While the usual Cycle of Life ride for hospice isn’t happening on the Island, teams from communities such as the Comox Valley have still been riding and raising funds in recent weeks.
The goal was to raise money and complete 200 km through the first 20 days of July, with the local team riding as a group on Saturday morning to cover a good portion of their total.
One person could not make it, but the rest of the team rode roughly 50 to 70 km through the morning around the Valley. The usual event brings together teams to ride around the Victoria and South Island area, through places like the Saanich Peninsula, Brentwood Bay, Mill Bay, Crofton and Saltspring Island over a two-day period.
“That’s what the traditional ride would’ve looked like,” said Comox Valley Cyclepaths captain Raida Bolton. “Obviously, that got cancelled…. What they’ve decided to do is keep it virtual.”
On Saturday morning, the 10 Valley riders were checking maps and posing for a team photograph before an RCMP escort arrived to lead them for the start of their route. They left from Marina Park in Comox and headed out toward areas such as Merville before coming back to the marina for a midday get-together. On the Island as a whole, about 125 people were expected to take part.
Already, just as their ride was about to begin Saturday, they were getting close to $20,000 and still working to raise funds through Monday. After this, the hospice group in Victoria hosts a big online party via Zoom for Island participants.
Last year, the team raised just over $40,000, putting it at the top of the Island teams. While this year’s goal is more modest, the important thing for team members is to have some continuity for the event, which helps raise money for hospice programs that help people with end-of-life care as well as provide support for their loved ones.
“We’re working hard to get whatever we can get them,” said Bolton.
Last year, she was a top fundraiser, as was the Comox Valley team, and she says there is a healthy rivalry among the Island groups
“We had this really crazy competition going with some of the other teams,” she said. “It was super fun because we actually fired up everybody that was doing this.”
Bolton got involved after her father passed away three years ago, and this year she was also riding for a close friend, Margaret Lam, who had been a member of the team before but passed away in May.
“We spent a lot of time together in events, you know, running and riding,” she said.
On Saturday, the weather cooperated, the mood was buoyant and the Comox Valley Cyclepaths were ready to ride – and hopeful about prospects for a return to the regular event in 2021.