Wayne Carlson isn’t alone when he goes out for a bike ride.
Looking up at him is a photograph of Richard Owen, 26, who died from cancer three years ago.
“I saw how it devastated his family,” said the 61-year-old who is participating in this summer’s Ride to Conquer Cancer for the second time.
“His family will suffer forever. I see the pain and the tears — that emptiness.”
Carlson’s dad died from the disease and his mom has breast cancer, while he knows an entire family — parents and daughter — who are struggling with it.
“That’s why you ride, that’s what you do,” he said.
The 200-kilometre journey goes from the Lower Mainland to Seattle and it drew about 2,087 riders in 2015.
“It’s one of the greatest experiences of my life. Everyone is there for the same cause because they have all been touched by cancer,” said Carlson.
“Everyone supports everyone.”
Funds raised during the Aug. 27 and 28 event help the B.C. Cancer Foundation with research and improvements to care at the B.C. Cancer Agency.
In B.C., the ride has raised more than $70 million since 2009.
Carlson has already reached his goal of $2,500 but donations continue to be collected at www.conquercancer.ca. His major sponsors are Snap Fitness and Beachcomber Home Leisure.
Carlson admits some of the hills during the ride are challenging, but he never quits.
“I look down at Richard’s picture and if his family can make it through, so can I,” he said.