Record ride for ovarian cancer ends after cyclist hit by motorbike

North Van’s Bianca Hayes was on a final, 48 hour push 1,000 kilometers from her goal when she was crashed into.

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Bianca Hayes was about 1,000 kilometers from her goal when a motorcycle clipped her on an attempt to set a world record by cycling from Vancouver to Halifax in 15 days.

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The accident occurred on June 26 during her final 48-hour push, with only 10-minute micro naps here-and-there.

The North Vancouverite’s ride was to raise money and awareness for ovarian cancer, which claimed her sister Katrina in April, 2018, at age 32, leaving her then-three-year-old nephew without a mother. But instead of pulling into the Nova Scotia capital on June 28, she was on her way home in a recreational vehicle after being released from hospital.

“It could have been so much worse,” Hayes said from somewhere in northern Ontario along the empty expanse between Moonbeam and Nipigon. “Another inch or two I could have broken bones or I may not be speaking with you now.

“It’s devastating I didn’t get to finish my ride. It was grueling, but every tough moment was worth it if one more family doesn’t have to suffer the same heartbreak my family experienced.”

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For Hayesit was her second attempt at a world record. Games firstin 2020, took her 19 days, the fastest recorded time for a woman to cycle across the country, but longer than the 15-day mark decreed by Guinness World Records to be a world record for a woman.

The fastest man to cycle the nearly 6,000 kilometers of road to cross Canada did it in 9.4 days, Guinness defining the official route as city-hall-to-city-hall following roads and trails on which it’s legal to cycle.

Hayes had approached a rail crossing at an odd angle. A similar crossing had caused her to crash two years ago and hit her helmeted head hard on the ground.

“You’re not allowed to walk your bike anywhere, you have to ride the entire course, so in order to cross at 90 (degrees) I had to pop out and cut out across the road,” she said.

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There was a curve in the highway behind her.

“I did a shoulder check as I came up to the tracks, popped out to the shoulder, checked again and it was all clear. I started crossing and I heard something behind me.

“As I turned to look I saw a motorcycle on its side flying at me.”

The motorbike skidded when the driver tried to brake, and it took her bike out from under her and ripped one shoe.

Handout photo of Bianca Hayes after an accident with a motorcyclist in Quebec on June 26. The North Vancouver cyclist tried to set a women's Guinness World Record for fastest Trans-Canada ride in support of ovarian cancer research.  Her ride was cut short due to the accident.
Handout photo of Bianca Hayes after an accident with a motorcyclist in Quebec on June 26. The North Vancouver cyclist tried to set a women’s Guinness World Record for fastest Trans-Canada ride in support of ovarian cancer research. Her ride was cut short due to the accident. jpg

“Of all the things that could have happened, it was very lucky,” she said. “Very shocking, quite a dramatic way to end the whole ride, but I’m very lucky how it turned out.”

In the end, Hayes had a sprained ankle, concussion, road rash and an unfinished quest.

“Not all cyclists are so lucky when it comes to motor vehicle accidents, so I’m trying to stay positive and remind myself of that because missing the world record really does sting.”

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She is 11 percent of the way to game goal of raising $1 million for ovarian cancer (you can donate at biancahayes.com), and she had set off from Vancouver on June 13. The money she raises is split between Ovarian Cancer Canada and the BC Cancer Foundation.

While ovarian cancer rates are similar to those of breast and prostate cancer, because the latter two receive much more publicity, they’ve enjoyed more research funding and patients have better survival rates.

Fifty years ago, the survival rates for all three were roughly the same, Hayes said, but today while being the fifth most common of women’s cancers it is the deadliest, killing five Canadian women a day. This year, 3,100 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, according to Ovarian Cancer Canada.

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Hayes’ fundraising is an effort to provide the same level of screening and treatment options as there are for, say, breast cancer, and much improved life expectancy for those diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“One of the things that struck me when Katrina was sick, she really only had a year of treatment and being able to fight the disease. It doesn’t have the survivorship. The survival rate is so low, they don’t have people out there really talking about it and championing the cause. It falls to family and friends to be out there talking about it and getting people aware of why this is so important to fund.”

She was accompanied by two physiotherapists and a documentary crew from The Coconut Creative in an RV. It felt like she fought all of the elements, she said, including one day in Manitoba when it was so hot that the Winnipeg Marathon was canceled mid-race.

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Hayes encountered her first Prairie dust storm, mosquitoes that swarm your face in the hundreds the second you stop moving forward, headwinds that seemed to blow her backwards and just the pain of riding 20 hours a day (most days, the shortest was 13 hours) .

She’s not sure if she’ll give it another try. It took her two years to recover from the last one, then start planning the next one.

“It bothered me those whole two years I hadn’t done the last one in the time they gave and that was the whole point of doing it this time.

“I don’t know. It will probably keep bothering me. I feel if I say never again now that I’ll be eating those words.”

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twitter.com/gordmcintyre

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