Starting on June 13, a squad of cyclists will leave the iconic war memorial at Vimy, France, heading north. They’ll cross into Belgium, ride through the storied green of Flanders Fields, and continue on to places like Ypres and Passchendaele, ending up in Bruges. It’s the 2015 Wounded Warriors Canada Battlefield Bike Ride, retracing the footsteps of Canadian troops during the First World War, and it’s rolling out this June to raise money for Wounded Warriors Canada: a not-for-profit group that supports ill and injured Canadian Forces members.
Cérvelo Canada, too, is a partner in the cause.
The huge name in Canadian cycling is a major contributor to the Ride. This year, Cérvelo is equipping participating Canadian veterans with more than $30,000 worth of bikes. After the ride is finished , the bikes will then be auctioned off, with the proceeds donated directly to Wounded Warriors Canada’s various programs. It’s a tradition of support and partnership that goes back to at least 2012, when Cérvelo Canada not only sponsored Wounded Warriors, but shipped 21 S2 road bikes to Vimy, France for that year’s ride. WestJet got involved, too, ferrying the bikes overseas free of charge.
“Cérvelo has been supporting our cycling events since 2012,” said Scott Maxwell the non-profit’s executive director. “The company and its employees are passionately committed to health and wellness and have applied this to help support our ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans lead an active and healthy lifestyle.”
The Ride isn’t only about raising money, though. Among Wounded Warriors Canada’s many initiatives and support programs, one of the most vital is helping soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder—something the Ride itself is dedicated to fighting. Speaking to Canadian Cycling Magazine in 2012, James Lamothe, a Durham Region police officer who helped co-ordinate the ride’s Canadian presence that year, described the physical activity and associated wellness programs of the ride as therapeutic. “Cycling is a fantastic physical outlet,” he said. “It’s something most people can do.” Riding through the historic battlefields of past wars, too, offers a rare opportunity to physically connect with history, something that helps soldiers afflicted with the disorder to gain critical, personal perspective.
“Here at Cervelo,” said Glen Innes, the company’s business development manager, “we understand how important a healthy body is to a healthy mind. If we can get more servicemen and women suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder riding bicycles, we can aid them in their battle with this and other operational stress injuries.”
The Ride is expected to take six days, ending on June 19.