When the 2017 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team was announced last month, Ashley Cockle felt a surge of pride at being one of the 24 riders chosen to complete the 1,100 kilometer ride to help raise money to help children battling cancer.
Cockle, a Victoria bylaw officer as well as a reserve constable for the Victoria Police Department, is the second member of her family to take on the challenging ride as her father, a police officer with VicPD, was one of the riders for the 2008 Tour de Rock.
Cockle felt she could do no less.
“These kids go through so much, and, although the ride is hard and the training is certainly a challenge, compared to what these kids have gone through, this is nothing,” she said.
This is the 20th year the Tour de Rock team has taken to the road to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society pediatric cancer research and support programs for children with a history of cancer. The team cycles from Port Alice to Victoria and will visit more than 27 communities along the way.
The event, which runs from Sept. 23 to Oct. 6, has become the Island’s biggest single fundraiser. Since its inception it has raised more than $23 million for pediatric cancer research and support programs.
For at least three years, Cockle, a Shawnigan Lake resident has driven half way to work, parked her vehicle and ridden her bike the rest of the way to work.
It translates into a daily ride of about 26 kilometres, so she feels ready to take on the demands of the longer ride.
“We train really hard for the ride by doing hill training every Tuesday, speed training and learning how to ride as a group on Thursdays, and Sundays we go for a long ride,” said Cockle, adding that the more than six months of training gives the group a chance to bond and get to know one another.
For Cockle, the physical challenges of Tour de Rock are almost secondary.
The best part of being on the team, and sometimes the most emotionally challenging, involves the junior riders. Each team member is paired with a child who has felt the effects of cancer and Cockle explained she has been lucky enough to have two junior riders assigned to her.
“Sawyer and Carter (Cockle’s junior riders) are both five years old and they have both had cancer. Although they are both in remission, I’m amazed at their strength. Sawyer came with me and rode his bike alongside me in the Buccaneer Days parade and he was just so thrilled,” said Cockle.
“The junior riders represent the reason for the whole event. They have a positive outlook and are strong and resilient. They’re the reason we do this, and I can’t think of a better reason.”
More information on Tour de Rock can be found at tourderock.ca.