National Kids Cancer Ride

NKCR 2019 – Day 12- Hamilton to Toronto

It was a late night rolling in, and an early morning to get the wheels in motion.

Our first stop was the Hamilton McMaster Children’s Hospital, which is the base camp for our fellow rider and paediatric oncologist Dr. Stacey Marjerrison (I apologize if I’ve already said it but if so I’ll say it again… bless her and the others across the country helping families like mine… Thank you for channeling you energy and passion into this path… I envision that you become part of a bigger family in your day to day, and carry the burden of living stories of great happiness or sorrow that may or may not be within your realm to control… I imagine that can be a difficult weight to carry at times).

To say Stacey was a “touch excited” to get moving doesn’t quite describe the speed and voraciousness with which she led us to the hospital… Even our strongest riders were yelling “Ease up”, for which in her own way she would say “suck it up!” with “yeah, yeah”… then proceeded to keep on hammering!

The reception we received at McMaster was overwhelming threefold… in support of Stacey from families and colleagues,  former national riders, and rider families/friends.  A number of them joined us in our ride after breakfast, known as “a day of action” .

Alumni riders wore kit from the years they participated, like badges of honour or medals you might expect to see at a legion gathering.  They were hugging and reminiscing with other alumni riders/volunteers that were also visiting, or happening to be on this years ride, or newbies who like them at one point were joining the ‘Wheel Family’ for the first time.

There was a longing… I’m not sure how to articulate this and I don’t mean to offend… the longing reminds me of when a person is facing the inevitability of life’s journey, and gazes upon the youth to naive to realize the reality of what they will some day face… all I can think of is something Chuck Magnus said at our Calgary stop… “Five more minutes… I just want five more minutes”… the connections that previous riders made with the cause, other people or themselves draws them back…to look longingly to get another five more minutes.

It was nice to meet some of the people who have reached out to me on Facebook, or who’s name I’ve heard from the Alumni riders from previous events.  It took me awhile to start recognizing people, but I must admit that I didn’t have the courage to step forward and say hello… not sure why… I typically chalk it up to being an introvert and socially dysfunctional at times… I told my wife awhile back that I would like to do all the different Tour for Kids events one year, so maybe I’ll get a second chance sooner rather than later.

Our final destination was the Toronto Sick Kids Hospital, for which we had a police escort all the way in… Gotta admit that it was pretty damn cool… Lynn had shared her previous recollections from past rides on this moment, but like I said before you sometimes have to live it before you can appreciate it.  Some people were awestruck, waved, took pictures or video… some pretended not to notice, and I imagine some people had their knickers in a knot but so be it.  Having them shutdown major intersections, lights flashing and sirens blaring is something I won’t forget and will unfortunately fantasize about when I return home and get stuck in traffic…

We pulled in to the hospital entrance and were greeted by more family, friends and well wishers.   I was thrilled to see the smiling face of family friend Jennifer Linton waving at me as I pulled in… she was FaceTiming with my wife and daughter so they could catch some of the action and I could speak with them.

At the Sick Kids, we had a reception welcoming us and we heard from Jessica who is a survivor…our morning dedications can be tough sometimes, and sometimes we just need to hear about survivors and they reinforced the need of our cause.

We had dinner at Boston Pizza which was good… not because Jeff and Fiona haven’t stuffed our faces with absolutely amazing food since we started , but sometimes when you have a hankering for a burger and onion rings you need to jump on the opportunity… yes… a burger and Lycra cycling jerseys… such a wonderful and awe inspiring combination that would send people in droves to the nearest weight watchers location should they witness it in all its glory.

The weather for the day is what we have been coming to expect… we get on the bikes and it rains, we get off and it stops, get on the bike it rains, yada, yada, yada… aside from getting soaked, the scenery was beautiful and I got to chat with a few ‘non-alumni Day of Action’ riders to try and recruit them 🙂   Tomorrow’s forecast?  Don’t know and don’t care  🙂

We are now shuttling out to Kingston to kick off tomorrow’s segment.

Thanks for reading and your support!

Omar