They’ve biked 140 kilometres, up to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and through Jordan River. But that’s nothing compared to cycling the monstrous Mount Washington – at least for Mary Brigham.
“Mount Washington was the hardest,” said Brigham, a corporal with CFB Esquimalt’s Military Police Unit. “That was pretty intense. It’s straight uphill, absolutely. It took us under two hours to do it, so we did really well as a team.”
Twenty-one riders – 18 officers and three media members – have altered their lifestyle as they train for what could be the toughest ride of their lives – 1,000 kilometres of Island hills and valleys from Port Alice to Victoria.
The riders come into the training with varying levels of fitness, said head trainer Rob McDonald, a Saanich police officer.
“Some people have never been on a bike before, some people have quite a history of biking,” he said. “Because it’s so gradual, everybody does really well. The training program is not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants thing. It’s taken a long time to develop and we tweak it as we go.”
The ride’s team of trainers take care of the fitness aspect, but nutritionists, physiotherapists, plus stretching and bike maintenance experts are also in constant contact with the riders, keeping them and their bikes in top form.
The riders are grouped into two sections – North and Central Island, and South Island. The dividing line is at Duncan. McDonald leads training rides for the South Island pack, and while riders north of Duncan follow the same training schedule and style, they report their progress to McDonald.
Since starting training in March, the South Island riders have tackled the sharp incline to the observatory. They’ve pedalled Munns Road in the Highlands, cycled to Hartland landfill and powered through distances of 120 and 140 kilometres at a time.
“When you get up to those higher kilometres, it’s about riding as a team … All along the way you’ve got your support crew with you,” said Saanich police Const. Matt Cawsey, who rode with the Tour in 2009. “That’s a huge motivation as your legs spin, spin, spin over those kilometres.”
Added fellow Saanich Const. Aaron Murray: “It’s not only physical, but emotional as well. But that’s why we have great trainers and why we’ve been doing this since March. Would I have been ready to do this in March? Absolutely not.”
Cawsey said the final ride, which starts Sept. 24, is “nothing to sneeze at. It’s a lot of riding to be doing … and you’re up all day long, almost from 6 a.m. all the way to midnight. The training is designed to help us do that.”
McDonald said this year’s team has excelled in training, meaning the three-rides-a-week schedule doesn’t have to push them as hard as the departure date nears.
“This year’s team has been really fit, so it’s been really easy to push them a little more. And we’re ahead of where we should be, so it’s a little easier to back off a little bit, whereas in years before, it’s been a real push to the end to get them to where they need to be.”
Training for the Tour
• Tuesdays: Hill work
• Thursdays: Speed training on flatter roads
•Sundays: Long rides
ENTER TO WIN!
You could win one of two high-end Trek bicycles! To enter, visit the Black Press office at 818 Broughton St. to fill out a form, or enter online here. Winners will be drawn Oct. 7 and notified by email.
Black Press is proud to be an official sponsor for the 2011 Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, with staff photographer Chris Bush on the 21-member tour team as a media rider. To follow Chris Bush’s Twitter updates from the final weeks of training and throughout the ride, follow @chrisbushtdr.
ON TOUR: This year’s Tour de Rock begins in Port Alice on Saturday, Sept. 24 and ends Friday, Oct. 7 in Victoria. Tour de Rock raises funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research and programs.
HELP OUT: Donations can be made at www.copsforcancer.ca
FIND OUT: To catch up on all the Tour de Rock news, view photos and watch videos, please go online to: