The prospect of biking nearly halfway across a province in one day may seem daunting to even the most seasoned of cyclists.
But that’s exactly what Sylvan Lake’s Scott McDermott did late last month, all in the name of a good cause.
McDermott was one of 100 cyclists who took part in Ride2Survive — a bicycle trek from Kelowna, B.C. to Delta in Metro Vancouver, in support of cancer research.
Though extremely physically demanding and exhausting, he felt the 19-hour, approximately 400-km ride was well worth the effort.
“We ride in a lot of pain, but people with cancer are in that kind of pain all day, every day,” he said. “We know that at the end of (the ride), we can get off our bikes and the pain stops, but it doesn’t for them.”
Through the event, McDermott raised about $3,600 for Canadian Cancer Society. His participation and fundraising were a tribute to two of his good friends who have died in recent years.
One of those friends was Stacy Larsen, lost to cancer in 2011. The other was Rob Mason, a former Ride2Survive participant who perished in a mountain biking accident in 2012.
This year’s Ride2Survive was McDermott’s second, and he assures it won’t be his last. As a completely volunteer-run event with participants covering their own expenses, Ride2Survive donates 100 per cent of proceeds raised directly to Canadian Cancer Society.
That, McDermott feels, is just part of what makes it so great.
“A lot of fundraisers have become big businesses and the administrative costs range,” he said. “The highest I’ve ever seen is 91 per cent administration costs. This one was zero. That’s what I love about it.”
Participants left Kelowna at 3:30 a.m., and arrived in Delta around 11 p.m.
Along the way, they encountered a variety of terrains, ranging from steep mountain inclines to flat, pot hole-marked roads.
They travelled as a pack, and together took 11 breaks. Nine of those breaks were less than ten minutes long, two were thirty minutes in length.
Riders made use of the lengthier two to consume as much hot food as possible before continuing along the road.
The group moved in a 50-pair formation, in what McDermott described as “one big string” of riders.
He said the sense of teamwork and encouragement among them was strong.
“One of the cool things about the ride is if you’re going up a steep climb, and somebody’s not strong enough, you just put your hand on their back give them a little push. It’s very co-operative.”
McDermott admits the ride left him tired, sore and not wanting to sit on a bike for a couple of weeks. The more-than-half-a-million dollars that the group collectively raised for Canadian Cancer Society, however, made it all worthwhile, he said.
“100 people on bicycles and some volunteers raised over $550,000 for cancer research this year, and none of it is wasted. That’s what floors me,” he said. “It’s hard as hell, but it’s just so worth it.”