‘ They all get into the groove’
Big Bike brings fun and fundraising to Cape Breton
Fundraising is the main objective of the Heart and Stroke Foundation Big Bike tour but there’s no reason fun can’t be a focus, at least for the ride portion of the venture.
That’s the perspective of Darryl Turner who manoeuvres the bike and its 29 riders in and around different streets and towns from one end of the country to the other.
“These people have raised a lot of money,” said Turner, a Calgary native. “They’ve worked hard to get their money to put towards a good cause. For us, as far as a driver of the bike we have to make sure they are enjoying it. It’s all about the experience. If they have a good experience, hopefully they’ll say ‘ Let’s go back next year.’”
On Monday, Turner’ guided teams consisting of employees of local businesses through Sydney.
Generally speaking, those who board the big bike are in a good mood but sometimes they need help loosening up a bit.
“If you get on and get them going, they all get into the groove. We work them ... so by the time they are done they are all into it.”
The Boston Pizza team joined groups from Nova Scotia Power, Sobeys, Mayflower Dental and the Steel City Credit Union who took the ride in Sydney on Monday.
Boston Pizza team captain Brianne Walsh said her group consisted of a nice mix of veterans of the big bike ride and some newcomers.
“The young ones loved it,” Walsh said shortly after their ride. “It is something new and you have to drag them out but once they get on the bike they have fun with it.”
Though fun to ride through downtown as people are waving and horns are honking, she said the bike is also a bit of a workout.
“You would think that 20 riders- plus would be a little easier but everyone still has to put their pedal to the metal and push really hard, especially going up those little inclines.”
Turner has been piloting the bike bike for five years. The secret to pedalling, he said, is to go at your own speed.
“What’s really interesting is all the pedals are independent of each other,” he said. “People think they have to pedal to keep up with the neighbour next door but they don’t have to. They can just pedal on their own and the torque they are adding on their pedals will add to the overall torque and it makes it happen.”
He said engineers and members of the general public are often fascinated with how pedal power moves the giant bike. He credits the design to his Calgary neighbour Wally Pouzanoski who invented it decades ago.
These days there are nine variations of the original invention at the centre of big bike fundraising events across the country.
Turner arrived in Cape Breton with the version he pilots on Saturday and will be in 11 local communities through 10 days before venturing across Nova Scotia.
He expects his tour to end somewhere near the end of August.
Tracey Pierre, a Heart and Stroke Foundation program co- ordinator, said the local ride gets bigger every year.
“Sydney and Glace Bay are our biggest events,” she said. “We usually have close to 10 teams on each of those days.”
The ride moves to New Waterford and North Sydney today, Sydney Mines on Wednesday, Thursday in Glace Bay, and Baddeck and Inverness on Friday.
Pierre said team fundraising totals often vary from $ 2,000 upward. This year, a big increase in online fundraising to coincide with local efforts has been noticed, as well.
Members of the Boston Pizza team who rode on the Heart and Stroke Foundation Bike Bike on Monday are shown with members of the ride organizing team. From the left are Katherine Donovan, Tracey Pierre, Brianne Walsh, Alex Donovan and driver Darryl Turner.