David Cox passes through Nanaimo on Friday as he nears the home stretch of his Van Isle Ride to End MS bike tour from Victoria to Port Hardy and back.

David Cox passes through Nanaimo on Friday as he nears the home stretch of his Van Isle Ride to End MS bike tour from Victoria to Port Hardy and back.

Determination powers cyclist

NANAIMO – David Cox rides Island tip-to-tip to raise money for research into multiple sclerosis

He’s got a reason to ride, and that’s why he can make it so many kilometres every day.

Victoria’s David Cox is on the home stretch of his Van Isle Ride to End MS, having passed through Nanaimo on Friday. The 67-year-old has been participating in charity rides for 20 years now in hopes of supporting those trying to find a cure for multiple sclerosis.

That first year he rode, out in Ontario, he was nervous about the idea of asking for pledges as he sought to raise $250. Shortly after, his niece was diagnosed with MS.

“It made it very personal,” said Cox. “Because it had become more personal it was a lot easier to [ask for money].”

After retiring to B.C., he became more ambitious in his fundraising and in 2009 he set off on his first Island-wide bike trip. His determination was tested that summer, as he came close to hypothermia on one rainy stretch of highway near Port Hardy. The thought of quitting crossed his mind, but he continued.

“Because I had to. I said I would. People donated money. There was an objective in mind,” he said. “I could have called my wife and said, ‘Come and get me.’ But that’s not the way I’m built. When I say I’m going to do something, I do it.”

He cycles alone with his wife checking up on him every so often in her car, but the Van Isle ride is not necessarily a solo effort. He’s received a fair amount of media attention this year, he said, which has boosted support, and at last count his ride had raised $4,200. Up and down the Island people have offered encouragement. At Elk Falls provincial park, for example, the campground was full, but a ranger who had read about Cox’s efforts made an exception and found him a place to pitch a tent for the night.

He makes it 100-150 kilometres per day and said the physical challenge of the ride has gotten a little harder as he’s gotten older. If his health holds up, though, he wants to keep the spokes spinning – he’s always wanted to attempt a cross-Canada ride, and it remains a goal. One way or another, he’ll continue to advocate for the cause, for people like his niece, in her wheelchair, who copes, but faces challenges.

“I would really like to see an uptick in respect for our fellow citizens,” said Cox. “Some of them don’t have the same quality of life as we do.”

To help Cox raise money for MS research, please visit www.msbiketours.ca.