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Ride for a Reason

Thursday, 16.08.2012 / 2:00 PM / Features
By Derek Jory
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Ride for a Reason

When the first day of school rolls around this fall and Noah Epp begins the tenth grade, he won’t be bombarded with the question: what did you do all summer?

Everyone already knows. He changed lives.

Epp, a 15-year-old from Calgary, rode into Vancouver Monday morning to complete his Ride For a Reason, a 1,062 kilometre bike ride that had him pedal from Cowtown to Vancity to raise money for kids fighting cancer.

Yes, this is one of those stories that’ll make you think back to when you were 15. Confused about everything and yet still sure about everything, with poor hygiene and the manners of a monkey, I was macho around the guys, a voice-cracking scaredy around girls, who rocked a bowl cut after it went out of style and was certain the world revolved around me.

Not Epp, he simply wants to make the world a better place.

When his five-day trek wrapped up Monday with a ceremonial ride into the ring road in front of Child & Family Research Institute, across from the BC Children's Hospital, there were no tears from Epp, no celebratory thrashing of his arms, no I Did It!!! smirk or smile.

Epp isn’t an emotionless robot (although he rides a bike like a machine), this journey was not about him, it was about the kids who are bravely battling cancer across Canada.

“It was good to be able to relate maybe a little bit to the kids just a tiny bit,” said Epp, “because they suffer every day and I suffered just a tiny bit on that trip.”

On Monday, August 6th, Epp, his father, and two other cyclists departed Calgary en route to Lake Louise for the shortest day of riding on the trip, a mere 193 KMs. The longest day followed, 231 KMs from Lake Louise to Revelstoke, with an average of 212 KMs being ridden over the remaining three days.

Epp and company rode for eight to 11 hours a day and when all was said and done, his “legs were a bit tired.” His spirit remained strong, however, and he’s already in the planning stages for another charity ride.

Whoa there Noah – dismount, take your helmet off and have a cupcake.

Truth be told, Epp loves riding as much as the four charities benefiting from his latest adventure (BC Children's Hospital, Jamie's Preschool, Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta and Alberta Children's Hospital) love sharing more than $10,000 raised to help sick children.

Epp was tilting training wheels at two-and-a-half-years-old and by three he was roaring down the street on a two-wheeler.

When he was nine-years-old he made friends with a pair of cancer patients, both young boys like him. A short while later one of his new friends lost his battle with cancer, which lit a fire deep within Epp that is still burning strong.

Not long after that he came up with the idea to do a charity ride from Calgary to Vancouver, but his parents said that distance would have to wait until he was older. Instead Epp journeyed from Calgary to Edmonton in two days.

When he got the okay from his parents late last year to finally do the ride he’d envisioned, it was time to start training.

Picture the training montage from Rocky. Hear Gonna Fly Now playing in the background. Think blood, sweat and tears.

“We started training as soon as the snow stopped in Calgary, so like January we were out riding,” said Epp. “We started off with pretty short days of maybe 40K, and our longest training day was 190K. It was good and I only whipped out once, I fell on my butt, my tailbone, but I didn’t have any road rash.”

Thanks the intense training, the expedition went exactly as planned without any major bumps in the road.

There was wind though, oh boy was there wind.

“That was the toughest part,” laughed Epp. “At least going up a hill you know that you should be working hard, but when you’re on flat ground and the wind is pushing against you, you know you should be going faster and that’s a real killer.”

This larger than life 15-year-old survived and because of him, young cancer patients across Canada have a fighting chance to as well.

Click here to donate to Epp’s Ride For a Reason

Thank you for your support.