National Kids Cancer Ride

NKCR Day 4 – Sept. 9

Lethbridge to Medicine Hat, AB

Link to Day 3 Video:

Today, we slept in a little… the day started at 6:30a with riders getting kitted up and bikes prepped before we headed over to a local McDonalds for complimentary breakfast – Egg McMuffins, coffee, apple slices and blueberry muffins were served to the riders by the store manager. Not sure if the patrons were expecting to see a bunch of spandex-clad cyclists at breakfast this morning – we definitely made an impression on everyone this morning.

After breakfast, we returned to our staging area, quickly got ready to ride and listened to the morning dedication for Cassandra “Cassy” Mann. Cassy was 11 years old when she was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma – and treatments stared right away with surgery, chemo and radiation. She handled all of the adversity, pain and isolation with a great attitude and positive outlook. The family was in awe of her…

In May 2009, the devastating news came from the doctors that they were dreading – treatment was not working and “6 weeks at best”. The family asked Cassy to make a bucket list and the family helped her fulfill her last wishes – typical teenager wants such as: belly button piercing, go to high school for a day, learn to drive and grade 8 graduation. She also wanted to go to PEI, but that one request was unfortunately not fulfilled…

She passed away on July 12, 2009 with her loving family by her side. They refer to Cassy as their “shining star in the midst of darkness” and they think of her every day. Today the riders carried paper stars with Cassy written on them in her honour.

Today, we started out with warm temperatures and regular riding kits (rather than thermal gear) and the forecast was for the temperature to soar throughout the day. We hit the road and started to ride… the wind shifted to a tailwind, then increased significantly throughout the day – at times it was behind us and as the road meandered, it periodically came from our right. The peloton was tight and working well together along the route. By the time we arrived in Barnwell, the skies were clearing, the sun was out and the temperatures started to soar.

The riders applied copious amounts of sunscreen, and started thinking about cooling strategies for the coming hours on the open road. We continued on to Grassy Lake, where we were welcomed with a phenomenal lunch prepared by volunteers at Centennial Park – home-cooked meals are simply the best! There was a variety of salads, minestrone soup, meats, cheese and pulled chicken on a bun, followed by fruit and a variety of other treats to fill our bellies. They also had ice-cold chocolate milk which is a nice treat.

After the amazing lunch, we were introduced to a family that had heard about our journey and drove up from Taber, AB to meet with us. Randy, the father, had a heart-felt address for the riders and expressed his deepest gratitude for the efforts of our group. Their son was battling cancer and just finished his last treatment. Randy’s message of hope and victory inspired us and gave us more reasons to ride. It was an amazing stop!!

After lunch it was clear that it was going to be a cooker this afternoon. Temperatures soared into the mid 30’s and all of the riders were struggling to stay cool… bandannas soaked in cold water were put under helmets, Linda (our lead medical person) prepared ice cube-filled nylon necklaces for the riders to wear and of course we were constantly drinking while on the road.

We stopped along the route to replenish our water supplies and even made an impromptu stop at the Subway in Burnett, AB for some water, ice and a little bit of air conditioning. While there, we met two guys from Quebec that are running across Canada in the opposite direction from us… they started in Newfoundland in March. They are raising awareness for the benefits of physical activity…

On our way to our final rest stop at Seven Persons Premium Sausage, my body temperature was climbing and I was starting to show signs of heat exhaustion. One of my fellow riders, Taylor (a nurse), was concerned for me, so I went and met with Linda and the medical team. I was feeling ok, but they though it best to pull me off the road and get my core temperature cooled. Feet went into ice buckets, ice packs were on my neck and down my back, and cold wet towels were applied to my head. After about 20 min, I was feeling much better, but followed their orders and took the shuttle for the last 40km. It is nice to know that the team is looking out for the riders and I quickly learned that if Linda says stop riding for the day, you stop riding. They are awesome!

We wrapped up the day at the Goodlife Fitness centre in Medicine Hat to enjoy some showers, then went to Rossco’s Pub for dinner before our shuttle to Swift Current for tomorrow’s start.

As we shuttled from Medicine Hat to Swift Current, the skies cleared and I thought about our shining star from this morning. Today was about Cassy.

Next up – Day 5: Swift Current to Moose Jaw

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