Grandmothers roll out support for Africa

Greater Victoria group set to embark on 275-kilometre ride

Twenty-nine Vancouver Island grandmothers - nine of whom are from Saanich - are gearing up for the Grandmothers for Africa cycling tour

There’s something different about the Grandmothers for Africa cycling tour.

It has an age limit, but it’s not what you think.

“I don’t think any other ride has an age limit of over 55,” said rider Carol Judd with a laugh. “This is a truly unique ride because of the involvement of the grandmothers on the Island, and because of the kind of ride it is.”

Twenty-nine local grandmothers – nine of whom are from Saanich – are about to embark on a 275-kilometre cycling trip from Campbell River to Victoria in an effort to raise money for grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa. The three-day ride kicks off this Friday and winds down at the B.C. Legislature on Sunday afternoon.

The 10th annual ride benefits the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which provides African grandmothers in need with food, clothing, grief counselling, medicine, medical knowledge and school fees for children.

“It’s just so wonderful to see all the cyclists that are so keen to raise money for the foundation in this way,” said Judd.

The ride started in 2007 with the Victoria chapter of Grandmothers to Grandmothers, a campaign founded to help turn the tide of the AIDS pandemic in Africa. Over the last 10 years, the ride has expanded across the country, with groups raising a total of $28 million.

“We’ve raised about a million dollars, and we’re one of the more active groups across the country,” said Judd. “Our cycle tours are a big draw. We raise most of our money off of that.”

Judd said the cycling route hasn’t changed much over the last 10 years, other than to detour off busy highways. It’s a challenging ride, but she said everyone is up to the task.

“It’s 109 kilometres the first day, about 90 the second day, and 75 on the third day,” she said. “It’s very demanding, but it’s also very rewarding.”

In addition to the 29 riders on the three-day trip, the Victoria chapter has also added a one-day, 50-kilometre ride around the peninsula that also ends at the B.C. Legislature this Sunday.

“Last year, we started a new ride because some of the women were getting older and didn’t want to do that huge, long ride, and there were also some women who stepped up but hadn’t done any serious riding,” said Judd. “We’re finding with this ride, it’s also very challenging for those doing that distance for the first time. I’ve done a lot of distance cycling, and there’s no ride like this one. It’s because this one is so meaningful.”

The public is invited to welcome riders at the B.C. Legislature on Sunday afternoon. Riders are expected to arrive between 2:15 and 3:30 p.m.

 

To donate to the ride or for more information, visit victoriagrandmothersforafrica.ca.

 

 

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