The sun burst through the clouds as Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock riders arrived in Chemainus Monday morning.
It’s always a bright spot when the tour comes through the community, even though things are quite different during the pandemic without the fanfare of the widely-popular breakfast at the Chemainus Legion that riders were even reminiscing about as they awaited the cheque presentations and photo ops.
The riders were up bright and early to start the day in Nanaimo with a $4,000 cheque presentation from Harmac Pacific before returning to Chemainus and then continuing on to Ladysmith.
“It was a good way to start the day,” said Steve Smith, the lone rider in the group from Chemainus, who previously rode on the tour in 2015 as a member of the Saanich Police.
Smith was joined by Dave Giles, Mike Sherman, Ashley Cockle, Cydney MacNeill, Samantha Caram and Alli Roberts on Sunday’s community alumni team for stops in Nanaimo. All but Caram also rode the Chemainus-Ladysmith leg on Monday.
There were many highlights Sunday, Smith noted.
The first was meeting Simon Douthwaite, a past rider, at Daynes Park in Nanaimo.
“His two daughters and their cousin each cut their hair for cancer,” Smith noted. “The three girls had decided early in the summer not to cut their hair until Tour de Rock was in town. Very special for us to be there and take part.”
The second highlight was stopping by an Island Corridor Foundation Tour de Rock event. RCMP Const. MacNeill had her head shaved and has currently raised in excess of $4,000. She’s hoping to get to $10,000.
A stop at a home where a girl and two friends presented a cheque for $2,200 from selling lemonade during the year was a touching moment.
The riders made their way back to the Inn at Long Lake where they started and then began Monday with the ride to Harmac Pacific where the Employee Association made its generous donation.
The riders were then driven to Ladysmith and started the ride to Chemainus.
The Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary presented a cheque for $10,000 while another $235 came from the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 191 and $500 from the Chemainus Rotary Club at the Chemainus Legion.
The riders journeyed down the road to the Sawmill Taphouse & Grill and then to the 49th Parallel Grocery for photo ops in appreciation to the supportive businesses. Chemainus manager Paul McGregor and staff served up a hearty late breakfast for the riders at the 49th.
After that, it was off to Ladysmith where the staff at Tim Hortons gave another generous donation.
Ensuing stops were at the Ladysmith 49th Parallel Grocery and then Ladysmith Town Hall. A donation of $6,000 was made by Ed and Marie Polacek, regular contributors to the tour, from collecting bottles and cans during the year.
“Truly inspiring what people can do when they put their minds to a cause,” enthused Smith.
“Overall a great day for all of us,” he added. “As alumni riders we were all very proud and grateful that we had this opportunity to ride and support the Canadian Cancer Society, Cops for Cancer, Tour de Rock.”
“Every year many of the alumni come back to do what we can for the kids and their families. We all feel it’s an honour to be part of the tour and hopefully make a difference.”
And they were none the worse for wear from doing it.
“I’ve been doing some practicing a lot before,” said Smith. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I can feel it in my legs.”
Next year will be the 25th anniversary of the tour.
“There’s no hoping, next year is going to be normal for us,” said a positive Tiffany McFadyen, Tour de Rock coordinator.