Langley’s Chris Vecchies hadn’t been an avid cyclist for long before he was suddenly riding more than 200 kilometres to fight cancer.
Vecchies is a member of Riders for Ryders, one of the largest teams on the cross-border Ride to Conquer Cancer to support the B.C. Cancer Foundation.
“This will be my fourth year,” said Vecchies. This Aug. 26 and 27, Vecchies will again ride from Vancouver to Seattle as part of the annual fundraising event.
In his first year, was eager to join the team.
“My uncle developed cancer, and I wanted to show my support for him,” Vecchies said. His uncle has since recovered. “He is doing fabulous, he is a thriver.”
But unfortunately, this year he’ll be riding for a former colleague who has recently been diagnosed with terminal colon cancer.
Riders for Ryders has had a few names over the years, but its current name speaks to the team’s reason for existing.
Two separate team members had sons named Ryder. Both died of cancer.
That keeps the team motivated to get some money together for the cause of cancer research.
Vecchies and his teammates have gained fundraising support from the Otter Co-op, which has hosted their car washes over the years.
Most other support comes from families and friends of the team members.
Once the fundraising is done, it’s time to get ready for riding.
As a team co-captain, Vecchies helps organize group rides in advance of the big event, and has recruited a few friends from work.
It was a co-worker who helped get Vecchies into riding in the first place, just before he joined the team.
A fairly fit guy, Vecchies hadn’t been on a bike much in some time, when a co-worker convinced him to try riding to work. Vecchies got a mountain bike and started riding from Langley to his warehouse manager job in Abbotsford.
One day a man about 65 years old zipped past Vecchies on a sleek road bike. Vecchies decided he’d better upgrade his ride.
But it was the Ride to Conquer Cancer that helped get him hooked on long distance cycling. After going into his first ride “on a wing and a prayer” he now regularly rides long distances, taking part in gran fondos and heading out for a hundred kilometres or more with his cycling friends.
“The length now is not intimidating,” he said of the Ride to Conquer Cancer.