Features / Health

Buddies cycle to combat cancer

Left to Right: John Sauter, Michael Legg, Diana Deakin, Ian Deakin. Photo: Caroline Ronalds

Left to Right: John Sauter, Michael Legg, Diana Deakin, Ian Deakin. Photo: Caroline Ronalds

Hudson, Que. – For the past few months, Michael Legg and three of his good buddies have been gearing up for a trip to Quebec City. It’s a trip with a difference.

They won’t be taking the faster route down Highway 20. It will take a lot longer than the usual 2.5 hours, and they’ll be leaving their cars at home.

Legg, 81, will be making the trip July 9-10 on his bicycle, along with an expected 2,000 other riders who have signed up for the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, to benefit research and treatment at the Jewish General Hospital.

As such, it ranks as a major event in the participatory fund-raising category. Each participant is expected to raise $2,500. And it’s on, rain or shine. This type of event has been a real success, an example of physical effort and participation for a cause that all can support.

The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, benefiting the Jewish General Hospital, has raised over $42 million in seven years, says Marie-Hélène Laramée, director of corporate sponsorships at the Jewish General Hospital Foundation.

“The ride community is raising vital funds to support cancer research, treatment, care, and prevention programs at the Jewish General and its partners across Quebec,” she said.

Funds raised enable the hospital’s physicians and scientists to detect cancers earlier, diagnose with more precision, target treatment, and offer various forms of support to patients and their families, Laramée added.

Similar rides are happening in Ontario, Alberta, and British Colombia.

Legg and crew will be taking the picturesque north-shore route, along the towns and villages known historically as the chemin du roi – the king’s road – with a stopover halfway at Trois-Rivières. The trip is about 200 kilometres over two days.

Such an adventure is not for everyone, and Legg, who used to run the Legg’s clothing store here, is taking it seriously. He works out at a local
fitness outfit called, Aristo-Fit, where he follows a routine of aerobics, strength training, and flexibility exercises. He also trains at home, with his bike mounted on a trainer.

He took up cycling eight years ago and linked up with a Hudson group who rode together once a week.

“That’s when I bought my first bike – a very heavy comfortable bicycle. As I got into it, I learned more about how it works.

“Cycling is all about weight and aerodynamics and moving yourself through. A year later I got a light, faster bike. Then I got a third one, which I use now.

“It’s a light, aerodynamic machine that gives me all the advantages that a person my age needs. It was custom made at the Cycles DOT store in nearby
Vaudreuil-Dorion.”

With his bike buddies, from six to 12 people, he now rides twice a week, weather permitting.

“We show up at the Hudson community center at 9 in the morning, and off we go – we usually do 60 to 80 kilometers.”

He got into longer rides when he joined the Rideau Lakes tour, a 2-day 200-kilometer ride, which he did for the past three years.

Then he heard about the Ride to Conquer Cancer. He was attracted because “it gives a real purpose to training and doing the ride.”

“When you realize what an incredible killer cancer is – it is the leading cause of death in Canada and Quebec, responsible for 30 per cent of all deaths. In Quebec last year, an estimated 20,900 people died of cancer, and 50,100 new cases were diagnosed.

Lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women last year.

“We all know people who have experienced the horrors of cancer, but when you look at the stats it’s very impelling to try to do something for it.”

The Ride to Conquer Cancer over the past seven years has raised more than $42 million for cancer research – It’s Quebec’s largest cycling fund-raiser.

Riders may dedicate their participation to someone who has had cancer. Legg had someone special in mind. He learned, through his daughter, of American Karen Newman who was diagnosed at 46 with stage 3 breast cancer. She wrote a book, Just Three Words, about her survival while becoming an Olympic level triathlete. She is alive and well today, working as a dietician and living in South Burlington, Vermont.

“Her story is absolutely inspiring. You realize what people go through fighting to overcome these illnesses,” he said.

“When you’re in training, gasping for breath, your legs are killing you, you kind of think of people like Karen Newman who have overcome so many obstacles.

Training for the big trek in July, Legg says, “it’s a wonderful growth experience to be engaged in something like this.”

To get back from Quebec, Legg and his friends have rented a van and they’ll be driven back by one of their wives. There is a sleepover in Trois-Rivières, where hundreds of tents will be set up, with food and entertainment provided.

Preferring a bit of extra comfort, Legg and his group have booked rooms at an inn.

When we spoke, he had not yet raised the full amount, but said he was confident his friends would step up to the plate.

To register, donate, or get more information, click on conquercancer.ca/site/UserLogin

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