David Cox at the start of his third Van Isle End to End to endMS bike ride.

MS cyclist en route to North Island

Canada Day arrival scheduled for MS rider on solo trip from Victoria to Port Hardy and back

David Cox of Victoria will spend part of Canada Day in Port Hardy. But if you blink, you may miss him.

Cox, 68, embarked Friday on a 10-day, solo bike ride that will take him from his front door the the North Island and back again in a bid to end Multiple Sclerosis.

It is the third unsupported Van Isle End to End to endMS for Cox.

“I get to start off going down a hill,” the Colwood man said indicating his steep driveway. “Really, the idea was to start at home and end at home.”

He’s scheduled to reach the turnaround point in Port Hardy during the town’s Canada Day celebration Monday. He’ll start that morning in Woss and ride north, then promptly turn around and pedal to Alder Bay Campground, just south of Port McNeill. The ride will resume July 2.

This is actually Cox’s 20th year of cycling. At first the then-Torontonian was just “looking for a good organized bike ride”. The next year it got personal, when his niece was diagnosed with MS. Within six months she was confined to a wheelchair. Cox organized a dynamic team of RBC fundraising riders and now is in his 19th year of MS bike rides.

“I’m going to raise money — that’s gravy,” he said. “It keeps the whole concept that this disease does not have a cure and make people aware of it.”

When he retired to B.C. in 2005, Cox continued to ride fundraisers and raise awareness, spending three years on the board for the MS Society’s South and Central Island chapter. In 2009, he started the Island-wide ride that became bi-annual after an injury in 2010. The idea is to put his own “blood, sweat and tears” into the effort.

“There’s a lot of competing charities out there looking for dollars,” he explained.

So Cox packed his 40 pounds of baggage on his 28-pound bike and headed out of Colwood to make his way to Port Hardy and back to Shawnigan in time for the Cowichan Valley Grape Escape MS ride that starts July 6.

“My objective is to always get back for that,” he said. “I go to the (Shawnigan Lake) school, set up my tent and I’m ready to go in the morning.”

He’ll do the two-day tour then head home to the West Shore. The primary goal is awareness and respect, he feels is lacking in day-to-day life, illustrated by a visit to his niece Leslie a few months ago.

“I was astounded at the rudeness of people who made her stop, made her get out of the way,” he said of his wheelchair-bound relative. “It’s important for people to recognize there’s folks out there who don’t have the quality of life we have. If they want to make a donation, all the better.”

He’s nearing his current fundraising goal of $3,000.

“If it looks like it will be exceeded, I bump it up again,” he explained. “Seems better to have an objective that is harder to obtain than one that is easily exceeded.”

To donate visit www.msbiketours.ca and use the “find a cyclist or team” option. Visit endMS.ca MSbiketours.ca for more about the cause and fundraisers.

With files from Christine van Reeuwyk, Goldstream News Gazette