This Sunday, members of a Langley-based cycling team will ride for mental health, and for friends they have lost.
Team Bayview Towing, which each year raises funds and awareness for the Canucks for Kids Fund in support of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, will have representation in Greater Vancouver’s Ride Don’t Hide taking place June 25.
A Canadian Mental Health Association initiative, Ride Don’t Hide is a community bike ride to create awareness about the importance of mental health and to raise funds for programs helping those who are dealing with mental illness.
It is a nation-wide fundraiser with rides being held in 35 communities across Canada, including nine in B.C.
The Greater Vancouver ride starts and finishes at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby.
“We’ve been doing this ride for seven years, now,” Bayview team director Jeff Bandura said. “For the Bayview and (co-sponsor) C&D (Logistics) guys, this is very near and dear to all of us, so we try to get a full complement out — 12 to 15 riders, for sure, depending on availability.”
Ride Don’t Hide hits home for the local cyclists who two years ago lost a teammate and close friend, Nigel, to mental health.
“It hit all of us really hard” Bandura said. “I trained and rode with Nigel for three years and I had no clue. We were laughing, joking on the bikes, riding in foul weather, rain, cold, blistering heat, and shared many great stories. (His passing) was very tough, very hard for me. I didn’t know him. I thought I did, but I didn’t.”
In Nigel’s memory, some of the Bayview cyclists have his initials engraved on their bikes.
Bandura and other Bayview members of the team are part of the Canucks alumni, and have been impacted by former Canucks who have lost their lives to mental health including Rick Blight (in 2005) and Rick Rypien (in 2011).
“It’s very scary,” said Bandura, who played with and against Blight in junior and in the pros. “A lot of guys suffer from it. It’s tragic, how it could get that bad that there is no way out. I struggle to understand what drives people to do that. How do you get that far down that you can’t get back up?”
This is why reaching out to friends and family when you are struggling is so important, Bandura said. “If you have troubles, issues, let’s talk about it. You have to rely on your friends as a sounding board, if nothing else.”
Ride Don’t Hide is a warmup for Ride for Kids, which this year is being held July 12. The fully escorted 165 km bicycle ride starts and ends at Langley Twin Rinks.. Thanks to team members and sponsors, especially Bayview Towing and C&D Logistics, the ride has raised over $674,000 to date.