After months of training and fundraising, Team Prince Rupert is ready to ride the 200km journey from Vancouver to Seattle over the weekend for the Ride to Conquer Cancer.
The two-day tour will be Omar Cruz’s second time in the ride, which has been a change for the seasoned cyclist. Cruz started cycling in Belize, following in his brother’s footsteps.
From high school competitions to being sponsored and racing abroad in Guatemala and Mexico, Cruz said he reached his peak when he placed 20th out of 123 people in a 150-mile international race in Belize.
While he’s been on many teams throughout his cycling career, there is something different about being on a team that is riding for a cause.
When he moved to Prince Rupert, where his wife Karen grew up, he kept racing and training along the highway. Last year, he met Steve Weir and his crew preparing for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, presented by Silver Wheaton benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation. They asked him if he wanted to join their team.
“Riding for a cause was something I wanted to do because I lost both my parents to cancer and I have a lot of friends back home who have battled cancer,” he said.
He also recently lost a friend, Frank Pyde, to cancer. Pyde was also friends with many of the team members and he was once an avid cyclist. When Cruz first moved to the North Coast he rode with Pyde.
“He was so nice and welcoming,” he said. “I’ll be riding with him in my mind.”
Fellow teammates Keith and Suzi Lambourne have also said they’re riding for Pyde. It will be the couple’s first time participating in the epic journey, and Cruz has been helping out with their training, including adding a little extra weight on the back of Keith’s bike when he’s peddling up a hill.
The competitive cyclist said it doesn’t matter how slow they go, as long as they stay together as a team.
“I’m not in it for a race. I’m only in it to ride for a cause.”
The 10 person team has raised $32,800, surpassing their fundraising goal with all the generous support from the community through logo sponsorship on the team T-shirts and hosting the Spaghetti Western event.
The team departs on Thursday, and will drive to Vancouver for the start of the 200km ride on Aug. 27.
The money raised will go toward the BC Cancer Foundation to support clinicians, scientists and researchers to improve patient outcomes and discover new treatments.
Since 2009, the ride has raised $70 million for the BC Cancer Foundation making it the province’s largest cycling fundraiser.