In total, the group of 22 riders and their support crew made it 854.5 kilometres in seven days, at an average speed of 25.7 kilometres an hour for 33 hours and 13 minutes.
While the ride was exhausting, and the hills a challenge, Vandine says it was the school visits along the way that kept him going. At some of the schools there were children with cancer and survivors, who were made “junior team members”.
“Hearing their stories and hearing that this type of organization’s actually made a difference for them, that was one of the most rewarding parts of this tour this year,” says Vandine. “It kind of solidifies all the hard work that you put into it, and along the ride when you have a steep hill it kind of helps you put things into perspective and give you that little push that you might need.”
That push also came from guest riders on the tour like RCMP Chief Superintendent of North District Rod Booth, who disappeared at one point during a gruelling hill, only to reappear at the top playing the bagpipes to motivate the team.
“When you have someone with his status coming out and supporting you as much as he did, it’s an amazing experience,” says Vandine, “especially when you have a hill that’s that steep and you have him standing there on the side of the road playing the bagpipes to support his members up the hill, it’s kind of a unique experience.”
Their efforts have paid off, as Tour Coordinator Erin Reynolds expects them to exceed their fundraising goal of $290,000. The donations are still being tabulated, and will be accepted until the end of 2013, but the FortSt. John detachment is likely close to $60,000 on its own.
Although his body is still recovering from the trip, Vandine says he would love to take part again next year when the tour switches to the East to West route again.
“No one should have to go through cancer, especially small children who haven’t had a chance to grow up or experience things, and the little that I could do to raise money for them was kind of nothing,” he argues. “To contribute to that type of cause is kind of monumental for me.”
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