Harry Bishop, the 81-year-old cyclist, took part in his third Ride to Conquer Cancer that occurred on Aug. 25 to 26, an annual fundraiser for the BC Cancer Foundation. Bishop raised $2,600, surpassing his goal of $2,500.
“The whole experience was excellent,” said Bishop. “I think the favourite part was the get together we had the Friday before the ride. Everybody was telling stories and of course, everyone is sipping a few and just the ride in general. You meet so many people.”
Bishop had a sweep team to stick behind him and watch him during the 63 kilometres he managed to cycle during the two-day 200-kilometre race. At one point, he said he tried to wave them past him but they refused to budge.
The welder by trade departed, along with roughly 2,500 other riders, from the Cloverdale Exhibition Grounds to the Chilliwack Exhibition Grounds, the race’s overnight stop. Bishop stopped at the first pit stop in Huntington, about 50 kilometres away from the start, and got transported the rest of the way to Chilliwack.
He said the day consisted of drizzly rain but it wasn’t cold, unlike day two of the race.
“We departed at 7 a.m. and it was just a terrible day – raining and cold. At the 13 kilometre mark, when my body said look at your birth certificate, I quit. My hands were frozen and my legs were giving out, so that was it,” he said. “If it hadn’t been for the weather I’m sure I would have racked up another 50 clicks, easy.”
This year, the 63 kilometre total was his best run. Bishop was only allowed to ride the finish line because he had surgery on his retina and in 2016 he managed to cycle 57 kilometres when the course was still from Cloverdale to Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA. (25 kilometres east of Seattle).
The route was changed from Cloverdale to Hope to celebrate the ride’s tenth anniversary. Unfortunately, due to the wildfires, the riders weren’t allowed to continue on to Hope and had to ride around the back roads of Chilliwack before returning to Coverdale for the second leg.
Despite this, Bishop said it was still his favourite of the two routes.
“I prefer the Canada ride because most of it’s flat and most of the hills we hit come out of Cloverdale, but once you get to Zero Avenue and up to Eighth Avenue, there’s a few little knolls but nothing big,” he said. “I don’t really know what it would be like from Chilliwack on.”
Bishop doesn’t know if the route will change back to the previous years’ but either way, he has already registered, allowing him to raise money already and for the next ride he is aiming to pledge $3,000. He is also looking to bike more kilometres next year.
“The good Lord willing, I’ll be in good shape. Maybe next year I’ll practice,” he said with a grin.
No, he didn’t practice before this year’s race but he won’t stop cycling until his legs stop carrying him.
“I lost a lot of family members and good friends and what have you to the disease,” he said. “I’m sort of like my mum. My mum was 84 when she passed away and she used to go to the senior’s resource centre in Langley and take people to their medical appointments and go to the swimming pool with them. She said as long as her legs will carry her she’ll keep doing it. I’m the same. As long as my legs keep carrying me I’m going to keep riding to Conquer Cancer.”