Susan Young

Conquering Hills, Spills and Cancer – by Susan Young



Everyone has a cancer story. I’m no different. Mine is not a personal story, but seeing the disease affect family and friends, has left me with the desire to make a difference. Or at least, try.
Four years ago, I embarked on a rather ambitious journey; The BC Ride to Conquer Cancer.

For me, this journey opened up a whole new world of training, bike fittings, comradery, fundraising, and of course…more fundraising.
Challenging doesn’t even begin to describe the experience. From the day you sign up to the day you cross the finish line; exhausted, emotional and chaffing all over.

I was very nervous embarking on my first ride. It was a huge crowd of riders, that seemed have all the professional gear! The event however, is very organized. There is an enormous amount of volunteers, and plenty of rest-stops with food, that you can recover at for as long as you need.
Training means wind, hills (yes, cycling up SFU can be soul destroying), and really early weekend mornings to try not to disturb my family. Over all the commitment was: one longer ride, 1 shorter ride per week for at least 4months. (Within a couple of weeks of the ride, I like to substitute distance for hills.)  I’ve fallen off my bike no fewer than a dozen embarrassing times as I get used to being clipped in. I’ve also made many new friends.

This year will be my third Ride to Conquer Cancer with the CTV team, but not my third in a row. The first year, I was surprised at what almost broke me. The hills are hard, but mind over matter, and I dealt with them better than I thought I would. The only time I felt like giving up was on the final stretch of the first day; on a long flat gravel stretch  – with a head wind so strong it felt like you were making very little progress. The more people that passed me, the more I wondered what I was doing there!

To be blunt, it’s too hard…and it honestly takes me over a year to psych myself up to do it all over again. The fundraising can also be taxing; $2,500 is a substantial amount to raise. Despite that I’m always grateful and overwhelmed by how generous people can be.
For this year’s ride, I plan to write the names of people battling cancer – donor’s loved ones – on my body in marker so I can carry them with me. The steep hills of the second day are nothing compared to their fight.
And I’m completely humbled by my fellow riders – many who participate every year. Many – who carry red flags because they’re cancer survivors themselves.

The BC Ride to Conquer Cancer takes place on the last weekend of August. 2,000 cyclists riding approximately 250 kilometres over two days, from Vancouver to Seattle. Day one ends at a central campground where you can enjoy food, beer, yoga, massages and inspiring speeches. You can sleep in a ride-provided tent, or choose to book a hotel (don’t judge…but a hotel with a hot tub calls my name!)

If you would like to make a difference in the world of cancer research, consider getting involved. You can donate, or volunteer, or pass the message along….or better still – ride!

I’m not particularly fit or determined. I just did it. And if I can, so can you!


– I had the pleasure of working with Jody at CTV. She was anchoring sports and I was directing. Our similarities have included working crazy early mornings and raising 9-year old boys!

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