Timing is everything.
Due to various circumstances, the annual 49th Parallel Grocery garage sale for Tour de Rock was moved from July to Saturday, Aug. 18. As luck would have it, the event then suddenly coincided with a practice run being made by the 2018 Tour de Rock team.
“It was just a fluke it was the same day,” said Ron Neubauer, area manager for 49th Parallel and the man behind the massive yearly contributions made to Tour de Rock from garage sale proceeds on the day and throughout the year.
The Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock 2018 team set out at 9:15 a.m. from Nanaimo en route to Duncan and then back, logging 137 kilometers.
“This ride gives the team a feel of what it’s like to ride as a group, pace themselves and make a few community stops,” noted Jan Buehler, Community Manager of Vancouver Island for the Canadian Cancer Society. “They will ride with their escort in a peloton like they will on tour.”
The team consists of 22 police officers, first responders, media members and guests who ride Vancouver Island raising money to help support kids battling cancer.
The group arrived in Chemainus around 12:20 p.m. amid much fanfare and made its way to the 49th Parallel General Store by the Thetis Island ferry terminal for a one-hour lunch stop.
With the riders stopping by, it turned into a huge community event all day at the General store. Hundreds of items were available for sale and an army of volunteers conducted the sale as well as hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch.
“We couldn’t do it without them,” said Neubauer of the volunteer group of about 15.
The volunteers did a marvellous job just to get set up, starting at 6 a.m. and ready for action by 7:10.
“I couldn’t believe it,” praised Neubauer. “It was just like clockwork.”
Laurie Douglas welcomed the riders and spoke on behalf of the 49th staff and volunteers. There were two common ideals they shared, she said: the love of helping kids and a hate for cancer.
“We’d like to thank you for your dedication and commitment to this cause,” Douglas told the riders.
The garage sale proceeds will be added to the year-long tab and it promises to be another huge donation forthcoming from 49th again. Neubauer hinted it will surpass last year’s total that amounted to more than $48,000, meaning we’re easily looking at a figure into the $50,000 range.
“It’s amazing what these guys do,” said Tour de Rock spokesman Kevin Nunn.
After leaving Chemainus, the riders continued on to the Co-op Gas & Convenience Centre in Duncan and then turned around for the return trip to Nanaimo and dinner at the Boston Pizza on Turner Road just before 5 p.m.
The team will continue to practice in the next month and sets out on Saturday, Sept. 22 from Port Alice for the start of the tour. The Chemainus stop will be on Oct. 1, with breakfast at the Chemainus Legion on Oct. 2.