Mountie in Tour de Rock for community

NANAIMO – Payback is the biggest motivator for a Tour de Rock rider representing Gabriola Island.

RCMP Const. Ed de Jong

RCMP Const. Ed de Jong

Payback is the biggest motivator for a Tour de Rock rider representing Gabriola Island.

Const. Ed de Jong, 43, is a recent arrival to the central Island region. He moved to Gabriola with his family in January after serving in Terrace, B.C.

His reason for getting in the saddle for the 2013 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock is simply to offer something back to the community in which he works.

“I first heard about the tours when I was up in Terrace – with the Tour de North – and I never had a chance to do it up there,” de Jong said. “For me, being in the position I’m in as an RCMP member, the ability to give back to the community is a big thing for me and just the fact that this event supports kids with cancer makes it such an easy decision to do.”

With two children – a son, 11, and daughter, 14 – who are healthy, de Jong counts his blessings. His father-in-law is a cancer survivor.

De Jong wasn’t an avid cyclist prior to joining the team. He bought a mountain bike in Terrace, but time restrictions never allowed him to get in as much riding as he wanted.

“This is the first time I’ve been on a road bike since high school, so it has been a long time,” de Jong said.

Training has gone well, even if it has meant sore muscles. The hardest part of it, though, the time commitment, which takes away from valuable family time.

Living on Gabriola Island means catching a ferry to Nanaimo to meet up with other team members for training rides out of Parksville and Nanaimo. The time and transportation restrictions have translated into de Jong doing most of his training alone on Gabriola roads. A 90 kilometre ride means three laps around the island.

When this interview was conducted in late May, he was in Parksville to do a speed night training ride with other team members for the first time since training started in early March. Cellphone apps allow him to keep track of distance, speed, calories burned, elevations climbed and other factors to ensure he is matching the efforts of the group.

When on tour, the team maintains an average pace of 25 km/h, but a faster pace is maintained in training.

“It gets lonely sometimes, especially on the long rides,” he said. “I did 90k on Sunday and it’s a long time, like four hours, of riding alone.”

When he does get together with the team – six riders from the central and north Island communities are training together and the balance of this year’s 22-member team train in Victoria – they remind him to make warning calls for switching positions in the group, debris, cars and turns. Communication between riders is a key component of safety when riding in a group.

“You keep your head in it a little bit more when you’re in a group,” de Jong said.

He set his personal fundraising goal at $50,000. All money raised supports Camp Goodtimes, a summer camp for child cancer patients, and cancer research and programs supported through the Canadian Cancer Society.

“The reason I did that is I know Gabriola Islanders are very supportive and generous and I figure $10 per resident on Gabriola is not unreasonable, so thats how I came up with the number, so $45,000 to $50,000 is my goal,”