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Tour de Rock riders cycle and sweat for a good cause

Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock reaches Nanaimo
Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock riders make their way down Nanaimo’s Fitzwilliam Street on Sunday, Oct. 2, before a barbecue at the old Nanaimo train station organized by the Island Corridor Foundation. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

This year’s Tour de Rock has been all about sunny skies and warm hearts.

The Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock riders reached Nanaimo on Sunday, Oct. 2, having made their way down from the north Island over this past week.

The team stopped for a barbecue outside the old Nanaimo train station on Selby Street on Sunday afternoon. There, Island Corridor Foundation CEO Larry Stevenson presented a $69,000 cheque to the cause a day after the ICF’s Tour de Rock Golf Classic fundraiser at Fairwinds Golf Club in Nanoose Bay.

A fundraising dinner is happening Sunday night, Oct. 2, at the Coast Bastion Hotel, and the riders will also stop at Aspengrove School on Monday, Oct. 3. The tour is due at Ladysmith Secondary School by lunch hour Monday.

Josh Peterson, from CFB Esquimalt Fire Rescue, said he’s been told this is the sunniest tour yet and temperatures have been warm, but riders have gone through a lot of water and electrolytes and are making do.

He said the training leading up to the ride, when the team worked on hill climbs, speed and other techniques, has paid off and they have learned how to cycle as a group of 20.

“We were really, really not good together when we started and now we’re pretty seamless…” he said. “The team’s awesome and we all just love each other.”

Peterson took up cycling during the pandemic and then happened to hear about the opportunity to take part in the tour, as some of his co-workers had done in past years. He’s got plenty of person reasons to participate – his dad has battled melanoma, his family has breast cancer susceptibility and a co-worker went through treatment for lymphoma – which he said put into perspective what’s important.

Tour de Rock participants are paired with junior riders, and Peterson said his junior rider was diagnosed at 10 months old, has battled cancer her whole life, and at 17 years old is now a leader-in-training for Camp Goodtimes summer camp for children and families impacted by cancer.

“They told you it would be emotional hearing the stories and meeting the children, but nothing prepares you when you actually meet them, and how heart-breaking it is…” Peterson said. “These children are the happiest kids you’ll ever meet. They value life so much and they’re just amazing to be around and they brighten your day.”

He said it’s remarkable that the Tour de Rock is still going strong after 25 years. Other than a lot more use of hand-sanitizer, he said it feels like the tour is happening the same as ever.

“We’re back, everybody’s back, we get to see each other again, we get to shake hands again, we get to hug each other again,” he said. “It’s great to be in the communities and seeing everybody.”

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READ ALSO: Tour de Rock riders making their way toward Ladysmith

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Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock rider Aaron Grewal, a constable with Saanich Police Department, gets his hair and beard shaved by his wife Kayla Larsson during a tour stop at the old Nanaimo train station on Sunday, Oct. 2. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)