Day 1 of the National Ride is always an emotional one. Between the pent up nervous energy and the opening ceremony speeches there are plenty of emotions, and plenty of tears.
7 am at this time in September the sun is very low on the eastern horizon, and since White Rock is at the bottom of a rather large hill the lighting itself leads you to believe something special is happening, and I’m never disappointed. Over 70 riders and volunteers gather on the beach for the ceremonial wheel dip, and a toast to the 2017 National Team. There are hugs and tears, laughs and solemn moments of reflection.
Patrick O’Sullivan gave a heart wrenching speech reminding us why we do this, and how much we have already accomplished, then reminded us of how much more there is to do. Then we ride out, 32 regular people who have given up a year of their life, to ride across Canada to raise funds and awareness for kids cancer causes.
Together we all rode down to Abbotsford, then my team (Team 2) shuttled to Merritt for the long climb across the Rockies to Kelowna. With over 2.6 km of climbing (not distance ridden, but vertical) we were all exhausted when we reached the summit for lunch, just before our 21 km long downhill where we hit speeds over 70 kph. A just reward for a hard day.
But at the end of it all, this is not really about riding my bike, this is about kids cancer. Today we rode for Jacob who was treated for leukemia 4 times between the ages of 6 and 14. Jacob never once complained about his treatments. Unfortunately, 14 was as far as Jacob made it.
You can help change the story at www.snkcr.com/mikekelly.