Other than some rain, the West Shore seemed to miss most of the storm conditions that walloped Vancouver and Washington State last weekend. But one West Shore resident managed to navigate the storm on a 200 kilometre bike ride from Vancouver to Seattle, Washington to raise money for the BC Cancer Foundation.
View Royal Mayor David Screech was one of almost 2,100 riders on the seventh annual Ride to Conquer Cancer, which took place Aug. 29 and 30. While the weather didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of participants, it did cause havoc for race organizers, resulting in a number of safety concerns and a portion of the ride being cancelled.
“It was eventful,” Screech said. “It was certainly crazier than previous ones.”
This was his fifth year participating in the ride, which has raised a grand total of more than $60 million for life-saving medical research. This year’s event alone raised $8.4 million.
“It’s always great to take part in,” he said, adding he always opts for the classic course.
Participants ride their bikesfrom Vancouver to Seattle, over the course of two days spanning more than 200 km. Participants were given the option to choose their route and were given the choice of the classic Vancouver to Seattle route or a 300 km extended version of that classic course. Riders were also given the option to turnaround at camp and cycle back to Vancouver instead of continuing to Seattle. There was also a 280 km extended version of this return loop.
But Mother Nature had other plans.
“There were trees coming down on the course and people were being blown off their bikes.” Screech said while he didn’t see anyone hit by branches, he did see a few narrowly missing riders and heard of others being struck.
By early afternoon, he said organizers halted riders at the lunch stop in Bellingham, Washington, and turned those who had passed back to the pit stop. They closed the course, rounded all of the riders up and bussed them to the Mount Vernon camp for the night.
Screech was impressed with how quickly organizers arranged for busses and transportation for all of the riders. While he admittedly didn’t stay at the camp overnight, “a wise decision this year,” he said his hotel room was a little more comfortable than the conditions he’d heard about.
Riders spent a rough night at the Skagit County Fairgrounds where wind was destroying tents. Organizers opened up barns, so riders could sleep in the stalls on the concrete floor.
Sunday, day two of the ride, didn’t go much better for organizers.
The storm had brought down a number of trees and power lines, causing many roads to be closed. Riders had to detour around obstacles and closures, making Sunday’s leg closer to a 130 km ride than the roughly 100 km it was supposed to be, “with quite a few more hills than usual,” he added.
“It was really impressive how well they responded,” Screech said. He said organizers must have been up all night to re-arrange the routes but “they did it.”