Sylvan Lake’s Coreen Spencer just can’t seem to keep away from the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer.
But given the approximately $40,000 she’s raised for the Alberta Cancer Foundation in her five successive years of participating, that would in no way appear to be a bad thing.
“In my mind, this was to be my final ride, but I wanted to make this my banner year and really go out with a bang,” she explained.
“And then I registered again.”
Spencer took part in the 232-kilometre bike ride through the foothills southwest of Calgary for the fifth time on Aug. 8 and 9, and a banner year it undoubtedly was.
In recognition of her five-year milestone, Spencer was presented with a golden helmet. She also received a silver ambassador jersey for raising in excess of $10,000, ammassing an astonishing $15,079.50 for the cause.
She’ll now take a well deserved break before repeating the process again — albeit somewhat unexpectedly.
“The Friday before the ride, I registered to ride for 2016 — one more time,” she said. “I was waffling on it, but as we were checking in to our motel room before we went to orientation Friday afternoon, David (Spencer, Coreen’s husband) said we may as well book the same weekend next year as we’d probably need it.”
Spencer began this year’s race after a “short and restless night” and a 4 a.m. awakening the next day.
She quickly consumed a cold breakfast burrito before the sun came up, and began to “focus myself on the people and the reason I am riding.”
The opening ceremonies that followed, she said, are “always an emotional time — it pays to have an extra Kleenex or two.” She then set off on the ride route with the 1,740 other riders — some of whom have either beat cancer or are currently facing the battle.
Along the way, Spencer contended with strong headwinds, soaring temperatures and steep hills, dedicating each of the lattermost to one of the many individuals in whose honour she was riding.
“I named quite a few hills and some of them got named more than once,” she said. “It was that mental push I needed to give myself to keep on peddling.”
After an overnight stay, and more than 230 kilometres and 11 hours of riding later, she arrived at the Calgary Olympic Park finish line in a moment she described simply as “amazing.”
“Already the harsh memories of those brutal hills and wind started to fade,” she said.
On the Friday preceeding the ride, it was announced that riders this year had raised $7.8 million for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. That takes the event’s seven-year tally to over $54 million, which Alberta Cancer Foundation CEO Myka Osinchuk said has made an enormous impact in the lives of cancer-stricken Albertans.
“Thanks to crucial Ride dollars, the Alberta Cancer Foundation can continue to power research to speed up clinical trials, shorten recovery times and provide even better care for patients and families,” she said in a media release. “The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer is crucial to achieving the next advancements that will not only improve quality of life for patients and their families, but are also making life better for Albertans facing cancer.”
Donations to Spencer for her ride in 2016 can be made online at ab16.conquercancer.ca.