Jacob Koomen takes his bike out for a spin near his home in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror

Jacob Koomen takes his bike out for a spin near his home in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror

Senior to cycle length of Vancouver Island to raise funds for cancer research

Long distance rides are no big deal for 73-year-old cyclist Jacob Koomen

Jacob Koomen doesn’t see a 50-plus kilometre bike ride as much of a challenge.

In fact, the 73-year-old regularly rides up to and over the 100 kilometre mark, and those are just his training rides. Koomen doesn’t just do this for fun though. To him, long days on the bike are a way he can make a difference in the world by raising money for cancer research.

Koomen is currently training for a two-day 500 kilometre ride from Victoria to Port Hardy, which he will do over the father’s day weekend in June. While in previous years, he has taken part in more group-oriented long rides to raise funds, he has had to go it alone for the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Last year I decided to ride from Port Hardy to Victoria, 500 km, and this year I’m going to do the same thing, but start in Victoria and go up to Port Hardy,” he said.

RELATED: Campbell River’s Jacob Koomen returns from his last 400-km charity ride

Those long miles in the saddle translate to long days out there on the road alone. Last year the day he rode from Port Hardy to Campbell River he spent a total of 9 hours and 57 minutes in the saddle.

“I don’t mind riding by myself,” he said. “People always ask me what I listen to, I say birds, sounds. I’m on the highway, I have to make sure I’m aware of the surroundings.

“There’s lots of people who cycle and say there’s no way I could do that by myself,” he added. “You focus on it and as long as people in the cars are able to see you. I had no mishaps and everything was fine.”

Through the winter, Koomen keeps up his miles on Zwift, a virtual training and racing platform where people ride on indoor trainers against other riders from all over the world. He has started to move his training outside again, with some planned rides to Buckley Bay and Qualicum Bay to get a feel for his bike and legs again.

“I do training rides to places like Buckley Bay and Qualicum Bay,” he said. “Before I do the ride, I have to get a couple of rides to Parksville and back, Coombs and back, that sort of thing.”

Koomen has been riding for his whole life, but started riding to raise money for cancer research in 2009 after losing two family members to the disease. Stories of his grand expeditions have graced the pages of the Mirror for years since that first ride, but no matter how much he raises, he says there is always more that is needed.

“There are so many different cancers. What the ride to survive does is, although it is to benefit the Canadian Cancer Society, is at the end of the year they put out a survey asking people who have been involved in it what kind of cancer they want the donations to go to. Some people may have family members who have gone through that type of cancer. Once that is made, they usually find an organization or a business who will match the amount of money.”

Since 2009, Koomen said he has raised over $90,000 for cancer research. To add to his total, visit his page on ride2survive.ca or contact him at jakoomen@telus.net.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

RELATED: Couple takes on the fight against cancer



marc.kitteringham@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BikingCampbell RiverCanadian Cancer SocietyCycling

Just Posted

According to a staff report, Regional District of Nanaimo has seen some $13.6 million in grant applications approved between Jan. 1 and May 15. (News Bulletin file)
Close to $14 million in money granted to RDN in first half of year

Successful grants include more than $4 million for transit service in Regional District of Nanaimo

A section of the rail corridor on Vancouver Island. (Black Press file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Put rail trail right overtop of the tracks

Removing tracks would be a horrendous expense, says letter writer

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

Most Read