Dale Ens was one of the top fundraisers at the 2021 Enbridge Tour Alberta for Cancer.
In June 2021, he lost his sister-in-law Brenda, to cancer. “She was 66 when her 3-year journey with cancer reached the finish line. Throughout, she endured the full litany of therapies and kept an eye on the future and a relentless embrace of all that made her life important – friends, family, grandkids, and myriad activities, projects and joys that daily life can bring. Cancer did not define her, nor will it be why we remember her,” says Dale.
On August 29th, 2021, Dale and there of his good friends did a long distance ride in
memory of Brenda.
What follows is a description of the day – one that Dale will remember and cherish for years to come – in his own words.
“On August 29, three good friends and great cyclists, joined me for our contribution to the 2021 Tour Alberta for Cancer. The “bargain” made was that I would do a big day on my bike in return for your financial and moral support of the Tour.
It was pure late summer magic in Southern Alberta – bright sunny skies, warm temperatures and calm wind.
Our little group met in front of the home of my sister-in-law, Brenda and her husband Glen. Shortly after 9:00, in the company of a small entourage of family members on bicycles, we all did a ride-by the High River Hospital where Brenda spent her final days, in tribute to her courage and grace. Escorted by this clutch of family, our foursome found its way to the edge of town and off we went.
Dan, Suzanne and Doug are powerful riders and we set a crisp pace south towards Nanton, all the while getting caught up and getting to know each other again after a long absence, thanks to the pandemic. Remember that this long day was purely optional for them. Each had already donated to the Tour but doing this ride speaks volumes to their character. Dan and Suzanne had never tackled a ride of this distance so they were excited to test themselves. Doug was debuting his gorgeous new Colnago road bike.
Once in Nanton (30 km. from High River) we headed west on Hwy 540 where the real elevation gain in the ride awaited us. I think we did about an hour of legitimate climbing over three sizeable hilltops during the next 40 km. – head down, find a tempo and look for the summit, rinse and repeat. We all rode very well and it was gratifying to hit the final summit before ripping down the other side to Chain lakes Provincial Park.
Cathy, Georgia and her dog, Spot, were on hand with a marvellous spread of fresh fruit, yogurt, peanut butter and jam tacos and some tasty baking. It was just the break we needed after a challenging first half. (By the way, my bride was a diehard support of Sunday’s ride and we are so very grateful. You rock Cathy!)
With new energy, we returned to Highway 22 and rode north for another 25 km or so. This part of the ride was not that much fun since the road was very busy and noisy. Still the drivers were unfailingly courteous and did their best to give us room.
By the time we got to the Bar U Ranch and turned east on Highway 533, we could feel the miles in our legs. However the fact that we were steadily losing the elevation that we had gained in the first half of the ride was a welcome bonus. We were flying – at times our little paceline hit and sustained 40 to 45 kph. In one lead, Doug had us going 48 kph on the flats. That is moving. What a blast!
With 10 km to go, we were joined by Georgia who rode with us to High River and our starting point. We were met with a celebratory milkshake from the Hitching Post drive in, much to Dan’s delight. I never knew a grown man could be so moved by something as simple as a fresh strawberry and banana milkshake but that was Dan. He was in heaven. We then moved on to burgers and beers and reflections on what had to one of the best-days-ever on a bicycle. We tore up 133 kms of road in 4 hours and 45 minutes, 1000 meters of climbing and an average speed of 28.4 kph.
I am not sure but I think this is my 7th or 8th time doing this fundraising ride. Except for this one, I don’t think there was a ride when Brenda was not somewhere on the route or at the start/finish to provide her encouragement and illuminate us with her electric smile. Throughout my ride, I thought of her frequently and how different it was now that she is gone. I know that she would have been so proud and excited to see us out there. That was her nature.
There were happy/sad tears when we finally sat down and raised a glass to her memory.
Together you contributed almost $26,000 to this year’s Ride, a staggering sum and one that was entirely unexpected when I go started in July. I think (hope) I have thanked everyone I could but some folks are strangers to me and I haven’t been able to connect personally with my regret.
To all of you, my friends, my family, the good people I don’t know and the anonymous donors who were too shy to reveal their names, I say the same simple heart felt thing – thank you.
We need to end cancer and the only way is through research through financial support like this. Your generosity will make a difference in the future and has already done so today.
For Dan, Suzanne, Doug and me, you were the wind at our back. Thank you.
Thank you Dale, Suzanne and Doug for going the distance on the Tour and in the cancer centres.