Climbing to cure pancreatic cancer

16 08 2015

 

For eight years, the Glotman-Simpson engineering company has sponsored a ride up Cypress Mountain to raise money for research into the cause and treatment of pancreatic cancer.

One of the company’s founders, Geoff Glotman, had lost his mother-in-law to the insidious disease, which has a mortality rate of almost 100 per cent. Glotman is an avid cyclist. His company sponsors a rather large cycling club. So he put the two together to create the Cypress Challenge to raise awareness and money to help improve the odds for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

All the registration money for the Cypress Challenge goes to fund research into the cause and treatment of pancreatic cancer. This year's ride raised more than $400,000.

All the registration money for the Cypress Challenge goes to fund research into the cause and treatment of pancreatic cancer. This year’s ride raised more than $400,000.

My dad died in 2004 of pancreatic cancer.

It was not a pleasant end. Within months of his diagnosis, he was wasting away to nothing, his pain controlled by increasing amounts of morphine. And there was nothing we could do. By the time pancreatic cancer presents itself with symptoms, it’s usually too late.

So when the Cypress Challenge was moved to a Sunday date this year from its usual Saturday, and with the company of some fellow FRFers, I registered.

I’d never ridden up Cypress Mountain. But I’ve wanted to for some time.

A ride with a view. Waiting for the call to line-up for the start of the 2015 Cypress Challenge.

A ride with a view. Waiting for the call to line-up for the start of the 2015 Cypress Challenge.

Cypress veterans assured me it’s easier than the opposite bookend of the North Shore’s three major climbs, Seymour. Just as long, 12 kms, but a more gradual, steady gradient.

The Challenge is simply the climb, 24 kms round trip. To make it a good morning out, our trio of FRFers shuttled in the early morning gloom to North Burnaby and rode from there to the start point, ensuring at least 75 kms of riding.

The Challenge has all the trappings of a Fondo, the mass start, the nervous anticipation before rollout, chip timing, treats at the end.

The FR Fugittivi represents at the 2015 Cypress Challenge.

The FR Fugittivi represents at the 2015 Cypress Challenge.

A starting line selfie. That's Ross on my right, Guy to my left.

A starting line selfie. That’s Ross on my right, Guy to my left.

But they come at a fraction of the price, with all the registration money going to the cause. Services and treats are all donated, or absorbed by the organizer.

The announcer said this year’s peloton was the biggest ever, more than 650 riders.

We formed an impressive snake spread over two lanes up the sinewy curves of the mountain’s lower slope at the start line.

More than 600 riders make an impressive snake up the coiling curves of Cypress Mountain's early slopes.

More than 600 riders make an impressive snake up the coiling curves of Cypress Mountain’s early slopes.

Once the start horn blasted, it didn’t take long for the snake to thin out. Climbs have a way of doing that, which is likely why most fondos try to place some sort of climb early in the route to make it safer for everyone.

The advice I was given before the ride was to just find my pace, which is exactly what I did. It’s not blistering by any stretch, but I never felt uncomfortable or strained. I passed some riders. Some passed me. For the most part, I hung in with the same general group most of the way.

At the top, 53 minutes after I had crossed the timing mat at the start, there was too many sweet treats in which to indulge; donuts, cinnamon buns, breakfast burritos, muffins, energy bars, recovery drinks, yogurt beverages. A good idea at the time; not so great about an hour later.

Awaiting us at the top, a photo op with 2012 Giro champion Ryder Hesjedal.

Awaiting us at the top, a photo op with 2012 Giro champion Ryder Hesjedal.

All in all, a great event for an important cause. I hope they keep running it on Sundays.

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