Const. Elyse Patten grew up around the police force, her father being a member of the Saanich police department, and has been involved with the annual Tour de Rock ride throughout much of the event’s history. This year, she’ll get a chance to ride in the event itself for the very first time.
The Tour de Rock is a 1,000 kilometre, 14 day ride from Port Alice to Victoria, with funds going to the Canadian Cancer Society’s fight against childhood cancer. Since its inception in 1998, more than $20 million has been raised.
“It’s a great cause and a small way for me to try and make a difference for these kids that are fighting for their lives,” Patten said.
This will be Patten’s first major bike ride and she’s been training three times a week since she found out that she was selected for the team in May. Those training sessions consist of 30 to 100 km rides with her colleagues from the southern part of the Island and recently included a ride to the top of Mt. Washington.
“It was something I never thought I would do,” Patten laughed. “That was a pretty awesome accomplishment.”
Their training focuses on speed, hills and long distances depending on the night of the week. The Mt. Washington ride was a particularly telling barometer, as Tour veterans will say that if a rider can complete that ride then they can complete any stage on the entire tour.
“Half of the battle of the riding aspect is that it’s a mental game,” Patten said.
Beyond the time on her bike, Patten is looking forward to visiting schools along the route.
“A lot of the schools do their own fundraising and they have so much enthusiasm and they are part of what makes the tour great,” she said.
She’ll also be joined by two junior riders, Daisy Irwin, 11, and Hannah Day, 6, two children from Sooke who have unfortunately had cancer play a large role in their childhood.
“They’re the reason I’m doing this and they are the ones that inspire me to push harder,” Patten said.
Before the Tour gets underway on Sept. 24, the West Shore will be the site for two fundraising events.
Patten will host the Tour de Games on Aug. 6 at Ruth King Elementary from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’ll be a fun event for kids of all ages, with hamster balls, bumper ball, a bike rodeo, a dunk tank and a barbecue.
“It’s pretty much just an open family event, kids and adults can do the activities and the funds are going to be going towards Tour de Rock,” Patten said.
The following week, on Aug. 13, the West Shore RCMP detachment will host a garage sale full of donated items, with proceeds once again going towards the ride.