As part of the 2021 Great Cycle Challenge Canada, cyclists from Airdrie rode more than 12,000 kilometres last month, and raised nearly $30,000 for the SickKids Foundation.
The annual Great Cycle Challenge Canada is a virtual event that sees participants cycle throughout the month of August and then chart their daily progress on the challenge’s website. At the same time, participants solicit donations to support research into childhood cancer treatments and potential cures.
The ride has been going on since 2016. According to greatcyclechallenge.ca, more than 19,000 participants logged a combined distance of 3.8 million kilometres this year, and collectively raised over $9.2 million.From a local perspective, the website states 118 cyclists from Airdrie participated in the ride in August, collectively contributing $29,831 toward Canada's total, as of press time. In total, the group of riders from Airdrie cycled 12,007 kilometres.
A small team of three riders representing Airdrie – calling themselves the Airdrie Fit Chasers – took part in this year’s challenge, collectively logging nearly 900 kilometres and raising over $2,500. Airdrie Fit Chasers participant Deb Eben said she learned much throughout the month-long initiative – particularly, how much she enjoys cycling.
“I hadn’t ridden a bike for many years, but I enjoyed it, so I’m definitely going to keep it up,” she said. She added the challenge was also a good way to meet other Airdrie residents.
“I think it was a really great cause and I really enjoyed the fitness aspect of it, as well as the fundraising aspect of it. It taught me a lot about myself, and what I can actually accomplish.”
Eben said she participated in the ride to honour her friend Lynn Campbell, who passed away from cancer in 2019, as well as Lynn’s sister Jodi, who also passed away from cancer many years ago, at the age of just 18.
She added she increased both her fundraising and riding distance targets early into the challenge.
“My fundraising goal was originally $500 and I hit that pretty early into the challenge, so I doubled it to $1,000,” she said. “I’m currently just $75 short of that – I got up to $925 by the end of the challenge.”
While she fell a tad short of her goal, fundraising is still open until the end of September, according to Eben, which means if anyone still wants to donate to the Airdrie Fit Chasers’ page, they are able to do so at bit.ly/2X1Q3K1
“I’m not actively seeking donations anymore, but I do still have it posted on my Facebook page, on Instagram and things like that,” she said.
Eben added her next cycling-related goal is to ride the Legacy Trail, which connects Canmore and Banff.