National Kids Cancer Ride

NKCR Day 18 of 18

NKCR Day 18 – Sept. 23
Lower Sackville to Point Pleasant Park

This morning, April (Manger, Team #2) woke us up with some lively maritime music – it was 5:45a and a little cool in the bunk trucks. Thankfully, I slept really well and was excited to start the day… The usual morning rituals began – don the riding kit, grab your bathroom bag and go get cleaned up… this morning however, the rec centre was not open at 6:00a and the restless riders were huddled a the front door of the facility, hoping that someone would open the doors. I stood there with the group for a few minutes, then went to look for another access point. Luckily, I found one and waved the group over so we could get our day started.

Breakfast buffet was catered and we enjoyed the usual fare, then we were off to the trucks to prepare our bikes for the final day of riding. The conditions were overcast, bu the temperatures were supposed to rise throughout the day. I pulled on my arm warmers, riding vest and regular riding gear. At the time there was no mention of rain in the forecast, but it is the maritimes….

All of the riders and volunteers assembled for the morning dedication – it was the biggest group circle of the trip with Team 1, Team 2 and the Chase team all participating. We reviewed the route for the day, key stops and awarded Hero of the Day once again. But rather than one specific dedication, we reflected on all of the kids that we rode for along the way. Each of whom touched our hearts and inspired us to ride. Today we rode for ALL kids facing cancer.

Emotions were high as we assembled to ride as one massive peloton, escorted by the police for the entire day. We hit the road and started our journey to Peggy’s Cove. Shortly after departing, the overcast skies descended upon us and we were treated to a light mist for most of the journey. The mist coated my glasses, reducing visibility and blurring the images captured on my GoPro cameras. But it did not dampen my resolve to finish the ride and enjoy every single minute of the journey.

The route wound it’s way through the country-side and along the spectacular shorelines of small fishing villages. The route was fairly short in comparison to other days, but there were a few significant climbs to keep us warm along the way.

They say that most incidents happen close to home – or at the end of a long ride. For us, we were relaxed, distracted by the thoughts about the last 17 days and what it will be like to wrap up the National Kids Cancer Ride later in the day. The riders in general were happy, chatting with each other and somewhat distracted from the task at hand. There were lots of calls from the back of the peloton to continue to point out the hazards on the road, as there were lots of holes in the pavement. Then it happened…

My riding partner Lynn, managed to find a large hole and there was a bit of a gear explosion beside me… she is a veteran rider and managed to stay on the bike, but her water bottle, cell phone and other unsecured items went flying into the street and she blew both tires… luckily she was able to pull off to the right and the peloton was able to negotiate around her. The peloton continued on our way, as we normally do when there is a mechanical failure and trusted that the support vehicles would pick her and her bike up. I am sure she was disappointed to miss this portion of the ride, but the support team picked her up and shuttled her to Peggy’s Cove to meet up with the rest of the riders…

As we approached Peggy’s cove, we past by the memorial for Swiss Air flight 111, but did not have time to stop, we were focused on our goal of reaching the Atlantic. Upon arrival at Peggy’s cove, we were met with cheers from onlookers as we climbed the final hills approaching the scenic vista of Peggy’s cove. We parked our bikes and heard our favourite two words – “Five Minutes”… but this time the team manager was joking. We had about a half hour to explore the light house, take a few photos, pose for a couple of group photos, before we were off for our ride to IWK (Izaak Walton Killam) Health Centre.

Before hitting the road, we were rejoined by Lynn, who managed to find another bike to use for the remainder of the journey and the mechanics also managed to remove the broken derailleur on Lisa’s bike – luckily her husband Damon was able to help her on the hills for the last leg, as she could no longer shift from her big ring…

On the road again with the police escort, we wound our way to Halifax at a social pace. The police escort would pull us over every 10km or so, to let traffic pass us as we took a little break along the side of the road.

Pulling into IWK, we were greeted by so many people – doctors, nurses, cancer patients, families and other supporters… definitely felt the love as we pulled in. We dismounted, stored our bikes and headed into IWK for a quick tour and reception where we grabbed a quick bite, had some cake and listened to a few presentations, including one from our fellow rider Dr. Bruce Crooks who works at this amazing facility.

After the short stop, we were back outside, lining up for the final leg from IWK to Pleasant Park. Today, Fiona and Jill will be leading the peloton for the final few kilometres as they are both from Nova Scotia. Just as we were about to depart, we all heard a familiar sound “Pssshhttt”. Rich’s front tire exploded and we had one last mechanical on the trip. The team was quick to react and had the tire changed without causing too much of a delay to our departure… This time the pace was very relaxed and it seemed as though no one was in a hurry to end this amazing journey.

At Pleasant Park, we were greeted by friends, family and other supporters – there were cow bells, clapping, whistles and cheering as the peloton pulled in. From Winnipeg, my mom, my uncle Malcolm, my brother Duncan and my sister in law Angie were there to cheer me in… truly great to see them at the end of the ride.

The riders dismounted and walked along the pathway to the bike racks, stored the bikes, congratulated each other and the emotions were overwhelming. The sense of accomplishment, the gratitude for the opportunity to be part of this event, the thoughts of having to say goodbye to this tight knit, wheel family in the coming days and the memories of the kids, families and supporters we met along the way had me choked up before I was off the bike.

We were whisked over to a table on the beach where there were glasses of champagne and we assembled to toast our journey and the completion of the ride. Once the toast was made, champagne was sprayed and we were all completely soaked with bubbly… Now for the official end of the ride. The riders took our bikes down to the water’s edge, lined up with the front tire near the water and we reluctantly rolled our wheels into the water, signifying the end of our journey…

After posing for a lot of photos, we headed to a small tent where each rider and volunteer was presented with a medal that was designed by a child that is fighting cancer. I cannot express how grateful, thankful and honoured I felt when I received the medal from Jeff Rushton.

All at once it hit me. We have done it!! 18 days, 9 provinces, 5 time zones, 2 oceans, thousands of kilometres and more than $1,100,000 collectively raised for kids facing cancer. Holy crap! Wow!

We wrapped up on the beach, headed to the hotel, cleaned our RV’s, had a nice long hot shower and then met our fellow riders for a celebration dinner where we were able to reminisce about our journey, relive stories from the road and celebrate our accomplishments. So many things to celebrate… This has been an incredible physical, mental and emotional journey for me and the rest of the riders.

The dinner and presentations wrapped up around 9:30 and some of the riders and volunteers made plans to head out on the town for the night – me? I went up to my room, started to pack my gear and was asleep in my queen size bed with lots of pillows by 10:30p.

Tomorrow, the post ride clean up starts at 8:00a and we should be wrapped up by noon… one more post to come.

 

Photos:
Day 1: https://photos.app.goo.gl/qXTxlbULuoqG1pz72
Day 2: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Qm5wYOIJC45UCMDW2
Day 3: https://photos.app.goo.gl/360Ak8mcNCK4z40w1
Day 4: https://photos.app.goo.gl/daYP1Vh0OSwmgfQF3
Day 5: https://photos.app.goo.gl/b0DFAy2iu4s9Tw3y1
Day 6: https://photos.app.goo.gl/v5Nbv7GFJ6EgysvZ2
Day 7: https://photos.app.goo.gl/rFDq6ZimvBdRcEHu1
Day 8: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Fes2HS2EDpeDpxc32
Day 9: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Mrd7DDgUPYo4DpSc2
Day 10: https://photos.app.goo.gl/3XV3YAE1chSJcEeN
Day 11: https://photos.app.goo.gl/FdF1XyWDtrH0Xmgr2
Day 12: https://photos.app.goo.gl/cTG1s0mYIiwBF7uu2
Day 14: https://photos.app.goo.gl/bzmFRnmGi2C8RNqi2
Day 15: https://photos.app.goo.gl/31hMBIKUfxBgr6OS2

 

Videos:
Day 1: https://youtu.be/n46xcoPgB6k
Day 2: https://youtu.be/CjtBzYJlmJ4
Day 3: https://youtu.be/Sl_n8ftAKKI
Day 4: https://youtu.be/BA90X36vxkE
Day 5: https://youtu.be/NMsDbdMY9iQ
Day 6: https://youtu.be/cM1REBgcUWg
NEW: Riding for Cassy: https://youtu.be/iAi4iI6Gp0k
NEW: National Kids Cancer Ride – Director’s Cut: https://youtu.be/3FQYxp_4IUM
NEW: National Kids Cancer Ride – Volunteers: https://vimeo.com/235256477

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