Penticton cyclist Lauren Calancie, left, and support team Kelsey Smart, Arrow and Gabi, make a stop in Vernon’s Polson Park in their journey from Burnaby to Calgary, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

Okanagan woman on multi-day bike trek for PADS makes Vernon stop

En route from Burnaby to Calgary, Penticton cyclist makes pit stop to enjoy shade in Polson Park

One Okanagan woman is pedalling her way from Burnaby to Calgary to raise $40,000 for PADS — the Pacific Assistance Dog Society.

Penticton-based cyclist Lauren Calancie set out from the PADS campus in Burnaby Aug. 15 to cycle more than 1,000 kilometres to the PADS campus in Alberta.

On Day 4, Calancie found herself seeking shade from the hot sun in Vernon’s Polson Park.

“I feel good,” she said Tuesday, Aug. 18, sitting in the cool grass, bike at her side and juice in hand.

Calancie said she’s been on a bicycle all her life but she began to take it more seriously in her retirement.

She is serious enough about cycling to not only take on the longest multi-day cycling excursion she’s done, but she also has a bicycle with “Bike Forever” tattooed on her ankle.

Calancie prepared for the gruelling journey along the Coquihalla, Okanagan Connector and Trans Canada by cycling the readily available hills in and around Penticton.

“I was ready to go,” she said. “I didn’t want to keep training. I didn’t know exactly what to expect so I am gaining fitness along the way. Every day, the hills aren’t as daunting.

“But I never want to ride up the Coquihalla again,” she said.

Calancie said the multi-day ride from the Vancouver area to Calgary was on her bucket list and as a supporter of PADS, she decided to marry the two into a fundraiser — little did she know, it would be in the midst of a heatwave.

“The second day, going up the Coquihalla was brutal. I think it was the hottest day of the year and I was climbing to the summit through the tunnels and I thought I was going to die,” she said with a laugh.

Luckily, following close behind is her support RV, driven by PADS acquaintance Kelsey Smart and Smart’s PADS Ambassa-dog Arrow and rescue pup Gabi.

The two women met through the organization.

“It’s an amazing group of people that breed and raise and train amazing dogs to assist people with disabilities or that have experienced trauma in their lives,” Calancie said.

Smart became involved as a PADS volunteer puppy-raiser, where she met Arrow when he was only eight weeks old. Arrow completed his training before he let PADS know he didn’t really want to work and was released from the program, Smart explained. That’s when she adopted him as her own.

“I experienced the love, effort and 24-7 hard work that goes into the raising, training, matching of these amazing dogs with their human partners and changing lives in wondrous ways,” Smart said. “I jumped in with an offer to drive a support vehicle for Lauren with the ‘help’ of my two dogs.”

Now, Smart and Calancie are getting to know each other in “tight quarters,” Smart said.

Calancie enjoyed her time in Vernon’s Polson Park before she mounted her two-wheeled steed once more to pedal her way to Salmon Arm where she and her support team would set up camp for the night.

To follow along, visit PADS.ca/pedal. Donations are accepted until Sept. 19. Already, nearly $9,000 has been raised of the $40,000 goal. More information about the journey can be found on Arrow’s Facebook page.

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@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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