TYSON WHITNEY PHOTOS Tour de Rock made its first stop of the tour in Port Hardy on Sunday afternoon at the Civic Centre.

Tour de Rock ride kicks off in the North Island

I would ride all day in the rain if it means raising money to help these kids”

The Tour de Rock team rode into Port Hardy on Sunday afternoon underneath a beautiful blue sky.

Port Hardy Mayor Dennis Dugas was on hand at the Civic Centre to greet the riders as they arrived, along with 1240 Coast AM’s Sandra Boyd (a Tour de Rock alumni rider), as well as a big enthusiastic group of supporters who were all excited to cheer them on as they made their first stop of the trip.

Dugas said it feels “awesome” to be able to support Tour de Rock. “It’s a wonderful event and I’m just glad it stops here in Port Hardy so we can cheer them on as they carry on with the next part of their journey down the island.”

While it was raining when the team left Port Alice in the early morning hours, rider Cassie Loveless, a member of BC Ambulance from Ladysmith, pointed out that “riding a bike in the rain doesn’t compare to fighting cancer or watching your child go through cancer treatments. I would ride all day in the rain if it means raising money to help these kids.”

As for how tough the notorious hills along the winding road that leads from Port Alice to Port Hardy were this year to navigate, Loveless added Tour de Rock’s training program is “so incredibly good, we were all ready for it.”

Also out to support Tour de Rock on Sunday were Port Hardy locals Beckett Ireton and his dad Adam.

Adam’s three-year-old son Weston was diagnosed with leukemia a year ago and is the North Island’s junior rider this year.

Adam said Weston is doing great, is currently in Campbell River for treatment, and he’s “doing really well with it all.”

Weston spent four or five days at Camp Goodtimes recently, and Adam said they were able to hangout “with other families going through the same stuff as we are, and the kids had a blast — they just loved it.”

As for what Tour de Rock means to his family, Adam noted it is “unbelievable — It’s one of those things I wish I never knew about in the way that we do, but the experience of meeting the riders and being a part of it is just so much fun. I want to say a big thank you to the communities, all the money raised from Alice, Hardy and McNeill is unbelievable. The time and effort everyone puts in is just great.”

At approximately 1 p.m., the team departed for the 45-kilometre trip to Port McNeill, where they stayed overnight before biking up Campbell Way for the start of their ride south to Woss and, ultimately, Sayward on what is the longest single-day ride in the tour.

The Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock is a fundraising event that raises money for pediatric cancer research and support programs for children with a history of cancer. The Tour de Rock team cycles from one end of Vancouver Island to the other, covering 1,000 kilometres and visiting more than 27 generous communities along the way.

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