Danika Robson is training for her third Big Brothers Big Sisters Tour de Cariboo.
The 17-year-old high school student said the tour is a good way to stay in shape over the summer and a great way to prepare for her dream of riding in a big international race.
She didn’t grow up riding bikes — she learned to ride in Grade 8, only two years before taking on the challenge of her first Tour de Cariboo.
“I had heard about the tour and really wanted to try it,” Danika said. “It looked like a fun challenge and a good workout.”
On her first tour Danika made the minimum age requirement by two days. Accompanied by her uncle, Dean McDonald, that first ride took her just over five hours.
“Last year I did it in three-and-a-half hours. Mind you, the first year I had a mountain bike with a squeaky front brake,” she added.
“I went to a road bike, which was a lot better.”
She said the tour is very well-organized, and the whole structure of the ride is helpful.
“It motivates you to keep going. The group part is fun; you see different people and chat along the ride. You see familiar faces and meet new people every year.
“After doing the ride two years, I’ll tell you that Wine Jug Hill is still awful, but it’s easier if you do some hill training.
“And it feels so good when you get to the finish line — there’s such a great feeling of accomplishment. The hard thing about it is that when you get to it you’ve already ridden more than 60 km and it’s long and steep.”
She said that her first year she walked most of the final hill, but her second year she rode all the way.
“One thing that really makes it fun is the encouragement you get from the other riders. It gives you more energy to finish the race,” Danika explained.
“You can talk for a bit and people pace you for a while.”
She said that recently she did 88 km in the Valley Grandfondo bike race in Langley with her dad, Glenn Robson, her uncle Dean McDonald and several others.
“I’m pretty competitive with other people and with myself. When I’m riding uphill and see someone ahead of me, I have to try to pass them,” she noted.
“I loved the chance to see what I could do in the tour; it’s a great experience and a fundraiser for a great cause,” Danika says.
“At the end of the ride, you think, ‘OK, that hurts,’ but you still feel great. You go for a swim in the lake, go in the sauna.
“The food is always good, there’s a massage therapist on site and you always look forward to the live music and the awards. It feels like a celebration.”
For more information about the Tour de Cariboo, including how to register as a relay team for the ride, phone 250-398-8391, visit www.bbswlake.com or see them on Facebook at Big Brothers and Sisters of Williams Lake.