Two years ago it was a cross-country ride. Last year it was Iceland.
And, now, Truro’s Chris MacDougall is off to conquer the Alps in his latest cycling quest as he continues his personal fight in the battle against cancer.
“It should be interesting,” MacDougall said, of his upcoming ride.
Speaking shortly before departing for the airport on Monday, MacDougall said he and 17 other riders with the Give to Live Big Ride 2018 will be setting off on a seven-day cycle that will take them almost 700 kms through the Austrian Alps.
“With a lot of climbing,” MacDougall chuckled.
From just south of Munich, Germany, riders will pass through Austria and Italy, while climbing along a 25-km route up to the Stelvo Pass where they will climb a total of 8,220 metres while traversing 48 switchbacks over a distance of 630 km. Daily distances are to range from 80 km to 130 km over seven days.
MacDougall, 63, and his friend Ron Allen, 73, of Bridgewater, are the two oldest members of the ride.
“I have been training for this since January and feel that I am as ready as I will ever be,” he said, in an email post. “The Alps greet me with some anxiety but the cause is worth it and I am quite excited about the trip. I have been through the Rockies on my bike three times but I suspect the Alps will be steeper.”
The ride is also a fundraiser, with a goal of $85,000, in support of the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute and Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation.
“The Hunter Institute continues to do amazing research into this horrific disease,” said MacDougall, who serves as its chairman.
Last year, MacDougall cycled with the group through Iceland on another fundraising tour.
Two years ago, the Truro businesman cycled across Canada on what was known as Charlie’s Ride, in memory of his son Charlie, who died in 2004 of the same type of cancer that killed Terry Fox.
That ride began on July 24, 2016 in Vancouver and ended Sept. 28 in St. John’s, N.L., at the Terry Fox, Mile 0 Monument.
At that point, Charlie’s Ride had generated more than $171,000 for cancer research. By the end of this year’s ride, MacDougall said the efforts of he and his supporters in recent years is expected to have generated a total of about $400,000.
And, it is that continued support, he said, that helps to provide the motivation for such long, endurance rides.
“I enjoy cycling for one. It’s a good way to stay in shape. And if I do these trips with GiveToLive, it sort of forces me to be involved and it forces me to get in shape,” he said.
“This year, I was thinking of backing off but they said they are doing the Alps and, not just that, but they’re supporting the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute which I support, so I jumped back in.”
MacDougall said he has so far personally generated almost $20,000 for this year’s effort.
Anyone wishing to support the cause can do so logging onto: https://www.givetolive.ca/the-big-ride/about-the-big-ride to support a rider of their choice.
MacDougall’s niece, Meg MacDougall of Halifax, who is also participating in the ride, is expected to provide daily Facebook postings along their route. The actual ride begins on Sunday.
BIG RIDE 2018
Start and End: Starnberg (Suburb of Munich, Germany)
Days: 7 days cycling, 9 days total
Highlights: Three countries
Four mountain passes
Austrian ski villages
Foothills of the Dolomites
Roman roads and cycle paths
Vineyards and rivers
Roads: Via Claudia Augusta, Romantic Road
Area: Bavaria and Tyrol
Countries: Germany, Austria, Italy
Total Kilometres: 630
Total elevation climbed: 8,220 metres