Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tour For Kids

On Wednesday July 13th Kids Cancer Care put out an urgent request for volunteers to help with the Tour For Kids the upcoming weekend.  They had a miscommunication and were short 2 truck drivers and 2 riders for the 3 day bike ride through the Rockies.  Without really knowing what I was getting into I phoned Sharlene and got a few of the details and was assured I would have a great time.  After checking with Jennifer I agreed to give them a hand and spend a 3 day weekend driving.

Friday morning Candice picked me up just before 6am and we headed to Rock Point Church.  There were a bunch of people from KCC and several organizers from Coast to Coast Against Cancer from Toronto.  I was given a few t-shirts and then shown to my truck.  Sharon & Kristen from Toronto were the ones in the know and would be making sure we knew what we were doing all weekend.  We would be travelling in a 3 vehicle convoy all weekend with them leading the way in a car and then me driving the dry goods truck and Jay driving the refer with all the refrigerated goods.

We were on the road by 7:30 headed to the mountains.  We missed the starting point due to a missed turn, but headed to get gas and then off to the first rest stop to set up.  The long riders started just outside Banff on the 1A highway and headed to Lake Louise.  Basically we spent all weekend driving to the rest stops and unloading tables, chairs, huge signs, bike racks, food, water, Power Bars and everything else the volunteers and riders would need.  Unfortunately the day before when they loaded and prepped the trucks Sharon was not around and my truck was not set up correctly so we fought trying to get the correct stuff out at each stop.  We got to meet the volunteer teams at the rest stops and got to snack each time.  The riders went from Lake Louise to Saskatchewan River Crossing and then headed towards Nordegg.

After the last rest stop we saw a bear on the side of the road using the washroom.  We drove to David Thompson Resort and started setting up for the night.  They had several massage therapists come in to look after the riders as well as a first aid tent, concierge tent, pub tent and shop.  Once we got everything parked and all the tents setup and the snacks, beer, wine and ice unloaded we had a few minutes to setup our tents and look around before the riders started arriving.  It was a beautiful camp site with an incredible view of the valley.  The first day’s drive was some of the best scenery in Alberta.  The views were phenomenal and the hills were insane.  When the trucks have issues getting up the mountain I have no idea how the bikers could do it.

When the riders started showing up it was great to get to meet them and talk with them about the ride and why they were doing it.  There was at least one KCC survivor riding in the Tour For Kids.  It was great to talk to the volunteers (including a survivor), the organizers and the riders.  David Thompson Resort did a great job of putting on a steak dinner with all the trimmings and Mill Street Brewery did a great job providing the beverages.  After supper the final trucks had all arrived and we reorganized my truck for the next day.  We did a much better job organizing everything so Saturday would be a much smoother day.

After everything was ready we went over a enjoyed some of the entertainment.  Steven shared some of his story from the ride last year.  He is a survivor and a camp alumni.  He was also featured in the KCC video from last year:  It was a very moving moment and there were very few dry eyes.  We then had the Truckstop Superfriends entertain us for a while.  They were great and it was a great big party.

The next morning we were again up early and were treated to a great big breakfast by David Thompson Resort.  We hit the road around 7:30 again and were off to Rocky Mountain House.  We set up a bunch of rest stops and went through Nordegg, Rock Mountain House and Caroline.  In Caroline we set up the lunch stop for most of the riders.  The long riders were doing 215km this day.  We spent a little extra time there making sure everything was ready to go and visiting with the volunteers.  We then headed up several really, really big hills to Sundre.  We stopped and set up another rest stop and then headed to Sundre Aquatic Centre to set up the finish.  We set everything up and then we waited… and waited.  Finally the truck that was supposed to setup the finish arrived and then everyone left to go set up at Camp Kindle except, myself, Dana and the finish volunteers.

It was nice to get to see all the riders arrive and get to cheer them into the finish.  Once again they had a couple of massage therapists setup here, but the majority were at Camp waiting for them.  They got a quick snack, some water or Gatorade and a bag lunch.  As soon as enough riders showed up they loaded a bus and transferred everyone to Camp.  We had to wait for the 2 clean up trucks to arrive as they had everything for my truck for the final day.  We had to do the transfer in Sundre so they could load all the bikes into the 2 clean up trucks for the trip to camp and the trip to the start in the morning.

Finally once the trucks were transferred over we headed to Camp Kindle.  Everyone with Kids Cancer Care (and many of the volunteers) were very excited to show the riders and organizers where their money was going.  Once we arrived everyone was having a great time… the giant swing was going, tents were being set up, people were checking the camp out and they had the lemonade stand serving organic beer and lemon tea beer.  Once everyone showed up we all had a great meal and small presentation about the camp.  Everyone had a great night with the zip line, the big swing and lots of good conversations.  It was also nice to have a long hot shower and sleep in a bunk for the night.
Sunday morning we were again served a great breakfast and were off again early to set up the rest stops.  This was the shortest day for the riders as they had a choice between 100km and 120kms.  We set up one rest stop and then headed to a small community hall to set up the lunch stop.  Since this was a short day there was a lot of setup at lunch and lots of volunteers showed up to get lunch ready for the riders.  After one more quick rest stop we were back at the Rock Pointe Church to get ready for the finish, the BBQ and to clean up and organize the trucks.  Jennifer and the kids came to welcome the riders and there was a fun party atmosphere to the finish.  It was great cheering the riders as they finished this great tour.
During the BBQ Sharon asked me if we would be interested in having Karlee featured on the signs and website as one of the kids they are riding for.  Of course we agreed as anything we can do to assist Coast to Coast Against Cancer and Kids Cancer Care is worth our efforts.  I have already let them know I will be back next year and am working on convincing Jennifer that she should join me.

We were also talking through the entire ride about The Inside Ride.  They take a bunch of stationary bikes from Coast to Coast and have teams of 6 ride for 10 minutes each.  It is another fundraiser for Kids Cancer Care and promises to be a great event.  I have put together a team and we will be riding at Bankers Hall on September 26th from 12:00 – 1:30.  If you would like to make a donation you can do so at:  Please pledge our team if you can as this is a very worthy charity and 100% of the money raised comes back to Kids Cancer Care.

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