The North Island has always thrown its support behind the Tour de Rock, but this year there’s an extra reason to get involved.
For the first time since 2009 a North Island RCMP member will be in the saddle as part of the team tackling the gruelling 1,000 km cycle from Port Alice to Victoria in support of the Canadian Cancer Society.
Port Hardy member Cnst. Tyson Richard is no stranger to riding, having been an avid cyclist for most of his life. Richard said that he has always wanted to help out and the Tour seemed like the perfect opportunity to get involved. “There was a groundwork already there,” he explained. “That made it easier to get involved.”
But he freely admits that the Tour poses his biggest challenge to date. “It’s definitely the biggest thing I’ve done, the most dedication I’ve put in,” he said.
And dedication is a bit of an understatement in this case. To prepare, Richard has been racking up the miles with a three-day-a-week training regime fit for an Olympian.
Tuesday nights see the officer practicing hills with a ride from Marble River to Port Alice and back. Thursday nights he does speed training with local triathletes, while Sunday’s distance workout involves an 80-100 km ride.
Unfortunately, while the North Island terrain lends itself well to his solo training, Richard hasn’t had much opportunity to train with the rest of the team, most of which is based in the greater Victoria area.
But, the punishing training means the course holds little fear for the rider. “There’s no part of the ride that I’m really dreading; well, the rain I guess,” he said with a laugh. “I’m not a big fan of riding in the rain but as you can probably guess I’m pretty used to it, riding up here.”
Richard said he was looking forward to meeting those that the fundraising ride would be helping. “The thing I’m most looking forward to is meeting the families and the kids that have been affected by cancer,” he said. “We’re going to Camp Goodtimes on July 15. That’s a camp that the Tour de Rock supports, we’re able to send tons of kids and families every year. They get to go and be a kid for a week; run, play — just get to feel normal for a week.”
Richard is also the local coordinator for the North Island’s biggest Tour fundraiser, the Cops for Cancer golf tournament.
Scheduled for this weekend, July 5, format for the tournament is best ball. Teams of four with a shotgun start at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Golf is followed by a steak dinner and a silent auction. Tickets are $60 per player and can be purchased at the Seven Hills Golf Course by calling 250-949-9818.
Non-golfers can also show their support by coming out for the dinner and auction. Tickets for the dinner only are $20, also payable at the golf course.
Richard said that he and the event had been receiving great support from locals and businesses, with people walking in off the street to offer donations.
The Tour will kick off September 21 with riders given the traditional send off from Port Alice. The team will make their way south over the following 14 days to arrive in Victoria Oct. 3.
Since 1998, the annual ride has raised close to $20 million for the Canadian Cancer Society, with the money used for paediatric cancer research and family assistance programs.
To lend your support or for more information search Tour de Rock Tyson on Facebook, check out tourderock.ca, or go to convio.cancer.ca/goto/tysonrichard to make a donation.