UPDATE: Cerbere 25/09/2009. I finished in 98h28m. It was an exercise of finishing before dark the first 4 days, refuelling the body & trying (failed) to get enough sleep each night and then getting up early enough on the final morning to be confident that my three companions and I could make it to the Med by the cut-off time. The weather was very nice the last 4 days, which helped a lot (both physically & mentally). The 4 day 4 hour time limit was challenging and forced us to keep moving. The route done over 6 or 7 full days would make a lovely cycling holiday. I created a daily log on my Blackberry which I hope to find time to make more narrative for the interest of others and my own memory.
My brother was diagnosed with AML on Friday 13 February 2009 and died on Friday 21 August 2009. I missed out on a final chance to say good-bye as my flight landed in his adopted town of Winnipeg Canada only an hour before Chris passed away; being weather delayed by four hours. I last saw Chris in May and we parted full of hope. We had just learned that he had beaten the odds by having a suitable stem-cell donor in my oldest brother which offered the potential for cure.
Unfortunately it turned out that Chris was inflected with 3 sub-types of AML. While the doctors and staff at the University of Manitoba Health Sciences Center could get two of the types into remission at a time, a third was illusive even with the application of a bio-tech drug donated by Celgene for off-label use. Without being in remission, a transplant was not feasible. I’ve learned that the probability of successful treatment has increased over the past ten years. Obviously there is still work to do.
I have for some time looked forward to cycling in my 50th year the Raid Pyrenean, a 440 mile traverse of the Pyrenees on the paved roads in France which run nearest the Spanish border. The challenge is that to officially finish the route established in 1952, one must do so in less than 100 hours. A Raid-rider is free to choose his or her start date after 1 June of any year but must finish by 30 September which is, in the absence of bad luck, before snow closes the high passes. Hard? Probably but none of the route’s 17 named climbs or descents sound as difficult as the physical and emotional ups & downs my brother endured this year and he having done so without complaint.
Being prepared to support Chris has meant postponing my targeted start date twice this year and interrupting my training. I am now to begin my attempt at crossing the Pyrenees on 21 September, a month after my brother died. I expect to shed more than a few drops of sweat and have a bit of inclement weather thrown at me during this challenge. It would give me a smile during these physical efforts to have you join me in the effort against cancer by making a donation to Leukaemia Research.