Surrey brothers Rob Chiasson (left) and Michel Chiasson survived the seventh annual Ride2Survive fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Surrey brothers Rob Chiasson (left) and Michel Chiasson survived the seventh annual Ride2Survive fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Surrey brothers complete gruelling bike trek

Ride2Survive raises funds for the Canadian Cancer Society.

When Rob Chiasson’s brother Michel suggested that they participate in this year’s Ride2Survive his first response was, “You’re crazy!”

But the 48-year-old Surrey resident and vice-president for McDonald’s Canada soon changed his mind when he learned that the purpose of the gruelling one-day ride is to simulate what it’s like to live with cancer.

“A 400-kilometre ride, a 12,000-foot climb and cycling from Kelowna to Delta in one day is hard but that’s not as hard as a day in the life of someone with cancer,” said Chiasson, whose mother passed away in 1990 after a five-year battle with colon cancer.

The riders departed Rutland United Church in Kelowna at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 18. After climbing Pennask Summit, 52 kilometres of pedaling up a six-per-cent grade, they stopped for breakfast in Merritt. Up until that leg, Chiasson had been riding at the front of the pack but as the group travelled the hilly route along Coldwater Road he began to have problems.

Chiasson soon realized that he had eaten too much breakfast. He began to overheat and became nauseous. When he started to fall back in the pack because he could not keep up the pace, he got nervous. He kept his head down to fight the panic but soon felt like he was going to have to quit, until he felt someone’s hand on his back. Another rider named Al had come up beside him and was helping him along.

According to Chiasson, this act characterizes Ride2Survive.

“We all start together and finish together. We all help each other make it,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it if Al hadn’t been there. At the end of that leg I was extremely emotional.”

When asked if he would be participating in the 2012 ride Chiasson said, “How could I not be?”

He said that he feels very lucky to have a wife and two healthy kids.

“Whatever I can do to help, I will continue to do it,” said Chiasson.

And he has helped. Together, the brothers have raised more than $15,000 – a significant portion of the total $283,000 the ride has brought in this year.

Like each of the 90 riders and 70 crew members who are raising funds through Ride2Survive, Chiasson will have the opportunity to tell the Canadian Cancer Society exactly where he would like his money spent.

North Delta resident and Ride2Survive Operations Officer Vicki Kunzli said, “All of our money goes to the Canadian Cancer Society and is put in trust until the participants decide where it should go.”

She added, “None of the money raised is used to fund the ride.”

Local businesses such as North Delta’s Caps South Shore Cycle, the official home of the ride, provide a variety of goods and services including food, water, vehicles, radios and mechanical support. After the ride, the extra food was taken to the Surrey Urban Mission.

The 2012 Ride2Survive kicks off in February with a two-hour indoor ride and orientation session at Southridge School in South Surrey. Registration is open now. To sign up or to find out more information, please visit www.ride2survive.ca.

This story was contributed by Laura Thomas.

Surrey North Delta Leader