Family bikes 483 km to fight deadly disease
Keith Black and his family cycled from Janvier to the Lac St Anne pilgrimage last week
It’s dusk, and Keith Black has travelled 133 kilometres on his CCM road bike today. He coasts down a steep hill and into the Hamlet of Lac La Biche, trucks honking as they pass.
In front of him are four other riders: a cousin, a nephew, a niece, and a stepdaughter. Along with their support truck behind them, they battled hills, exhaustion, and the bad traffic on Hwy 881. And together, they’re cycling the 483 kilometres from their hometown of Janvier to the Lac St. Anne Pilgrimage.
What’s normally a five-hour drive is going to be a five-day bike ride—proving that it’s the journey, not the destination, that is important.
“We’re doing this bike ride to raise awareness for lupus,” Black said, straddling his bike by the side of the road. “My father had lupus and he passed away three years ago—so we’re all doing this to support research and to raise awareness of the disease.”
His wife Candace followed in the family Ford pickup, a big green sign propped up in the back asking motorists to honk in support of the trip. In the short time that Black and his family spent talking with the Post last Tuesday evening, several vehicles honked enthusiastically—showing that their efforts are being recognized.
This is the second time Black has made the bicycle pilgrimage. Last year he did it to raise funds for a new church in Janvier, which is currently under construction. This year, it’s much more of a family affair: Black is joined by his cousin Blair, who lost two women close to him to lupus—an autoimmune disease that is nine times more likely to affect women than men.
Blair, 28, said his legs were sore—and the aggressive drivers on Highway 881, especially those with Saskatchewan plates, made for a stressful experience—but he was excited to be on the five-day journey.
“I’m just glad it’s not Highway 63, but we’re still dealing with the traffic, the weather, the bugs,” he said. “This is an experience, for sure. And it’s everything—the body and the mind.”
Keith said Hwy 881 is by far the hardest part of the journey. After Lac La Biche, they had a long stretch of Hwy 28, followed by Hwy 37, before they make it to Lac St. Anne, west of St. Albert.
“It’s all pancake from here on out,” Keith said.
Joining the two men were some younger peddlers. Nephew Craig, 15, niece Madison, 16, and stepdaughter Shannon, 11, were all making the epic trip as well. When asked when they hoped to get Lac St Anne—a Catholic pilgrimage that each of the Blacks have attended since birth—they showed their confidence in their ability and cohesion as a family.
“We will be making it to Lac St Anne,” Keith said, with authority. “We’re not hoping to get there, we know we’re going to get there.”
The family made it safely to Lac St. Anne last Friday evening.
In order to post comments on our web site, you must validate your email address. An email was sent to you when you registered that included an activation link. If you have not yet done so, please click on the link to activate your account.
If you did not receive your activation email, please click here to have it resent.