It’s been a long build-up and Sgt. Kris Wood of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP is excited to be part of the 2017 Tour de Rock Cops For Cancer campaign.
“I’m ready to start the tour,” said Wood, 46, in advance of Saturday’s launch from Port Alice. “I’m ready to meet all the supporters across the Island from all the communities and going to all the schools.
“It’s nice to finally get to that point. We’ve been training and fundraising since March.”
Wood was once a personal trainer and a triathlete so the long gruelling biking aspect of the tour isn’t intimidating. It gave her an indication what was to come, but all the riders are well prepared.
“What it comes to, anyone who can ride a bike can be trained for the tour,” she indicated.
Wood has only been with the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP for two years after working previously in the remote region of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.
She knows a thing or two about a different way of life than we’re accustomed to in these parts.
“You’re dealing with nine months of winter and 24 hours of darkness during that period and 24 hours of lightness from June to August,” Wood pointed out.
But the lifestyle there suited her well.
“It’s very rewarding work,” Wood said. “If you’re a people person like I am, you do enjoy your time up there.”
She was living in Hamilton, Ont. before beginning her foray into the RCMP at the age of 30.
“I’ve moved around quite a bit,” Wood noted. “This is my eighth post in 16 years of service. I tend to move around every two years, it seems.”
The appeal of doing the Tour de Rock almost goes without saying based on her people skills that translate perfectly into a team bonding situation.
“I always wanted to do Cops For Cancer,” Wood said. “Even back east, you’d see it, and I thought, ‘hey, that would be something cool to be a part of.’”
Attending the Red Serge Gala Dinner last year in Duncan gave Wood some perspective.
“I was able to see first-hand how the tour affected the riders,” she indicated. “I thought it was pretty neat.”
Wood applied in January for a spot on the Tour. “You have to apply for it,” she stressed. “It’s not something that’s given to you by any means.”
Training began in March and Wood found out in April she had been selected for one of the 24 spots on the team.
Since then, it’s been a rigourous schedule of hill training on Tuesdays, speed work Thursdays and longer rides Sundays, totalling up to 200 kilometres per week.
The group is split into North and South groups for convenience and Wood decided to do all her training with the North riders.
“The trainers are really good,” enthused Wood. “They got us ready for the Tour.
“At the end of the day, it’s getting kids to Camp Goodtimes. I always thought in the back of my mind why I was doing this.”
As the only rider in the Cowichan Valley, Wood did all her fundraising in Duncan, Chemainus and Lake Cowichan where she lives. Her eight-year-old attends Palsson School in Lake Cowichan.
“That’ll be an awesome thing to get up there and give my son a hug,” Wood said.
Otherwise, “I have no idea how I’m going to react on Tour,” she added. “It’s going to be an emotional roller coaster.”
Any pain or hardship the riders go through on this Tour pales in comparison to what sick children endure, Wood reasons.
“Cancer affects everybody in one way, shape or form,” she reasoned.
Wood loves how children respond to the cause to help others their own age or younger with unique fundraising ventures that the Tour riders will hear about on the way.
“That’s what’s great about it is kids helping kids,” she marvelled. “That’s probably the best message you can get out there.”
The Tour hits Chemainus next Tuesday, Oct. 3 with a breakfast at the Chemainus Legion Hall from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Tickets are $20 each, available at the Legion or 49th Parallel Grocery.