Sandra Boyd’s journey as a media rider for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cops for Cancer, Tour de Rock team officially came full circle after arriving in her hometown of Port Alice.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better place to start off,” Boyd said. “I’ve always been proud of where I’m from and where I grew up, and Port Alice always rises to the occasion, no matter the circumstances.”
The Tour de Rock riders left Saturday morning from Victoria, hit a couple stops on the drive up island, before arriving in time for a great fundraising event in Port Alice that very night, where they successfully raised $7,777.
“It was awesome,” said Boyd, who added she and four members of her family also shaved their heads and raised $1,500.
Boyd had previously stated she was inspired to ride with the Tour de Rock after meeting Port McNeill Const. Brent Shemilt, who was the Tri-Port’s local rider in 2016.
Shemilt told her she could always apply to be a media rider, and Boyd, who had been terrified of biking up and down hills since she was a little kid, mulled over the decision for a bit, before eventually coming to the realization she should at least give it a try.
After seven months of arduous training, Boyd not only officially made the Tour de Rock team, but she also managed to conquer her fear of hills and was more than ready to start her ride out of Port Alice on Sunday morning.
“We got up about 5:30 a.m., had a great breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and fruit at the community centre, then we did our warm up and hit the road at about 9:30 a.m.,” she said, adding “Port Alice is a bit of a hilly road, but we did it — we went up and down the hills as a team.”
The Tour de Rock team rotates who leads the ride throughout the trip, and Boyd found herself leading the way from Port Alice to Port Hardy “a few times,” which she said was fun because she knows every single twist and turn on that highway.
After riding into Port Hardy and seeing the crowd of people waiting for them, Boyd said the most motivating thing that helped her push through the first part of their highway ride was the fact that “we’re riding for our kids, we’re riding to raise money for paediatric cancer, and we’re riding for Camp Good Times, which I can’t be any more proud of.”
For Arnold Lim, a Black Press media rider who had previously done the ride in 2013, he found the first leg of the trip to be “Pretty challenging — I’m doing this for the second time, and sometimes you forget the little ins and outs and the ups and the downs, and there’s always a little bit of sweat involved getting up those hills.”
But at the end of the day, Lim stated the work that the team puts in “is nothing compared to what families dealing with cancer go through, and right now I’m really just appreciating the fact I have the opportunity to do this all over again.”
Lim said he is proud to ride for Black Press, and the company’s involvement in the tour “is huge… I’m glad I work for a company that supports local communities and supports the initiatives that I believe in.”
While training for his second ride with the Tour de Rock, he also proved to himself he can get back up after being knocked down.
Lim suffered a bad accident during hill climb training on Mount Washington back at the end of July. After making it all the way to the top of the mountain, he ended up crashing on the ride back down, injuring his elbows, shoulder, knees, and ribs.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I was feeling the burn for a little while,” said Lim as he reminisced on the crash. “I had to take a few weeks off of training, and it was quite challenging — my shoulder is still a little rough right now, but it is what it is and I’m so happy and honoured to be here and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
After stopping for a quick lunch and some fundraising outside of the Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce, the Tour de Rock riders took off for their next destination, Port McNeill.
Lim found the second part of the ride on the Tri-Port’s highway to be “one of the most scenic areas on the island — this is the second opportunity I’ve had the chance to do it, the people in Port McNeill are great, and I’m super excited for what they have in store for us.”
He added he found the North Island’s hospitality to be “second to none.”
“Per capita, the amount of money they raise here and the way they put us up is unreal,” Lim stated. “I’m a small town boy, and whenever I come to these kind of communities, I feel like I’m home.”
Boyd was equally impressed with all the support from the Tri-Port area, which she called her “family”.
“It was a really good crowd this year,” she said, adding “the amount we raised exceeded what I thought our total would be, and I can’t say enough about everyone who supported us with our raffles and whatnot, and to see everybody come out was awesome, it was really incredible.”
Boyd found the ride into Port McNeill to be “pretty good, we didn’t have too much rain and it was a quick ride actually, I was surprised by how fast we got there.”
With Port McNeill being the Tour de Rock’s last stop for the day, Boyd was ecstatic with the turnout and all the local support she received from the town.
“I came here in the spring and I talked to quite a few of the local clubs, and they’ve been embracing me ever since,” she said, before adding she wanted to give a big shoutout to Pita Rosback “because I would be lost without her, and also to Trudy Lacasse from the Port McNeill Rotary Club, who organized the dinner for us tonight.”
As she was putting her bike away for the day, Boyd smiled and said she’s “just gobsmacked by all the support from everyone.”