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Rob’s up for the challenge to conquer cancer

Rob Paterson of Port Hardy will join former co-workers from the Utah Copper Mine when he tackles the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 200-kilometre bike ride from Surrey to Redmond, Wash., June 18-19. - Photo submitted
Rob Paterson of Port Hardy will join former co-workers from the Utah Copper Mine when he tackles the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 200-kilometre bike ride from Surrey to Redmond, Wash., June 18-19.
— image credit: Photo submitted

PORT HARDY — Rob Paterson has never considered himself an endurance athlete. But he’s always been up for a challenge with his former co-workers at the decommissioned Utah Copper Mine.

So when two of those co-workers — Japp Zwaan and Gib Pierce of Courtenay — asked him to be a part of their Copper Pedalers cycling team in next month’s 200-kilometre Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, he laced up his bike shoes and strapped on his helmet.

“These guys were both engineers, and I was active in the lab at the mine,” said Paterson, who is semi-retired but still does occasional consulting for the mining industry. “The departments were always having challenges between them, with fish derbys, soccer matches, baseball games.

“There’s still a bit of a challenge there.”

Paterson, 63, is quick to point out the real challenge is faced by victims, survivors and families affected by cancer. The opportunity to test his own physical limits while raising funds for cancer treatment prompted him to join the six-member Copper Pedalers team and substantially increase his workout regimen. The two-day Ride to Conquer Cancer will begin June 18 in Surrey and take riders through the Peace Arch into Washington State. Riders will tour coastal and rural roads before finishing in Redmond, Wash. on June 19.

“I was riding 10 to 20 kilometres a week for about a year,” said Paterson, who said he has always tried to stay physically active. “In the early days, when you jump from 20 to 30 kilometres and 30 to 40 kilometres a ride, you feel like you’ve been hit by a bat. I’m not 23 anymore.

“It’s been a challenge, but it’s not too bad.”

Starting from the waterfront home he shares in Storey’s Beach with wife Irene, Paterson rolls out on a regular basis to follow a training program he keeps on a spreadsheet on his laptop computer.

Alternating speed rides, hill rides and long rides, Paterson has progressed from those 20-km weeks to single rides of up to 105-km. During the first two weeks of May, he covered 186 and 193 kilometres, respectively. As the kilometres have increased, so has the amount of pledged donations team members have gathered for cancer research. As of last Friday, the six-member team had amassed $48,273.78, easily exceeding its initial goal of $37,200 with nearly a month of fundraising remaining.

Paterson gathered $4,540 of that amount himself, relying largely on individual contributions from local residents.

“Between Irene and I, we know pretty much the whole town,” Paterson said with a laugh. “It’s mostly individual contributions. We’ve gotten some corporate donations, but probably 95 per cent has been through individuals.”

Donations to Paterson or other members of the Copper Pedalers team can be made online at www.conquercancer.ca. Click on the B.C. ride, then “Donate” and enter Copper Pedalers in the team search field. Call Paterson at 250-949-7059.

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