BY BILL PHILLIPS
Sometimes listening to your buddies can get you in trouble.
But sometimes they can also lead you down a path that is absolutely wonderful.
Eric Robinson feared he might be heading down the former when he agreed to go a bike ride with Ron Gallo, Kevin Creamore and Kurt Wolf a couple of years back.
“Three years ago I bought a bike and my buddies took me on a fun ride,” he says. “Turned out to be 45 kilometres. It just about killed me, I was about 40 pounds heavier then.”
He had never ridden on a road bike, so the experience (and the distance) was new to him. However, it changed his life. He joined the Wheelin’ Warriors of the North in 2017. The Ride to Conquer Cancer this year will be his third time riding with the Wheelin’ Warriors.
“I really enjoy it,” he says. “You either get addicted to it, or you don’t.”
His fundraising goal is $2,500 and he is hoping to surpass that goal. He does a lot of bottle drives to raise funds and is involved with the team fundraising.
“I’m really involved with the Spruce Kings and their 50/50 tickets,” he says. “They have a promotion where the Wheelin’ Warriors come help sell their 50/50 and they give us a chunk of money at the end of the year … I love hockey.”
The first year Robinson rode the Ride to Conquer to Cancer was the last year the ride went from Vancouver to Seattle.
“That was a very, very difficult ride,” he says. “It’s very hilly. It’s absolutely gorgeous, it is stunning, but there are a lot of up hills. I’m a bigger guy, I don’t go up very very well.”
The ride now goes from Vancouver to Hope. It’s a flatter ride, he says, so it’s a little easier. The weather, however, last year was difficult because it rained both days.
“We were about five kilometres into the ride and down came the rain,” he says. “It just gave me a little motivation to ride a little faster because the faster you go the warmer you get.”
And, as tough as the ride might be, things could be tougher and it’s for those whose life is tougher because of cancer that the Wheelin’ Warriors ride.
“Yeah, it was pouring rain and it was miserable, but I wasn’t lying in bed sick from chemo,” he says. “I wasn’t trying to help my friend get to the washroom because they had no more muscle mass because of radiation. It reminds you that we ride because we can ride and there are those who can’t.”
The ride raises money for the the BC Cancer Foundation, which helps fund cancer research here in B.C.
He has been training with the Wheelin’ Warriors already this year with a couple of spin classes. However, he is doing some training on his own as he has another challenge coming up this year … he’s going to compete in a sprint triathlon in Kamloops.
“It’s a 600-metre swim, a 20-kilometre bike ride and a five-kilometre run,” he says. “So I’ve been training pretty good for that … so I’m starting to take this a lot more seriously than some fun afternoon rides.”
He says the Wheelin’ Warriors experience has put him back on the path he was on as a young man.
“I was always and athlete,” he said. “I was always playing sports. I grew up in this town playing hockey and baseball, riding my bike to practices. I was in great shape.”
Life sometimes gets in the way, however, and the fitness of youth can fade. Robinson is getting that back.
“It’s a good role model for my family and my kids,” he says. “They see me working hard and they see what you can do if you put your mind to it.”
Being part of the Wheelin’ Warriors of the North means being a part of a team and if anyone is wondering what the Warriors are all about, Robinson has some advice: “Come meet us. Come to one of our spin classes.”
The spin classes are held at the YMCA of Northern BC and there are two veteran riders who take everyone through their paces during the classes. If you show up and all the bikes are taken, someone will give up their bike to let a newcomer try it.
“This is when you get to meet the team,” he says. “This is where you get to know the team. This is where you’ll find out this is a really bunch of quirky people who are a blast to hang out. We’re kind of infectious. You just want to come back and hang out with us some more.”
If spin classes aren’t your thing, wait until the snow goes and come out and meet the team then. They do rides every Monday and Wednesday and then once a month on the weekend they do a long ride. Check out the Wheelin’ Warriors of the North on Facebook.