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The legendry athlete, Lance Armstrong, defied the odds and won the Tour de France for the sixth time. His story of survival and beating the odds of testicular cancer was documented in his heart wrenching biography, "It is not about the bike."

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Ernie and Brenda Regan. For a couple of hours they allowed me to interview them and get a glimpse into their private lives.

Ernie retired from the RCAF and made his way to London in 1966. His English lassie, Brenda, has been married to the man for fifty years and they have five children and eleven grandchildren.

In the past his passions have been coaching soccer, gardening and photography.

In January 2001 he began cycling with his son Reg in Texas. His first big rally of 550 miles across Iowa took seven days with the temperature soaring to 117 degrees Fahrenheit.

A year later Ernie road along with his hero, Lance Armstrong, in the hundred mile, "Ride for the Roses" in Austin Texas. Ernie was hooked. It was all about the bike.
Lance owned a Trek road bike, a carbon fibre indestructible nineteen pound wonder of engineering. Ernie was serious about riding to win and he bought a replica for $4,200.

Invitations to the World Games with the chance to represent Canada was a distinct honour. Five kilometre hill climbs with 12% grades were challenges. Ernie road off with three bronze and a silver medal.

In May 2002 while training alone on the Nissouri Road an accident waited for him around the next bend in the road. Ernie hit a pot hole and broke his pelvis, perforated his lung and suffered a concussion. He spent eight days recovering at University Hospital. His helmet ultimately saved his life.

He was told by the doctors that he would never race again. Nine weeks later Ernie rode along with 17,000 cyclists in a rally of 550 miles across Iowa.

I wanted to try and discern why anyone would want to train in pain and challenge themselves to be the very best that they could be.

For twenty years Ernie has been Insulin dependent taking injections twice a day of 64 units of insulin. Now, he only uses 24 units . Eighteen months ago he weighed 211 pounds but with his rigorous training schedule and proper diet he has shed 37 pounds.

Strange, his degenerative spinal disc that use to incapacitate him is now but a distant bad memory that disappeared eighteen months ago.

Ernie is in better shape now than he was when he was twenty-one. He sleeps well and has un raison d'etre( a reason to be alive.)

Six mornings a week he joins his young,62 year old friend, Brian Jackson, on a 70 k ride.

Ernie at the youthful age of 74 has a goal to come home with the gold. He gives 110% into everything that he attempts. His philosophy of life keeps him active and happy.

It is all about discipline and mind set. He hopes to keep riding until he is 85. I, for one hope to be around to cheer him on in his quest to be the best.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com