When ride co-founder Graham Robertson rolls out 200 kilometres for Cycle of Life this weekend, he hopes to be mid-pack with a riding partner.
The Oak Bay resident started the ride in 2011 as a solo effort when he rode from Anchorage, Alaska through the Yukon Territories and B.C. to Victoria raising awareness and support for the Victoria Hospice. By 2013 it was a huge group event raising funds for Island hospice programs. This year, as Victoria Hospice takes over the event, is the first he won’t volunteer as the tail end rider.
“Finding a volunteer to be the sweeper rider was always, it seemed like a luxury, so I always did it,” he said.
He plans to ride his own pace as fourth annual Cycle of Life Tour rolls along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, through West Saanich, along the Cowichan Valley’s rural coastline, over the scenic country roads of Salt Spring Island and back to Victoria along the Saanich Peninsula. But Roberts will face one fun challenge – riding tandem with friend and volunteer Adrian Lister.
“We’re doing it on a tandem bike. That was his idea more than mine,” Robertson said with a chuckle.
“We’ve done lots of training on our own bikes, but just a small handful of rides on a tandem bike, it’s been pretty entertaining,” Robertson added. “At times we get the bike going pretty fast.”
For example the day they hit 68 km/h on a stretch of Interurban Road. “On my normal bike through that area I can get up to 35 maybe 40 km/h,” he said. “It’s a pretty fun sensation to be going that fast.”
The Cycle of Life Tour was co-founded by Robertson and Beth Turner who organized and operated the event in their spare time until this year when it was adopted by Victoria Hospice.
“It’s been quite a relief to have someone take it on,” Robertson said. “I didn’t want to see it just fizzle out because there was nobody to do it. It was great to have Victoria Hospice want to step in and keep it going.”
When it started, Robertson didn’t have a personal hospice story, it was just the “universe pulling” him in that direction.
“I didn’t even know what hospice was before I started fundraising for it,” Robertson said. “Ever since then I’ve had stories. People have told me their stories since I don’t have any of my own. The more I hear the more happy I am supporting them.”
Victoria Hospice says the project would not be possible without a crew of dedicated, amazing volunteers and a select group of very generous, compassionate sponsors and suppliers.
“We wouldn’t even get to the start line without amazing volunteers they are vital to this. they’re a really small corps,” agreed Robertson. “It means a lot of work, and a major commitment.”
To date, the Cycle of Life Tour has raised more than $230,000 for hospice care across Canada with the majority of funding distributed to hospice care on Vancouver Island.
Visit cycleoflifetour.ca for more on how to support the riders and cause.