TOUR de ROCK: Mighty hill challenge nothing compared to battling cancer

Cyclist Arnold Lim braces for his biggest challenge yet in his training: climbing Mt. Washington

  • Jul. 15, 2013 10:00 a.m.

I am not going to lie. The hills scare me.

That fear is now ingrained in me. In fact, I am not too proud to say that my heart skips a beat when I see one approaching because vivid memories of my first Tour de Rock hill training night are still fresh in my mind.

This is new for me. Until I started riding up hills on a bike with the TDR team, I didn’t really notice them from the comfort of my SUV. I notice every one of them now.

Our first official hill night turned out to be an introduction to Observatory Hill, a winding two-kilometre ascent I had conquered previously with the help of a motor vehicle.

The evening was proudly marked as my first crack at a hill longer than a few hundred metres and my first vollow, (vomiting and immediately swallowing) while riding a bike. Not surprisingly, it took less than a kilometre for me to reach the benchmark.

My inability to walk properly for several days following the ride goes with out saying and while the frequency and severity of subsequent episodes have subsided, I find myself close to that feeling again thinking about the upcoming 2.5-hour drive to Mount Washington where our 22-person team will tackle the 16-km climb as part of its training.

For months now, the date has been circled on my calendar – an ominous source of nervous tension and a reminder of the upcoming meeting with the steep climb to the popular resort, where riders will feel anything but comfort.

Pain has a way of diminishing confidence, and looking over at my calendar, I still question my ability to make it up the mountain. I honestly don’t know.

The worst part is I am ashamed I feel this way – and not because I would be embarrassed for people to find out I couldn’t make it up, even though that is a possibility.

I am embarrassed because I know there are many fathers like me that would love to be in a position to be pedalling a bike and suffering physically, instead of mentally and emotionally because their child has cancer.

I am embarrassed because I found out today that two-year-old Baby Molly Campbell passed away and I can’t bear to think of how her father’s heart is breaking along side many other families we don’t hear about – while my heart worries about a bike ride that hasn’t happened yet.

I am embarrassed because Baby Molly courageously battled cancer for two-and-a-half years, while I am nervous about pushing myself for a two-and-a-half hour bike ride up a mountain.

The truth is, I don’t have anything to be scared of at all.

Arnold Lim represents Black Press on the 2013 Tour de Rock team. His column will appear every two weeks through the end of the tour. To donate to his campaign, visit


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