When police officers and community riders alike hit the pavement for the 2016 Cops for Cancer Tour de North in September, it will have been 15 years since the first brave and fitness-tested souls strapped on a helmet and headed west from Prince George to Prince Rupert.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the event, which raises money to help support kids with cancer and the Canadian Cancer Society. The funds also support pediatric cancer research and helps send kids with cancer to Camp Goodtimes.
“The RCMP are involved on the ride itself – they make up the team,” said Erin Reynolds, Cops for Cancer coordinator.
“We have incredible RCMP support across the region when it comes to the tour and escorting us in and out of town from the detachments. The team is usually comprised of at least 50 per cent RCMP, in some cases more, [depending] on the year.”
The riders cycle through all types of late September weather and stop to make appearances in various communities and schools along the way to their final destination of Prince Rupert.
The 850 km trek in between the two Princes (George and Rupert) is scheduled to start on Sept. 16 and finish on Sept. 22, but the deadline to apply for this year’s ride is Jan. 29.
Reynolds will receive the applications and said last week that she has already received a number of interested parties from Prince Rupert, and she’ll be able to reveal the names of the riders once the teams are set up in mid-February.
“We have community rider positions [on the team] … anybody in the public can apply for the community rider position,” said Reynolds.
Organizers are still tallying results from last year’s ride (the fiscal year-end for Cops for Cancer is January), but from 2015’s event, Reynolds mentioned that Tour de North will “come very close to $275,000”.
In the past 14 years, $2.6 million has been raised and over 10,000 km bicycled by Tour de North riders participating. Additionally, three other B.C.-based rides collect funds for the cause – on Vancouver Island, the coast of B.C. and the Fraser Valley.
As well, over 2,000 kids have been visited by Tour de North riders in just the last five years.
Reynolds recommends that riders train themselves each week by riding 100 km per week, or four to five hours (20-25 km per hour).
“Generally if you feel like you have a four-hour fitness dedication in your week, you can probably shift that over to cycling for the summer and prepare yourself for the ride. Definitely, as you get closer to September there are some long-ride commitments … but you want to keep a general fitness level of about 100 km per week,” Reynolds said.
Within the experience, riders will also get the opportunity to see the vast expanse of northern B.C., experience team-building challenges with RCMP and other emergency services and various community members.
Applicants are asked to fundraise $3,000 in time for the ride, but are given numerous resources by Cops for Cancer, including support such as fundraising ideas and a full carbon frame practice bike lent to the rider for training and even for the full ride in September.
“When people are selected for the team, we hold teleconferences where the whole idea is to share ideas, concerns, fears and successes … Fundraising can be a big, scary number and word for a lot of people [so we use these ideas to help],” the coordinator said.
To learn more about the ride, visit the organization’s Facebook page: Cops for Cancer – Tour de North or email Reynolds at email@example.com.