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The Ride to Conquer Cancer pushes this cyclist onward

More than five years after Cameron Olsen's mother was diagnosed with cancer, he's still driven to participate in the Ride

Cameron Olsen

“What I enjoy about the whole training is that it’s me and the road. I always think back to the people we want to support and to my mom. I’m able to get as angry as I want,” said Cameron Olsen about his frustration with cancer. “I get to get out there on my bike and yell on the road. That pushes me to be even better and to want to go further.”

In late 2011, Olsen’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her treatment was successful. Still, the effects of that diagnosis are still with Olsen as he prepares for his sixth Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

“When I start training in the spring, it will be two, three, four times a week for shorter rides of 20 km or 30 km,” he says. “Then it will build up to twice a week for 70 to 100 km per ride. We go up and down the Niagara Escarpment twice. If you don’t spend the time in the saddle throughout the year, there’s no way you’re going to make it through.”

Olsen’s Cervélo R3, a Christmas present from his wife, is just the machine for those ascents up the Escarpment. “It’s probably more than I need as a bike,” he says. “It does come in handy, being so light. I don’t think I’d change it for anything else.”

The riding, while challenging, isn’t necessarily the toughest part of the event. “For me the hardest part is the mental aspect of it—always sitting back and thinking of my mom and thinking of the other people going through it,” he says referring to the far-reaching effects of cancer. “One of the most difficult things for me is the opening ceremonies. Every year, I participate in the opening ceremonies in Toronto. Halfway through, the crowd opens up and they walk a bike down to the front. The bike is there to represent the people who we have lost and who are not there to ride with us. And that always seem to touch me pretty hard. From there you think about that for every pedal you take, every kilometre you go, every hill you have to climb. It’s always in the back of my mind that I’m doing this for somebody else.”

Olsen rides in support of others, but he too has support during the event. There’s not only aid stations along the way, but family encouragement. “My wife comes out to every single Ride. She’s there at the beginning, she’s there at the finish, she’s there at every pit stop that we make to cheer us on,” Olsen says.

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