Father and son back stronger: Cancer survivor Tristan Barr and son Phoenix will once again Ride the Rideau

Tristan Barr and his four-year-old son Phoenix will lead a team of 18 cyclists in Ride the Rideau to support cancer research on September 10. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen.

By Tony Martins

As a reminder of how cancer diagnosis and treatment gave him a second chance at life, Tristan Barr named his son Phoenix.

Now the Hintonburg father and son are making a second and more concerted effort to Ride the Rideau in support of cancer research on September 10.

“We were in the event in its first year in 2010 and had such a great time that Phoenix has asked to ride the whole 100 km with me this time,” said Barr. “We will see if I can take him the whole way.”

In this unique event, riders will pedal for 100 kilometres along the Rideau River from Ottawa to Merrickville-Wolford. Funds raised will go directly to support cancer research at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

Support from the community and Barr’s colleagues was so strong last year that he and Phoenix are co-captains of a team of 18 riders this year-and the team is well on its way to achieving a fundraising goal of $27,000.

Except for Phoenix, all members of the team are Barr’s co-workers at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), including Westboro resident Melanie Rickard.

“They were inspired by the fundraising last year and wanted to contribute by getting on their bikes this year,” Barr said of his colleagues.

Barr recalls his own inspiring experiences from last year’s event that moved him and Phoenix to do even more this time around. On the night before the inaugural race, Barr was given a participant’s jersey and number as well as a flag to attach to his bike.

“I didn’t know what the flag was for but Phoenix liked it so we set it up,” Barr recalls. “Turns out the flag was for cancer survivors who were riding the event. They gave a nice speech and salute to the twelve of us at the beginning of the day. I don’t talk about my cancer experience much and was moved to tears by the salute.”

“The event was wonderful for a first time out,” Barr added. “The ride was well organized, the weather was perfect, and the spirit of the event was uplifting.”

Barr rides his bike to work year round and has been training in Gatineau Park and in the Laurentians on weekends.

“I entered the Preston Street Criterium [cycling racel for the first time this year and realized I needed to be in much better condition if I wanted to keep up,” said Barr.

Father and son have been preparing for the joint ride with a special seat imported from Denmark and attached to Barr’s regular road bike.

“Whether Phoenix rides the whole thing this year will be primarily up to him,” said Barr. “If I ride with my teammates, it will likely be a four-hour-plus ride so he will have to be ready to sit on the bike for four hours.”

If Phoenix has any of his father’s determination, he just might go the distance.

Tristan and Phoenix’s CNSC team has raised some $18,000 of their $27,000 target. To support the team or any one of the individual riders, visit www.ridetherideau.ca, click on “give.” and search for CNSC or Tristan.

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