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Tour de Rock embraces community teams for annual Vancouver Island cancer fundraiser

Tour starts Sept. 20 in Port Alice, winds up with finale in Sidney on Oct. 1

The 2021 Tour de Rock will look and feel different for one more year, but across Vancouver Island, alumni riders, volunteers and communities remain a force in the face of childhood cancer.

A 12-day alumni tour of community-based teams will start riding different legs of the Tour de Rock for 2021, starting as per tradition in Port Alice, said Tiffany McFadyen, Cops for Cancer specialist.

“These are all people that have ridden before, they know the culture, they know the cause,” she said.

The annual Cops for Cancer bike ride, now in its 23rd year, raises funds in support of life-saving pediatric cancer research and support programs for children and their families with a history of cancer.

Traditionally, Tour de Rock is a two-week, 1,200-kilometre bike ride that spans Vancouver Island, tackled by a team of first responders and media riders.

HISTORY: Cops for Cancer rides have their roots right here on the Island

While the format has changed, every major community on Vancouver Island will have its day to celebrate the ride, riders and children and families dealing with cancer.

This year’s tour targets $650,0000, the amount raised last year, but about half the usual goal.

“Usually we have hundreds of events that lead up to Tour de Rock and this year we have maybe 100 total,” McFadyen said.

For 2020, provincial health restrictions meant a shift to the smaller teams in place again this year. That didn’t stop communities from showing support, McFadyen noted. People were out lining the streets and awaiting riders at known stops. Organizers hope to see similar turnouts this year.

Tour de Rock kicks off Sept. 20 and visits 28 Vancouver Island communities over 12 days.

Monday, Sept. 20 the tour will start in Port Alice and hit Port Hardy and Port McNeill. Sept. 21 is Port McNeill, Woss and Sayward’s day. On Sept. 22, a team tours Campbell River and Sept. 23 hits Courtenay and Comox.

Sept. 24 a team tours the Parksville and Qualicum Beach area, as well as Port Alberni and Tofino, with more happening in the latter two communities the next day as well. Sept. 26 is Nanaimo’s turn with Sept. 27 seeing Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Chemainus stops.

Sept. 28 is Lake Cowichan, Duncan and Shawnigan. The tour is in Sooke and Langford on Sept. 29, elsewhere in Greater Victoria on Sept. 30 and wraps up Oct. 1 with the finale in Sidney.

Another change for 2021 is the finale venue, having shifted from Spirit Square in downtown Victoria to the Mary Winspear Centre.

In August, residents donated refundable beverage containers to Tour de Rock. Last year with the help of The Bottle Depot, Greater Victoria residents broke a Charity Bin record with more than 280,000 refundable containers donated to the cause.

This year the goal is to divert more than 300,000 containers away from the environment, landfills and curbside blue bins to raise $30,000.

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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