All good things come to an end and it was time for the Tour de Rock to end, Port Albern RCMP Const. Tom Gill said.
Gill and 21 other riders from across Vancouver Island spent two weeks in September and October riding more than 1,000 kilometres from Port Hardy to Victoria and the West Coast to raise money for pediatric cancer research. The ride finished on Oct. 7.
“I don’t regret that it ended but it was time for it to come to an end,” Gill said.
“The event lasted for four weeks and my family became second fiddle to it.”
The first thing Gill did after the ride was over was give his wife a hug then carry on with life as normal.
Gill has a vast archive of memories of the ride stored away but a few stand out.
On the first leg of the ride participants wheeled into the town of Sayward, which earlier that day had its power knocked out by a storm.
“The community still came out and put a potluck dinner on using generators and camp stoves,” Gill said.
Or in Woss, a small community whose economy has been hard hit, where six students raised more than $1,000.
Locally, Gill remembered a fundraising effort by a group of students at AW Neill that raised $500 in a matter of days. “They managed to accomplish a lot in a very short period of time.”
A common theme that threads its way through the fabric of his memories is that of children helping children. “Their whole focus is helping other kids and watching them do that was a highlight of the tour for me,” Gill said.
The ride had no adverse physical effects on him in spite of its duration. With his long arms, legs and torso Gill looks like he was built for the ride, and a foundation of recreational athletics in his youth tempered his body for the rigors of it.
With the ride over, Gill plans to stay involved with the Tour de Rock in some capacity, possibly on the support team. “Helping kids is always at the top of my list,” Gill said. “It’s how police treated me as a teen and I never forgot that.”
He plans to keep riding as well. Riders have first dibs on the road bikes they used but Gill has no plans to buy his. “I’d like to keep it but I already own a road bike so I can’t justify the cost ($1,900),” he said.
And his pate, which has been sparse since he shaved it, is now covered with burr-like stubble. “It’s growing back thinner than before though,” Gill said.