Rider carries big legacy on Tour de Rock

Saanich Police officer will be among those taking part in 1,000-kilometre journey from Sept. 24 to Oct. 7

Saanich Police reserve Const. Joanne Bickford

With the bandana of former Tour de Rock rider Mike Lawless on her handlebars, and a tattoo dedicated to him on her arm, Saanich Police Const. Janis Carmena is not alone on this year’s Cops for Cancer ride.

Carmena is one of two Saanich Police riders, along with reserve Const. Joanne Bickford, who are closing in on the 1,000-kilometre journey from Port Alice to Victoria, which runs from Sept. 24 to Oct. 7.

For Carmena, the connection with cancer cuts close.

She lost her mom, who was only 49 at the time, to ovarian cancer 20 years ago. Then in 2015 she lost her brother-in-law Mike Lawless, a mountain of a man, and a Saanich Police officer who had dedicated the last 10 years of his life to the Tour de Rock.

Lawless rode the Tour de Rock in 2004 and volunteered on the support crew every year until he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013. He was married to Carmena’s sister Krista, who continue to raise their families next door to each other in a Central Saanich duplex. On the inside of Carmena’s right arm is a tattoo of a blue butterfly, the symbol of ovarian cancer, flying over a grey and white ribbon to symbolize Lawless’ brain cancer (grey) and lung cancer (white).

“Mike got me into policing, and it’s him and my mom that I started riding for,” Carmena said. “I look at the tattoo while I’m biking, it keeps me going.”

Anything helps for Carmena, who is new to cycling. Before she joined the team in March she’d never been on a road bike, let alone used clip-less pedals. Hence, there’s been a couple of “good crashes,”  she said.

“I had to get a CT scan after I cracked my helmet, with road rash on the face, on Ross-Durrance Road,” Carmena said. “The road was fast with curves, and I couldn’t see what was up ahead, and I came to a fallen rider and had to lay my bike down or go [crashing] over them.”

That Carmena laid her bike down for a teammate is what you’d expect from a police officer. And yet Carmena says it’s been a new experience being on a team, in a new atmosphere.

“It’s amazing learning how to bike together, getting the support of the community and each other, and riding through towns [where] people are honking and cheering when you come through. You feed off that energy, it keeps you going.”

On Sept. 17, Carmena and friends are holding the Tank Top Flip Flop Hop fundraiser under Mike Lawless’ name. There will be live and silent auctions, including one special item, the extra-large bike that accommodated Lawless’ six-foot-five frame.

“There was a time when Mike kept the team going, he is such a motivational factor,” Carmena said. “Then to have communities asking, where’s Mike, and explaining to them that he’s passed away from cancer is [sadly] ironic.”

Carmena also has a junior rider, five-year-old Kyra, who is battling cancer.

 

The Tank Top Flip Flop Hop is Sept. 17 at the Ashton Armoury on 724 Vanalman Ave., starting at 7 p.m. There will be music by Music Masters and comedy by James Ball. Tickets are $20 and available at tourderock.ca/janiscarmena or by emailing Carmena at jcarmena@saanichpolice.ca.

 

 

Just Posted

Oak Bay win first Bridgman Cup since 1973

Annual UVic event is an indicator for coming South Island finals, Island finals and provincials

For Central Saanich couple, fight against MS is a matter of family

Altenkirks sell greeting cards and wooden bowls to raise money for MS Society

Saanich residents planning Halloween fireworks displays must plan ahead

Folks are required to attend one of three safety courses, buy a permit

Victoria feels the pinch at the pump as gas prices jump 18 cents

Gas up to 157.9 cents per litre at some stations

‘Panda’ Goodlife runner searches for his head

Facebook post for help leads to ‘unconfirmed panda head sightings’

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. massage therapist reprimanded, fined for exposing patients’ breasts

Registered massage therapist admits professional misconduct

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

VIDEO: Bear spies on cyclists riding by on Campbell River street

Riders seem unaware the bruin is mere feet away on the side of the road

Two Cowichan Tribes families devastated by duplex fire

Carla Sylvester sat in her vehicle, on Tuesday morning, with tears in… Continue reading

Most Read