Ladysmith’s Brian and Karen Hartley will be riding in this year’s Cycle of Life Tour, (COLT) to raise money for hospice care across Vancouver Island.
This will be their third year in the event. The pair first cycled for COLT in 2015, then in 2018. Karen Hartley first got involved with the event through her work with Country Grocer, which sponsors COLT every year. Organizers were looking for team members, and Karen thought she could combine her love of cycling with her compassion for hospice care.
“One of our friends died of brain cancer, so we know the care it takes to help someone through that part of life,” she said.
Karen is part of the Country Grocer corporate team, so her funds will be distributed Island wide, but Brian is devoting his funds to the Cowichan Valley Hospice Society, which serves the entire Cowichan Valley, including Ladysmith.
Brian and Karen are avid cyclists, and have been training for months to prepare for the 200km tour that will take place over two days. Not only do they have to train extensively for the ride, but they must also raise a minimum of $1,000 to register for the tour. Cyclists can ride all manner of bikes and have a varying level of skill.
“It’s not a race, and no one gets left behind,” Brian said. “If someone’s struggling up the hill, people will be with them the whole way.”
While Brian and Karen are passionate about cycling and helping provide resources for hospice care, part of the reason they come back to participate in COLT year after year are the connections they make with other riders and volunteers.
“There’s friendships made on the road,” Brian said. “You won’t see them any other time of the year, but there’s friendships. We’ll get there, and meet people that we met last year or the first time we road, and we just strike up a conversation, because everybody is doing it for the same reason.”
Brian joked that they have a target on their back as they were the top fundraising team last year. Brian and Karen are still raising funds in advance of COLT, which takes place July 20-21. All funds raised go toward hospice care, and none of the funds are used to pay organizational costs for the tour.
Anyone wanting to sponsor a COLT rider or team can do so at cycleoflifetour.ca