The Cops for Cancer Tour de North media rider is riding for several members of his family.
Robert Pictou, broadcast reporter for CFTK-TV’s show Open Connection, was filling out his application to be the media rider when the question of why he wanted to do it came up.
“My grandniece Jordyn was diagnosed with leukemia at six months old and she always was a trooper but lost her battle with leukemia just before her third birthday,” said Pictou.
And about three years ago, when he was filling out a medical form and writing down the names of relatives with cancer, he ran out of room on the front of the page and had to turn it over.
His mom died of lung cancer, his dad is a survivor of kidney cancer and many other members of his family also have been affected with the disease.
“It was one of the things that kind of shocked me,” he said, about how long the list of relatives was.
After learning about his dad’s cancer, he decided to start running to get healthier and changed his diet by eating cleaner.
“For me, eating cleaner is more fruits and veggies and staying away from processed foods/meats, more skinless chicken breasts grilled not fried,” he said, adding he does the same when he craves a steak.
“If you have to put sauce on a steak, it is not a good steak.”
Pictou is a runner but found bike riding wasn’t the same on his body.
“Running uses different muscles than biking,” he said, adding he hadn’t been biking for 35 years and there’s been many changes to how it’s done.
First off, he got biking shoes that have the clips on the bottom to clip his feet into the pedals, which makes it more difficult to get your feet off the pedals if you’re about to fall and he has done that several times, he said.
However, clips make it easier to ride and are not so hard on your knees – the way we rode as kids was bad for our knees, he said.
Cops for Cancer loaned him a 22-gear bike made of carbon fibre so it’s lighter, did a proper bike fit, gave him a jersey and he bought his own shoes.
It was recommended that he ride at least 1,500 km to prepare for the 850 km ride from Prince George to Prince Rupert.
He has done almost 2,200 km training, his longest ride being 130 km – during Tour de North, the longest day is 170 km to Fort St. James and back, he said.
Pictou learned that clothing for biking is different than running so he had to get a whole new wardrobe.
Running means dressing in layers so you can peel clothes off as it gets warm.
A day that’s too hot to run will be cooler for bike riding, he said.
“So 31 [degrees Celsius] is actually not that bad,” he said about the temperature for biking.
Pictou learned that sunglasses need to be similar to safety glasses to keep your eyes protected.
“I had a regular pair but I was riding when a tractor-trailer went by and I could hear a rock that whizzed past my head,” he said.
“Safety glasses can handle the impact from a rock. If I lose a tooth, I will live but not losing an eye.”
And the glasses look like any other pair of regular sunglasses.
Pictou stopped running in June to focus on training more.
He found an online group who are training for Cops for Cancer and who are keeping score of longest ride and most distance, which has helped get him into the competitive spirit.
The Tour de North is focusing on raising money for pediatric cancer and also Camp Good Times. “I was fortunate enough to go there. It’s a really magical place,” said Pictou about the camp.
Cops for Cancer rides from Prince George to Prince Rupert Sept. 16 to 22.