On Tour: Tour is not about the cycling

“You won’t remember any of the biking when you’re on Tour.”

“You won’t remember any of the biking when you’re on Tour.”

One of our trainers told the Tour de Rock team that way back in the early days of prepping for this journey.

I found it hard to believe that you can forget about the undulating, steep, never-ending hills that make up the north Island – especially the ones we do as part of the long 147-km and 107-km days.

But here I am, eight riding days into Tour, and I don’t remember much of the 733 kilometres of riding that this team has completed.

I remember that it hurts, at times, and it’s tiring, but I also remember how my teammates are the most amazing motivators anyone could ask to be riding alongside.

But Tour isn’t about the riding. Tour is about Point A and Point B and Point C, and so forth. It’s the stops we make in the communities filled with amazing Vancouver Islanders who welcome us with open arms that have left lasting impressions in my mind.

What Tour de Rock does, and what Tour de Rock stands for is a unified fight against a cruel disease. We see this look of determined fight on the faces of everyone who cheers us and honks us on, everyone who hands us a cheque, everyone who shouts from their street-facing balconies. They all get what this is about.

We, as riders, have seen incredible acts of generosity. Like Sienna, who I met in Courtenay.

She was no older than nine years old and she handed us $90 of hard-earned money that she originally intended to use to buy a Lego set.

But when she heard about Tour de Rock, and what the money goes to, she cracked open her piggy bank and gave us every last cent to her name.

This isn’t uncommon. Children and adults alike treat us as if riding a bike is something special. I’ll admit, it’s tough, but it’s not our biking and our waving that funds cancer research; it’s the people who donate generously because they know it goes to a truly deserving cause.

Tour de Rock is so much more than 17 riders.

Tour de Rock is a family, our Vancouver Island family, that gravitates this cause, and that fights in any way it can to overcome it and make the world a better, healthier place.

Seeing the people in the communities, seeing the school kids so elated to have us high five them out of genuine appreciation for what they do, makes all those rides and the fatigue completely unimportant to us.

I know on Friday when the Tour officially ends, and a month from now, a year from now, a decade from now, I won’t remember a single inch of Vancouver Island roadway, but I will never forget what it feels like to be loved by a community that supports what you’re doing 100 per cent.

The Tour de Rock team ends its 1,100-kilometre bike ride on Friday (Oct. 5) with a free celebration at 5 p.m. in Centennial Square in downtown Victoria.

Check out bclocalnews.com/tour-de-rock for updates on the tour.

Kyle Slavin a reporter with the Saanich News and a member of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team.

kslavin@saanichnews.com