Cyclists ride for mental health

NANAIMO – The Shoppers Drug Mart Ride Don't Hide event will be held Sunday (June 22) at Maffeo Sutton Park.

Chris Geiss

Cyclists will pedal with a purpose this weekend.

The Shoppers Drug Mart Ride Don’t Hide event will be held Sunday (June 22) at Maffeo Sutton Park.

It’s one of 20 rides across Canada that day, with each event supporting and strengthening local mental health services for women and their families. The goal is to raise $800,000 nationwide, and any proceeds from the Nanaimo event will go to the Canadian Mental Health Association’s mid-Island branch. Local registration for Ride Don’t Hide is still quite low and organizers are hoping to attract many more participants.

Clara Hughes, a six-time Olympian who is currently cycling around Canada advocating for mental health, talked up Ride Don’t Hide last month while in Nanaimo.

“I hope on June 22 you guys think of me when you’re riding, because I’m still going to be riding,” she said.

There will be two different courses set up in Nanaimo, a shorter one along the E&N Trail and a longer one on urban streets and rural roads.

“There’s a 14.9-kilometre ride, a 29km ride; there’s entertainment, food and fun,” Hughes said.

Registration is $35 and free to kids 12 and under. There will be on-site registration at 9:15 a.m. on race day, with a warm-up at 10 a.m. and the ride getting underway at 10:30 a.m.

Hughes said the best way to start removing the stigma associated with mental illness is to start talking about it. Getting together and going for a bike ride is a way to encourage interactions and connections and spark conversations.

“The bike is something that brings people together in the most beautiful of ways,” Hughes said. “It brings everybody down to the same level. Where have you come from and where are you going?”

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