Blake DeCraene (back row, l) with members of Team Adrenaline at the Tour de Cure in 2019. (Photo credit: Ewa Bailey)

Blake DeCraene (back row, l) with members of Team Adrenaline at the Tour de Cure in 2019. (Photo credit: Ewa Bailey)

Cyclist channels his love of riding into a great cause

Blake DeCraene is taking part in his fourth Tour de Cure to support cancer research

Lots of people enjoy cycling, but Blake DeCraene — who grew up in Ashcroft and graduated from Ashcroft Secondary in 1994 before moving to Kamloops, where he now lives and works — has taken it to a different level. An avid road cyclist, he has taken part in the BC Cancer Foundation’s Tour de Cure three times, and is now raising funds in advance of his fourth event.

“I took up cycling as a kid, and always rode in Ashcroft, as it was the best way to get around. I always had a bike until I got my driver’s licence, because why do you need a bike then?

“When I was back at school one classmate rode a lot, and he talked me into buying a used bike. I rode off and on, then didn’t for five or six years, but I got into it again in 2005 and started riding more and more, and it went from there.”

In 2013, DeCraene got a road bike, and tries to average 2,000 to 2,500 kilometres outdoors each year; in winter he rides a trainer indoors so he’s not out in the snow and cold. He says Kamloops is getting better as a bike-friendly community: “Every time they do major road improvements they tend to incorporate bike lanes, but they’ve got a long way to go. I try to avoid riding in town, and prefer to go rural, along East Shuswap Road past Sun Rivers, or along Westsyde Road to the McClure Ferry.”

DeCraene was driving to Vancouver in the fall of 2018, and had stopped in Chilliwack. He drove past the exhibition grounds and noticed there were hundreds of cyclists on the road. “I thought it looked kind of cool, and wondered what it was all about.”

He later found out that it was the BC Cancer Foundations’s annual Tour de Cure event, which raises funds for cancer research. He thought it sounded neat, so contacted a friend who was part of a team to see what it was all about.

He found that participants have to raise a minimum of $2,500 in order to take part, with the cyclists riding 50km, 100km, or 160km. His friend asked if DeCraene wanted to be part of her team, called Team Adrenaline, and he said yes.

“I’m the only person from outside the Lower Mainland on the team. They did training rides in the Lower Mainland, and I trained in Kamloops, and drove down to Delta the day before the ride for an informal team dinner. It was a chance to get to know the others, because I’d never met them in person.”

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That was in 2019, and DeCraene says everyone was very supportive.

“Every 20 to 25 kilometres there are snacks and beverages and bike tuning, everything you need. It’s not a race, so there’s no timeline; it’s as quick as the slowest rider, and you ride at your own pace.

“For me it was very relaxing, and to be supported was so nice. We stuck together as a group: if some rode more quickly than others we’d re-group at the rest stops, get together, and take off at the same time.”

The Tour de Cure (formerly the Ride to Cure Cancer) is all about bringing hope to cancer patients and cancer survivors, and many of the people taking part had yellow flags on their bikes in recognition of different people.

“It was quite something to be part of that. The people who you’re riding for are people who have been touched by cancer. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, so that was an extra special touch for me.”

DeCraene and Team Adrenaline had already started fundraising for the 2020 ride when it was cancelled due to COVID-19. However, participants were told they could still register and do their own rides, and some of DeCraene’s friends decided to ride as a group as safely as they could. He decided that if they could, he could too, so he and his wife Teryne did their own ride in Kamloops.

In 2021 the ride was virtual once more, and DeCraene signed up for 160km. “I’d never done that in one day, but I mapped it out and did it. That was tough; it’s a bit of a ride.”

This year he plans to be back with Team Adrenaline in person. He has been riding indoors all winter, waiting for the warmer weather, and has started fundraising, with a personal goal of $2,500 and a team goal of $25,000. “The money is credited to the individual, but it’s accumulated as a team. We raised between $30,000 and $40,000 in 2019.”

Anyone who would like to donate can go to DeCraene says that in addition to supporting a great cause, the donations will help motivate him as he prepares for this year’s Tour de Cure.

“People who know me know how much I enjoy cycling, so what better way to support the fight against cancer?”

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