National Kids Cancer Ride

NKCR 2019 – Day 18 and Epilogue – Lower Sackville to Halifax

The day started off as warm as it has ever been, and the excitement to complete the journey was foremost on everyone’s mind.  We were joined for this leg of the ride by Bruce Crooks, a former rider and paediatric oncologist that practices out of the Halifax IWK…. truly an interesting character, full of stories and energy, and based on what I can infer is a bit of a s#@t disturber but that adds to the charm.  Like Dr. Stacey, you can tell he truly cares about his patients and the cause.

Our dedication this morning was to all the children who have been effected by cancer, whether they be survivors or soared on with Angel wings.

Today I was honoured to receive the human of the day award from Dr. Stacey… like her I was a novice rider, and with the collective support of the team not just survived but thrived… In the previous days ride I also happened to be in the right place at the right time, to lend a hand to a rider in their time of need… it was purely reflex and I’m glad the fates saw fit for me to be there.   Stacey’s parting comment before draping the cape over my shoulders was that I was a also a parent of a child going through cancer treatment which makes this journey that much more special, because that’s part of what it’s all about.  To this point there are parents who have endured much more than I ever have, and it was a privilege to be able to ride for other parents who cannot.  Be that as it may… I salute Lynn, Jennifer, Fiona, Mike and the countless other parents who have experienced a loss so deep that for them to survive and thrive is an inspiration to all.

My understanding is that the last day of the ride is traditionally the most dangerous… there are multiple factors at play… longing for home and loved ones, fatigue from the cumulative punishment the days of riding may take, and the tranquil scenery to and from Peggy’s Cove that deceptively hides narrow windy roads and tourist traffic.  Again, the RCMP came through in a big way and helped us to get to Peggy’s Cove, Halifax IWK, and the the final goal of Point Pleasant Park for the ceremonial dipping of the front wheel into the Atlantic Ocean safe and sound.  I must admit I never thought I would be in the position to hug an RCMP officer as I gathered it would be the other way around with them tackling me to the ground 🙂

The final walk to the beach with our bikes was surreal and I can only describe it as an “out of body experience”… to dip the tire in, and throw the rock into the Ocean that we so thoughtfully chose at the start in White Rock, BC is a memory I will never forget.

Jeff Rushton, one of the men who started the foundation with the rides maiden voyage congratulated us, and proceeded to spray all of us with a blast of champagne that echoed the emotion we could finally release knowing that we had reached our goal.

We loaded our bikes up for the final time, and headed to the hotel to clean up, unwind, and prepare for the closing ceremony at dinner…we watched all of Angie’s GoPro videos in sequence that have famously been shared, and it was a reflection on how far we have come in such a short time… some members of the team took the opportunity to share their thoughts and emotions by speaking to the group… everyone grew on this ride…for some it was part “Group Therapy”…for others it may have been a physical challenge that evolved to a true understanding of the devastation that Childhood Cancer causes as it ripples through the fabric of our lives be it son, daughter, niece or nephew.

The journey was a blur but it wasn’t… something out of the “Twilight Zone” that I imagine will be relived in flashbacks that a photograph may trigger when the dust settles and we return to our normal lives…

We finished off the evening with a quick trip to see the Bluenose II at its docking point, roam the deck, and sneak in a few more group photos.  A contingent of riders was going to hit a local watering hole called “The Lower Deck” for a few evening drinks, but I was exhausted and fortunately the excuse to bow out as my under age daughter was with us… at that point a single beer would have put me under and to finally sleep in a real bed again was exactly what I needed…

Epilogue

The following morning (this morning in fact) I awoke to the realization that it was indeed over… my wife and I helped with the truck cleanups, and I then snuck away to pack up my bike.

The last few hours of the morning have been an up and down process of final hugs as people leave to return home…

I no longer have to squeeze into the sausage tubing of my cycling kit, or scarf down my food in anticipation of the dreaded call to arms of “Riders!  Five more minutes!”… I’m sitting on my ass, in a comfortable bench seat typing this note with a coffee by my side…

I reflect upon all the self-doubt and stress I have tortured myself with over the last number of months about fundraising, training, and whether or not I could do this…

In White Rock, fellow rider Frank Molinari handed out a small poster with a picture of a cyclist and the words “We can, We will, We did”… All I can say is that after 2,425km of cycling is that “Yes, I did” only because as a team “Yes, we did”.