By Miles Clyne
As a guest rider in the Cops for Cancer Tour de Valley 2016 I got to meet, ride, and spend a bit of time hanging out with some interesting characters to say the least. I also got to spend a day interacting with, and watching one of the Junior Riders (these are young kids battling cancer who spend a day with the riders, meeting them at schools, businesses and just hanging out). At the various stops we made she stole the show countless times. Getting to watch the tour riders introducing her, and her telling crowds in her tiny, squeaky little voice how much she loved going to Camp Good Times was priceless, and at times overwhelming.
The little lady touched everyone, even other little kids who’d crammed gymnasiums at their schools to meet the riders. I knew I was very fortunate that my children have grown to become adults without these challenges. Fortunately, she is in good hands, surrounded by love, and having the experience of a lifetime. But still not an experience you would hope for any child.
It was my intent going into the ride to get the stories behind as many riders as I could as to why they would subject themselves to about 850 KM over nine days. As we’d roll along, two abreast, I’d chat them up; their stories and reasons were as diverse as the group itself. There were both men and women from a wide range of ages and ethnic backgrounds. Every year there are returning riders and new riders. Often the new riders are brand new to cycling. As diverse as this group was, there was a common thread between everyone.
Riding about 100KM a day, every day for nine days has lots of challenges. There is no guarantee of what the weather will be like. But there are a few other guarantees. As a rider you are guaranteed to get tired, hungry and need all kinds of support. There is an amazing crew that volunteers to do this. They bring fruit and sandwiches to the riders when they make a stop, they fill their water bottles and help in any way possible to make the ride better for them.
There is an Ambulance team that travels with the ride, they volunteer their time. Fortunately there were only minor scrapes on this tour due to wet roads. Then there is a massive amount of behind the scenes coordination going on from start to finish. Every stop is planned out to the minute in order to get from one function to the next. Hotels and restaurants offer up rooms and meals along the route. It is truly an amazing event that happens in four different areas of BC every year at the same time.
What was incredible was the police motorcycle escort that accompanied the tour. I watched these cops as they systematically worked together in a revolving pattern, moving from one intersection to another, controlling traffic, and giving everyone riding an immense sense of safety.
The Reason Why
I wanted to participate in this event because I wanted to renew my sense of commitment to fundraise for worthwhile causes. What I got was so much more. I saw people from multiple communities, from all walks of life united. Just like the riders, there was a common purpose as to why everyone did what they could.
Everyone understood the need to support families and their children with cancer along with raising funds for cancer research. It was inspirational seeing so many people working together. And knowing this was happening across the province and in many other parts of Canada gives me the renewed hope we will win this fight and soon.
I’ll hang onto quite a few memories of the days I spent will all of these folks, but the memories that are the strongest are of three lady riders. Each of these ladies lost a child to cancer. I can’t begin to imagine what anyone who loses a child goes through. But my conversations with these ladies made it very evident that they were going to make a difference for other children and their families. If I was a cancer, I’d be afraid, very afraid.
The nine days are over, but the fundraising isn’t. Give for whatever reason that motivates you. Give your time or your money, or both. You will get it back in spades. This link takes you my donor page with the Canadian Cancer Society. Be sure to keep your tax receipt and claim it. This is our government’s way of showing their support.