Long distance ride a chance for reflection for New West man
The Brine Brigade is a lot smaller than the first time they participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer.
But it's the spirit of one of their departed members that fuels the group's annual resolve to ride 240 kilometres over two days even though most of them aren't regular cyclists.
They'll be at the start line again this Saturday.
Cameron Brine's father, David, had just been diagnosed with brain cancer when the Brigade formed to ride in the inaugural Ride to Conquer Cancer six years ago. The prognosis was grim but that didn't deter David from climbing onto a bike himself and leading the 40-strong contingent of family, friends and supporters across the finish line in Seattle.
"It was pretty emotional," recalls Cameron, who pedalled the route on a borrowed bike. "It was something I'll never forget, that he was able to see the level of support."
The group raised nearly $200,000 for cancer research from fundraisers like poker tournaments, pub nights, hot dog sales and donations.
Cameron's dad, a former supreme court judge in New Westminster, died a few months later.
When it came time to register for the next ride, Cameron, 38, didn't hesitate to sign on, unfold the group's custom red jerseys and blow the dust off his bike. He's been doing it every year since.
And while family commitments, new interests and other causes have dwindled the brigade over the years, their dedication is unbowed. Cameron's aunt, Janet, who participated in that first ride while battling breast cancer, continues her fight with the disease. She's also had to overcome the loss of her own daughter, Eva Markvoort, to cystic fibrosis in 2010.
During the ride, Cameron and the other riders often find themselves sharing their stories of how cancer has touched their lives.
"It doesn't seem to go away," he says of the disease.
But, most importantly, Cameron says he uses the long ride to reflect on his memories of his dad.
"When you're riding, you spend a lot of time in your own thoughts," he says.
It's those memories that power Cameron's tired legs, propel him up arduous hills, get him out of bed on the ride's second morning when every muscle aches from the first day's effort.
"It's a special weekend," he says.
To learn more about the Ride to Conquer Cancer, go to www.conquercancer.ca