It was the second big hill out of Bulahdelah that broke me. With the sun beating down at 30 degrees and 200kms of fatigue in my legs I had a moment of despair. I could hear riders behind me but those in front had needed to pick up speed to make it up the hill themselves.
I wanted to call out for a wheel to follow, but couldn’t speak, when Maya appeared beside me, pulled in front and gently said, “let me know if you need me to ride faster or slower”. It was a small thing, recognition of my struggle and an ordinary act of kindness. I started to cry.
Moved by the generosity of the riders around me I pedalled on, sobbing for all of it.
I cried for Manning, who told me the night before his radical surgery to remove his life threatening sarcoma, that he was taking lots of pictures in his mind in case he never woke up.
I cried for the kids who didn’t make it.
In Australia, every six hours a child is told they have cancer. These days the survival rates are high, around 85 per cent but that still means many young lives lost, and many devastated families.
When Manning woke up in intensive care he couldn’t speak but he gave a little fist pump. He waved my ipad over and managed to type “i did it” and “i love you”. Meanwhile in the adjoining room a baby girl was losing her fight.
Born with leukaemia she had been in treatment for nearly three months and her tiny lungs could take no more. Her parents had never had the joy of taking their baby girl home to the nursery they had lovingly set up, instead they were calling in family to say their goodbyes.
A nurse gave me a post-it note and I wrote “I salute you courageous parents and mourn your heartbreaking loss”. It was hopelessly inadequate and yet when Mum read it across the room, she gave me a nod of recognition and the faintest smile of thanks.
It is small, thoughtful acts of kindness that get us through traumatic events. The power of people recognising one another in a time of need and extending a gentle hand. It is why I’m such a passionate Ambassador for Redkite.
Our epic ride from Berowra to Forster was much greater than that moment of despair. There was wonderful camaraderie, laughter, singing and triumph when all 18 of us rode over the iconic Forster bridge together knowing we had exceeded our target and would raise at least $25,000.00 to help families fighting cancer. The fun and satisfaction definitely outweighed the pain.
It’s been a great lesson for me on the depths of my own determination but I couldn’t have done it alone. It was the power of the bunch that got me over the line. When hope, friendship and motivation come together there is a magic in it that makes us greater than we are.
I know this, if you wish to fly you have to make careful preparations, set your course and get out onto the runway. If you want to do it with joy in your heart, look around for the people who are prepared to endure, and go on the journey with you.
The Carousel would like to thank Susanne Latimore, who is an experienced journalist and television anchor, for her article. Susanne was part of the team that launched Sky News in Australia. She also is a proud Redkite Ambassador.
You can continue to follow Susanne’s journey on The Carousel or click here to donate