Tour de Rock Cops For Cancer riders and their support team received a warm welcome at the Chemainus Legion on a chilly Tuesday morning.
The 2019 team actually arrived in Chemainus Monday afternoon and settled into the Best Western Plus Chemainus Inn for the evening following a Red Serge dinner in Ladysmith.
They were up bright and early Tuesday for Day 11 of the 14-day trek from one end of Vancouver Island to the other and celebrated with the community during a breakfast at the Chemainus Legion.
Members of community organizations and the public enjoyed conversing with the riders and the many people behind the scenes who make all the arrangements for the tour. Donations were presented after breakfast.
Andy Dunstan, a rider in 2003 who’s now in his 16th year as a support worker, thanked all the people of Chemainus for coming out and supporting the tour so readily over the years.
“This is very much an Island event,” said Dunstan. “It’s not owned by the police, it’s not owned by the Cancer Society.”
Overall tour proceeds are readily approaching $26 million, he pointed out.
“Every year we get new people coming on board. After 22 years, we’re still fresh.”
Dunstan joked the riders have been known to tell some tall tales about their experiences. Not to say it isn’t a grueling ride, but not quite to the magnitude they’d have people believe sometimes.
“They’re going to tell you it’s uphill both ways and they’ve been attacked by bears,” quipped Dunstan. “Let’s not let truth get in the way of a good story.”
The stories along the route of childhood cancer “thrivers” continue to inspire everyone.
“It’s an amazing cause,” conceded Dunstan. “Once it gets deep within you, it’s hard to get rid of.”
Simon Douthwaite, a father of two junior riders, is riding on the tour this year as a way of giving back for the support his family received.
“There’s somebody who can speak to the real benefits of what we do,” said Dunstan. “There’s the reality of what we’re doing.”
After departing from the Chemainus Legion, the riders headed to Chemainus Elementary School for a brief stop before continuing toward Lake Cowichan and back to Duncan for the remainder of the day.