If the welcome given to the Tour de Rock riders in Qualicum Beach Thursday was warm, the welcome they got at Arrowview Elementary School was positively ecstatic.
The Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock riders streamed into the town square in Qualicum Beach just past noon to be greeted by a small crowd of well-wishers and an address by town crier Len Mustard, who welcomed them to the town and thanked them for their efforts in the fight against childhood cancer.
In an interview, Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek said he appreciated the hard work done by the Tour de Rock team.
“As a bike rider myself, I really appreciate what these people do,” he said. “I saw the weather they went through on the north Island. Of course, Qualicum Beach came through in the crunch and we provided sunshine.”
That weather to the north was definitely tough, Oceanside RCMP rider Cpl. Jesse Foreman said in an interview, but it wasn’t the hardest part of the trip.
“The weather up north was like it always is up north — it was brutal,” he said. “We had a major rain storm that came through with high winds and we had two riders go down, but they got right back up again. The hardest part for me though was finding out my father in law has cancer on the first day of the tour.”
Foreman said the support the riders have been shown on the tour has been remarkable and heartwarming.
“Physiotherapists will drop everything at night to take us in if we need a massage,” he said.
After a traditional lunch at Bailey’s, courtesy of owners Len and Cindy Thomson, the riders mounted up again and headed to nearby Arrowview Elementary School, where students waved coloured swatches of fabric and gave a rousing cheer as the riders pulled up.
In a brief address to the young throng, Foreman made it clear why the riders were working so hard.
“We are all fighting together to help kids with cancer,” he said. “We want to get rid of that. Even one kid with cancer is too many.”
Foreman was presented with a cheque for $400 which was raised by the school.
The tour then proceeded to Parksville, where they made a stop at Thrifty Foods, where they received a cheque for $5,290 and a speech from Phil St. Luke.
“When Jesse was 10 or 11 we had WWE wrestling in the yard and he’s still my hero today,” St. Luke said. “I’m proud of each and every one of you guys, working your butts off, no matter what you go through.”