"It all part of the sport" - Serge Le Noble (circa 2000)
I first met my friend (and companion on this trip) Serge Savard shortly after my fathers death.
I had been coveting a sleek fiberglass kayak for years but didn't want to spend the money. A little after my father Hyman died (of leukemia - mine was a grotesque quirk of fate) I decided life was too short - I went to buy a fiberglass kayak and met Serge who worked at Kayakqua (then on Sherbrooke street). We struck up a friendship and soon I was going on kayak trips with or led by Serge (at least 15 so far)
On one of our earliest trips the weather was terrible, but Serge, with his characteristic calmness said "its a part of the sport" and we paddled on.
This morning started as "its a part of the sport" type of day. I started out from Bourbon Lancy in a drizzle, which promptly turned into steady rain. I was dressed for it (with good waterproof gear from MEC), but the first 30k to Digoin was continuous hills (some steep), I worked my way up, then braked all the way down to avoid skidding out on the wet road. It took me 2 hours to cover the distance. It was tough.
Once I arrived in Digoin (and a boisterous May 1 parade) the day underwent a drastic improvement. I met Serge who had driven there and we continued on the banks of the Canal du Centre - nice and flat and pretty, even in a drizzle. After another 30k (62k in total before lunch!) we came to a lovely auberge right beside the canal and had a proper and leisurely lunch.
We then pedaled on to Montceau-les-Mines (coal mines now closed) where we met Annie and Daniel Sotty who asked us where we were going, and if we needed help, when we were stopped by the side of the road looking at a map. When we told him we were looking for a hotel, he led us to one. With his wife he cycles around Europe on long expeditions, he is cycling with her to Moscow soon, at 69 years old! See his wonderful family website at http://www.sotty.com/ – “Le clan des Sotty en Bourgogne :Une famille vraie où les mots liberté, dignité, responsabilité, respect, tolérance, solidarité, concertation, expérimentation, critique, militantisme, plaisir, travail et action .... sont quotidiennement actuels et en vigueur." We also met Mr Jean le Clou, who is 79 - he remembers the Germans during the war, and locals taken to Germany never to return.
We are now in the hotel restaurant, enjoying Tavoras (a large slice of bread topped with ingredients and local cheese, and grilled ) and wonderful local wine (Cave du Pere Tienne from Macon).
I could not be doing this trip without Serge, I owe a great deal to him. He has taught me that even the toughest times "are just part of the sport".
Ten years ago I was diagnosed with acute leukemia. I was 49 years old, with a wonderful wife and two adorable children, many fulfilling interests, and a great career, In short, a charmed life. From one day to the next, I was thrown into a battle of life and death.
Thanks to the wonders of science, the help of devoted, caring and skilled doctors and nurses, and a bone marrow transplant (from my brother) I survived. More importantly, through the experience of my illness and recovery, I have grown and flourished.
To celebrate my recovery, and all those without whom it would have been impossible, I cycled across Europe in April and May 2010, and the blog of my trip is at www.acelebrationoflife.blogspot.com.
In 2012 I published Portraits of Hope, see www.portraitsofhope.ca.
This year, to mark the 10th anniversary of my reciverywe established the Maryse and William Brock Chair in Applied Research into Stem Cell Transplantation.
Together we can beat leukemia.