I’m a dancer and love the athleticism of this beautiful activity. Cycling is another athletic passion and one way to apply that to a good cause is to ride for charity. In June, I ride as part of the Great Cycle Challenge to support the SickKids Foundation.

Update July 14, 2018: The fund raiser was a great success. Thanks to your gracious support, I achieved my funding goal, raising a total of $2500 as I rode a total of 1106km during the month of June. Thank you so much for your support! If you wish to contribute, the donation page will remain open until the end of July.

In contrast to the many one or two-day charity rides where you travel a specific route at the same time as others, the Great Cycle Challenge encourages participants to set their own distance goal, riding as many miles as they choose during a single month. Last June my supporters raised $2,658 as I road more than 750km. This year I’ve set a goal of riding 1,000km during the month. It’s a big challenge because it means being on the bike a minimum of 35km per day to reach the goal. If I miss a day due to a full day of work, I have to double that number the next day. But hey, we don’t grow unless we stretch ourselves.

Over 10,000 people across the country are involved in the challenge and it reaches into the USA and Australia as well. Last year, my fund-raising goal started at $1,500 and then I increased it due to an unexpected outpouring of support. This year my goal is to raise $2,500.

A charity worth supporting

The Hospital for Sick Children, now known as SickKids Hospital, opened its doors way back in 1875 and has been fighting a battle to give hope to children and their families ever since. In 1908, the forward-thinking Hospital staff insisted that a milk pasteurization plant be installed onsite, to prevent the spread of disease through contaminated milk, 30 years before pasteurization became mandatory across the nation. In 1920 the Hospital pioneered blood transfusions for children. Pablum, the low-cost, quick-to-prepare, nutrient-enriched cereal was introduced here in 1930, another of Canada’s gifts to the world. In 1976 this Hospital pioneered bone marrow transplants. In 2009, they introduced the world’s first cardiac surgery in utero, saving kids who have not been born. And this pioneering spirit continues. Just three years ago SickKids Hospital performed North America’s first incisionless bone tumour surgery, removing cancerous tumours in bone without aid of a scalpel.

Just three years ago SickKids Hospital performed North America’s first incisionless bone tumour surgery, removing cancerous tumours in bone without aid of a scalpel.

Giving hope to kids

Cancer is the largest killer of children from disease in Canada. Over 1,400 Canadian children are diagnosed with cancer every year. These kids have the potential to be business owners, leaders, teachers, trades people, artists and dancers, yet they are struggling just to get through the next days, weeks or months because of their disease. I’m riding to help give them hope. These kids are brave. I look at their necklaces filled with bravery beads representing each time they’ve received an injection and realize how much they are going through compared to other kids. They deserve a bright future, full of potential and wonder. When I feel tired and my legs are screaming at me, I think of how the kids must feel going through bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy and other treatments.

Kickr Pain Cave

A Smart Trainer allows you to ride your own bike indoors when going outside isn’t an option.

The weather doesn’t always cooperate here in Vancouver. On top of that is the challenge of a busy schedule that often makes it impossible to get out for a ride during daylight hours. On days when I can’t get outside I mount my road bike on my smart trainer to put in the miles.

Paired with an innovative app called Zwift, I can do a real ride in a virtual environment, usually sharing the road with dozens or hundreds of other riders from around the world. The smart trainer automatically changes the tension on the back wheel so that when you go up a hill you feel a hill. Above a 7% grade you have to stand on the pedals to keep moving, and some of the Zwift courses involve gradients as high as 14%! There’s even one intense mountain course that perfectly emulates the famous Alpe d’Huez, one of the iconic rides of the Tour de France. Named the Alpe du Zwift, they’ve recreated the same climb, with the same 21 switchbacks that never stop and exactly the same gradients and lengths for each segment. It’s a brutal climb that goes up over 3,300 feet and takes about 90 minutes to complete. Other rides in Zwift travel through London England, or through the Surrey Hills north of London, or through an extensive world of mountains, jungles and volcanoes called Watopia.

Please help support my effort. I’m trying to raise a total of $2,500. You can donate online here

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Author George Pytlik

Before turning pro, George achieved impressive results as an amateur competitor, holding the Senior (30+) Latin championship in BC, Canada for 7 consecutive years with his wife Wendy. The couple twice achieved a top-3 Canadian ranking in Senior Latin as well as a 3rd place Canadian ranking in 30+ Ten Dance. Today, George and Wendy are professional teachers with a vision of growing a strong dance community in Delta near Vancouver, BC.

More posts by George Pytlik

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