Day three of the Tour de Rock has been on my mind since being accepted as the alumni rider for 2017.
In 2013, during the leg from Port McNeill, amid pouring rain, I crashed, injuring my left knee. Donna Fraser a rider behind me, crashed and fell onto my handlebars and cracked her rib. Because of the injury I missed the stop at Woss Lake elementary school.
The seven students who made up the entire school had been waiting for the Tour de Rock to arrive after raising more than $200 for the Canadian Cancer Society and presented it to the rest of the team.
The town of approximately 150 people, reminded me of Blue River, a small town of approximately 300 where I once lived, and it crushed me that I missed the presentation, and that another teammate had crashed and injured herself because of me. I was overcome.
Tears streamed down my face and I was unconsolable, I could barely talk for several minutes, until a fellow teammate and support staff member escorted me to another room. To my surprise, the students, teachers and support staff were there, and had arranged for all students, all seven of them to meet me. Each child lined up, offered words of encouragement and gave me hug for consolation while I wept.
It was one of my most memorable moments of the Tour de Rock, and a story I have not shared.
This year, I rode into Woss as a member of the Tour de Rock once more, but this time the school is no longer operating, the elementary students that affected me so much had moved on or attending school in Port McNeill and I didn’t have an opportunity to see them again.
I haven’t properly thank the community in Woss for their small-town hospitality when I was most vulnerable. When I had nothing to offer them in return, they were their kindest, and their gesture is one I will remember for the rest of my life. I was thinking of them the entire day today and wanted to thank them all, wherever they are.