Sorry I haven’t blogged earlier, but things have been pretty crazy getting ready for departure and on the road. This will be a looong entry as I have lots to tell, so be prepared!
The team all arrived in Victoria over the weekend – most by plane, Patrick and I drove out to Tsawwassen on Sunday. Monday was a busy prep day for everyone. Terry came over on the ferry, and Al our driver flew into YVR (Vancouver). We all met up at Four Seasons RV Rental (who have given us a generous discount on our one-way RV rental to Halifax). There we loaded and made our way over to Aldergrove, to drop off our “new home” at the Eagle Wind RV Park for the next 3 days, til we arrive back on the evening of our first day’s ride (Wednesday 8 May). We did test drives, bought and loaded groceries, put Hillary’s Ride decals on the RV, and then hurried to make the 7:00 pm ferry to Victoria.
Meanwhile, Bill was doing interviews with CBC and meeting with the organizers of our Kick Off Concert.
The concert on Tues May 7th was brilliant! The venue was a beautiful old church, complete with stained glass and a huge pipe organ, now a music conservatory called Alix Goolden Hall. The folks from Need2, our partner charity in Victoria, did an incredible job of organizing the event. Kudos to Bob de Wolff, who got the word out to the community so that we ended up with an enthusiastic and big-hearted crowd! There was such a loving vibe in the room, and it grew in strength as the night progressed. We were treated to an amazing show through the generosity of the artists who donated their time and talents. It was a great combination of new young voices, and veterans of the Canadian music scene. It’s always a pleasure to get introduced to new artists who blow your socks off!
Rosie June, as well as West My Friend who all cycled to the concert with their instruments, including a double bass, and nephews of Bill (Paul Shortt and George Nixon) inspired the audience with their unique brands of music. Rick Scott and his grand-daughter Lilu, Roy Forbes and Valdy brought their consummate musicianship and wowed everyone, reminding us why they are long time favourites who will always stand the test of time. A big thank you to Jo-Ann Roberts, the host of the evening from CBC Radio, as well as the inspiring young leader Kelly Paul. She is running 535 kms down Vancouver Island to raise awareness about suicide prevention, especially in First Nations communities. Way to go Kelly, and best of luck with the Heliset Hále Marathon!!
All in all it was a wonderful evening that I will not soon forget. And Need2 Suicide Prevention has an amazing idea to “break the silence” on mental health and suicide – by making some noise! They want to turn up the volume so that those suffering from mental illness know they are not alone, and that we care. They have a goal to hit one million minutes of sound by November this year. Please go to their website to participate in this creative project – www.need2.ca. All it takes is to get a group together to sing, stomp, clap or whatever sounds you can think of, for a minute or more. Easy to do, and the impact will be widespread and powerful.
The next morning, we had a wonderful send off from Mile Zero (the start of the Trans Canada Hwy). The local Lions Club were set up bright and early, serving pancakes, sausages and all the fixins for the crowd of well wishers who sent us on our way in style! It was a very significant morning, not only because we were starting our journey, but because it was the 10th anniversary of Hillary’s death. It was a solemn reminder of why we are doing this ride – to prevent other families from suffering the devastating loss that the Werthmann’s have, and to let troubled youth know that we care about them, that there is no shame in mental illness and sharing the pain, and that help and compassion is available.
After dipping our rear tires in the Pacific, receiving a musical blessing from our new friend Renate, photos by the Terry Fox memorial, and many hugs and tearful goodbyes, we started our incredible journey. After all the planning, it was finally happening!!
We have received many wishes for the wind at our back and sunny skies, and all your prayers worked, because our first day was just that! It was a promising omen for the journey ahead. Our 93km day was broken up with the ferry ride back to the mainland. We had a really long day, as we still had unpacking to do, as well as some more shopping (plus we had to take advantage of the pool and hot tub to rejuvenate us). We had dinner out that night late at the local Boston Pizza, thanks Brianne and Kate for the great meal and support for our ride. We didn’t get to bed until quite late – hence, no blog update! We did however get a chance to talk to a few of our RV park vacationers, and received a very generous donation from a lovely BC couple who wanted to support us. I am always amazed at the generosity of strangers – so many of us are affected by mental illness issues, and want to help. It reminds me of the love and hope that exists and buoys us all up.
Day two was another great day. We went from Aldergrove to Hope, which gave us our first taste of white-capped mountains – even though the temps have been in the high 20s, and nothing but blue sky. We toured past beautiful BC farms and dairies. Little colts and calves everywhere – spring has definitely sprung! It was a 103 km day, but we got in earlier because of a nice early start. And let me tell you, food always tastes so much better when you have been outside all day, getting fresh air and working up an apetite!
Probably the best part of the day was a getting a hug from John Smith, who works with youth struggling with addictions. He googled our website that he saw posted on the RV, and drove ahead to stop the cyclists and tell us how much he appreciated what we were doing. He said there are a lot of people using substances to help cope with depression contemplating suicide, and he was going to show them what we are doing to give them hope. Meeting him made our day!
So there we are – up to date with the news. I will post again once we have WiFi access again. Tomorrow (Friday) is going to be one of the most challenging days we will have – not because of mileage, but due to the elevation gain, since we’ll be climbing most of the day (41m to 1341m). Send us strength and courage through the airwaves, so we can soak them up into our quads, and make it to the top of Manning Park.
Love and Hugs from Sue and the team!
Read the next update: You know you’re in the mountains when… ->