My first Northern Pass: Tired legs, tireless passion and a surprise twist

2018-08-22  |  Personal |  Posted by: Ivy Cuervo

The sky was clear, the sun was out, and the spandex cycling shorts were on point during the second annual Northern Pass event in Muskoka. I was among the 170 riders who helped to raise more than $323,000 for 21 vital areas of cancer research at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. 

This was my first year cycling and I was pumped. Last year, I helped out during our inaugural event so I didn’t have a chance to experience that burn in my legs climbing a hill and absorb all of that natural Muskoka beauty along the way.  

I was excited to see the event almost double in size with more riders, sponsors and opportunities to learn about this incredible community of cyclists. The event kicked off early in the morning with a few words from the President and CEO of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, Michael Burns. Just eight months into the job, this was his first time taking part in Northern Pass.  

Posing for a picture with Michael Burns, President & CEO of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation (centre)
and Wayne Robbins, V.P. Finance at Great Gulf

The minimum fundraising amount is $1,000, however participants who raised at least twice that amount were eligible to win a No. 22 Great Divide or Drifter frameset from No. 22 Bicycle Company. Blacksmith Cycle and participant Chris King upped the stakes donating a titanium frame with a complete build kit, including wheels and components, worth more than $8,000. 

In a surprising turn, the winner of that incredible prize pack, Charles Schwarz, decided to re-gift the bicycle to auction it and raise more money for The Princess Margaret. That incredible act of kindness earned him a standing ovation. 

The $3,000 starting bid led to a number of hands rising up in the air. As the number got bigger there was an exciting volley of bids that had everyone clapping and wondering, who would win. The final bid, $10,000, was made by Ali Soheil, a long-time supporter of The Princess Margaret who rode 160km that day to honour his sister who is battling cancer.

Ali Soheil pictured with his bike during the event 

As riders prepared to head out, I thought about how lucky we are to live in Canada and have access to one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world, The Princess Margaret. 

As I clipped on to my bike and headed off along the 40km route, the more experienced cyclists were well on their way on the 107km or 160km routes. The scenery was breathtaking with views of Lakes Joseph, Rosseau and Muskoka. It was supposed to be an easy ride for me having already completed The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer and cycling over 200km. 

The beautiful Muskoka scenery!

My road bike is still fairly new which caused me to struggle with my gears and I ended up riding on my hardest gear for close to 20km. My legs were burning, but I met some incredible people along the way and that made the discomfort bearable. 

A major thanks to the entire special events team who made this Northern Pass event the best yet. I can’t wait for next year I have already signed up. Will you join me? Register for Northern Pass 2019 today!