GOOD CAUSES CONTINUE AT TOUR DE WHITE ROCK
Top pro Meier and White Rock firefighter raise money, awareness
Most of the cyclists at BC Superweek would love nothing more to wear Christian Meier’s Garmin-Transitions jersey, and why not?
It represents an ascent to the Pro Tour, the top level of the sport, the chance to ride at the top events all over Europe, and to race against and with the world’s best at the three Grand Tours, including teammate Ryder Hesjedal’s current headline making run at the Tour de France.
Yet Meier will not be wearing the famous orange-and-blue argyle kit of Garmin-Transitions when the 31st Tour de White Rock kicks off with the HIllclimb on Friday night — he’ll leave that honor for Pro Tour teammate Svein Tuft. Meier will instead wear a simple but stylish black and white jersey, with the words “F— Cancer” blaring boldly across his chest. Like the “last chance” tattoo inside his left forearm, the jersey is a tribute to the brother he lost to brain cancer last year.
It’s also a commitment to raise awareness about prevention, particularly among young people.
“There just doesn’t seem to be a huge push to cancer awareness and prevention, especially with the younger demographic, which is what F Cancer is trying to do,” said Meier. “Even just the name grabs the attention of younger people – and everyone else for that matter.”
Meier, 25, isn’t sure early detection would have helped his older brother – by two years – Michael, who woke up one day with a horrible headache and had surgery two days later to remove a brain tumor. Michael’s cancer returned suddenly last summer, and he passed away while Christian was riding the Vuelta a Espana, forcing the grief stricken younger brother to abandon his first Grand Tour with four stages left to come home.
“What could have helped him a lot is knowledge in general,” Meier said. “How the disease affects you, what you can expect and also what you should look for in treatment. My brother and family were not well enough educated on the cancer and therefore maybe were to quick to accept what they were being told by doctors, and looking back they maybe should have gone elsewhere as it seemed like his case was a bit beyond their capabilities. We should have sought out more specialized services and it frustrates me that it was maybe just a lack of knowledge may have cost him more time to live. There is a lot of money being raised for cancer research, which is super, but a lot of cancers can be cured with early detection so this is also something we should put resources into.”
Meier and Tuft, who live in Langley when they’re not racing in Europe, both took part in the recent Ride to Conquer Cancer from Vancouver to Seattle, and also in The Journey Home, another fundraising ride back from Seattle. The latter is still raising money through its website (http://journeyhomebc.blogspot.com/), including signed jerseys donated by many of Meier’s high-profile teammates from the ProTour peleton in Europe.
There are also items for sale, and ways to donate, at the letsfcancer.com website.
“All sorts of signed jerseys and there are still great jerseys that haven’t sold yet,” said Meier. “Money being raised from Journey Home is also going to F Cancer foundation. So both are a great way to support it.”
Meier isn’t the only rider raising money for a good cause this weekend.
Eric Kameka is a White Rock firefighter who used to race BC Superweek against the top pros as a Cat 1-2 member of the Escape Velocity team (now called Garneau Evolution). He still races with them at a club level, and will line up for the Cat 3-4 race at the Tour de White Rock Criterium on Saturday night while other White Rock firefighters collect money for crowd primes. A portion of will also go to their current charity effort – the biggest ever by the 21-member department – called Shore2Shore, at cross-country ride to raise money for Variety the Children’s Charity.
The fire fighters, who will also be on hand at Friday night’s Hillclimb in White Rock collecting donations will attempt the 6,800-kilometer relay from Halifax to White Rock in less than two weeks in September.
We do a number of charity events and wanted to take it to next level, a major scale,” said Kameka, noting some fire fighters had no experience and only got on a bike in the last year after planning Shore2Shore. “And cycling across Canada seems to be a pretty major scale.”
Besides the obvious cycling link – and the criterium is near the station – Kameka said teaming up with Tour de White Rock made sense.
“The Tour de White Rock being such a big community event, and us as fire fighters wanting to do as much as we can in the community, it was a no-brainer,” Kameka said. “Being one of the biggest cycling events in Canada and for it to be right in our backyard, it made perfect sense for us to join up and help them with the race and for us to promote the ride.”
For more on Shore3shore go online to http://wrfrcharity.blogspot.com/
The 31st Tour de White Rock starts with the Homelife Realty Hillclimb on Friday night, the Maximum Collision Criterium Saturday, and wraps up with the scenic and storied Peace Arch News Road Race on Sunday.