Driving to Port Alice to kick off the Tour de Rock, I couldn’t help but already feel a little home sick.
Watching the meandering and hilly roads winding around the scenery, I thought to myself what it might be like to share the experience with my wife and children who were waiting back in Victoria for for when I would return from the most important experience I would ever enjoy without them.
Six hours into our up Island journey, with police siren’s blaring as we made our way into the village of Port Alice, the excitement and anticipation didn’t prepared for the reception 20 teammates and I received upon our arrival. When a staggering 10 percent of the total population of a town shows up to support you, your know the community is behind you.
That was our welcome to Port Alice, on our first day of the Cops for Cancer, Tour de Rock where more than 100 raucous supporters from a town with a population of approximately 800, packed the local Legion – raising more than $10,000 along the way.
Having spent some of my childhood growing up in a town of less than 300 people, I was familiar with the small-town family hospitality and it was a welcome sight after a long six-hour drive up Vancouver Island where we left friends an family behind to kick off the tour. Their hospitality did not disappoint.
Starting off the evening with an amazing seafood dinner featuring crab, prawns and the best BBQ’d salmon in recent memory, followed by the most enthusiastic and animated auction I will ever witness – it was clear the people of Port Alice were behind us.
Before tonight, I wondered as to why the Tour de Rock started at Port Alice – not because I questioned the town or their citizens, but only because I was curious. The community answered that question for me in no uncertain terms.
Quite honestly, I may not have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself and having witnessed the generosity of such a small community come alive in such a big way, I couldn’t think of a better place, either geographically or emotionally – to have started the tour.
On a long day where where we began an arduous 1,000 km plus, two-week journey with many of us including myself already missing friends, spouses and children, a town most of us had never been before couldn’t have made me feel more at home.
Arnold Lim is the media rider for Black Press