For the first time, Hilary Eastmure is on the other side of the interview.
Eastmure, 26, is a reporter for 91.7 Coast FM — she’s also the only media rider taking part in this year’s Tour de Rock fundraiser for cancer and one of just three riders from the central/north Island.
“It’s weird,” she told The NEWS, of being the subject of a story instead of the one telling it.
“But it’s also exactly what I signed up for and I want to leverage my position as the only media rider to get as much publicity for the tour as possible because the event deserves it.”
Tour de Rock is a two-week bike journey in which a team of police officers and select media riders cycle from the north end of Vancouver Island to Victoria, a distance of about 1,000 kilometres. The team stops in various communities including Parksville in an effort to raise money to fight childhood cancer. Since 1998, the tour has raised more than $20 million for the Canadian Cancer Society, specifically funding pediatric cancer research and programs.
“I’m really touched by the cause,” said Eastmure, who is based in Nanaimo but covers issues from Ladysmith to Parksville Qualicum Beach.
“We’ve all been touched by cancer in one way or another… but I can’t imagine having a child with cancer — that seems like the ultimate injustice.”
Eastmure said the tour will be her first multi-day bike ride.
But she’s in good hands.
Eastmure is training for 12-days of consecutive cycling with Oceanside RCMP Cpl. Jesse Foreman, who completed the tour two years ago.
“Hilary’s been doing excellent, she hasn’t missed a single training session and we’re up to doing 100 kilometres on long rides,” Foreman told The NEWS Wednesday morning. “From where she started out with little biking experience she’s become an amazing rider.”
Eastmure said she trains three days per week cycling anywhere from 30 to 100 kilometres on top of a full-time broadcasting career with the radio station.
Foreman said the tour is an “overwhelming commitment” with riders starting to train in March.
“As summer stretches on it’s not only three days a week (training) but it’s also a commitment to fundraising, things you need to organize and public events…we talk to prospective riders about how much time and energy it takes,” he said. “You really have to throw yourself into it for six months of your life and do it for the kids.”
Eastmure covered Tour de Rock in 2013 as a reporter and she’s wanted to take part in the ride ever since.
It’s especially meaningful to the Elora, Ontario native because she’s doing it in part to honour a longtime family-friend, Marilyn Koop, who passed away in April 2012 from cancer.
“She was like a second mom to me,” explained Eastmure. “She was the mom of my best friend (in Ontario) and they lived across the street from me… Growing up their family was a big presence in my life, she was a big inspiration for me, she was an artist and avid reader and a really strong voice in our community.”
Eastmure will turn 27 on the 11th day of the tour, the same day she’ll ride 78 kilometres from Duncan to West Shore — and she couldn’t think of a better way to spend her birthday.
“When I first found out about Tour de Rock I wanted to do it,” she said. “And not because I wanted to see the Island north of Campbell River but because I want to be a part of this crazy, awesome journey.”
Eastmure’s fundraising goal is $15,000.
On Saturday, May 30 she will host her first Tour de Rock burger and beer night from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Old City Station Pub in Nanaimo to raise money for the ride. Tickets are $20. For more information or to purchase tickets contact Eastmure at 250-327-4240 or e-mail email@example.com. To follow Hilary Eastmure’s blog about the tour visit: www.tourderock.mycoastnow.com.
Tour de Rock (sponsored by Black Press) riders are slated to stop in Parksville the evening of September 24 en route from Port Alice to Victoria. Stay tuned for more details.