The 2011 Tour De Rock team rolled through Ladysmith Monday afternoon, bringing with them a message of hope and determination.
After a brief stop at Tim Hortons, the tour made their way up First Avenue to the Ladysmith District Credit Union — escorted by a pipe band — where residents were waiting with warm greetings and cheque presentations.
The bills and the hairs were flying as local volunteers and riders rallied donations from the crowd in exchange for losing their locks.
Jesse Brown took a seat in the barber’s chair to remember his son Callum, who was lost to cancer at only two years old.
His son Zachary is this year a junior rider, also to honour Callum.
The tour, which started last September 24 in Port Alice, has been taking its toll on the riders.
Rider and Black Press photographer Chris Bush said some of the north Island rides were excruciating.
“This leg of the tour is all short rides,” said Bush before leaving Ladysmith.
The hardest leg of the journey so far for Bush has been from Port McNeill to Sayward and from Port Alberni to Ucluelet.
For Const. Sandi Swanson, the ride has been tough, but she’s in good company. Tied to her handlebars is a picture of Henry Down, a young boy currently fighting cancer — a 14 cm tumour on his spine. Through all the tour’s trials, Swanson knows it is nothing compared to Down’s fight.
“If you’re having a tough day and struggling up some hills … all I have to do is look down and know that a little bit of pedalling and I’ll make it to the top of the hill. It feels better for me, but every day isn’t like that for him. Every day is a tough day,” Swanson said.
Const. Alvin Deo was pleased with this leg of the journey and more pleased with the support.
“There’s some tough legs,” said Deo, noting some ‘epic’ storms made for interesting riding up Island.
The riders will next appear at the Red Serge Dinner Monday evening at the Eagles Hall in Ladysmith before spending the night in Chemainus. In the morning, you can catch up with the riders at the Chemainus Legion, where there will be a breakfast provided for $15 per person.