Alumni riders taking up the Cops For Cancer’s Tour de Rock campaign went in and out of Chemainus much quicker than usual while wheeling around the challenging parameters of COVID-19.
There wasn’t even time or the opportunity for breakfast that’s become a tradition of the Chemainus tour stop.
“We hope to have you back for breakfast next year,” said Chemainus Legion 191 president as the four riders on the Chemainus-Ladysmith-Lake Cowichan leg of the Island-wide journey headed out from Chemainus Monday morning.
There’s no RCMP sirens or accompanying cars and fanfare this year and a limited support crew. But the tour is still going, which is quite a feat in itself, with so many other charities unable to conduct the accustomed agendas.
Chemainus resident Steve Smith of the Saanich Police reserves, North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP’s Pam Bolton, Stephanie McFarlane of Saanich Police and Deputy Solicitor General for B.C. Mark Sieben provided the tour representation on a spectacular sunny day, rekindling their past experiences on the tour, but for a much shorter duration.
“We have 50 riders who are riding this year,” said Tiffany McFadyen of the Canadian Cancer Society, who’s on her second year with the tour in a scaled-down version from her debut.
“They’re really excited to see you this morning. Some of our riders haven’t trained in a long time. We are not riding at the same pace we’re used to.”
Despite the lack of training which is normally done extensively by tour riders in the time leading up to the event, the four made their way to Ladysmith rather quickly along the backroads through Saltair, showing a high level of conditioning, and arriving ahead of schedule.
McFadyen said in Chemainus this year’s tour had still raised $350,000 to that point, a far cry from the normal amount when operating on all cylinders pre-COVID but a remarkable total nonetheless.
“The fiscal impact of it is mind-blowing,” she added of the pandemic.
“People are excited to see us come through. We’re the only charity doing something. It’s really cool.”
The Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary, represented by president Diana Lenihan and Nancy Southern, boosted the bottom line with a cheque for $10,000.
“We thank you all so much for your efforts,” said Lenihan.
The Chemainus Legion 191 membership made its annual contribution with a cheque for $1,050.
“(Monday) was a great day for the tour,” noted Smith. “The donations at the Legion surpassed our expectations which was great. In Ladysmith, we received two more large donations, over $5,000 from the Tim Hortons Smile Cookie Campaign and over $8,000 from a local Ladysmith fellow who collects bottles all year long and donates the monies to Tour de Rock. We had a socially distanced ride by of our honourary rider in Ladysmith which was great to see their smiling faces.”
Ed Polachek, 92, made his donation from bottle drive proceeds amid much fanfare with students at Ladysmith Intermediate School.
The Tour also made stops at Ladysmith Secondary School and the Fox and Hounds Pub.
“After riding back to Chemainus, we travelled by vehicle to Lake Cowichan where we cycled by the two schools where another of our honourary riders attends,” Smith indicated.
“All in all, a great day. All the smiles, honks and waves kept us motivated. Cancer is not taking a break this year and neither are we. Tour de Rock is here to stay and help the kids and we will be back again next year.”