Monday, July 9, 2012

The End of the Beginning

As we roll towards Cape Spear, the most eastern point in North America, there is a lot going through my mind. It seems so long ago Dad and I dipped our tires in the Pacific Ocean to start our journey, yet so many of the days are still fresh in my memory as if they just happened. Even as I write this final recap, it’s tough to sum up the entire trip. We’ve seen so much, met so many people and pushed our bodies and minds to an entirely new level, leaving the task of getting it all written down and doing every moment justice is near impossible.

When I think back even further to all the things that happened to our family to lead us to this point, it’s truly overwhelming. That line from Forrest Gump keeps replaying in my mind, “You’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on,” and for each of us who are part of this ride that phrase takes on its own meaning. Whether it was the financial and physical hardships we had to overcome, or the changing personal relationships with the people we left at home, we put a lot of miles between us and the past. We set a monumental goal and we are only miles from achieving it. Surely each one of us has changed on some level, I’m just not sure I know quite how just yet.

One of the most common questions we’ve got along the way is, “What has been the best place you’ve seen?” Seems easy enough but I assure you, there is no easy answer. How do you compare the pure bliss of riding through the desert in the sunshine on 5A towards Kamloops with the sense of accomplishment you get summiting Roger’s Pass? Can one possibly rank the feeling of a perfect descent with a sweeping view of Lake Superior going into Montreal River versus the awe inspiring scenery of Gros Morne National park in Newfoundland? For every diverse climate we’ve ridden through in our glorious country, there is a day that could be listed among our best. Here’s my best attempt, in no particular order, at a list of our top rides

·      *Merrit to Kamloops – riding along the quiet highway 5A was the day I truly fell in love with my new Trek 5.2 Madone. Rolling hills through the desert climate with beautiful lakes along side us brought back the pure joy of riding a bike.

·      *Rogers Pass – Pat and Dad climbed one of the toughest passes in the Rockies bordered by head high snow banks and rain and wet snow falling from the sky. Just witnessing this incredible riding by those two makes this a highlight for me.

·      *Riding into Calgary – Nothing makes you feel like a big shot more than having the Calgary police block an entire lane of the Trans Canada Highway including every on and off ramp so you can ride your bike into town with 30 supporters. The reception we received at the Boys and Girls club was an unforgettable moment. I only wish every person could experience that to understand how truly special the Boys and Girls club is.

·      *Riding into Brandon – The prairies were supposed to be boring but in reality they were anything but that. The vast open skies inspire a sense of awe and wonder and with the wind at our back we covered a massive 360km in no time at all.

·      *Lake Superior Provincial Park to Sault Ste. Marie Just like the prairies, we hadn’t heard too many positive things about Northern Ontario. To our pleasant surprise, riding along Lake Superior was both challenging and beautiful. With rolling hills that added up to enough elevation gain to rival the Rockies and unbelievable views of the largest of the Great Lakes, this ride was one of my most difficult and favorite rides of the trip.

·      *Ontario Small Towns – I’ve driven the 401 between Ottawa and Toronto hundreds of times but until this ride most of the small towns were nothing but names on a highway road sign. Discovering how beautiful these towns was like finding a small treasure in my own backyard.

·      *Kingston Parade – Seeing a town come together to support a cause like Kingston did for us was one of the most special moments of the trip. Huge thanks to Rick Smith and everybody who arranged a full parade into town complete with military band, fire trucks, local hockey players, mounted police, war veterans and hundreds of people.

·      *Ottawa Reception – Coming home is always special but riding right onto centre ice at Scotiabank Place to the incredible reception the Senators put on was amazing. The plaque signifying June 4th, 2012, as "Brad Marsh Day" will always have a special spot in the Marsh household. 

·      *Highway 132 to Riviere-du-Loup – This place is almost indescribable. The majestic St Lawrence River winding alongside me as I rolled through beautiful French Canadian towns will never leave my memory. That road seemed to be made just for me, and might be the best cycling road in Canada.

·      *Epic Day – When Dad set out for “Epic Day” from Truro, Nova Scotia towards North Sydney, I was fast asleep. He started as the sun came up and we rode well into the dark of night. Our first major day with all 5 of our riders and three support cars. It was a new personal longest ride for almost all of us and even with that, our totals were still over 100km short of Dad’s ride. As our friend and support car driver, Johnny Barrett said, “I can’t believe what I just witnessed, that’s absolutely incredible.”

·      *Gros Morne National Park – Riding in Newfoundland you truly get the feeling that you are discovering another world. All we needed was Dr. Allen Grant there and I would’ve believed we were entering Jurassic Park. The climbing here is incredibly difficult and the boys pushed hard to conquer the overwhelming landscape. The Viking Trail gets Pat’s vote for the best cycling road in Canada.

Obviously, I could go on for days about the incredible rides we’ve had all across Canada. All I can say is that our country has so much to offer and every person needs to see as much of it as they possibly can. As we approach the end (surely another day I’ll never forget, no matter how many celebratory beers we have on George Street), I turn my thoughts again to how I’ve changed. This trip has been every bit as challenging for me mentally as it has been physically and it is still hard to put it all in perspective. When I get back will things be the same? Do I want them to be the same as they were? Part of me worries that I won’t be able to fit back into my former lifestyle, flawed as it may have been. It may not be a bad thing but after all this transient living, I’m hoping I can settle back into a little bit of normalcy. For personal reasons, I’m not sure that it will be possible but after this trip but I know I can handle anything thrown my way. As much as our journey is coming to an end, it is only one chapter in our lives. We’ll all get home and keep on going. The next challenge will be set and the next goal will be in our sights. Life keeps on going, 90 days at a time.

Erik Marsh (co-pilot and son)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Technological Advancement

Brad's new BFF

The past few months I’ve been lucky. I’ve had the opportunity to ride all over Canada with my Dad and from time to time my siblings have also joined the trek. I’ve always loved going for a ride with my Dad and my brother (its been nice getting to ride with Maddy the last few weeks too!) but since we’ve left Vancouver, something has been different from those childhood excursions. As far back as I can remember those rides, I always remember Dad on the same bikes: a red Bottecchia road bike, a red Tesch road bike and Bontrager Mountain Bike. All three bikes were top of the line when Dad got them (as he always reminded us) but the newest of the bunch, the Bontrager, he received in 1992 as a gift from his Red Wings teammates for playing his 1000th game.

It was a thrill when I grew tall enough to ride those bikes but as a young kid I never did fully appreciate their “vintage” appeal. That said it was a little strange to be out for a ride with Dad and see him riding on his new bike; its carbon frame with black on black finish far different from the steel tubing and red finish of those old bikes. I’m just not used to seeing Dad being up with the newest sporting technology. Heck, up until last year he had the same Micron Medallion Skates he wore when he taught me to skate 23 years ago. He was finally was forced into a pair of Zdeno Chara’s old Bauer’s and when I asked him about the new skates he said, “I’ll be dead before these are broken in!” The stick he used when he played seemed more like a piece of lumber than a scoring weapon, his shoulder pads have numbers from each team he played for written in Sharpie on them because he hadn’t gotten a new pair his whole career. All you need to do is look into his hockey bag to see that Brad Marsh is a traditionalist when it comes to new technology.

This time though, it seems to be different. He has a little extra power up the hills, he is a little quicker to match the tempo when Pat tries to take off and drop us. Maybe this is a symbolic turning of the page. After all, this year Dad has finally wrapped his head around Facebook (not Facepagebook as he used to call it) and he even has a Twitter following. He’s got a smartphone and no longer asks if we have the UPS with us on a long drive (it’s a GPS, Dad). Maybe Dad is proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks, or maybe he’s been training harder than ever and that’s why he looks so fast on that new bike. Either way, Dad is looking right at home on his Trek 5.2 Madone and I can’t wait to tackle “The Rock” and finish off the 10th and final province of our ride.

Erik Marsh (son and co-pilot)

Friday, June 22, 2012




Brad Marsh’s 90 Day Challenge to ride his bike across Canada to raise awareness and funds for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada gears up for the longest day on the bike yet and we want YOU to be part of it by showing your support for Brad and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.

There have been lots of hills, windy rides, rainy days, motels and hotels, big trucks, tons of floor hockey, one bear sighting and lots and lots of big smiles from the kids along the route and now Brad is attempting his biggest challenge of all as he gears up for his longest and most challenging day on the bike so far.

On Wednesday, June 27 Brad will peddle his longest distance yet. He will be on his bike for 10-14 hours and cover 330 kilometres in one day! It will be a huge accomplishment for a great cause and we want you to be there to support it!

How can you ‘be’ there? On Donation Day we are asking all of Brad’s supporters and followers who haven’t already donated to the ride to consider making a donation on that day by clicking on the ‘Support the Ride’ button on his Facebook page and leaving a comment on his wall. Then forward this to all of your friends and family to help raise the awareness of the Boys and Girls Clubs. All donations made on Donation Day will also be entered into a draw for some great prizes.

Join us throughout the day on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates and interviews and feel free to Tweet and Facebook updates on your own pages to help spread the word. You can tweet this release using this url

To support the ride with a donation go to:

You can also donate directly from Brad’s Facebook page and don’t forget to leave a comment on his wall.

Team Marsh thanks you for your continued support!

Follow Brad’s “Living the Adventure of Life ONE 90 Day Challenge @ A Time” by becoming a fan at and on Twitter @BradMarshNHL to keep up to date on this and future Challenges

Contact:                                                                                                                                              Laurel E. Anderson                                                                                                          Communications Director
613-889-1555                      ###

Monday, June 18, 2012

Once a Family, Always a Family

Once a Family, Always a Family
Written by Erik Marsh

When Dad retired I was only seven years old. It’s safe to say any old hockey stories I know or retell, I don’t know from first hand. More often than not I’ve collected the story after sitting around the table with a couple of cold beverages and my Dad and his buddies as they talk about the good ol’ days. What’s most incredible however, is not the stories themselves. It’s the camaraderie that is truly amazing. It doesn’t matter if they played together or against each other. It’s not even important that they played in the same era, for these guys it’s about sharing a common bond that lasts a lifetime.

I’ve learned from an early age that whenever there’s an opportunity to follow Dad around and get a privileged glimpse into the inner circle of the NHL brotherhood, I tag along without shame. At 26, some might say I’m getting a little old for it but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Through all of this tagging along I’ve learned that for every superstar there is an underrated linemate, for every wound that time has healed there’s likely a grudge that will never die and for every player lucky enough to play in hockey’s greatest league, there’s a team of mentors that got them there. The true insights into how the game is or was don’t come from commentators and analysts but from the men who were there long before outrageous contracts and composite one piece sticks.

The NHL Alumni is a strong family encompassing everyone lucky enough to make a living playing the game they love at the highest level. Each team’s Alumni is special in their own way but the Ottawa Senators Alumni is truly an exceptional group of guys. When the Alumni was formed it consisted of former NHLers who now call Ottawa their home. Most of the guys never played together and in the beginning, very few even played on the Senators. Despite the differences in where and when they played, these men came together forging a unique bond to make a difference in the Ottawa community. As the history of the Senators gets richer and richer every year, new players are joining the Alumni not only to give back to the city that cheered them on in their career, but to restore that kinship that only a hockey dressing room can build.

I can barely put into words the feeling of riding into Scotiabank Place June 4 with my Dad to the encouraging crowd awaiting our arrival. The outpouring of support has been incredible and truly appreciated through our entire ride from everyone but the Ottawa Senators Alumni especially have always, and continue to go above and beyond in helping this cause. Whether it’s as big as arranging an entire parade including military vehicles, a police escort and hundreds of people or being the first to offer a place to stay or just taking time out of their day to come say hi and show their support, the Ottawa Senators Alumni have the most heart in the league.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Thoughts from the Lanterne Rouge by Maddy Marsh

Erik, Maddy & Brad make the ride a family affair.

Most professional cyclists will probably list yellow as one of their favourite colours. This is because the leader of the Tour de France wears the maillot jaune, or the yellow jersey. In fact, the lead of each category in the Tour comes with an associated colour: the green of the Points Leader, the red and white polka dots of the King of the Mountains, and the white of the Best Young Rider. But there is one colour that is not sought after by the riders of the Tour: the red of the Lanterne Rouge. Named after the red lantern on the back of the caboose of trains, this title is earned by the rider in last place. And on the 90-Day Challenge ride across Canada, I am going to be the undisputed Lanterne Rouge.

After spending a few days on the ride, two things have been made clear to me: Canada is very big, and I am a lot slower than the men in my family. Although I spent most of my time on the bike drafting behind Erik, I still found myself having to crank it in a high gear to keep up. So somewhere between Kingston and Ottawa I made the decision to approach this as more of a mental challenge than a physical one. On a particularly difficult stretch of the road that had my legs burning, I turned to an old strategy that I had used during my time as a rower. I used to make a mental list of reasons to keep going, whether it was a person who inspired me or a personal goal I wanted to accomplish, and dedicated 10 strokes of each race to each of the items on the list. On the bike, I broke it down into 10-minute segments.

The first 10 minutes was a no-brainer: my dad. For obvious reasons, he is a huge inspiration. His commitment to the community, to the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs, and to his 90 day challenges is more than reason enough to keep the legs pumping. In the interest of time and space, I won’t go into all the details but will simply say that he is one of the biggest inspirations in my life and helped me get through those ten minutes in the same way that he has gotten me through innumerable situations.

Next I pedalled for the Boys and Girls Clubs. It sounds silly to say that I dedicated 10 minutes to them when the entire ride itself is devoted to them, but during those few minutes I spent some time thinking about what exactly it meant to be riding for them. I thought of the stories my dad had told me from the clubs out west, the little boy in the bike parade in Kingston who showed up dressed like Batman, and the look on a little boy’s face when he scored on a penalty shot during floor hockey. Those 10 minutes were when I truly understood what my dad had been saying this whole time about how the kids make it easy to get on the bike.

In the next few segments I rode for each member of my family who has contributed in some way to the trip, for our family friends who have supported us in countless ways so far, for the chance to see our beautiful country, and maybe a little bit for myself and my pride (Sorry, Erik, but I just couldn’t let you have the satisfaction of dropping your little sister).

While my first two days of riding certainly weren’t easy, they were a ton of fun and I can’t wait to get back on the bike in Moncton. Instead of one 90-Day Challenge, for me, this will be a succession of 10-minute challenges. Hopefully my mental lists will help me claw my way to Newfoundland, and maybe by the end of the trip I’ll be able to upgrade from the red of the Lanterne Rouge to the white jersey of the Best Young Rider.


Follow me