Ahousaht First Nation member Roy Jack is participating in the Great Cycle Challenge for the fourth consecutive year. (Norm Jacob photo)
Roy Jack had some serious doubts whether he would continue his annual cycling fundraising tradition.
Jack, an Ahousaht First Nation member, has not only begun his month-long quest to cycle and raise money for the Great Cycle Challenge but he’s already surpassed his original fundraising goal and is now looking to double that.
The Great Cycle Challenge sees cyclists from across Canada, the United Stated and Australia set a goal of how far they wish to cycle in a given month. Participants then raise funds during their month-long challenge.
Proceeds go towards childhood cancer research.
Jack has set a goal of cycling 1,500 kilometres this month. He wanted to raise $2,500, surpassing the $1,800 he raised in 2019.
But he has already surpassed his fundraising goal this year and has a new goal he’s aiming for now - $5,000.
This marks the fourth straight year that Jack has taken part in the Great Cycle Challenge.
The 45-year-old wasn’t sure whether he would participate in the 2020 event.
“It’s usually in June,” he said. “But they changed it over to August because of (COVID-19).”
Early on during the pandemic Jack was not cycling or training as much as he usually does.
Jack was laid off from his job as a supervisor for a regional recycling plant in Nanaimo this past March. He was recalled to work three weeks later.
But even during his time off work Jack did not venture out too often.
“It made it a little bit more difficult to train,” he said. “I was concerned, not knowing how severe (the virus) was when it first came out. The three weeks I was laid off I think I only went out on the bike twice.”
Besides dealing with the pandemic, Jack has also faced a number of personal hardships this year.
His older brother Reg died in April. An uncle and a niece have also died recently.
Needless to say, cycling was not top of Jack’s mind. But that changed in the past month and his interest in cycling was renewed when family members purchased some equipment for him, including a hydration pack and some new cycling shoes.
“There were so many gestures that made me feel good about what I do,” he said.
As a result, Jack once again signed up for the Great Cycle Challenge.
As part of his training, Jack completed an unofficial ride last month, cycling from his hometown of Nanaimo to Port Renfrew to Victoria and then back home again.
Though those kilometres did not count towards his challenge totals for August, that ride did generate quite a few sponsors for his event this year after he posted about it on Facebook.
“It did raise awareness,” he said. “My post got shared a few hundred times.”
Jack said it’s not just people from Ahousaht First Nation that are contributing to his ride.
“It’s mostly from First Nations throughout the Nuu-chah-nulth communities,” he said. “The community all over Vancouver Island is very supportive.”
Jack reached his original goal of raising $2,500 this year on the weekend, after completing a 24-hour, 330-kilometre ride.
He started in Victoria at noon on Saturday and pedaled his way through Parksville and Port Alberni before ending up in Tofino on Sunday.
While he cycled alone, Jack’s parents Faith and Norm drove a van behind him for support.
Jack completed that ride while wearing face paint in support of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls’ movement.
“I’ve been compelled by stories of a couple young family members who were almost forced into cars or not let out of vehicles,” he said. “It scared me to think how close to home stuff like this frequently happened.”
Jack is adding to his challenge totals by biking to work and back home each workday. With a few extra turns here and there to make the journeys a tad further, he estimates he travels 20 kilometres to work and back.
And then in the evenings, when time permits, Jack plans on cycling 30-50 kilometres per day to bump up his mileage this month.
Jack is also hoping to complete another lengthy ride, possibly 36 hours long, at the end of this month.
But at this point that is up in the air. His family, which includes his wife, daughter and step-daughter, have its lease expiring at the end of this month and needs to find a new place to live starting Sept. 1.
“We’re in the process of trying to find a place,” Jack said of his family’s impending move.
Those looking to make a donation to Jack’s ride can through https://greatcyclechallenge.ca/Riders/RoyJack
Donations will be accepted until the end of September.