This summer marks the third year where Andrew Sedmihradsky (the global mobility coordinator at UTM’s International Education Centre) and his son, Max, will bike across the region in order to raise awareness about Duchenne muscular dystrophy and fundraise towards finding a cure. This year, the Sedmihradskys are planning three events for the summer: the inaugural Ice Cream Ride, the second annual Max’s Big Climb, and the third annual Max’s Big Ride. All funds raised through sponsors and donations will go towards funding DMD research via Jesse’s Journey.
This year, Sedmihradsky will be reversing the route for Max’s Big Ride. The father-son duo will instead start at Hamilton on Sunday, June 4 and arrive in Ottawa eight days later on Monday, June 12. The route reversal is largely to involve a greater number of Hamilton-based supporters at the beginning of Max’s Big Ride, and to end the ride while Parliament is still in session—and to potentially meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“This year, we’re working again with MP Karina Gould, and it looks like there’s something in the works for us to be welcomed onto Parliament Hill on the 12th,” says Sedmihradsky. “We can’t really get any promises, but we’re hoping to meet some MPs again and have a good event to cap off the ride.
“We’ll also be stopping that morning at the Centre for Neuromuscular Disease at the University of Ottawa […] for a reception. There are a lot of researchers doing work around Duchenne there. It’s great for us to see the type of work they’re doing […] and it’s maybe their career’s focus to find a cure. But I think that on the flip side, they also thought that it was useful for some of the researchers there—the younger ones in particular—to see a family that’s affected by Duchenne.”
Max’s Big Ride will first kick off with an “Ice Cream Ride,” which is a chance for the public to get involved and ride alongside the cycling duo on the first day.
“We wanted to find a way to involve other people in what we’re trying to do. The Ice Cream Ride is just really the first part of the first day. When we set out from Hamilton’s Bayfront Park, we’re inviting other people to come ride with us. It’s a family-friendly event. We’ll ride 13 km into Burlington and stop at [Spencer Smith Park] there. We’re calling it the Ice Cream Ride because that’s how I bribed Max when he was four years old to go on the ride,” says Sedmihradsky.
Upon arrival at Spencer Smith Park, event attendees will have the chance to enjoy ice cream, and then everyone will head back to Hamilton for lunch.
“After that’s over, I’ll set off on the actual Max’s Big Ride, which is the 600 km trek to Ottawa.”
Sponsors and collaborators for this year include Rudy’s Ice Cream, Grupetto (which doubles as a coffee shop and a store for cycling apparel), Urkai European Bikes, KNA Food Drive, Stand for Duchenne Canada, and Fondation La Force. The logo for Max’s Big Ride is the same as the one used last year, which was designed by Chris Williams, one of the directors for Walt Disney’s Big Hero 6.
Currently, Sedmihradsky is unsure about other mini-events happening along the ride, as everything is still being planned. However, he says that there are supporters of Max’s Big Ride in Cobourg “who want to welcome us into the town,” along with others located in Belleville.
This year, Max’s Big Ride will pass through Mississauga on a Sunday, so there is no stop, nor arrival party, scheduled for UTM so far. However, Max’s Big Ride continues to have a special relationship with UTM—in fact, Sedmihradsky teases hints about a partnership which is forming between the two.
“There will be some type of partnership announced regarding Max’s Big Ride, Jesse’s Journey and the University of Toronto Mississauga,” says Sedmihradsky. This partnership arose out of a speech that principal Ulrich Krull gave, where he asked staff members to share their stories. Sedmihradsky then wrote to Krull, and states that “it turned out far better than I ever imagined. […] It’s phenomenal. It’s weird how all the pieces have fallen into place.”
The details of the partnership are likely to be announced next week.
Last year, Sedmihradsky did not train as extensively for Max’s Big Ride, because he believed it wasn’t tough. This was also around the time his second child, Isla, was born.
“This year, I go the gym every day. Last year, we tried to do it in seven days, but this year, [….] we made some more allowances. [For example, last year], one day was a 100 km, which is a lot on a cargo bike. The bike weighs a lot and it’s too long for Max to be out there. [So now], each day averages about 60-70 km, which isn’t too bad when you’ve got the whole day to do it.”
The last event for the summer, Max’s Big Climb, will take place on Saturday, July 15. This event is once again occurring at 143 m-high Sydenham Hill, which is known as being the training ground for Clara Hughes, the six-time Canadian Olympic medalist in cycling and speed skating.
“This year, we’ve got more time on the hill. Last year, we had to stop at 10. Instead, this year we’ve got one lane closed until 12 p.m. So we’re going to take the fastest eight men and eight women—they’ll race in head-to-head knockouts,” says Sedmihradsky. He added that this style was inspired by the ongoing March Madness events. The winners of each category would be crowned the “King” and “Queen of the Mountain.”
Following a bit of research, Sedmihradsky has also planned for a “horse-kill relay race” to be held.
“I found out that Sydenham Hill on Dundas used to be called horse-kill road, because it would be too tough for working horses to pull wagons up the hill, and they died. So I thought that—and hopefully the animal lovers don’t misinterpret what we’re doing—it’s going to be a relay, with teams of four cyclists going up as many times as they can in an hour. Whoever goes up the most [will win] a trophy. In the event of a tie, the team that’s raised the most money in pledges will win.”
There will also be a Hill Challenge, which is a chance for members of the public to simply reach the top of the hill on a bicycle of their choice, and will receive ice cream, food, and a participation ribbon. “That’s to encourage people who maybe aren’t into racing, or don’t want the pressure of the clock, but still want the accomplishment of climbing the hill,” says Sedmihradsky.
As for Max, he is once again excited to be embarking on Max’s Big Ride, and has been asking his parents several questions. Sedmihradsky jokes that he should brush up on his storytelling skills, as Max always tends to request a story (generally about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) when the bike is heading up a hill.
“Up until this point, Max never really asked about his muscles or his medication. He’s had some conversations—they tend to happen in the mornings, when I’m at work, and Kerri, my wife, is getting him ready to go off to school. So he’s more aware of the situation now, and obviously, we don’t tell him that it’s a fatal disease. But he knows that his muscles are weak, and that he needs to take his medication,” says Sedmihradsky.
“Obviously, that’s a conversation you never want to have with your kids, but […] I want him to know that he can come to us for information about his disease.”