Day 10 June 24th
Consider this update the first of several I will do around Coast to Coast. A more comprehensive update will be given on the weekend [time to get back to work now!]
Right after my last update I got on the bike with Fred and Hamish for the last night ride of the trip from midnight to 4:30 am on June 24th before we set up for the full team arrival in Halifax at noon on June 24th. This last ride was special as we were cycling down from the Bay of Fundy side of Nova Scotia to Chester about 50 miles/80 kms outside of Halifax. The night was dark with a small sliver of a moon in a very hilly, forested terrain along hwys 215 and hwy 14. It was special we were biking into East Chester to the family cottage that Hamishs parents own and where Hamish spent many summers. Boy was I thinking of the possibility of actually sleeping in a real bed! We rode often in silence and with the light of the distance RV as our only source of illumination. Imagine grinding up hills for 10-15 minutes then getting into an aerodynamic tuck to reach speeds at night of over 70-80 kms an hour down the other side with our wheels within inches of one another. This sense of exhilaration combined with the sense of excitement as our day 10 adventure comes to an end was an amazing feeling.
After finishing our ride we got a quick bite and for the first time got to sleep 2 hours in an actual bed at Hamishs family cottage. Then a quick shower and a media interview with our sponsor The Weather Network who gave us great coverage along the way. Truly a great sponsor who have done a super job of highlighting our event on their website [www.theweathernetwork.com] and on their television show. [even if because of the incredible weather we were blessed with we didnt give them back much of a weather story!!]
Next the team, joined by some friends who made the effort to fly in to bike with us [thanks Keith!!], made the final push to Halifax for our final leg of the trip. Quite an exciting site as all 6 core riders, plus our 2 alternative riders, and several other cyclists made the trek into Halifax. When we got within 20 miles we were joined 20 Fujitsu employees and a police escort with sirens a blazing. They took us to Point Pleasant Park where, to the sounds of playing bagpipes, to political dignitaries, national media, to family, friends, and 20 Fujitsu employees we dipped our front wheels in the Atlantic. As I turned around I was hugged by my wife Diane, my children Skylar & Brooklyn, my Mom & Dad, my Aunt Brenda, and my mother-in-law Emmi. What a feeling.
The Honourable Myra A. Freeman, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia then gave a wonderful speech and invited the entire [smelly!] C2C team to Government House for a reception and photos. Another unexpected surprise. My sincere thanks to Paul Kent, the Fujitsu Halifax employees, Mike Maloney & his team, and Susie Adelson from G2M for the amazing job of setting up the entire Halifax welcoming event.
The team then had a much deserved celebration dinner and believe it or not entertainment from our own Dr. Pat Hewitt who in addition to all his other skills is the most amazing one person band I have ever heard. As I final shut my eyes at 1:30 am words simply cannot describe the sense of joy, teamwork and accomplishment I felt for what the extended team accomplished.
Over the next two days we will be modifying the website to post additional photos, route information and closing comments around our learnings, our hopes, and our dreams for C2C in the future.
Until we talk in a few days I will keep on my permanent smile and reflect on what the team has accomplished and the possibilities this can create for the families impacted by cancer.
Day 9 & part Day 10 update at 11 pm June 23rd
Another incredible day on the C2C mission. Immediately following my last update I got my night ride in with Fred and 4 incredible riders who joined us 30 kms from Moncton and rode like the wind for 100 kms late into the evening before Fred and I headed out to get the team close to the PEI border. Following this Hamish and Kevin took over to take us to North Rustico PEI by 6 am June 23rd to the Atlantic ocean. At this point we had completed over 6300 kms [plus an additional 120 kms we did not count when we got lost!] and accomplished this feat in 8 days 19 hours averaging the 30 kms/hr we needed to stay on track. I believe very strongly this feat was accomplished by 6 middle age, average family men due in large part to the motivation from all of the people following us and the cancer survivors and victims we rode for.
After this the team did a modified scenic route that followed the eastern & southern edge around PEI to the ferry over to Pictou NS, along the Northumberland Strait, south to Truro, west along the Bay of Fundy, and then south west to Chester NS to set up for the "official" finish in Halifax tomorrow at noon Atlantic Tuesday June 24th including a welcoming event with a few significant dignitaries and our friends & family.
As we wind down and begin the process of integrating and reflecting on what we learned from C2C 2003 my personal objective is to incorporate all the deep personal learnings I gained from this trip into my own life. I really believe in the integrating power of having focused purpose and passion around a common goal. Among other things C2C 2003 reinforced these beliefs and for that I am very grateful for the experience.
Look forward to an update on day 10 and some overall reflections on the trip and the people and companies that got us here later tomorrow. I am really looking forward our ending celebrations!
Day 8 update at 8:00 pm June 22nd
Another incredible 24 hours in the life of a Coast to Coast team member. The emotional impact of the dedications & website, the continued 8,000-11,000 caloric output per day, the incredible outpouring of support, and the unbelievable people we have met along the way have made this a very special and memorable event.
The last 24 hours of cycling for me went from one of my absolute best rides riding along the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City to Riviere-du-Loop with Jamie, to my all-time worst rides earlier today where because of dehydration and low blood sugar levels caused by a bout with "the runs", I had no choice but to get off the bike an hour early; one of the toughest decisions I had to make this trip but the right thing to do from a safety reason on the road given some blackouts I was experiencing.
The team has made unreal progress today cycling through some of the historic towns and villages of Quebec, through the beautiful St. Lawrence River valley, and through the inspiring Adirondack Mountains of New Brunswick.
As we get closer to our goals I am so emotional charged about what we are doing. Let me personalize this for a moment: I want the Coast to Coast effort to make a difference to the missions of Candlelighters and LAF, the two charities we are cycling for. I want what we are doing to go beyond the dedicated Coast to Coast Team and extending into a broader support network, especially to the families of children impacted by cancer. And most important I would really like to have the passion and sense of accomplishment that I see in those that have so graciously supported us, extend to all of us in our ongoing personal lives. Yes maybe these are ambitious goals but if we can somehow capture the raw focused energy I personally have experience during this event maybe it will be possible. We cant stop cancer but through education, research, and a stronger support network we CAN make an impact.
As I close tonights update I wanted to say a few personal words of thanks. Thanks again to the entire Coast to Coast support team as without their effort this trip would NOT be possible, thanks to all the riders who have come out and helped us along the way, thanks to the Fujitsu teams from many cities across Canada for your unbelievable support, thanks to everyone who made the Toronto day possible, thanks to my C2C cyclist teammates who have shown me again the power of a great team, and most important thanks to my family whose support as been inspiring. To my lifelong soulmate Diane, and my wonderful children Skylar and Brooklyn know that I am thinking of you each and every day. You make my life very special.
I started this event last year as a celebration of my Fathers triumph over cancer; I am hopeful we can turn into something much bigger as we go forward.
I am off now on a night ride with Fred; Im really looking forward to it.
Day 7 to 6:00 pm June
Many of the same cyclists then escorted our team out of Toronto and (again) with favorable winds our team gained some further time on our schedule. We were then met by Kris and Kirk Tobias [son's of Kal Tobias who is head of Candlelighters] who rode in honor of their mother. THEN near Belleville about 10 riders joined our team to Napanee, followed by three riders from the Multi-Lazer team joined us for over 100 miles all the way to Brockville. A big thank you to Joe Pierre from the Kingston General Hospital who organized these two groups for us. It provides some much needed drafting support for a few hours of our trip!
THEN we had some exceptional commitments from some incredible people from Ottawa. After midnight Trevor drove down from Ottawa to ride with the team for over an hour. My dear friend Mike Tremblay and Phil Stein also drove down from Ottawa AFTER 1:30 am to meet us near Brockville to deliver us a donation from the Ottawa Fujitsu Consulting employees who did fundraisers on our behalf. Truly this level of support really shows the power that can be created by focusing on a common goal. I rode with Scott and we truly enjoyed this ride.
THEN just when we thought that was all this great 24 hours could bring, at the border of Ontario and Quebec we were joined by about a dozen local cyclists who took us into Montreal, where we were THEN greeted by some Montreal police officers lead by Sergent Claude Cuillerier who gave us a police escort through Montreal!
I cant tell you what this kind of support, and
the support through comments on the website means to all of us on the
team. What a powerful metaphor for what can be created if we could really
turn this into a Coast to Coast community of compassion around cancer.
Well, I've got to get back on that bike now!!
Day 6 - 8:00 am Eastern June
Wow! What a day. Our day mimicked life itself with some lows [getting lost and losing 2-3 hours, some logistic issues], and some real highs [working as a true team and getting back most of the time we lost within 24 hours!].
Physically this was the toughest day for me. The lack of sleep combined with the demands of biking 300-400 kms per day finally caught up with me. Yesterday afternoon I simply ran out of energy and if it was not for a quick energy drink [coffee, honey and some unknown good stuff] from Dr. Pat I would have had difficulty continuing. The other factor that continues to amaze me is the profound impact the dedications have on each of the cyclists. We all have radios with ear pieces connected to the radio in the RV and one of the support team reads us the dedication for that 100 kms. The emotional impact and the sense of commitment this adds to the cyclists on the road is quite profound. We continue to be honored and blessed with the opportunity to ride for these individuals who have been impacted by cancer.
Surprisingly after about 3 hours sleep I had one of
the best rides thus far . Kevin and I took off at 2 am near the US/Canada
border by Sarnia and had an incredible 4 hour ride finishing in Woodstock
Ontario, the town I grew up in. I was greeted by my wonderful in-laws,
my brother, and my sister-in-laws family. What an emotional ending to
a wonderful rollercoaster of a day!!
Until tomorrow a big hello to my friends and family who are following us along the route.
Day 5 - 7;00 pm Eastern June 18th, 2003
Today the team really came together. After 4 tough and long days through the Canadian Rockies and across the Prairies the cyclists legs are very sore and everyone is very tired [imagine biking 12-14 hours a day and spending the balance of your time trying to sleep in a moving 30 foot RV and you get the picture!].
I wanted to take today's update and dedicate it to the people who are making this all happen for us on route behind the scenes. As a 24 hour operation we have two support crews who rotate driving the RV, as well as, two other vehicles to support the overall event.
1. Dr. Pat Hewitt is preparing all our food and nutrition,
as well as, doing chiropractice adjustments as required. He is without
a doubt an invaluable asset and has literally not been outside of 100
feet from the RV since we started this journey
We rode for many people today but one that I want to mention was the Bolte & Canter family dedication submitted by Rhoda Canter who I have the pleasure of working with at Fujitsu. Rhoda if you are reading this know that as the dedication was been read to me over the radio phone, the sun was slowly rising around 5 am this morning. Here is to stopping the incidence of cancer in your family and to your sister's healthy recovery. Thanks so much for sharing your family story.
Diane, Brooklyn and Skylar here is to seeing you soon!
Day 4 - 9:30 pm Central Time June 17th, 2003
Today was a very spiritual and a sad day all rolled into one. This coming Friday I had planned to dedicate my ride to my great aunt Helen Auger who had cancer. As I was about to mount my bike for one of my rides, my Dad called me on the cellphone and gave me the bad news that my Aunt had just died of cancer. A sad day and very surprising as we thought she was recovering. With this news, the team had a brief hug and rode our bikes faster than we have all trip; there was a large cloud that towered over all others and as I rode I thought of her. She was a quiet, unassuming person who never forgot Diane's and my anniversary or our children's birthdays with a nice letter or a call. I will miss her. Another reason to irradicate this disease.
Today was the longest riding day thus far cycling exactly 400 kms over a 24 hour period. I started at night with an incredible ride with Jamie were the northern lights danced across the Manitoba night sky illuminated by a full moon, with periods of errie fog patches over vast peat moss fields. This was followed by a great ride with Jamie and Kevin with a picture at the US/Canada Board Crossing, followed by a ride with Scott that took us into sundown. I can't begin to tell you the dedication of the 5 cyclists I am biking with; I have never seen a group so committed to achieving our mission of finishing our route in 10 days and raising $500,000 for our charities. We are well on our way but still have a ways to go. It is only with the incredible support we are getting from the entire C2C support team that allows us to be where we are today on the route [about 6 hours ahead]. In tomorrow's update I will talk about the great job each of them have been doing in support of our overall goals.
Today's lesson, reinforced with the surpise announcement of my Aunt's death, is to focus life on your passions and enjoy each and every day. My family, my friends, and causes such as Coast to Coast Against Cancer will hopefully keep me grounded around what is really important.
A big exceeded hello to the Rushton family as you struggle with Aunt Helen's death. My thoughts are with you as I move into day 5.
Day 3 8:30 Central Time June 16th, 2003
Another wonderful day. The weather was just perfect and the team rode like the wind. We pushed the limits a bit today and we are now about 6 hours ahead of schedule. As I write this we have completed 1908 kms of the 7200 kms schedule. I have 785 kms in my legs in the first 2.5 days with a big midnight to 4 am ride tonight that should push the three day total to a little over 915 kms. This afternoons ride with Jamie was really a great ride as we hit sustained speeds of 40-48 kms/hour on the flat roads of Saskatchewan.
Today was another powerful emotional day as we dedicated our ride today to 8 very special people and their families. It is an interesting dimension to watch ones mood and perspective change as we ride with some pretty sore legs and saddles; however when put into perspective these are minor discomforts compared to what any cancer patient deals with on any one individual day. I am truly honored to be able to ride for each and every person who is touched by cancer and I hope in some small way C2C helps these families over and above the money we are raising for the charities.
Today, I was also reminded about the frailty of life itself; I got a voicemail today from work at Fujitsu Consulting that my good friend and leader Micheal Poehner was going in today for triple bypass surgery; Micheal my thoughts are with you and your family. Here is to a safe and recovery .
Day 2 2 pm Mountain Time June 15, 2003
Well 7 hours of riding done with 6 more to go for the day for my personal shift!! Riding through the night was particularly special as the moon illuminated our ride with barely a sound to be heard other than the odd vehicle.
The team is riding amazing putting us about 2 hours ahead of schedule. Every 100 kms Ron Mitchell or one of the other support team reads to all the riders the dedication for that segment and I think this is a big part of why the team is performing so well. I cant tell you the emotion that this creates and how it laser focuses our attention on why we are doing this.
Today is a special day being Fathers Day. A call from my two wonderful children Skylar and Brooklyn this morning with a "Hi I love you" is all I need to have a great day!
And finally I spoke to my Dad and wished him a great Fathers Day. Dad you where the original reason why we starting the whole Coast to Coast program. Im so glad you survived your bout with cancer so we can share this day together.
Until tomorrow heres to finding a cure.
Day 1 June 14, 2003
Wow what a great start to our 10 day adventure!! We started from English Bay dipping our wheels into the Pacific cheered on by friends from Vancouver, a great showing of Fujitsu Consulting employees, and special friends Scott Garvey and Steven Sokolowski who flew in from Toronto!!
It is now 5 pm Vancouver time and we are a little ahead of schedule thanks to some incredible weather ordered up by the Weather Network. So far we rode in honour of 5 year old Meagan Bebenek who passed away from cancer in 2001, my grand grandmother who passed away from cancer, and Heather McHale a courageous mother and wife who lost her battle to ovarian cancer in 2000. As a father Meagan's story really touched home and brought to focus why this ride is so important.
Off for a break now before the next 4 hours shift!
Diane, Skylar and Brooklyn I'm thinking of you!