R2S 2019 - My Story

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Ride2Survive 2019, my story (the blog for facebook and my donors)

I’ve been doing this fundraiser since 2009, and boy has my perspective changed. It used to be a bike ride, but Kerry Kunzli put it in proper perspective, we are a fundraising club with a bicycle problem.

And therein lies the magic of Ride2Survive, we have all been touched by cancer, maybe I should say punched. None of the remarkable people involved in this fundraising club were satisfied to do nothing, so we decided to make a difference, and the difference became the Canadian Cancer Society’s largest independent fundraiser.

I can take no credit, the credit belongs to the volunteers who have organized, trained and most of all led this eclectic team of multitalented individuals. Of course, I must acknowledge and call out Vicki and Kerry Kunzli who have provided the heart and soul of R2S and Rich Gestle, our inspiration. Rich wears a R2S yellow jersey, symbolic of being a cancer survivor, and he is likely the strongest rider on our team.

I also need to acknowledge my donors, most of whom have been with me for 11 years. Thank you! We exceeded $1 million this year, and thanks to you I exceeded my goal of $10k. We will again keep our promise this year, 100% of your donation will go to cancer research. We will determine the target for this funding later this year, and I would be happy to share how your money is spent, when that decision is made.

And now onto a few highlights and challenges of this year’s ride:

The ride begins with a 50km/1400m climb out of Kelowna. The climb runs at a moderate 5% or so for the first 30k or so and then turns north around the Brenda mine. After the turn, the climb kicks up and becomes harder. We had a tail wind going up this hill and I thought that was a pretty good omen, but I was wrong. This short section of tail wind turned into an oppressive head wind for most of the ride. It was sapping and very difficult. The ride, which normally finishes around 10:00 in Delta, finished close to 12:30, a full 2 ½ hours more in the saddle.

We ride with a pilot car that was fit out with a killer stereo that could be heard right to back of the peloton. Music has a way of taking your mind off your pain, and at the same time motivate you to keep pedalling. My magic moment came after midnight as we were closing in on the finish in Delta, riding along 96thAve. in Surrey. Spirit of the West’s “Home for a Rest” blasted out of the stereo (we were surely breaking some noise bylaw), and to sing “take me home” at the top of our lungs after riding 21 hours was telling of the determination and fortitude of this remarkable team of cyclists and ride support volunteers.

Thank you to the ride volunteers (100+ strong) who make the ride possible and keep us safe, fed, cheered, and riding. (special call out to our police, paramedic, and ambulance staff who volunteer their time).

Thank you to my donors and our collective donors. We raised over $1m this year alone and over $8m in the 15 years since Ride2Survive started.

Thank you to my R2S family, the many friends I have made, the inspiration that you have provided, the encouragement, humour (TP Paul, Charles) and the selflessness. You are all remarkable human beings!