It takes commitment to cycle more than 580 kilometres over the course of four days. On September 16, a group of 36 very tired cyclists arrived at the Lachute Legion. They had spent the day cycling 130 kilometres with the wind pushing against them and a sprinkling of rain keeping them cool. It was a harrowing day for the group of veterans and Armed Forces personnel, who were cycling as part of the “Tour des Capitales.” They joined the tour to support the Soldier On Fund, which provides support to ill and injured service members.

Some of the participants had themselves benefited from the program, while others spoke of friends injured in combat and the rough road they faced in their recovery.

The journey began on September 14, at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier in Quebec City and it ended on September 17 in front of the parliamentary buildings in Ottawa.

Not everything went smoothly. The weather turned wet and cold for part of the journey, making conditions difficult. When the cyclists were travelling through Montreal, they lost their police escort due to staffing issues relating to a political summit being held at the same time.

“We went through Montreal without an escort because both the Sûréte du Quebec and the Montreal Police were occupied and couldn’t assist us. It was a last minute change and it caused some concern. We ended up going through the traffic in small groups. It was very tense. We didn’t know how long it would take to cross Montreal. We thought it would take 90 minutes and it took less than an hour, which meant we were there ahead of our escort in Laval,” said participant Marc Dumont.

Dumont said that crossing Montreal was the most stressful part of the journey, but it was accomplished without incident or injury.

Later that day, the cyclists arrived at the Lachute Legion, where their arrival was heralded by the blasting of a 25-pound gun manned by the Third Battery Artillery of Montreal. The Legion hosted a spaghetti supper to raise money for the Tour des Capitales and to thank the soldiers and service members for their dedication.

The Tour des Capitales was launched by Dumont in 2013 as a way to raise money and awareness about the Soldier On Fund.

“I was doing runs for sick kids with the Mascouche Police. Every time I participated I would think of my friends who were wounded. Many of them needed help. I also wanted to do something good to encourage people to improve their health through sports,” said Dumont, who works as a supply technician for the Army, at its Montreal headquarters.

Changing people’s views of soldiers was also important to Dumont. He wanted citizens to see soldiers as more than just “boots on the ground,” as they are sometimes referred to.

“There is an integration of military and civilians in our population. We are not only people in uniform, we are also citizens. We can do other things than go to war,” said Dumont.

This year the Tour des Capitales raised more than $30,000 for Soldier On. When the cyclists arrived in Ottawa, they helped to open the annual Army Run.