Minds Matter Tour Day 8: Rosthern to Prince Albert to National Park to Emma Lake

Waking up in a wet tent with smelly socks and a dead phone that would not charge. The morning did get better after I found the dark chocolate-covered coffee beans!

Also felt better after a long, hot shower and some stretching and massaging to work on some chronic pain I’ve been feeling through my lower left shin in the past day (maybe a result of some unnatural cycling position in the last two days due to saddle sores)!

Jane and Dave cooked up some delicious breakfast from last night’s leftovers. It’s never ideal packing up wet tents and gear, but the forecast was looking promising for Jane and Dave to dry out gear for a final night of camping at Emma Lake.

In the slowness of trying to get my phone charging, time flew by and Dave and I had to rush to get on the road due to meetings at the Family Room and Emma Lake today! Jane said it’s like ‘herding cats’ getting me moving. We laughed, but she was serious.

Dave and I turned out of the campground into a fairly brisk northerly wind. Thanks to Dave for taking the lead and allowing my tired body to draft for much of the morning. The plan was to be at the Family Room in Prince Albert for between 11:30 – Noon for the first reception and media interviews. With 72 km to this first stop, we had some work to do, made harder by a headwind and slight incline.

We were motivated by a couple of southbound drivers who honked to offer their support. When we had about 15 km to go, Dave had a flat tire. Despite the last few km into the wind, we followed the H signs as we arrived in the city of Prince Albert.

Jane had kindly talked to hospital security for a place to safely park our bikes. Walking down the hallway of the Paediatric Unit, we entered the beautiful space of the Family Room at the end of the hall. When the door closed, the stress of the hospital evaporated. It really felt good to be here.

It was nice to finally meet Nadia, the Family Room Coordinator for #RMHCSK. I did a couple of interviews with the Prince Albert Herald and 900 CJIB, Prince Albert’s country station.

Mason’s Mom, Gale, arrived with a warm smile and a big hug. So nice to see her again and know what this fundraiser means to her and her family We completed the interviews, got some photos and had some delicious snacks provided by the Family Room (thanks for all the organizing Karen, Nadia and Team)!

After a quick tire change on Dave’s bike, we changed up the route slightly to stay on track for the 5 pm reception at Ambrose Store, Emma Lake. Dave and I found a quiet side street down to 2nd Ave and the bridge crossing of the north Saskatchewan River. A climb out of the river valley brought us to nice shoulder on Highway 2 north, and an enjoyable 40 more km to Christopher Lake.

We arranged a spot to park Dave’s truck near Christopher Lake so all three of us could enjoy a cycle to complete the Tour. We headed out on the rollers down into Prince Albert National Park. We completed another 40 km in a loop and cycled to Sunnyside Beach in anticipation of the reception.

We started meeting small groups of Lorisa’s extended family walking to Ambrose Store. A big thanks to everyone for coming to the celebration.

Thanks to Tammy, Karen and Laura from RMHCSK and Ambrose Store for arranging this reception, and to Ambrose Store for a very generous donation to this fundraiser!

Also on hand was Mason’s Mom, Gale. Thank you, Gale, for going out of your way on a busy weekend to be at the events, speak about Mason, and thanks for the Mason’s Minions t-shirt. I will always look to help your wonderful cause.

Now it’s time to relax for a couple of days, but I do hope to complete a video of the ride to share with everyone, and to continue with further fundraising plans for #albertachildrenshospitalfoundation and #RMHCSK.

Minds Matter Day 7 – Overcoming Adversities

Today got off to a great start – Tom Wilson and June Evans prepared a delicious breakfast, and we even had a couple of songs from Tom – thanks so much you two. It was so special to spend time with you, and a really happy time to be off the bike and enjoying some needed rest. You are the best hosts!

Some adversity started with today’s strong NW wind. We rode into it from Elbow, SK, much of the day. Saddle sores are painful by day 7, despite chamois cream! pain killers required.

The day remained nice, despite the wind. But by evening, there were some heavy downpours snd a lot of lightning. Dave and I called off the ride just outside Rosthern. We ran into a restaurant as the power went out. Jane had gone ahead after cycling the first 115 km with me and I started the ride through Saskatoon with Dave. Meanwhile, Jane set up camp (three tents) and got dinner started! So sweet!

It’s been tremendous having Jane and Dave on the ast two days of the ride. They are very strong and experienced cyclists, understand the purpose of the ride, and can manage the adversities that come up on a ride like this, be they physical or logistical.

200+ km days are not easy. They require the attitude of knocking off a km at a time and often a ‘don’t give up’ mindset. When weather, mechanical, health or other challenges raise self doubts, it can be so hard to keep going. the physical pain of this ride is difficult on some days, especially having sat on a bike loaded down with gear for 10 or more hours every day, ensuring water and nutrition and managing camp logistics amid ongoing fundraising and blogging.

All of this is nothing compared to what seriously ill children and families go through each day. It’s temporary adversity compared to having a seriously ill child or losing a child due to a physical or mental illness. This ride started as a fundraiser and advocacy project for AB Children’s Hospital Foundation – Child & Adolescent Mental Health. It’s called Minds Matter.The ride also created the opportunity to remember beautiful Mason in supporting the Ronald McDonald House Charities-SK Family Room in Prince Albert. Mason and his family, my own family, and friends and strangers that help the cause along the way are the foundation of this ride and their strong spirit

kept those wheels turning through the good days and bad.

Tomorrow, we ride to Prince Albert to visit the Family Room, then onto Emma Lake, the final destination on this 8-day, 1,500 km ride, but only a small part of a bigger, ongoing journey.

thanks for your outpouring of support and donations. I’ll continue to have the fundraising pages set up for donations snd will announce plans for future events here.

love Graham and Family

Minds Matter Tour Day 6

The Longest Day. 250 km.

After getting off the road in Leader, SK, due to severe thunderstorm watches and warnings, there was a lot of catching up to do if I was to meet up with Jane and Dave, and get to Tom and June’s place in Elbow.

After an early breakfast, with lots of BACON at the motel in Leader, I finished the never-ending rask of packing and was soon on the road north to Eatonia. Had a bit of muscle pain in my left leg and stopped to stretch.

Next stop was at the bridge over the beautiful South Saskatchewan River for some photos. After the climb out of the valley, it was a gentle 40 km to Eatonia.

I continued on through this pretty town, thinking of the 300 or so km I might need to ride. I quickly had the advantage of a fairly strong tailwind and was averaging 30 km/hr. A friendly lady, Michelle, chatted with me at a construction stop, and kindly donated to #rmhcsk! Kindness!!

Kindness continued at the next stop at the Co-Op in Eston when Steve donated, and then insisted on buying my groceries! You are amazing, Steve. God bless you. Then one of the Co-op staff donated (sorry I forgot your name) – THANKS!

Back on the road for the 55 km to Elrose, and what a beautiful stretch of new road and scenery. Stopped for a long break in Elrose in the afternoon heat.

Off next to Dinsmore on a very rough, deteriorated section of road, then north on similar road to the Highway to Outlook.

The live tracker allowed Jane and Dave, and hosts Tom and June to see my location and progress. Jane and Dave arrived as I passed the 250 km mark and declining daylight. We had

a heavy lift of my bike and gear into their truck, then drove the remaining stretch to the small village of Elbow.

We’ve been blessed with Tom Wilson and June Evan’s hospitality here. They are the nicest people. They’ve treated us to delicious food, warm beds, music and every little tbing they can do to help. Love you two.

Onto day 7 after a delicious breakfast.

#mindsmattertour #rmhcsk #albertachildrenshospitalfoundation

Loving Saskatchewan

Met Michelle at a construction stop and she donated to #RMHCSK. Met Steve in the Eston Co-op and he also donated and then insisted on buying my groceries! Heartfelt thanks. So much love for small towns and people in SK.

Minds Matter Tour Day 5

There are many of you I need to thank for your generous donations to fundraising, including my amazing Brother, Neil. I am grateful for each of you – for your friendship, compassion and kindness. I will be sure to reach out to each of you in the coming days.

Thanks again to Corrie and David for your warm hospitality in Medicine Hat – I was spoiled. Also, thanks for finding me a bike store. A missing chain tool and multi-tool on the road in very remote areas is disconcerting. A trip to Cycle Path in Medicine Hat eased my mind!

Day 5 was finally underway ‘ another increasingly hot day, and more hills out of Medicine Hat than expected. Again, I packed extra water, which was a necessity to get to Burstall. through the heat. Stopped there, about 120 km done, to get some fresh food and more water. Concerns about severe thunderstorms slowed me down, and my GPS started witb severe watches, and then a warning. A storm passed just a few km north of the narrow road I was on.

A turn north to Leader showed the remnants of the thunderstorm – piles of hail and destroyed crops. Got to Leader and wasn’t sure the weather conditions or accommodation options in Eatonia (planned stop), so called it a night. Still 168 km, so a good day.

Minds Matter Day 4: Onward to Medicine Hat

More on Day 3 -which was a long and arduous journey up foothills, and battling headwind – latet. It’s been hard to stay caught up, but I believe it’s a necessary part of the journey. Again, I sincerely thank you for all kinds of support shown. I know the love and compassion of our communities is a foundation of caring for sick kids. I am fortunate to be able to cycle for two fine charities on this Tour. The fine quality of the commitment and work the people in these organizations put in speaks volumes.

Day 3 Facebook recap said ‘Yesterday was a very long ride to Writing on Stone Park in heat and headwind. I was a little slow getting going, feeling self doubts, but then I met lot of amazing people along the way. And cycling through the badlands watching a lone coyote stalk a herd of pronghorn antelope was cool. A bartender in Milk River was a lifesaver, refilling all my water bottles. I put my eyeball burning bike lights on and rode the last 42 km to Writing on Stone in the dark (while showered with a variety of bugs). Amazing to eake up in the Park this morning, watch the sunrise, and spend 2 hours exploring this fascinating place.’

Day 4 of the Tour was completef in imtensely hot conditions, with water stops every 10 minutes, and a need to carefully strategize stops with services where I could restock. There are very few fresh water bodies here to use my filter – only small, brackish wetlands.

Small town and rural hospitality is legendary here. I have also met many first nations people through this area (there is a rich history of the Blackfoot here), and they have been outstanding in offering encouragement and hugs.

Sitting outside a corner store eating lunch in the hot shade, with a fully packed bike is a conversation starter! Most people quickly ask where they can donate when I tell them about the causes and, looking at my fundraising page, many have. Thank you! xo

On day 4, I especially enjoyed rest stops! I know this was probably stressful for poor Corrie, wondering of I’d ever make it to Medicine Hat before dark! My tracker was showing me in Foremost for 4 hours. Despite a long stop there, my tracker had turned off, and I was 26 km east trying to get to Etzikom – having to push my bike and gear through a long construction zone. Some construction workers continued to run graders very close to my toes, even though the stretch is open to traffic. I don’t know if they expected me to push my bike and gear into a soft pile of dirt to get out if their way – an impossible feat! Cars welcome, cyclists not so much! It reminded me of cycling on freshly oiled roads on day 1!


learned that Etzikom is Blackfoot for ‘between two coulees (thanks to the staff at the museum there). I do want to find a few hours to get back for a tour of the Etzikom Museum. For now, I thoroughly enjoyed a second helping of ice cream thete – delicious and, on this day, respite from the heat. I loved Foremost and Etzikom.

On with the long, seemingly never ending pedal to Highway 3 – brutal! Nice to finally get there and see 40 km to Medicine Hat! I’ve got this!

A wonderful welcome from Corrie and Dave, complete with cowbells. I tried to do the no hands on handlebars victory wave – not recommended with baggage on the front forks! All good though! So nice to have a hot shower, a delicious meal, laundry done, a comfy bed, and to be able to visit with these two – two of the kindest, caring people that are typical of the wheel family I’ve been fortunate to find through the National Kids Cancer Ride.

Heading on the road to Saskatchewan today for a long ride!

Heading to Medicine Hat on Day 4 of the Minds Matter Tour. Can’t waot yo visit Corrie and David from the National Kids Cancer Ride in the Hat!
Day 3 blog to follow. Yesterday was a very long ride to Writing on Stone Park in heat and headwind. I was a little slow getting going, feeling self doubts, but then I met lot of amazing people along the way. And cycling through the badlands watching a lone coyote stalk a herd of pronghorn antelope was cool. A bartender in Milk River was a lifesaver, refilling all my water bottles. I put my eyeball burning bike lights on and rode the last 42 km to Writing on Stone in the dark (while showered with a variety of bugs). Amazing to eake up in the Park this morning, watch the sunrise, and spend 2 hours exploring this fascinating place.