Biking for their lives in Parksville

Bike for your Life event draws a big flock of cyclists

Riders in the 2012 Bike For Your Life event in Parksville Sunday

Riders in the 2012 Bike For Your Life event in Parksville Sunday

“It was a great ride,” said 67-year-old Qualicum Beach resident Simon Gabbott after he crossed the finish line at Sunday’s Bike For Your Life event in Parksville.

The long-time bike rider had just completed the event’s 70-kilometre route in two hours and nine minutes. He said he had done the 100km route last year, but had ‘blown up’ at the 70-kilometre mark, so stayed with that distance this time around.

“I love to do this every year,” Gabbott said, adding he was pleased with his time and happy to help out the event, which raised money (amount not yet available) for the Oceanside Stroke Recovery Association.

There were 347 riders officially registered for Sunday’s event — slightly down from last year. But significantly up from two years ago, which saw only 200-plus riders turn out. Turnout, organizers noted, has a lot to do with weather, and it was excellent weather this weekend.

Riders went a variety of distances, from 100 and 70 kilometres, to the manageable 15km route for younger riders and families. The non-competitive ride began and ended at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre on Jensen Avenue.

Fifteen of the 18 Cops for Cancer/Tour de Rock riders were at Sunday’s event, getting in some distance training. Bill Peppy, a trainer for the riders in the north Island region (and a rider is last year’s Tour), said the 15 riders were doing the 70km route.

“We train two nights and one day a week,” Peppy explained, adding the riders in the south Island area do similar training and will often get together to ride.

One of the nights of training, he continued, is hills — around 40km worth of those. The second night is speed training to get the riders’ heart rates up as they approach their maximum speeds. Sundays, Peppy said, is for distance training.

That’s only the preparation for the ride itself. Peppy, a local auxiliary RCMP member, said the riders have to be mentally ready for not only the ride, but for the kids they’re helping.

“You are a rock star for about two weeks,” he said the ride experience.

“But the effort itself is to help those kids, for Camp Goodtimes.”

Parksville’s Bike For Your Life takes place in August of each year, and raises funds for a variety of events and helps raise awareness of local cylcing issues and events.