Riders with the Tour de Rock were invited to submit an entry for the Tour’s blog. The following is local rider Cst. John Belanger’s thoughts during the Campbell River leg of the ride.
This is my eighth time on Tour, but my first time as a bicycle rider. Previous to this year, I was a motorcycle escort rider. As a Tour de Rock rider now, it’s very different from being part of the support crew and motorcycle escort. The support crew is focused on getting the team down the road, whereas it’s all about the stops and meeting people and cycling as a rider. The other difference is, well, the hills are a much bigger struggle. But we’ve stayed together as a team while riding and we support each other, so we’ve done a really good job together.
I first got involved with the Tour de Rock support crew because one of my coworkers was doing it. I eventually took over from him because, for me, there was no way I couldn’t not stay involved. This is such a worthwhile cause and it’s something that continues to inspire me. I have two beautiful, healthy daughters and in the time that I’ve been involved with the Tour de Rock I’ve met so many families with kids who are dealing with cancers. This is something I can do to help those other parents out; we can raise money for their kids to send them to Camp Goodtimes.
Today we started in Sayward after a nice event last night. Sayward is always special because we get a really great chance to ride around the Sayward pond with the kids from the elementary school there. The kids just love it. You could see their faces today were beaming when they got to cycle alongside the riders. For me, I hope those kids, and really the kids at all the schools we get to visit, can look at us and see that we’re riding to help other kids their age. I know that some of them are kind of young to know why we’re riding, but I hope they take away a feeling of us being on this Tour, as a group of police officers and a media rider, riding for kids like them.
We had a few hills this morning on our way in from Sayward to Campbell River, where I live. Having done support for Tour for so many years, I kind of know every curve and every hill on the road into Campbell River, so I know what to expect. I’ve also seen riders in years past go through these long, tough days; and I’ve seen them proudly conquer hills together as a team. The hills are a struggle sometimes, but our training has really paid off. The hills are really psychological because we just stuck to the training and listened to how our trainers told us to do hills, and we did awesome on every hill into Campbell River, and every hill so far on Tour.
Coming home, as a rider, it was definitely emotional, especially when I saw my Junior Rider, Natalia, today at our amazing lunch at Dick’s Fish and Chips. I saw her beaming smile – this kid who’s been battling cancer and who’s really taking well to the treatments – and it’s amazing to see how she’s doing and how far she’s come, and it brings a tear to my eye.
As a rider, Tour de Rock forces you out of your comfort zone. I get nervous when I’m at a school and eyes are on me, but when I saw Natalia today and having her there with us at several of the schools, getting out of my comfort zone was a whole lot easier. It was easier because she was there with me and it just hits home why we’re here.
She’s there and she inspires me. When I’m sore, when I’m going up a tough hill, when I’m feeling out of my comfort zone, I just think about her, think of her smile and it puts everything else to the wayside.
Both at Campbell River Spirit Square and our fundraising dinner hosted by Boston Pizza so many groups and individuals shared their fundraising successes with us. This community has truly taken Tour de Rock into it heart.
Now for some rest at Painters Lodge before another amazing day.