This year is the third year that I’m riding in the Great Cycle Challenge Canada to honour my mom, Marilyn Violet Arial.

By raising money for the SickKids Foundation, I’ll be contributing to the search for safer treatments and finding a cure for cancer.

If you’d like to find out more or donate to the cause, please visit

Who was Marilyn?

Marilyn Violet Himphen Forrest Arial

Marilyn Violet Himphen Forrest Arial demonstrated a philosophy of friendship, loyalty and care.

She was born in Weston Ontario on April 22 1943 during World War II, to a soldier serving in Italy and his bride. Spent her first two years in a multi-generational household with her mom and grandparents before her mom married the man who became dad.

Married the love of her life at 19 years old, raised three children, played a mean game of bridge and inspired her friends during book club meetings.

Died twelve years ago–on June 19, 2010–after a valiant battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Love you forever mom.

My mom’s support

Although my mom cycled as a youngster and as a senior, I don’t remember her bicycling at all as I was growing up. She was super supportive about me bicycling, but she didn’t do much herself, at least during those years.

Still, cycling formed a big part of her life and an even bigger part of mine. I just love the wonderful shot of my mom as a teen cycling with her little brother that forms the featured image of this post.

Making a new Tour de L’ile Memory

During the first challenge, I spent a lot of time remembering the last month of my mom’s life.

Unfortunately, her death and cycling link closely in my mind because I heard about her final hospitalization as I participated in the Tour de L’Ile. Had to cut the day short in order to ride home and drive to the hospital in Ontario.

She remained in the hospital for another few weeks and the entire family spent a lot of time there. I brought a bike with me while visiting her so that I could check out trails near the hospital to update the Ulysses Cycling in Ontario guidebook. The cycling helped me cope.

My sisters, dad and I stayed with her the final week of her life. I was holding her hand when she took her last breath. It’s still a comfort that she didn’t die alone. She was so loved.

Last year, my daughter, one of my teammates and her son and mother participated together in the Tour de L’ile, which unusually took place in August. The wonderful memories of that day don’t erase the first memory, but they definitely put it in its place in the past.


Tracey Arial

Unapologetically Canadian Tracey Arial promotes creative entrepreneurship as an author, cooperative business leader, gardener, family historian and podcaster.

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