Well, having had a full week to recover from the Niagara RONA MS Bike Tour, I can now objectively say that it was a huge success. It was a fantastic event attended by over 600 people, all of whom sharing one common goal: to finally end MS. Over $420,000 was raised in a single Sunday, all going towards our goals of finding a cure for multiple sclerosis, and enabling people affected by MS to enhance their quality of life.
Although the route did not take us past the actual world wonder itself, it was nonetheless a beautiful ride and I was thrilled to discover that the finish line was a mere 30 minute walk from the famous Marineland. Sadly, I was not able to go...maybe next time. Most riders were equally thrilled that there was a Tim Horton’s coffee shop less than ten minutes away - but then, when you think about it, there’s always a Tim’s a mere ten minutes away so take that exuberance with a grain of salt.
Gotta LOVE Canada, eh?
The weather prognosticators had us worried with their prediction that we would see some stormy skies, but, aside from a few minutes of intermittent spitting, the partly sunny skies and intermittent breezes provided the perfect combination for a pleasant day’s ride along the waterfront of scenic Niagara Falls. Unlike the previous week, when the sun and heat had proven too unbearable for me to tolerate, this beautiful weather allowed me to stay out for the duration.
The ride itself consisted of a 45km, and longer 75km, trek through the lakeside area. I am happy to say that people had a fantastic time, and while there was a slight headwind for part of the first leg of the longer route, the wind was at the riders’ backs for most of the return trip. Yours truly sat, as always, at the finish line waiting for the weekend warriors to cross, my hand at the ready with an eager high-5.
There were two particular things that made this event especially memorable for me. The first was the occasion of the very last riders to cross the finish line. After almost half-an-hour with no sign of bikers, a young couple crossed together, proud in their accomplishment, along with their six-year-old son who had completed the whole journey on his own bicycle, a vehicle that barely came up to his father’s knees. THAT was an inspiring moment for me!
This year was also rewarding as one of my oldest friends, Jacques, a man whom I’ve been very close to for over twenty years, came out from Windsor, Ontario, to participate in the event with a friend of his who had been riding the Niagara tour for the last 5 years. We did not expect to see each other at this event, so when we met, purely by chance the previous evening, we were both elated that we would get to share this experience together. It was a truly special moment for us both when we greeted each other as he crossed the finish line. I’ll remember his proud, broad smile for some time to come.
As an aside, the skies finally did open up - almost an hour after the last riders had finished, and with most of the participants having already packed up and left. While there was certainly a deluge in terms of the amount of rain that fell, it was also very brief lasting less than 20 minutes. Having been spent, the torrent was almost instantly replaced with blue skies and white fluffy clouds. Except for the puddles on the ground, one would have been hard-pressed to ever suspect the downpour that had just occurred minutes before.
The MS Society staff, I think, may have gotten drenched but - meh! Waddaya gonna do, right?
Oh, yeah. I also got to hang for a couple of hours with the infamous Lt. Dan from 97.7 HTZ-FM, who kindly kept me company at the finish line while his tricked-out Austin Mini sat parked a few feet away, blaring awesome rock music that helped to keep me motivated. Looking back on it now, I really should’ve used my “in” to ask for a free t-shirt. OOOooo - or a cd. Yeah... that would’ve been SO cool.
Oh, c’mon - who doesn’t love free swag?!? Geesh!
Coming up on September 7th - Toronto, the last bike tour of the season. I’ll see you there!
Aug, who’s always willing to accept free stuff if you’re so inclined to give it...