Being part of something super special is awesome. Meeting so many extraordinary people while doing it is even more awesome. To then see the difference that this motivated community makes and has made in the last 10 years is even more awesome. Its the most awesomely awesome experience one could experience.
Riding To Cure Cancer _ TDC2016
For many years I was partly aware of Tour de Cure due to a contact one of the founders and board members, Geoff Coombes made years ago. I had made a mental note that at some stage when possible I wanted to be involved and to see what I could do to help make a difference.
There was a great saying I heard while on the 10th anniversary tour which went something like this:
"I don't have too have the skills to do the research to find a cure for cancer or the skills and training as a doctor to look after patients with cancer, but I can ride a bike and raise funds to help support those that do."
What a powerful message and its encouraging to realise that we can all contribute in some way to help cure cancer.
Together We Can Make A Difference
Why do we do it?
The stories I heard over the 10 days of riding blew my mind. First hand I know how cancer can take life but to hear from so many people across so many walks of life share their stories about loved ones, relations, friends, and those who've had cancer themselves. The other founders, Sam Hollier-Jones and Gary Birtwistle said like many others; 'Cancer doesn't discriminate'. I think this is a big reason why everyone has been impacted, effected, and challenges by this disease. So why do we do it? I think the sense I got was we are all extremely motived to create a World without cancer. Probably this becomes no more evident than during school visits. To see the young children of Australia and to imagine if possible none would get cancer or have to experience it in their lives.
We do it I think for this generation and all future generations. Jens Voigt picture above with school kids like I has children who I am sure he wants to see live a long and happy life without cancer. Its these kids you see during the school visits who we share a great message about 1 in 3 cancers being preventable. That by being fit, healthy and happy we can give ourselves the best chances.
To ride together to raise awareness and funds is awesome and with moments like this the satisfaction in completing the journey together with all the ups and downs is a significant life gift.
The ride is just a part of the tour experience though but with experiences like cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge is does capture the imagination. Riding is like a positively bonding thread which holds it all together. The journey we take together from before the event in training and fundraising to the stages accumulating over 1500kms. With 10 stages and all the schools and community visits, it all becomes quiet overwhelming and hard to comprehend.
One this that sticks in my mind is the, 'Yes I Can Attitude'. This is something we speak about to the kids in all the schools. I like to think of it as, 'Yes We/I Can'. For many of the riders the challenge of the distance we covered on the bike was significant. To think then how long the days become with all the other amazing things done and achieved while on the road and in the towns I have to say its Olympic in it proportions. Its grand and bold and the attitude of all has to stay positive and no only be words spoken in a school but words and actions lived by all involved.
"Be the change you wish to see in the World" Gandhi
The love of making a difference and of being great examples is never more noticeable than at the schools.
Cancer is a terrible disease but the human capacity is to find a way, to move on, to share and celebrate and in these visits you see this meaning and connection everywhere you look.
Tour de Cure is a celebration of life, or living, of fighting the good fight, of winning some battles and of losing others. Its an expression of our hopes as riders and support crew and its a voice not only for us but all those we care about and think about on the road. The disease may be horrible but it has show many of us the greatest side of the human spirit. This double edged experience is hard to understand but to show these kids a way, to inspire them, to encourage them is essential.
If we don't find a cure for cancer then these kids hopefully will be inspired to do so. And this really does happen by way of some people like James Tobin and Mark Beretta who through their Sunrise show really help maximise many of the efforts by creating serious impact on the TV but also in person as they are amazing with the time and energy.
It really does take its told on everyone. Each day is long and the accumulate fatigue builds as does the emotional swell as I often found myself rising and falling due to so many meaningful interactions and the reflective process which gets triggered by all the stories and examples.
The key to keeping everyone moving then is great food. The Chef's on tour and what they create really keeps everyone in moving along and with all the support crew it is a mind warp to think about the work they put in behind the scenes.
I have to say I think I was in a special place on occasions consuming some of the deserts at lunch stops. The sticky date pudding was out of this World a was the answer to the long afternoon in the saddle on that awesome day.
No-one seems to be immune to the crew and their infectious attitudes and the joy they bring through their efforts. Their smiles are a welcome sight every stop and the buzz we all got as the passed us in the cars between stops was always uplifting.
With out this team of committed people it was be impossible to get all the riders through all the riding, the visits, the accommodation, the dinners, the tough times and the great moments. They keep the whole thing going and make life for a rider so much more enjoyable.
This is the norm not the exception. The team cars leading and following each peloton manage the groups on the road and that must be one scary and stressful job at times as some roads and traffic make for a few hairy moments. These guys keep us safe and are always there to support and help when and where they can.
Talking about making a difference to the riders I can't forget to mention and show here the support by all the sponsor and then the support by Tour de Cure to each local community to stop in or ride through. To hear the difference this makes from local groups is powerful and really brought it home that TDC ensures a connection to people on the frontline.
A tradition like supporting communities locally during the Tour de Cure is a key part of the event. TDC also builds on another great cycling tradition of awarding jersey winners each day. These recognise everything from Guts, to Awareness, to Inspiring others, to Attitude, to The Do-er, and to Focus. They relate to on and off the bike and its been a tradition of Tour de Cure to celebration these people each night just like celebration the great work done in local communities.
Personally I was proud to be part of this experience and really enjoyed the chance to be involved with everyone. During a couple of interviews by Mark Beretta, Jens Voigt and I had the chance to share our thoughts and feeling on the experience and I have to say it was a huge pleasure.
Jens was on tour the year before and came back again and it has to be said this guy is a legend not just for his cycling career but for how he is with people around him. His energy and willingness is uplifting and he had such a wonderful impact on everyone he was with.
Jens took on a roll as Tour de Cure - Flipman. A character who's a supper hero inspiring the kids in the schools with his energy and his fit, healthy, and happy messages, and awesome actions.
When I said at the start that being part of something super special was awesome I mean that it was awe-inspiring. Everyone gets into the spirit of the tour and after meeting all the support crew, the riders and people like Mark, JT and Jens, along with the founders, many of the sponsors it was simply exceptional and then to see and hear about the local impact and the peak of the experience with the kids. Its was just massively enjoyable and rewarding.
The Tour de Cure utilises bike riding on these tours to bring a community together. Riding through the schools and getting high fives from the kids is a buzz. Likewise seeing riders just relaxing and enjoyed the experience just makes you feel good about it even though everyone gets tired. Its the smiles of delight. Of joy, of satisfaction, of acknowledgement, and of the sense of connecting and making the difference we all hope to have.
Its those same smile that carry us like a barge across a river where we have those quiet conversations and laughs. The moments when we get to slow just for a little while as we stand with each other or sit together.
Its the moments which pop and punctuate the whole journey. I looked around the group on many occasions and just thought wow. All the people together doing what we can to help in some way, and why?
Its these moments and these people. In particular I was struck by the courage and strength of this young kid.
At 11 years old Sam is the bravest, raddest dude I've ever met. After undergoing a brutal 12 months of chemo Sam was finally able to 'ring the bell'. This bell hangs in the cancer ward and is only ever ring when a patient makes it into remission. Blog Willy Maykit
I thought I had some good hero's who have inspired me over the years, but on the night Sam was interview by Mark Beretta I sat in awe of this young kid.
Why then do we do what we do to make a difference? Its to help others ring the bell. Its to help wake more people up to what they can do to prevent this disease. And like the top barristers looking after all of us on tour with fresh brewed coffee each and everyday, and many times over.
To helps others makes us smile. To raise awareness makes us smile. To listen to each others and share makes us smile. Smiling is an action and the Tour de Cure has taken action to build a community of like minded people determined to challenge and be challenged, and to continue to smile and stand up to this disease.
I lost my mum to cancer when I was 12 years old, it was a tough time. Growing up with out my mum meant my Dad did the best he could do to provide me with every opportunity to make the most out of life. I can smile in the face of challenges and adversity. I think this has a lot to do with the loss I experienced as a young kid. I know my mum would have been really proud of this experience and to see so many people putting so much into making a difference.
Being part of TDC 2016 was an awesome experience and one which I didn't fully expect to unfold the way it did. It was awesome, insightful, joyful, sad, encouraging, inspiring and full of many, many laughs and smiles with many awesome people.
Tour de Cure aims to increase awareness, provide support and improve preventive understanding. To do this Tour de Cure has grown its tribe of passionate followers and together we all raise funds for for research, support programs and prevention initiatives.
The event this year has raise over $2.8mil and the charity this year to date in up to $4.8mil. This is all significant and after 10 years it shows long term momentum. What I was really excited to hear was that approximately 75% of all funds raise by this community gets to where its supposed to. In this day and age this is another great reason to celebrate and smile. Knowing the impact locally and hearing researchers and medical practitioners speak about the impact really does embed and highlight the value. Its not just a ride, its a movement, an evolution, a home grown commitment. Tour de Cure is aspiring to 'Ring the Bell' on cancer.
- If you are interested in being involved in Tour de Cure in any way
- Check out the website below and follow the links to learn more
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