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Tour de Rock riders reach Nanaimo during ‘incredible’ journey

Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock has several more stops in Nanaimo on Oct. 2
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North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP Const. Wes Richens, left, and Nanaimo RCMP Cpl. Mike Ramsey saddle up for the next leg of the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock at the end of a stop at Nanaimo Fire Rescue Station No. 1 on Sunday, Oct. 1. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

BY GREG SAKAKI

The Tour de Rock is a one-of-a-kind way to experience the Island.

Cyclists have seen spectacular scenery, felt Vancouver Island’s vastness, ridden in storms and sunshine, and best of all, felt the spirit, kindness and caring in communities along the way.

The Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock arrived in Nanaimo on Sunday, Oct. 1, stopping at Nanaimo Fire Rescue Station No. 1 ahead of a red serge gala at the Coast Bastion Hotel. The riders have covered about two-thirds of the kilometres on their 1,200km journey and so far it’s been everything they thought it would be, and more.

“The ride’s been fantastic…” said Nanaimo’s Lance Stephenson, a retired paramedic. “The camaraderie between the 19 riders is just amazing, and meeting the kids, meeting the families along the way has just been incredible.”

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Sunny skies the past few days have been appreciated by the cyclists, who had horrible weather in the early stages of the tour on the north Island. The leg from Port McNeill to Sayward, for instance, was more than 150 kilometres on wet roads.

“It was pouring rain but we had this stretch where it seemed like we were going downhill for quite a while, we were going so fast and I just had the biggest smile on my face, just eating the water,” said tour member Mike Ramsey, a Nanaimo RCMP corporal.

That day was kilometre after kilometre of not seeing a soul, said Stephenson.

“But it was all part of the ride. It’s all part of accomplishing riding from one end of Vancouver Island to the other, for the kids with cancer.”

Riding for such a good cause is inspiration for the riders and it’s a reason why they’re embraced in each community they stop in. Tour de Rock riders have connected with junior riders and their families, and have met community members who have heart-wrenching motivation to help the tour’s fundraising goals.

“Just hearing the stories of people who have lost people to cancer, and hearing about people recovering from cancer, it’s been emotional,” Ramsey said.

Riders receive beads, intended to mimic beads that children with cancer are given when they reach certain stages of treatment.

“I’ve never cried so much in my life as on this tour,” Ramsey said.

The Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock was halfway to its fundraising goal by the time the riders reached Campbell River. At last count, they were over $620,000, with a way to go to reach their $1-million goal. Ramsey said he wants to thank people for their generosity, and also appeal to them to keep it coming.

“I worry about that, I want us to hit our goal,” he said. “Come on Vancouver Island, we can do this.”

There is a red serge gala fundraiser Sunday, Oct. 1, at 6 p.m. at the Coast Bastion Hotel. The other Nanaimo stops will be Monday, Oct. 2, at 8:45 a.m. at Aspengrove School; at 9:15 a.m. at Thifty Foods Longwood Station; at 10 a.m. at Thrifty Foods Port Place; and at 10:30 a.m. at the Moose Lodge.

For more information or to donate to the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, click here.

READ ALSO: Retired central Island paramedic never thought he’d become a Tour de Rock rider

READ ALSO: Nanaimo RCMP officer has waited 20 years to ride the Tour de Rock



About the Author: Nanaimo Bulletin News Staff

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