First and foremost, it’s about the kids.
It’s about a better life for kids who shouldn’t have to suffer from cancer, says Oak Bay Police Const. Sandrine Perry.
Ten years into her policing career, three of those with Oak Bay, Perry is riding the 21st Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock. This year the two-week, 1,000-kilometre group bike ride starts Sept. 21 in Port Hardy (as per usual) and ends Oct. 4 in Victoria.
The ride started 21 years ago to raise money towards research and support children with pediatric cancer.
“One hundred per cent, these kids have to fight cancer. All we do is ride is bikes,” Perry said.
Prior to the Tour de Rock Perry kept fit as runner and a yoga regular.
Since starting the three-times-a-week group cycling phenomenon this spring the Oak Bay school liaison officer has fallen in love with cycling.
Considering her previous experience involves the pink Townie cruiser with a basket (a right honourable city bike, to be fair), she has graduated from the group ride learning with only minor bumps and scrapes. It could have been worse.
“It took about two to three months to get comfortable clicking into the pedals,” she said. “And I’ve found muscles with cycling that must have been asleep. But really, now that I’ve climbed Mount Washington [an hour and 45 minutes of pure burn] I’m confident I can do anything.”
Cycling isn’t the easiest part of the Tour de Rock but it’s also not the hardest. For one thing, it’s the only part of the Tour you can truly prepare for, she says.
“They have sayings on the Tour. One of them is, the training can prepare you for the cycling but nothing will prepare you for the emotional toll.”
Perry is in a unique situation as her husband, paramedic Jason Perry of the B.C. Ambulances Services office, is also on the team this year. The two raised $2,100 towards their combined goal of $15,000 at the Oak Bay Collector Car show last week.
That’s where she witnessed the lasting affect from the savagery of pediatric cancer.
“A few families came up to me and I didn’t know them. They donated, and they would speak about their loved ones, I started to realize, in the past tense. It was eye opening. Very humbling.”
Perry lost her grandmother to cancer while her partner Jason has seen his mom, sister, grandfather and grandmother all diagnosed with cancer.
The two were stationed in the mainland until three years ago when Jason was transferred to work at a managerial level and Perry secured a job at Oak Bay Police after seven years with the New Westminster Police.
She has now spent time with her junior rider, and looks forward to a time when there is no Tour de Rock.
“What we say is, we hope this is the last tour de rock we’ll ever do, because that means pediatric cancer will be abolished. That’s what you hope for.”
In the meantime, Sandrine and Jason Perry are holding a major fundraiser for their Tour de Rock campaign at the Penny Farthing at 5 p.m. on Aug. 29.
Before that, the Tour de Rock team will hold five straight days of training from Aug. 15 to 19 including a mock ride on Saturday, Aug. 17, when they’ll ride from Nanaimo to Duncan and back to Nanaimo with the Tour de Rock entourage that will accompany them in September.