Const. Tyson Richard

Tour de Rock conquers Island ride

NANAIMO – Red Serge Gala in Nanaimo raises $22,000 for childhood cancer research and programs.

The 22 riders of the 2014 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team arrived Sunday in time for the annual Red Serge Gala, hosted by Nanaimo RCMP detachment at the Coast Bastion Inn.

Silent and live auctions, ball cap sales and other fundraisers at the event raised more than $22,000.

Money raised supports pediatric cancer research and treatment programs and Camp Goodtimes, a summer camp on the Lower Mainland for young cancer patients and their families.

The team greeted the public at at family barbecue event in Maffeo Sutton Park Monday before riding to Ladysmith.

Const. Ryan Blakey, representing the Nanaimo detachment, has received his share of emotional and physical challenges on the ride and had experiences he won’t likely forget, such as two me who had their beards shaved in Port Alice and Sayward.

“I think the entire town was in the community hall to welcome us,” Blakey said. “There was a younger guy shaving this older gentleman’s head who looked like Santa Claus and he offered to shave his entire head if we could get to $1,000.”

Only one person in the crowd could recalled seeing this man without a beard. He hadn’t shaved since 1971.

“We grabbed the clippers and a 44-year-old beard hit the floor,” Blakey said.

Not to be outdone, a man in Sayward who’d heard about the Port Alice incident approached the team.

“He said, ‘I heard a 44-year-old beard hit the ground. This one’s 45 and I want the record.’ We’ve got a beard competition coming down the Island,” Blakey said.

Some rain along the way and ice fog out of Sayward presented riding challenges, but the hardest leg for Blakey was ascending the Port Alberni Hump, a challenge in itself, but one Blakey intensified by shifting his bike into higher gears as he climbed in honour of four-year-old Griffyn, who battled a rare form of cancer and is the son of 2013 Tour de Rock Nanaimo rider Const. Misty Dmytar.

“I made the Hump the hardest part for me,” Blakey said. “I promised myself that I wouldn’t come out of the big [chainring] to my trainers and then I told myself that every time it got hard I’d go up a gear for Griffyn, because Griffyn never stopped fighting and there’s no way I would ever stop fighting.”

Blakey had just two higher gears of his bike’s 22 gears remaining when he reached the summit.

The tour finale happens at Spirit Square in Victoria Friday (Oct. 3).

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