Ten years ago, Victoria resident Barbara Quelch discovered she had colon cancer.
In her own words, it was a fairly quick recovery period as she only needed surgery, but difficult nonetheless as she had already lost both her parents to cancer, including her father when she was only 11 years old.
This prompted her to become involved the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a two-day, 200-kilometre cycle to raise funds for the BC Cancer Foundation.
And it wasn’t an easy thing for her to do.
“The first time I signed up I broke my leg, so instead I used my crutches and volunteered,” Quelch said. “The second year it was absolutely pouring rain and I was almost pulled off the horse because my lips were turning blue.”
This year, however, Quelch is ready to go.
“Let me outline this: I am 59 years old, and I’m not an athlete,” Quelch laughed. “I was starting as a couch potato. I’m the poster child for accessibility, because I ride a hybrid bike and I don’t clip in, so that makes it hard.”
But thanks to Quelch’s diligent training and determination, she now feels healthier than ever.
This year the ride will start in Cloverdale and end in Chilliwack on the first day. The following day would normally see riders making their way to Hope, but because of poor air quality from the wildfires, cyclists will now ride a modified loop and end up back in Chilliwack.
Each rider must raise at least $2,500, and this year alone there are more than 2,500 cyclists expected to take part on Saturday morning.
“It’s truly amazing to see the rider profile and how vast it is,” said Lindsay Carswell, director of the Ride to Conquer Cancer at the BC Cancer Foundation. “It’s people as young as 16 to those in their 80s, and it’s an amazing balance of men, women and families.”
To date, the Ride to Conquer Cancer has raised over $85 million.
For Quelch, the hardest part isn’t the 200 km cycle.
“It’s so emotional, I was packing my bag last night, and I packed a pack of Kleenex,” Quelch said. “If you’re waiting in a line up to use the bathroom you hear people’s stories.”
But Quelch said she had no hesitation in joining again.
“It’s for the people you ride alongside with, the people who are there, but also the people who are not there,” she said. “If you’re contemplating for next year, do it, you will never regret it.”
The ride takes place Saturday Aug. 25 beginning at 7:00 a.m.
For more information, you can head to ride.conquercancer.ca/vancouver