National Kids Cancer Ride

NKCR Day 12 of 18

NKCR Day 12 – Sept. 17
Barrie to Sick Kids in Toronto

Last night we arrived in Barrie and were met by a handful of Sears employees that kept the building open for us to clean up before bed. They also had some late night snacks for us – truly appreciated. We set up our parking lot camp and turned in for the night for another restful night after a good day of riding.

Today I woke up feeling much better than I did yesterday and I was ready for a full day in the saddle. The plan was to ride from Barrie to Beeton, Sears Distribution Centre in Vaughan, through Mississauga and on to Toronto for a visit at Sick Kids.

Breakfast was served by the staff of Sears, where we had a chance to meet our newest team member Peter Cook who will be riding with us for the remainder of the journey. He is a veteran NKCR cyclist and is a very strong rider. Once breakfast was complete, we got ready to ride and did our morning dedication.

Today we rode for Taissa, a beautiful 13 year old girl filled with hope, strength, courage and determination. When she was born she had complications and her parents were told she would never walk or talk. Defying doctors Taissa grew up walking, talking, running and dancing, skiing, skating, laughing and loving.

In April of 2000 at the age of 12 she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma – a parents worst nightmare becoming a reality. During her treatments her parents prayed she kept her somewhat feisty yet carefree spirit. Her parents stood by her side as she fought her battle for, and of, her life. Although there were numerous miracles along the way that restored her energy and spirit, sadly they did not last. Taissa passed away on Thursday, March 29, 2001 at the age of 13.

On this journey, there is a lot of symbolism that the riders use to remember those that have and are battling cancer (butterflies, eagles, tartans, bracelets and etc.) rather than wearing a wristband for Taissa, the NKCR riders paint one fingernail blue in her memory. Thankfully, we had the chance to catch up and ride with her mother Ulana on the way to Sick Kids today.

Rule #6 – Free your mind and your legs will follow
Your mind is your worst enemy. Do all of your thinking before your start riding your bike. Once the pedals start to turn, wrap yourself in the sensations of the ride – the smell of the air, the sound of the tires (or Rich Meesters freewheel hub), the feeling of flight as the bike rolls over the hills… in essence, embrace the ride and everything that you experience along the way – good advice for today and everyday on the bike.

Prior to today’s ride we were told that there were three significant hills (well, maybe a couple more than three) and we climbed nearly 1,000m today. I was feeling strong again and managed to pull my weight and the climb those hills. The weather has been fantastic and despite a bit of a headwind, everyone was performing well.

After a brief rest stop in Beeton, we headed to Vaughan and the Sears distribution centre, where we were met by a lot of Sears employees and some local friends and family – there was a great turn out for our arrival. At this location, the Sears family provided us with lunch, and even a little ice cream as a treat. After a few brief presentations and a $20,000 donation from the employees we were off to Sherway Mall in Mississauga.

Upon arrival in Mississauga, there was a huge reception from rider’s friends and family members and Team 2 joined us at the same location. It was great to connect with the other riders and hear of their adventures on the other portions of our route.

Leaving Mississauga, all of the riders joined together and we also picked up a significant number of former national team riders and other locals for a massive ride along to Sick Kids. The new team included three bicycle police officers amongst the group (not sure they knew what they signed up for as we typically ride at about 30km/h) and we were escorted by a bunch of police motorcycles for the entire trip to Sick Kids.

All of the riders experienced what it is like to be Prime Minister for the day as every route was blocked off and we were able to ride to Sick Kids without any delays. Folks along the way were waving, clapping and cheering for us along the way… definitely the best way to get around Toronto at the start of rush hour.

Joining us on the ride was Josh Nelson and Drew on a tandem bike – Josh has battled cancer and has ridden with the NKCR riders in the past, truly an inspirational young man who continues to defy the odds. On the final two blocks, all of the riders lined up behind Ivy, an enthusiastic young girl that has faced cancer. She rode us all into Sick Kids along side NKCR rider Dr. Bruce Crooks…

The riders were welcomed into Sick Kids, where we met with staff, heard from Owen (a cancer survivor) who described what he has gone through while collecting bravery beads. He had a truly impressive collection of bravery beads, each one represented chemotherapy, radiation, needles, and other treatments that these kids endure. They are proud of their collection of bravery beads, but seeing how many he had really illustrated what life is like for a kid dealing with cancer…

The day wrapped up at Good Life Fitness centre for showers and then we headed off to Pickering for dinner before our final shuttle to Bowmanville for our parking lot camp.

Really can’t believe that we have made it to Toronto already and there are only 6 more days until we conclude this amazing journey.

Day 1:
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Day 8:
Day 9:
NEW Day 10:
NEW Day 11:
NEW Day 12:

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Day 6:

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