Jason Leslie is the Principal at Matthew McNair Secondary School in Richmond, BC.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Ride of a Lifetime
I have been completely out of the loop recently, unable to find the time for a blog post, or even to be regularly engaged with Twitter. Excuses for this are many, and I will likely share some of the experiences of my last 6 weeks in a future blog post, but this entry is about an excursion I participated in last weekend.
On June 18 and 19, 2,879 riders (myself among them), ventured through the scenic Pacific Northwest a total of 242 kms, travelling from Cloverdale's Fraser Downs racetrack to Marymoor Park in Redmond, Washington as part of the Ride to Conquer Cancer. The ride was designed to raise money and awareness for Cancer research in B.C. and raised a total of $11.1 million dollars, $65, 763.56 of it by the team of 24 riders and volunteers I was with in honour of our friend, Mr. Lorne Bodin. I have written about my decision to sign up for the Ride here, and have posted several times about how my good friend Lorne has inspired me, here, here, here and here.
The Ride itself was a physical test, but was much more emotionally taxing, since every one of the riders had been impacted by the disease in some form. Everyone had a story of who they were riding for, and many of the riders themselves were cancer survivors, as signified by a flag on their bike. Opening ceremonies made us all think of lost family and friends, and at 7:45 AM on Saturday morning, in the pouring rain, we began the journey. Through the border, seaside in Blaine, and lunch in Lake Padden, the voyage was beautiful. Rest stops every 25-30 kilometers allowed people to refuel, visit with one another and take photographs. By mid-afternoon, most of the group arrived at the half-way point, a tent-city for all the riders and volunteers on a baseball park in Mount Vernon. Dinner, drinks, live music and a series of inspirational speeches (including one made by Lorne's brother, Greg) followed, and by 10:00 PM, most people retired in attempts to get ready to do it again the next day.
Sunday morning started early with breakfast, and people got back on their bikes around 7:00 AM. Again, with stops every 25-30 km's, the group made its way through some beautiful farm and parkland all the way to Redmond in the early afternoon. One of the most enjoyable features of the event were the nameplates each bicycle was equipped with, which allowed people to easily introduce themselves to one another and engage in friendly, enlightening and inspiring conversation. We crossed the finish line around 1:30 PM, cheered in by a large group of supportive spectators, friends and family. It was truly inspiring and brought out the emotions in all who were there. I thought of Lorne all weekend, and know that he was with us the entire time, laughing and smiling, and proud of what we were doing.
Despite some challenges with weather, less than ideal food service and flat tires (I had 4!!), I enjoyed myself so much and felt so good about the difference we were making, that I signed up to do it again next year. If you are so inclined, I am already taking donations, and need to raise $2500.00 again. Contributions are gratefully accepted here.
All in all, it was indeed a Ride of a Lifetime! Thanks and congratulations to all those who supported the efforts, to the people I met on the ride, and the members of our team that made the endeavour so enjoyable.