Beat Cancer Tour 2014

September 03, 2014
Beat Cancer Tour 2014

“We all know riding bikes is good for our health, for seeing new places, and meeting new people. But I never would have dreamt that my bike could help me deal with grief, connect with inspiring and positive individuals, raise money to help people dealing with cancer and give me the chance to experience life like a pro.”

BCT 1704 HR

Help on wheels

EVER wondered what life would be like as a professional cyclist during the Tour Down Under? For Melbourne man Deryck Walker, who experienced the real thing as part of the 2014 Beat Cancer Tour, the answer is “absolutely grueling”.

“My biggest week on the bike to that point was 470km, while the event was close to 1,000km and 11,000 meters of climbing,” Deryck remembers. “I was miserable, tired, sore, and my legs were heavy like lead.”

So why would an amateur cyclist punish himself on an UCI WorldTour cycling course? Because like many people who have had loved ones affected by cancer, Deryck hoped to “take something I love doing, for someone I love, to help fight this horrible illness.”

“On September 12 2011 a good friend of mine, David, suffered a serious seizure, not dissimilar to what I imagine an epileptic fit would be like. The day after the seizure David discovered that he had an aggressive form of glioma, or brain tumour.

“I just thought, ‘what on earth could I do to help? So I asked if he would allow me to raise money in his name, towards a cancer charity. In a strange way I felt that if I set myself an extremely difficult physical challenge, pushing myself further than before, my suffering on the road would in some ways reflect David’s own battle. More importantly, it would hopefully make something good of a terrible situation.”

Initially, Deryck intended to organise his own ride but with a business to run and a wife and daughter at home, it was just too much to build an event from the ground up. Instead, he kept an eye out for something that met the criteria.

“One day around August 2012 I stumbled across a social media post about the Beat Cancer Tour; an event that involved riding the entire 865km of the 2014 Tour Down Under course from start to finish for the benefit of Cancer Council SA.

“The event required that each rider pay a registration fee, make a personal donation and raise a minimum of $12,000 for Cancer Council SA. For me, not having done a fundraiser before, this was quite intimidating. But with David in the back of my mind, and the help of Cancer Council’s fundraising team, I pushed hard for five months to raise the funds. I started a small blog to get his story out there, started a fundraising page and also ran a raffle.

“The generosity and support provided to me for David was absolutely astounding and in the end I was able to raise a total of $16,000 for the Cancer Council.

Like many club level riders, Deryck had wondered how he would fare on an UCI WorldTour race. With riders tackling every day and stage of the Santos Tour Down Under in full team kit with inclusive meals, mechanical, medical and massage services, the Beat Cancer Tour is the closest thing to riding the actual race.

“The experience out on the road was amazing. As the days went on, the crowd seemed to recognise the Beat Cancer crew more and more, and the cheers and support we received made for an electric atmosphere. Some days we would roll through the finish just before the big race.

“Every rider had a good day and a bad day. My bad day was day three — my body was not used to riding any more than two days in a row. But with the support of my team mates, things slowly got better and better until I was helping drive the bunch by the end.”

Deryck says the Beat Cancer Tour isn’t just about racing, or smashing riders – “it’s about working together, spreading the word for Cancer Council and enjoying the experience”.

“There were some truly inspirational people on the ride, and you can’t help but feel buoyed by the positivity when you are surrounded by such amazing people. It also really puts your own life and perceived worries into perspective.

“Since undertaking this epic journey, it has given me the opportunity to recognise that for many of us life is so busy we never really get a chance for true reflection and introspection. Raising the funds and doing the hard yards on the road gave me the time I needed to truly reflect on the loss of David.

“We all know riding bikes is good for our health, for seeing new places, and meeting new people. But I never would have dreamt that my bike could help me deal with grief, connect with inspiring and positive individuals, raise money to help people dealing with cancer and give me the chance to experience life like a pro.”

After a successful inaugural event in January, the Beat Cancer Tour is back, and strong cyclists are encouraged to register quickly with only 30 spots available. Participants will have the full support of Cancer Council’s fundraising team to help meet fundraising criteria with all proceeds funding cancer research through Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project.

The 2015 Santos Tour Down Under will be staged from January 17 to January 25. To express your interest today, or to find out more visit beatcancertour.com.au

Follow us on Twitter: @BeatCancerTour

Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/BeatCancerTour

BCT 5266 LR