Hello South Island! This is Cst. Elyse Patten from the West Shore RCMP Detachment. I am excited that the team has finally made it to the south end of Vancouver Island.
The day started out with a great pancake breakfast at Boston Pizza in Duncan. The team fueled up for a tougher day of riding with the Malahat looming in the near future. Once we set out on the road, we travelled toward Shawnigan Lake School and were treated to a warm welcome from the students, who were all wearing blue shirts that read “Wonder”. It was great to see such enthusiasm from this young group of students. The school raised an amazing $30,000 following some great fundraising events including a 24 hour spinathon!
The team departed the school, and while travelling away from Shawnigan Lake, we stopped at Frances Kelsey Secondary School. Students filled the gymnasium and showed a lot of enthusiasm as the team rolled in. After a quick visit, the team continued on to the Mill Bay Centre where we were met by a welcoming group of people; many generous donations were made by our wonderful community partners like Thrifty Foods and Coast Capital Savings in that area.
The time had finally come. We had no choice but to start the climb up the Malahat! We didn’t receive a pep talk like the Port Alberni hump, but the anticipation of being back in the South Island was more than enough for many of the riders to work hard during the climb up the steep inclines. And what a grind it was! The saying “slow and steady will win the race” kept repeating in my head as the team worked one pedal stroke at a time to make it up the long curving hill. Team mates encouraged each other to keep pushing on and we made it up in great time. We were met with celebrations by the support crew as we made it up the toughest climb on the Malahat. Taking the time to acknowledge our accomplishment (and rest our legs) was well needed!
Now it was time for downhill fun as we made our way through the “S curves”, past Goldstream Park and through Langford! I was so excited to finally be back home and to the area that had supported me so much during my Tour journey. As the team travelled along Goldstream Avenue, students at Spencer Middle School and Ruth King Elementary lined the streets with posters and smiles, cheering the team on as they passed by. The sight of the students celebrating our arrival brought a tear to my eye and I felt so much pride for the great community I work in.
As we pulled up to our next stop at Belmont Secondary School, I caught sight of my family cheering as we rode around the corner. Once we parked, my junior rider Daisy came running up and gave me a much needed hug. I know how the Tour de Rock means so much to her and her family every year and her excitement felt like an energy boost I needed after our grind over the Malahat. My other junior rider, Hannah, was at the school with her mother, which was so great to see as Hannah has been battling for her life recently which did not allow her to participate in many Tour de Rock events. I was so happy to get a photo with the two young ladies who inspired me to ride the entire island! They are what you could truly define as Superheroes!
After a quick lunch, courtesy of the City of Langford and many hugs, the team continued to the second Langford school of the day, Happy Valley Elementary. Unfortunately, as we were short on time, we were only able to give a quick introduction of the team and cheer before heading back on the road towards Sooke. Since Sooke is such a special community to the Tour de Rock, we wanted to make sure we made it out there with plenty of time to interact with all of the children and families in the community. The team pushed the limits and almost flew on our bikes as we made our way out to Sooke. We passed by Edward Milne Secondary and gave waves and high fives to the students, as we continued on to Sooke Elementary School.
What a reception we received! Through a combination of schools, there were 1500 students and teachers waiting to greet the team. I was honoured to introduce my team to the Sooke community and received many generous donations from the students, including a young man and woman who each shaved their heads and raised over $1,000 each! The Sooke RCMP Detachment and Lions Club made a very generous donation following multiple events including a bottle drive.
Our final stop for the day was John Stubb Memorial, where rider Andree is the Military Police School Liaison. It was great to see the students so excited to see the team as only a couple weeks ago, Andree shaved her head in front of the whole school.
Overall, today was filled with excitement and pride as we officially entered the South Island!
WHAT’S UP ON THURSDAY, OCT. 6
On the home stretch now. The riders will zig-zag around Oak Bay, Victoria and up the Saanich Peninsula to Sidney, visiting Oak Bay High, St. Michaels University School, St. Andrew’s, Colquitz, Marigold, Spectrum, Glanford, Claremont, Keating, Bayside and Parkland schools before a community event by the Sidney pier at 3:30pm. If you like to laugh, there’s the second annual Comedy For Cancer gala at the Mary Winspear Centre. The team arrives at 6:30pm; dinner and entertainment begin at 7pm. Contact Laura Lavin at email@example.com for details or tickets.
WHAT’S UP ON FRIDAY, OCT. 7
This is it. The 2016 Tour de Rock winds up with the finale at Centennial Square – thought not before a full day of events around Victoria, Esquimalt and Saanich. Catch them at the Esquimalt Plaza from 9:45-10:15am.. Lots of schools on the agenda — Esquimalt High, St. Joseph’s, Reynolds, Braefoot, Oaklands and Lansdowne – to pump up the weary riders one last time. The Centennial Square celebration begins at 4:30pm, with the team rolling in at 5pm.