After losing his mom to cancer at the age of 16, Campbell River’s Shawn Hall knew he wanted to do something to help others fight the disease.
When the opportunity to ride in the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock came along, he jumped at the chance.
“I’ve always wanted to do something for a worthy cause, especially cancer,” said Hall, a firefighter and an auxiliary police officer with the Campbell River RCMP. “It’s something I don’t wish on any kid. I saw the tour as an opportunity to help.”
Although his cycling experience was limited, Hall said other police officers recognized the tour as something he would enjoy and be successful at.
“Working up at the detachment, a couple of officers said, ‘Hey Shawn, you’d be good at that,’” Hall said. “It was definitely something I wanted to do, but I didn’t know if I was in good enough shape. I wasn’t too sure.”
Before signing up for the tour, Hall occasionally would take his road bike for a spin, but nothing too serious. He has, however, cycled competitively on two different occasions.
Twice he took part in the Comox Valley’s Royal LePage Snow to Surf Adventure Relay which combines skiing, running, mountain biking, kayaking, road cycling and canoeing.
To gear up for the much longer, 1,000-kilometre Tour de Rock, which takes cyclists from one end of the Island to the other, Hall has been cycling three days a week.
He and a team of police officers and media personalities who represent the north half of the Island, ride together to build up their strength and endurance.
On Tuesdays the group focuses on hill riding, typically 30 to 40 kilometres at a time, while Thursday night is reserved for practising speed, again usually a 30- to 40-kilometre ride.
Sundays are when the group does a more relaxing, but longer ride. Those trips tend to be around 100 kilometres.
As the northern most member of the team, Hall typically has to drive down to either the Comox Valley, Parksville or Nanaimo for each ride.
“It’s a lot of travel, definitely the whole summer it’s been a big commitment between training and fundraising, but it’s a good cause,” Hall said.
So far, fundraisers have included a golf tournament at Storey’s Creek, bagging groceries at Thrifty Foods and cycling for about an hour on a stationary bicycle during Canada Day festivities.
Hall plans to hold a few car washes and barbecues later this summer, as well as a possible wine tasting in the fall.
The highlight of the journey so far for Hall was a recent trip to Camp Goodtimes on the Lower Mainland, a week-long summer camp for kids and teens battling cancer and their families.
“We hung out with the kids and did a casino night with them,” Hall said. “We each took a game station and the kids went through and used fake money and they had a great time. We even had a pay-it- forward booth where the kids could donate the money they had won to a charity.”
Hall said thinking of those kids, and others who are battling cancer, will be what helps him push through the gruelling 14-day ride this fall.
“It’s a long time to be on a bike, but then it’s not so bad when you think of why you’re riding and you just push through the pain because you know there’s kids going through worse than you.”