There was a time when riding a bike from Vancouver to Seattle, Wash. would have been nearly impossible for Chris Vecchies.
The 34-year-old Langley man recalls being “very overweight” while growing up — a struggle he overcame in his 20s when he lost 110 pounds.
It was through his fitness journey that he developed a love for cycling — first by commuting 20 km to work everyday on a mountain bike — and eventually through daily rides on a road bike.
So when he first heard about the Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2014, Vecchies jumped on the opportunity to participate.
Benefitting the BC Cancer Foundation, this is the third year — and fourth ride — Vecchies is participating in. He will join thousands of other cyclists in the 200 km journey throughout the Pacific Northwest Aug. 27 and 28, as well as the Alberta ride Aug. 6 and 7.
“I love riding my bike, and I love helping people,” Vecchies said.
“It’s changed my life … everyone goes through dark stages in life, and because of the cycling team (with Ride to Conquer Cancer) and that support, it helped me through that period.”
Originally, Vecchies signed up for the ride as an individual in honour of his uncle — a prostate cancer survivor — and a man who was a father figure to him after his own dad passed away at a young age. However, Vecchies was soon recruited to join the Riders for Ryders for team, which was started by Jimi Brockett for his son, Ryder, who passed away from cancer at the age of four and a half.
Today, Vecchies is co-captain of Riders for Ryders — participating for not only his uncle, but for all people who are touched by cancer — and has helped the group raise more than $2.5 million for cancer research.
“Every team in the Ride to Conquer Cancer becomes a family, not just a cycling team,” Vecchies said.
“That’s how life works. You don’t realize it — it’s karma. You do something good, and good comes back to you. It makes you feel good.
“For me, it’s been nothing short of amazing.”
Although riding 200 km can seem daunting, Vecchies says the team atmosphere, and little yellow flags representing cancer survivors found along the route, are what keep him going.
Ultimately, the goal for everyone who rides is to fund research so that future generations can live in a world without cancer, he said.
“If everyone on Earth just helps out a little bit, we will definitely be living in a better place.”
For more information on Riders for Ryders and to make a donation, visit http://www.ridersforryders.com.
More information is available at www.conquercancer.ca.