Someone once told me that the NKCR was meant to make the riders feel like a child that is going through cancer. While I can’t verify this, and I’m sure it comes nowhere even close, nobody said it is supposed to be easy. As we’ve traveled from the west coast towards the east, we’ve had rain, cold, wind, did I say wind, and more wind, and more than a few physical and emotional trials. We sleep in the back of a transport traiiler, and while it’s comfortable, it’s not exactly the Ritz – It is somewhat cozy, and you have to abandon any thoughts of privacy for the next 18 days, with at least 10 riders/volunteers within easy earshot and close proximity while you sleep, change, etc.
Yesterday we rode from Levis Quebec towards Rivier de Loup. We rolled into the Louis Garneau parking lot around midnight, after a 5 hour shuttle, and bedded down so we could be up at 6am to eat and shuttle to our start point. We were joined for half the ride by former national rider “Super” Mario Ferland, and due to headwinds and schedule, we cut the rode short, stopping at Kamouraska. We battled headwinds once again today with clouds and light drizzle occaisionally.
We rode yesterday for Sahara, a 9 year old girl who was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. Last month she had surgery to remove the tumor after months of chemotherapy and radiation, and we all hope that the prognosis is good for her full recovery.
Today dawned clear, but very cold, with temperatures dipping below the freezing mark, as we started our ride from Grand Falls to Frederiction, NB. While we’ve had colder temperatures, it was nothing like this morning, with cold and fog, giving way to sun and pleasant temperatures and tailwinds (Tailwinds!!!) for most of the day. Some of the New Brunswick roads are not smooth, and we were tossed around quite a bit as we climbed and descended some of the hills. I felt like my fillings would shake loose at some points and arms and hands hurt from hanging onto the handlebars. We completed a 200km ride today, my longest ever.
Our dedication was emotional today as it was for a rider’s son: Mike Leiter’s son Michael, who was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma, a form of liver cancer as he was preparing to transition from high school to college. In addition to dealing with his cancers, Michael had to deal with the unexpected deaths of two of his friends due to car accidents. Michael thought that he was supposed to die, not them. Michael passed away in November 2006, just over two years from his initial diagnosis.
So while our rides are hard, there is no comparison really to what a child or a family goes through when they are told “your child has cancer”. We feel physical pain from the rides, but nowhere close to what a child goes through as their bodies are poisoned and irradiated to battle the cancer. We feel emotional pain from the stories we hear each day, bot nowhere close to what a parent has to go through when their child is battling, or has lost the battle with cancer. We may be inconvenienced, and have to give up creature comforts for the ride, but again, nothing close to what families have to go through to put their children through care, sometimes having to separate families and be miles away from home for treatments.
But the ride is not supposed to be easy. It’s a little inconvenience that brings home the reality of what our wheel family, our friends who have had to go through childhood cancer, go through and we are better for it.
Thank you for reading.