How one stranger helped inspire me to do the Ride for a second time
If there was any doubt that I was going to return to the Ride To Conquer this year, it was quickly quashed on Day 2 of my rookie jaunt through the event last year.
A big, chubby guy with limited expeirence on the bike, I was struggling along. I hadn't trained well enough, hadn't asked the right questions. Our little team, led by my buddies Scott Rintoul and Carla McAloney, was determined to get me as far along as possible.
Strangers helped to. You have name tag on your bike, and I received more than my fair share of "Keep going Steve-O," and "Atta boy, Steve," as people sped by.
In the early part of Day 2 last year, Jeff Rae came up. I didn't know him; I only learned his name later via Twitter, when he mentioned the meeting.
He gave me a few words of encouragement as we were pedalling along. I didn't catch all of them, to be brutally honest, because it was cold and windy and my novice riding skills had me focussing on keeping the bike upright and little else.
He rode just past me, and talked to Rintoul a bit, and then raced away.
I asked Rintoul if he knew Jeff. They hadn't met. He asked me the same thing.
Rintoul and I went about our business.
We came up on the pit stop about 30 minutes later, and I immediately sought out my wife, Carol-Ann, who was leading our support team. We were talking about how many more stages I planned on doing when Jeff came up.
He said he had heard our story and he wanted to shake my hand and wish me luck the rest of the day. And then he was gone.
I was floored. The guy has a million different things going on that weekend and he went out of his way to acknowledge my wife and I.
I thought, "these are good people. I need to be part of this."
I'm not sure where he came across our story. I haven't been the least bit shy about it. I'm a sports reporter for The Province, and wrote about it there. I've also blogged about it at Crush The Tumour With Humour.
The quickie version: diagnosed with a Solitary Plasmacytoma tumour in my T-2 vertebrae shortly after my 40th birthday in October, 2010, I underwent 20 radiation sessions and then eight operations after my back came apart. I have six rods, a bunch of screws and bolts and other shrapnel in my back now.
We are back it. I've enlisted a personal trainer for a few months and am down a couple of pounds. (I thought cancer was going to be this great weight loss plan at the very least. I couldn't even get that right.) I'm excited to see how much better I do on the ride.
We had a fundraiser night last year and brought in about $10,000. I'm excited to try and better that, too.
And I'm excited to try to inspire someone like Jeff Rae inspired me.
See what you can do to help me make this happen.
I thank you for your time.
My Participant ID: 291265-3
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