Sorry- no pictures- but I thought I'd send along a quick summary of my Tour for Kids adventure.
This was my first T4K's- and I have to say that it is an incredible event, with outstanding cyclists and volunteers. Most importantly, it is an outstanding cause. While we did not have a BCC team per say, I came across several BCCer's including Arn, Albert, Andrew, Joel, Bruce, Michael, Ang, and Julie Toole (who I had a chance to ride with a couple of times and is incredibly fast this year!) A few of our Watt's Up friends also rode including Peter Oyler and Paula Hamilton. (sorry if I missed anyone!)
The routes were great. We wound our way up to Barrie via King City on Day 1 using some of the same beautiful roads we use for the Lake Simcoe rides. Day 2 was unreal with empty roads, great climbs and a rewarding ride through Awenda Provincial Park. The only issue on day 3 was the wind- which was brutal. It was gusting to 45/50 km/h and nearly took me and Julie out while crossing an open stretch of road! When we turned for Barrie- we had the wind at our backs and beaches off to our right- and we absolutely flew.
Saturday came with grand vistas over Collingwood with amazing descents. I joined a “break-away” on day 3 (just for fun) and 3 of us managed to hold off the main group for a good 10km until we realized we still had 50km to go! The game was definitely fun for us and the “chase” while it lasted! Day 3 also had a fantastic rest stop at Wasaga Beach- with a view over the bay to Blue Mountain and the climbs we had just completed that morning.
Yesterday was the last stage- and it was another amazing, exhausting and emotional day. As for the previous days, I had another great group of cyclists to ride with- and while we had "social" moments, we were pushing hard to get to the finish and our families. Three separate flats in our group, time-cut offs, and vandals who threw tacks on the road could not deter our determined little group of riders- who all wanted to finish up as quickly as our legs would allow. It was such a joy to see Andrea, Aidan and Caitlin at the finish- particularly when I reflected on the day.
Our day began with a speech and a thank-you from a mother who had lost both of her children to cancer. Both suffered through endless treatments, surgeries, chemotherapy, and ongoing tests. Both recovered, only to have their cancers return. While they were here only a short while, both of her children lived life to the absolute fullest and had a spark that touched everyone who new them. She said that their favourite place in the world became the camps. The camps were one of the only places were they were not treated like a sick person, but were able to just be kids again. While the cancer would drain their vibrancy, the camps would return that spark- the unique spirit and energy that defined them.
There were also many stories of the cancer survivors. A well spoken 17-year old told us of her struggle with childhood cancer- about the fear, the isolation, and the struggle to just be normal. While she was still undergoing treatment, she began to attend camp Ooch. She said it quickly became her favourite place on earth- a place were she has been able to fully "recover" her life and meet lifelong friends. She is now cancer free, but hopes to volunteer at the camps to help other children still battling their cancer. She sung us out with O'Canada- and gave us a few minutes to recover and wipe away the tears.
These stories made it all very real- and very important. I will deeply cherish the memories, friends, and lessons I learned over the 4 day adventure. Needless to say, I hugged the kids very, very hard at the finish!
I personally managed to ride 800km in 4 days- and I know everyone else also pushed their legs and their hearts to the limit!
If you have not yet had a chance to do this ride, please consider putting it on your “life list” and donating this outstanding cause. To those who continue to support the Tour for Kids and Coast to Coast- thank you so much!