When some of the cyclists start to lag behind and feel as though they might have to call it quits, he tells them to think of the kids.
The ones who have to undergo long and arduous cancer treatments and fight with everything they have just to stay alive.
This is Constable Greg Pichler’s motivational chatter when he helps other RCMP members in the Cops for Cancer Tour de North ride each year.
Pichler has been doing the Cops for Cancer ride for 10 years now, and so this year, he will once again saddle up for the 700 km ride from Prince George to Prince Rupert. The Tour de North route alternates each year between north-south and east-west, and this year is the east-west route.
Riding in the Cops for Cancer tour is somewhat of a natural fit for Pichler, as the RCMP member has been a fan of bicycles since he learned to ride on a CCM with a banana seat when he was eight or nine years old.
He picked blueberries to pay for half of that first bike, and now he usually has between nine and 15 bikes at a time in his possession.
“I’m a geek, I like bicycles,” said Pichler.
But all those bikes aren’t just for him, in fact, Pichler works on rebuilding bikes and selling them as a way to help raise funds for the Cops for Cancer Tour.
Integris bought the riders eight new bikes from Cycle Logic, carbon fiber Synapses by Cannondale, and so when the older bikes from previous rides are overstocked in certain sizes, the older ones from the tour are fixed up and sold when they are a couple of years old.
Pichler puts his bike mechanic skills to work on the tour as well, supporting the ride by wrenching along the trip.
As for the ride itself, while riding seven or eight days in a row and anywhere from 64 km to 197 km per day might sound daunting to some, Pichler is an avid cyclist who used to ride 4,000-5,000 km a year and was riding around 80 km a day at one point.
“Biking has always made sense to me, while owning a vehicle doesn’t,” said Pichler. “It’s the most efficient form of transport out there.
It’s the freedom of being on the road and being able to do large distances without any outside aid.”
He said cycling can become almost a metaphysical experience for people and he enjoys seeing other riders improve along the way and reach different stages and accomplish goals.
Over the years, he has continued to enjoy the event, but he has had some special moments which stand out for him.
One such moment came when on the last day of the ride one year, the entire Williams Lake RCMP detachment came out to meet the riders with police vehicles and escorted them into the city.
The “esprits de corps” he felt in the gathered mounties “plucked a heartstring.”
The money raised by the Tour de North helps to fund Camp Good Times in Maple Ridge on Loon Lake, for kids with paediatric cancer.
Pichler is holding a fundraising event at Stone’s Bay Pub on August 29 in which members of the community and Pichler himself will be volunteering to remove some facial or other body hair to solicit donations before the tour begins, and the tour will run September 14-20.