Here’s mud in your eye

Taking a ride to conquer cancer

By Alexander H.G. Paterson, MB ChB, MD, FRCP, FACP

The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer® benefiting the Alberta Cancer Foundation is a unique, two-day cycling event. 

Dr. Paterson's ride, described below, took place on June 23-24, 2012.

The ride raised $8 million for cancer research. We made $95,000 for our clinical research unit. But then I saw a boy, maybe 15 or 16 years old, head resting on his handlebars. He’d arrived just in front of me. He wore a yellow
t-shirt. On the back, carefully sewn on with black letters were the words: 'This is for you Mom.'

 VIDEO

Watch "2012 AB Ride to Conquer Cancer, aka It Will Rain" to learn more about this initiative.

Ride to conquer cancerThe best travel stories are about discomfort, lost passports and wallets, nasty immigration officials or sweaty nights in flea-blown hotels.

And since you’re all weary of Alberta Health Services (AHS) expense scandals and fat pensions for bureaucrats, here’s a bit of a travel story – a bicycle ride at the end of June.

This was the optimistically named Ride to Conquer Cancer 2012 for which some had rashly volunteered to stoke-up funds for the clinical research unit at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

Willem, our team captain, gave a rousing speech at 8:30 a.m. on the Saturday and more than 2,000 of Alberta’s flowers of the forest wheeled their velocipedes out of Spruce Meadows, bikes oiled and name labels hanging from the top tube so cheerleaders could give a personal cheer as we swooped into a pit stop or puffed up a hill.

“Yeh, Dave … woo-hoo … nearly there.”

Grey clouds threatening, we breezed past the Edmonton Cross Cancer Institute team who were gasping up the first main hill, unaccustomed to the altitude. We waved to them sportingly. The rain started two hours later at High River and for the first day’s ride of 125 kilometers it seemed worthwhile to try to keep dry.

Ride to conquer cancerBut by Sunday I had surrendered, deciding to enjoy the trickle of water down the back of the neck, the damp in the groin and the wet seeping into the shoes.

Throughout the two-day ride, especially when pedaling up alps upon alps with spray in the face, I nursed my wrath (to keep it warm) at AHS for failing to support and understand the importance of clinical trials in oncology. I urged my bike up the hill wishing that the little group ahead was a peloton of AHS bureaucrats … er … “vice-presidents” that I could shoulder into the ditch. It’s true – these reprehensible thoughts come to one at times of physical stress.

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