinner for us and we had a chance to shower and clean up before heading back to the RV’s for a long shuttle into New Brunswick. Tomorrow morning we launch from Edmunston, Ride to Woodstock and then shuttle to Moncton to end the day. Really hard to believe that we have come across the country in such a short time and that this journey wraps up in 4 days…

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