Tour de Cariboo celebrates 20 years Saturday

With 20 years under its belt, this Saturday’s Tour de Cariboo bike ride from Williams Lake to Gavin Lake is going to be a celebration.

This year's 20th Annual Tour de Cariboo bike ride from Williams Lake to Gavin Lake goes Saturday. The event is one of Williams Lake Big Brothers Big Sisters largest fundraisers.

This year's 20th Annual Tour de Cariboo bike ride from Williams Lake to Gavin Lake goes Saturday. The event is one of Williams Lake Big Brothers Big Sisters largest fundraisers.

With 20 years under its belt, this Saturday’s Tour de Cariboo bike ride from Williams Lake to Gavin Lake is going to be a celebration.

That’s the message from Big Brothers Big Sisters executive director Lorraine Levitt, who helps organize the fundraising event annually.

“This is our 20th anniversary, so it’s very cool,” Levitt said. “We’re as organized as we can be and everything is running smoothly on this end.”

The ride, a 75-kilometre excursion from Williams Lake’s Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex to Gavin Lake, features spectacular scenery, varied terrain accommodating to all levels of riders and fun. Pledges, donations and contributions from riders are crucial, Levitt said, to help fund local BBBS programs.

“I think it’s important to get out that 100 per cent of the proceeds raised here through the tour do stay in Williams Lake to support our local children’s programs,” she said, noting both BBBS’s in-school mentoring program and traditional BBBS programs are benefitted.

Levitt said registration for this year’s event, so far, is slightly down, but is encouraging more people to sign up.

“Registration is not great,” she said. “We’ve had anywhere between 60 to 110 riders and the average is probably about 80, and we’re sitting at 60 right now, so it’s a little lower than we’d hoped for. What happens, though, is sometimes if the weather is nice the trained riders, who don’t need to train too much, look at the weather when they wake up in the morning and say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to ride.’”

Registration gets underway Saturday morning at 8 a.m. at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex, with the race scheduled to kick off at 9 a.m. City councillor Geoff Bourdon will be on hand for the opening address, while physiotherapist Betty Donahue will lead the warmup.

Along the way to Gavin Lake riders are accompanied by several volunteers in support vehicles who will make sure everyone is safe.

“We have first aid, we have rest stops and we have lunch set up at Big Lake, so there’s always someone with the riders to make sure they’re OK,” she said.

Once at Gavin Lake there will be entertainment, including Jay and Chelsea Goddard, Oren Barter, DJ RecordChode and Steve Hunter, along with a dinner catered by volunteer Adele Mclearn. New School District 27 Superintendent Mark Thiessen will be the MC. Inner Balance Wellness Studio and Spa’s massage therapist Jennifer Kopp will also be on hand to relieve aches and pains for those who need it.

This year’s event will also feature a 20th anniversary slide show, showcasing all 20 years of the Tour de Cariboo.

Also riding once again at this year’s event is longtime Tour de Cariboo supporter 78-year-old Torry Kier. This will be his 18th Tour de Cariboo. Kier, however, doesn’t just ride to Gavin Lake — he rides back home once he’s finished.

“He’s phenomenal,” Levitt said. “He rides there and back, and if he wins a prize he donates it back. Generally, he gets a bike that he’ll give back to one of our kids.”

To date, Kier has raised more than $100,000 for Williams Lake’s BBBS chapter.

Prizes will be presented in the afternoon for the fastest racers and the top fundraisers and include: medallions for fastest racers; a round trip for two to Vancouver from Pacific Coastal; tea for two at Butchart Gardens with an overnight stay at the Accent Inn; bike park passes for Sun Peaks Resort with overnight accommodation at the Heffley Boutique Inn; a Fraser River rafting trip for two and overnight stay at the Colonial 900 in Hope; luncheon harbour cruises in Vancouver; Cariboo-Chilcotin jet boat adventures and overnight stays at the Chilcotin Lodge Bed and Breakfast; and a weekend at the Woodland Cariboo Resort at Puntzi Lake.

For more information or to register visit www.bbswlake.com, call BBBS at 250-398-8391 or drop by its downtown office located at 200-369 Oliver St.

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