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. Great guys off the bike with dry sense of humors.
Henry and Britten 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.
Morland had us laughing especially at times when we needed it most. He was able to pick the right time to do so and say something that you needed to hear.
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.
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 because we are brothers.
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 )