Christopher Rosenberger has a special reason for leading the Tour de Valley Cops for Cancer team this year.
His daughter, Sophie, is now a five-year-old, attending elementary school in South Surrey.
But when she was three, Sophie underwent surgery and treatment for a cancer on one of her kidneys. Her prognosis is good - Sophie is already down from monthly check ups to once every year.
That's all good news for Rosenberger, who will hit the road on Sept. 26 from Aldergrove Secondary School for the nine-day fundraising bike ride, with 21 other law enforcement officers. The team is drawn from border guards, RCMP officers, civic police, and prison guards.
The days before the ride begins can be exciting, said the team captain.
"It's also a little daunting," Rosenberger said of the annual ride. "You've got nine days in front of you, with not a lot of breaks."
This is Rosenberger's third consecutive ride with the team which will take a winding route that ranges from Tsawwassen all the way up the Fraser Valley to Hope and Boston Bar.
All the money raised by the Cops for Cancer cycling teams goes towards kids with cancer - the Canadian Cancer Society uses it to fund research into new and better treatments, and also operates Camp Goodtimes, the province's only summer camp for kids who have been in, or still are in, cancer treatment.
Every officer must personally raise at least $5,000 for the charity just to be allowed to participate.
They also participate in a number of group fundraising events, and have to get in shape to ride approximately 900 kilometres over nine days, with no days off.
For about six months before the ride, the team members are busy whether in their police uniforms, or in their Cops for Cancer gear.
"You're either training, or you're fundraising, or you're planning a fundraiser," said
A Border Services Officer at the Pacific Highway crossing, Rosenberger has raised his personal funds for the year, but he still has a lot of extra work to do as team captain.
The captain position is taken up by a new rider every year, and with it comes more responsibility for logistics and team fundraising.
It can be difficult finding the time to train along with all the other work, Rosenberger said.
Training is key. Some riders come to Cops for Cancer with a lot of cycling experience, but others only ride casually, with a few having not
The team undertakes a series of monthly training rides starting in the spring, gradually increasing mileage. The final training ride before the Tour de Valley starts is a 160 km ride, a full 100 miles.
"Everybody's been training really hard," said Rosenberger.
That's important because some days on the Tour will be more challenging than others.
"Our mileage isn't always evenly distributed over the days," said Rosenberger. There are a couple of 60 km days at each end, but four 100 km-plus days in a row in the middle, including the longest ride, a 130-plus ride up the Fraser Canyon from Hope to Boston Bar and back.
The challenges pale compared to what kids with cancer go through, which is one of the things that drives the team up and over steep hills.
Rosenberger, and every other team member, will have a physical reminder of this in the form of necklaces they wear during the ride. The necklaces have beads added to them - one for each day on the road, blue beads for rainy days, black beads for when they fall off their bikes or crash. Rosenberger got his black bead last year when he spun out on his back tire on a linoleum school floor.
The necklaces are based on those given to many young cancer patients in B.C. For the kids, each bead represents a dose of chemotherapy, radiation, a needle for a blood sample, an injection of medicine. Some children have necklaces that reach down to the floor, or which can be looped around their necks two or three times, due to the huge number of medical procedures they've endured.
On the ride, the police officers will be stopping at elementary schools and businesses that have raised funds for the cause, meeting thousands of students. They make a particular point of stopping at the schools of junior team members, kids who have been diagnosed with cancer.
The ride is made possible by a support crew of volunteers who set up everything and haul everyone's luggage, keep the bikes in perfect working order, and make sure the riders are fed and hydrated at all times.
"They really look after us so the only thing we have to do is pedal the bikes," said Rosenberger.
Without them, the ride wouldn't be possible.
"That's the only way that we're able to spread the message and reach out to as many people as we do," said Rosenberger.
This year's Tour de Valley has already raised almost $200,000 and will gather more donations in the next week and while on the road.
For more information, or to donate, visit www.copsforcancerbc.ca. Information about the Tour de Valley, and its sister tours based out of Vancouver, the Island, and the Interior can be found there.
@ Copyright 2013