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Ride the Long White Cloud

9 Oct, 2017

Ride the Long White Cloud

Bike Chaser recently raised $11,400 AUD for CanTeen New Zealand and CanTeen Australia via a solo fundraising event, which entailed cycling the length of New Zealand (Cape Reinga to Bluff) from July 18th to July 30th 2017.

How it came about?

It was roughly 7 weeks before a planned husband and wife getaway to New Zealand for Cameron Nicholls (Bike Chaser Co-founder). He had been Googling “cycling in New Zealand”, which led him down a rabbit hole of “cycling the length of New Zealand”. The full story can be read here but to cut to the chase he somehow convinced his wife to support a 13-day winter cycling adventure down the length of his partial motherland, New Zealand.

Why CanTeen?

Bike Chaser wanted to put real purpose behind the ride, which was named ‘Ride the Long White Cloud’, and thus, use the opportunity to raise awareness for a good cause.

At the time of raising this crazy idea with his wife, a younger cousin of his – Lachy – was diagnosed with cancer. At the time he was receiving treatment for Nodular Lymphocyte Predominant Hodgkins Lymphoma.

Lachy’s story

On January 16th 2017 during school holidays Lachy told his mother (Sara) that he had a lump on his neck. The lump had been there for some time and didn’t hurt which is why he hadn’t mentioned it earlier. He didn’t think it was anything serious so was surprised at his mums haste to get to Auckland after finding out; pushing and nagging for a doctor’s visit and ultrasound. She was very persistent and proactive to get to an ENT specialist which is no easy feat in January!

Their fabulous ENT then took over the proactive approach until a needle biopsy, surgery, and full biopsy had been completed. Before the full biopsy results were available Lachy was already being seen by the oncologist at StarShip. More scans and surgery were undertaken once he was diagnosed with chemo starting all within a month of Lachy telling his mum.

It was all go with his treatment with a chemo regime for 3 cycles which was completed at the end of April. A scan in July showed no cancer cells were present which was great news for the entire famly.

Early diagnosis and prompt access to treatment was key for Lachy not just in getting rid of the cancer but also in helping reduce the chance of recurrence to a degree. For anyone living with a cancer diagnosis, recurrence is a very real fear, so this has real ramifications.

Lachy’s mum, Sara was eager to send a clear message during Ride the Long White Cloud after her experience:

“Continuing to talk to your children as they become teenagers about changes in their bodies is so important. Awareness of talking about emotions is widely publicised, but we have been conditioned to give our growing teenagers privacy about their bodies. Changes and lumps and awareness of what can happen, while talking about them, can make all the difference”.

CanTeen initiated a friendship with Lachy with ease and continues to offer support. The youth workers offer a relationship that is a peer-based, understanding friendship at the level your teen is comfortable with. It was also great for the Lachy and McIntosh family to have a person outside of family and friends to talk to, especially when your teen doesn’t want to talk to friends because he’s uncertain of their reactions.

The CanTeen Effect

While it has become a little cliché to ride your bike for a cause, this scenario was slightly different given the extremities of going solo and down the length of an entire country. While Cameron was eager to use the opportunity to raise funds and awareness for a good cause he was definitely surprised by the significant impact representing CanTeen made to day-to-day motivation levels. Here’s a direct quote from his social post on day 4, to provide context:

“I woke up this morning knowing today was going to be hard. My knee pain was evident while sleeping last night, so I knew riding wasn’t going to be easy today. I strapped my knee heavily, rubbed all sorts of Oils on it, and rode. I rode through rain, hail, and a thunderstorm. My knee was throbbing – I couldn’t get out of the saddle at all today, but I found ways to manage the pain through the pedal stoke rotation, while seated. I started before sunrise and I finished after sunset. It was a gusty day. My day however, was easier in comparison to those young people out there dealing with cancer.

One of the earliest signs of cancer is changes in the body like lumps and bumps. For teenagers, they may not feel comfy talking with their parents or others about changes like this. This ride is about raising awareness and inspiring youth to feel safer opening a conversation up if they notice unexpected changes. Catching these things early vastly improves the likelihood of effective treatment, as in the case of my Kiwi cousin, Lachy”.

Why CanTeen New Zealand & Australia combined?

Over the course of Ride the Long White Cloud we raised $11,400 AUD which is being split 50/50 between CanTeen New Zealand and CanTeen Australia. Given Cameron is ½ Kiwi ½ Aussie and the Bike Chaser audience that was engaged heavily during the ride were Aussie, connecting both charities for fundraising was a good way to optimise reach.

CanTeen have been a fantastic partner and it was a privilege and honour to represent such an important cause.

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