Twenty cyclists will hit the road in Prince George on Friday morning to kick off the 2012 edition of the Cops for Cancer Tour de North bike ride.
The seven-day, 850-kilometre trek to Prince Rupert is both a test of endurance as well as an opportunity to raise money for an important cause, but before the riders hit the open road they'll hold three events in Prince George to get the tour started.
First up Friday morning is a visit to Hart Highlands elementary school where the riders and a cancer survivor will speak to students in the gymnasium. Then they all hop on their bikes and ride down Highway 97 for an event at the community gardens at Victoria Street and Seventh Avenue at 10 a.m. After a few more speeches and a chance for people to donate to the cause, it's off to Canadian Tire for an 11 a.m. public engagement.
Prince George will be represented on the tour by RCMP officer Coralee Wilkinson and community riders Dennis Schwab and Sherry Pattie.
With the official send off less than a week away, the event has already surpassed two thirds of its initial fundraising goal and Canadian Cancer Society community giving co-ordinator Erin Reynolds said the target is attainable.
"We're at about $175,000 and that's including some very successful jail and bail's we've been having throughout the region," she said. "Our goal is $260,000 and it's well within reach if more people go to our website and donate."
The jail and bails around the north have indeed been lucrative with $32,000 coming in at each of the events in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John. In Quesnel the jail and bail raised $20,000 and in Burns Lake it brought in $16,300.
The CNC students' union is also holding an event Thursday to raise money for the cause. The Big Honkin' Head Shave will take place between noon and 2 p.m., and will feature hairdressers shaving the locks off participants who have been collecting pledges.
After leaving Canadian Tire on Friday, the cyclists will head down Highway 16 for Vanderhoof, their Day 1 destination. A welcome event will be held at the Co-op grocery store around 4:30 p.m.
A good night's sleep will be of the essence as the riders have a busy Saturday lined up. In the morning they'll cycle up to Fort St. James where they'll hold a noon-time event and then they'll head right back down to Highway 16 and make it to Fraser Lake for a 6 p.m. event at the Legion.
"That's 170 kilometres, it is our longest leg of the journey of our east-west route," Reynolds said.
There will also make seven other stops along the way until the riders reach their final destination in Prince Rupert on Sept. 20.
Other RCMP officers taking part this year include: Karla and Chris Ivany, both of Burns Lake; Courtney Cross from Quesnel; Dave Dickson and Chris Ives both from Williams Lake; Henk Timmerman from Smithers; Greg Hall and James Ruttledge both from Dawson Creek; Pat Egan, Ian Patrick and Patricia Duffels all from Fort St. John; Jen McCreesh from Fort Nelson; Keith Lansdown and Marshall Thompson from New Hazelton; Bob Killbery and Jennifer Collins, both from Prince Rupert.
Additionally, Sharon Unger of Vanderhoof is the medic rider.