Terrace conservation officer Ryan Gordon says the week-long, 850-kilometre bicycling Cops for Cancer Tour de North journey was physically demanding but eye-opening.
“We had three days of straight rain, and really cold temperatures, so it was pretty tough,” said Gordon of the journey which began Sept. 15 in Dawson Creek and ended a week later in Williams Lake.
“We went from Powder King [Mountain Resort] to Mackenzie, and I think it was two degrees when we started our day, and it was raining… hard.”
Gordon says his enjoyment of the trip varied based on weather, but he would do the ride again if he had the chance.
“If the weather was good, it was a good day. If it was raining, it was a tough day, and it took a lot of mental motivation to keep going.”
The tour, which is about fund raising to fight pediatric cancer, included a team of 15 cyclists who travelled side-by-side in two rows. Gordon says they kept each other going.
“It took a lot of team work to make it through the day. You have to keep each other motivated when it’s cold and miserable out,” he said. “I got to know them all pretty good.”
Twelve of the 15 cyclists were new to the tour, and Gordon is the first conservation officer in B.C.
Fellow cyclists were from the RCMP, the provincial corrections branch, and the B.C. Ambulance Service.
Three community riders also participated.
Gordon said one of the community riders had done the tour five times before and another was biking in honour of his daughter who had recently passed away from cancer.
“A lot of the individuals doing the tour had been personally been affected [by the cause],” said Gordon.
“I got to hear a lot of stories about why some of them were doing the tour.”
The cycling team left Dawson Creek September 15 and travelled 70 to 195 kilometres a day to arrive in Williams Lake seven days later.
“It was neat seeing northern B.C. by bike. There is lots of nice scenery,” Gordon said.
“In some of the communities we were going through, the leaves were changing and [there were] lots of folks out hunting.”
Gordon says between Fort St. John and Chetwynd is rolling country, and the Pine Pass also had quite a few hills.
“It was definitely demanding terrain,” he said.
Yet despite the physical demands, Gordon says he recommends the tour.
The team stopped for visits in each community en route, and visited more than 12 schools, talking to students about the tour and the cause and collecting donations raised by the schools.
At one school in Mackenzie, they raised money by selling five-foot pieces of duct tape and then taped the principal to the wall.
“We rolled into the school and the principal was stuck to the wall with duct tape. It was pretty cool,” Gordon said.
There were also junior team members, young cancer survivors, who cycled with the team through their home communities and stood with the team for school presentations.
“It was a pretty moving experience,” Gordon said.
“[We] met a lot of great people in all the communities, a lot of people who are really dedicated to the cause.”
“I’m definitely more aware of how cancer affects our communities and kids in our communities,” he said, adding that he also really saw how communities can come together to support families and children. “It was definitely an eye opener.”
Gordon says he exceeded the $3,000 he was required to raise, collecting $6,300 in all.
The tour raised $180,000 total, with 80 per cent going to pediatric cancer research and 20 per cent to Camp Goodtimes, a summer camp in Maple Ridge on the Lower Mainland for families with children battling cancer.