It was hard to miss the arrival of the 22 cyclists making their first Victoria stop this morning.
Police cars and motorcycles, lights flashing, led the team into the Thrifty Foods at Fairfield Plaza at 9 a.m. for a snack and a donation. Thrifty manager Jim Fuller presented the team with a cheque for $4,856.
Cyclist Victoria police Const. Mike Massine said being back in his hometown "feels absolutely incredible."
Thursday marks day 13 of a 14-day cycling tour of Vancouver Island. The annual Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock covers 1,000 kilometres. With most of the grueling ride behind them, the last two days of the tour is more focused on community celebrations than long stretches of highway.
Victoria police Const. Alvin Deo said the most memorable part of his journey has been the kids, for which the tour raises funds for pediatric cancer research.
"We're just little compared to what they're going through," said Deo.
The end is now in sight for Deo.
"Saturday is the first free day in seven months," he said, referring to the rigorous training period leading up to the ride. "I probably owe it to my wife, helping out around the house and with the kids."
Next on the list of stops is Oak Bay High, where Massine will be reunited with his two daughters for the first time in two weeks.
"I'm really looking forward to the energy," he said. "Every community we've gone into is just amazing. You feel tired, you feel sore, hungry and you get fed by these communities and not just with food."
The journey has been very cathartic, he said. "I've never had so many strangers come up to me and tell me their story… People will just come up to you and hug you and start crying on their shoulder."
Other Tour de Rock events planned for Victoria and Esquimalt:
Friday, Oct. 7
• 9 a.m. – Esquimalt High school, 847 Colville Rd.
• 9:20 a.m. – Esquimalt Plaza, 1153 Esquimalt Rd.
• 2 p.m. – Hillside Shopping Centre, 1644 Hillside Ave.
2:30 p.m. – B.C. Cancer Agency, 1900 Fort St.
• 4:15 p.m. – Trek Bikes, 388 Catherine St.
• 4:30 p.m. – GRAND FINALE, Centennial Square