They’re young, they’re strong, but they’re also humble about their cycling abilities.
Const. Michael Welle and Const. Dane Nicholson are ready to make the 1,000-kilometer Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock trek from Port Alice to Victoria starting Saturday. To date, the ride has raised $24 million towards fighting childhood cancer and in support of Camp Goodtimes.
Welle is a Pacific Christian School graduate who grew up in Saanich, while Nicholson is a former member of the Canadian Forces who relocated here from the Lower Mainland. The two are the 61st and 62nd Saanich Police officers to ride the Tour de Rock since its inception in 1998.
“I don’t have the background that some of the other riders do,” Welle said. “I started riding last summer to start getting ready for the tour, so this is all new to me, the intensity and duration of the rides.”
Welle is part of a new generation of riders who were aware of it before they became police officers or first responders. Back in high school, Saanich Police Staff Sgt. Gary Schenk visited PCS and the memory stuck with Welle.
In 2016, it was actually Schenk who made the Saanich Police formal invitation to Welle to join the force.
“Back in high school I knew I wanted to be a cop, when [Schenk] visited I thought ‘hey, that’d be really cool,’ and now I get to do it,” Welle said.
While it is tradition that most riders shave their heads at some point on the tour, Welle already shaved his head. He did it Friday at PCS, in an event that raised $5,000. Three of the teachers also did it, including cancer survivor Bridget Sainsbury.
“This whole process has been amazing, it’s been incredible to see what kids have to go through and what families go through and it’s been really cool just to do a little bit, our part in helping kids feel better.”
Nicholson’s time is coming. The traffic officer’s sandy blond hair will come Friday, Oct. 5, when Tour de Rock visits Reynolds secondary for its annual head shave.
For Nicholson, the training sessions started a little rocky as he went over the handle bars in early April and broke his hand. In the collision, a fellow cyclist also came off her bike and the two of them were taken to hospital.
Nicholson is a daily commuter who rides to work from downtown Victoria, but stepping up to the Tour’s standard of cycling is a whole other world.
“It’s been a humbling experience,” Nicholson said. “The moment this got real was the visit to Camp Goodtimes, when you can see this is making a difference. It opens your eyes to a level of challenge that families are confronted with on a daily basis that I never had thought of, it’s a different type of struggle that families are going through.”
Saanich Police has played a major role in the Tour de Rock since it started, with dozens of volunteers acting as support members.