Preparing for the 2019 Cogs4Cancer charity ride meant that the riders were talking to friends and family about cancer, it’s realities and also sharing their family stories that come from this condition.
I come from a troubled family who, like many Australian families had their ‘settler’ story turned upside-down by a returning servicemen from the “War” who really had no means to cope with what they had experienced and thus railed this upon their children and spouses, leaving future generations devastated in their wake.
My story came from my Great-Aunt Pat who, as a chain-smoking alcoholic lost her limbs one-by-one to a cancer that steadily took her life while she bemusedly looked on.
Riding through parts of Belgium, Germany, and then towards Besanćon we were passing through regions and areas that had seen battle, internment camps, occupations and executions that left future generations in many ways fighting cancer daily.
By the 3rd day the riders were becoming tired and many were on pain-killers already. 2 days of 10+ hours on the bike in cold and rain riding through headwinds while becoming repeatedly lost had started to drag down morale. So it was decided to share our own stories of cancers’ impact on our lives and to remember why we were here and what we were trying to achieve.
Ben Cameron, one of the organisers of the 2019 ride had been through cancer himself and was bravely pushing through what was becoming a difficult project to manage both for its scale and human diificulties.
A short moment of sharing before leaving the hotel as the rain poured down around us gave us all the bit to place between our teeth for what would probably be the hardest day of the ride.
James Mitchell, co-organiser and Steve Brannaugh were heroes on this day. Doggedly setting a pace through nondescript country in pouring rain to keep the group moving forward. Becoming lost repeatedly amplified the difficult nature of this ride, meaning we were out in the cold and rain for accumulating hours that wore on new and experienced riders.
Many riders after the lunch break climbed off being very close to hypothermia and who had real need to go on to the hotel to warm up so as to avoid becoming sick.
In the end it was a small group who arrived in Besanćon after a torturous last 2 hours in the with only a support vans headlights to see by.
After every battle a good soldier cleans his rifle before sleep, and we did the same for the bikes. Battered, muddy and forlorn, the hotel provided piped hot water to clean the bikes before we too could shower and eat. This was becoming more and more epic each day.