On Friday July 8th and Saturday July 9th, the Rapid Relief Team from the Montreal area supported the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer event. This ride is Quebec’s largest cycling fundraiser with cyclists coming from all over Canada to take part. 1,222 cyclists raised $4.4 million for the Jewish General Hospital in Quebec, which will be used for Cancer research, treatment and prevention. The event comprises a 200+ kilometer ride from Montreal to Quebec City and is separated into two days of biking.
On the Friday, twelve RRT volunteers arrived at the venue in Trois Rivieres at 9:00am and began setting up two-person sleeping tents for about 1000 people. These tents were provided for the exhausted participants who would be in need of overnight rest after a long day of riding. Around 440 tents in total were opened, positioned in rows, and pinned to the ground. The event organizers were stunned at the speed and efficiency of the RRT volunteers. The RRT also assisted with setting up bike racks for the 1222 bikes that would be arriving the following day, one of the organizers commented “You made a 2 hour job be 30 minutes, thanks a lot!”.
Twenty RRT volunteers returned to the venue on Saturday morning at 8:45am in the pouring rain, with visions of blue tents scattered far and wide from the stormy winds dancing in their heads. Thankfully, only a few tents had come loose and were quickly put upright. It was necessary to don bright blue rain ponchos to keep dry, which made the volunteers camouflage very well into the field of sleeping tents. They also divided into teams to collect garbage, create identification tags for the sleeping tents, attach the tags to the tents, and place tables holding hand sanitizer and water next to various large tents used for food serving, washrooms, etc. Six trucks containing all of the luggage for the bikers arrived and were unloaded and sorted with the assistance of RRT.
The cyclists had left Montreal at 8:00am on Saturday morning and cycled 120 kilometers through pouring rain to Trois Rivieres, braving the elements for the sake of the great cause of Conquering Cancer. They began arriving at camp around 12:30pm where they were greeted and congratulated enthusiastically by family members, fellow bikers, and RRT volunteers. Their achievement brought forth a lot of smiles, both on their faces and on those of the welcomers, whose palms became rather sore after hours of hearty clapping!
Cyclists were aided to find their luggage by the RRT and headed off to the large tents for food, warmth, and refreshments. Around 4:45pm, the company who was catering the evening meal was ready to serve the bikers and asked for the assistance of about ten RRT volunteers, who enthusiastically filled this gap, while the others continued to cheer on incoming riders and complete other tasks around the camp site. During the dinner one of the organizers came along and asked one of the RRT Volunteers “Is there anywhere you guys aren’t?” One cyclist who came for food commented gratefully that they were being treated like kings! After about an hour serving, RRT volunteers took their own supper and packed up their bright red tent.
The event was a great success and the Rapid Relief Team all agree that they can’t wait to volunteer at more events in the near future!