By Catherine Bancroft
I began our ride across the country by standing on the beach facing the Pacific Ocean in White Rock, BC on September 9th, 2010. This was the first morning of our 15 day cycling epic from Vancouver to Halifax. My stomach was doing uncontrollable flips, as I simultaneously tried to keep myself grounded and reflect on the last time I had such intense butterflies, which I couldn’t recall.
I was selected as one of 40 national riders as part of the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride (www.searsnationalkidscancerride.ca), an event of the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation. Each rider was expected to raise $25000. Although I had been riding for four years with different charity events such as the Bike Rally with the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation; the Conquer Cancer Ride with the Princess Margaret Hospital; and the Tri Adventure with The Nikibasika Learning and Development Project, raising $25K was going to take a much larger commitment than I had previously undertaken.
I was fortunate in my fundraising efforts to have the support of my parents who fundraised $10K through their community and my high school, Banting Secondary School raised $5600 through an event called the Inside Ride. The rest I raised through a 24 hour relay ride, and the generous support of my personal donors, who assisted me to raise another $10K. I’m still deeply moved by the generous support I received.
What motivated me do to a 2700 km charity ride? When I was 12, my 15 year-old cousin Jenny died from Leukemia. I wanted to do this ride to contribute to the fundraising that would support 17 oncology centers across the country, and help other children with cancer and their families.
I spent one year preparing for the ride—a year dedicated to working, training and fundraising. I didn’t fully appreciate how much time I spent preparing for the tour until I came back and resumed my normal activities.
The tour included three teams, each with 12-14 riders. Each team had a different route, covering 2700 km’s of the 7200 km’s, the total distance of the country. We left Vancouver on September 9th and arrived in Halifax on September 23rd—15 of the most physically and mentally challenging days of my life.
Each morning began with a dedication to a child/family living with cancer. Then we hopped on our bikes for the 160km ride for the day, riding from 8am-5pm. When we arrived in the city/town destination for the day, we ate and showered. Then we got into our RV and were driven to the next location (on average 460 km’s). When we arrived there, usually between11pm-12am, the Sears Truck and our beds awaited us. We climbed exhausted into our bunks—plain wood panels with foam mattresses on top. Every night it felt like I just put my head to my pillow and then my alarm went off for us to start all over again the next day.
The lack of sleep and the challenging terrain through stretches from Revelstoke to Golden, BC, three days in Northern Ontario, as well as stretches through New Brunswick took their toll. But hearing the inspiring stories of the kids with cancer and their families all the way across the country, and experiencing the beauty of the vast terrain through the different provinces, helped me meet the physical and mental challenges of the ride.
Now, 4 months later, I have joined the Cycle for Sight steering committee to help this event to grow its ridership in 2011, and to support people living with vision impairments. On Saturday June 25th we will cycle 140 km’s from Toronto to Collingwood. This year I’m taking on another new challenge—riding on a tandem bike for the first time, as a pilot with a visually impaired rider.
The Cycle for Sight is an event that supports the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which has funded over $17M in groundbreaking research at major hospitals and universities in Canada.
Please join us for this year’s Cycle for Sight event. You can find out more information at www.cycleforsight.ca.
Thank you for sharing in the journey!