A Vancouver Island cyclist is priming for the push of his life this weekend as he embarks on a ride from Cape Scott to Victoria – starting this Sunday.
Rob Trainor, 58, is an investment advisor at a bank in Courtenay. He was born in the Comox Valley but he left until high school, and after going to university out east, made his way back to raise his family on the island. While he’s had many changes in his adult life, one thing that has remained constant is cycling.
“When you get older you get a little slower, but you just keep going,” Trainor says with a laugh.
Trainor has been an avid cyclist most of his adult life. He started while away at university, but recently he’s turned his passion into a great way to give back.
“I got involved with the Ride2Survive group, probably back in 2014. I did that six years in a row, it’s a ride from Kelowna to Delta,” Trainor says. “The whole idea with them was to be like a day in the life of a cancer survivor or a warrior who is battling cancer, so it was meant to be long, it was meant to be arduous.”
The ride spanned 400 kilometers of road cycling in a single day, generally starting at two in the morning, and ending around eleven at night. After 15 years, the original organizers of Ride2Survive discontinued the event, encouraging others to start their own programs. Trainor followed their example.
Last year, he organized a 200km gravel ride route where others could register and track their progress. This year he’s set for a solo gravel ride to bring him from tip-to-tip of Vancouver Island.
The path he’ll be taking is an off-road bike-packing route linking together pre-existing logging roads across the island. He says that variations of the route have been done a few times, and that he found the route on a website, but they normally would take a week or two to accomplish the 870km feat with over 40-thousand feet of climbing. He’s aiming to cross it off in four.
“I’ve done a number of long 200 kilometer rides but I’ve never done four of them in a row. So that’ll be new to me,” Trainor says. “As long as I don’t go too hard and get myself too exhausted on the first day it should be very manageable.”
He’ll be accompanied by his friend, Gary Egli, who is currently battling cancer. The two met while cycling. Egli is suffering from multiple myeloma, which is a cancer that starts in white blood cells and affects the bones and is very rarely curable. Egli’s case did damage to his spine, which he initially thought was just a side effect of his active lifestyle. He was diagnosed shortly after retiring.
Egli’s condition will keep him from cycling alongside Trainor, but he will be riding alongside him in support with Trainor’s truck and camper. They’ll be able to drive together for a lot of the path north island, but many of the roads are gated south island, so they’ll meet up periodically throughout the second half of the trek.
Trainor says, “He’s done the Ride2Survive with me several times… If anything goes wrong, I’ll have him to lean on.”
They’ll be finishing off the ride together, with Egli hopping on his bike to finish off the last twenty kilometers of the ride together.
The days will be long and painstaking but he’ll be kept company by Egli and some music. His go-to jams are classic rock and jazz/blues music.
“My friend’s son has given me a playlist, but if anybody’s got a good playlist I’ll take it,” jokes Trainor.
While this ride will be grueling, he says, it’s merely a warm-up in a much larger campaign that he has planned to culminate next summer. He plans on riding the Tour Divide Route starting next June. The Tour Divide is a trail from Banff that rides all the way down to the Mexican border along the continental divide.
“I like doing a lot of gravel ride. I’ve read about the Tour Divide, and I wanted to do something big and raise money for cancer at the same time,” Trainor says. “This is a great way to do both.”
His goal over the 11 month stretch, from when he started raising money, is to earn $50-thousand. As of 5pm on Friday September 3rd, Trainor had raised just under $16-thousand according to his website, SurviveTheDivide.com. While a few businesses have donated, most of the funds have come from individuals looking to give back.
“No donation is too small,” Trainor says. “All of the donations go to the cancer society and research. There’s no overhead for the event. I cover all of my own costs and expenses. So all of the donations go directly to the charity.”
Covid has cancelled a lot of events across the country which routinely raised funds for many charities. Trainor says those events generate funds that charities rely on for their day-to-day operations.
“A big thing I’m trying to promote is that all these charities rely an incredible amount on public fundraisers. All these events that go on in all these cities all across the country, and for two years now they’ve all been cancelled. This is something that I can do alone, covid’s not going to cancel it and it’s a way to raise some money,” Trainor says. “That’s really what it’s all about is what can we do right now to fill that void, because there’s a big one, and of course cancer doesn’t care about covid.”
His adventure starts on Sunday morning, and will try to post updates on his Facebook and Instagram pages throughout his journey. You can donate and learn more about his and Egli’s stories on Trainor’s website, here.