Anticipation building for valley arrival of Tour de Rock riders

Participants enjoy the chocolate fountain at the annual Red Serge Dinner in 2009. - Andrew Leong/file
Participants enjoy the chocolate fountain at the annual Red Serge Dinner in 2009.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

As the Tour de Rock cycling team prepares to start its trek, the valley and other locations around the island are gearing up for special fundraisers and events to mark the team's arrival.

The team of 13 police officers, two media members and two special guests sets out from Port Alice on Saturday, Sept. 22. Arrival in the valley will be a week and a few days later.

In the meantime, special community events that precede the visit by the riders include a barbecue at the Mill Bay Co-Op on Deloume Road Monday, Sept. 17 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The barbecue is by donation to support the tour.

On Tuesday, Sept. 18, the Canadian Tire Tee-Off for the tour takes place at the Cowichan Golf and Country Club.

Entry in the fourth annual Tour de Rock golf tournament is already closed. Participants will enjoy dinner, golf, prizes and auction.

Once the riders arrive, the annual Red Serge dinner in Duncan will be on Tuesday, Oct. 2 at Mr. Mike's. The event begins at 6 p.m. and tickets go for $40 apiece, available at Thrifty Foods, Coast Capital Savings and the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment.

The riders arrive in Chemainus Monday, Oct. 1. They travel from there to Lake Cowichan and Duncan the next day on an 81-kilometre trek and head from Duncan through Shawnigan Lake and Mill Bay Wednesday, Oct. 3 en route to the finale in Victoria.

Coast Capital Savings Duncan branch manager Linda Whittome is heading the planning for the Duncan festivities at Beverly Corners.

The riders are due to arrive there at 2:15 p.m. Oct. 2.

"They'll be here for a while and do their presentations,'' said Whittome.

Coast Capital is the official tour sponsor.

"Every branch is involved,'' said Whittome.

Duncan staffers are selling raffle tickets now for four baskets.

"Local merchants have been very generous, a good response from the community,'' said Whittome.

Whittome is one of seven members of the local committee.

"This year, I think my first communication with people was in March,'' she said of the early planning.

This is the 15th year of the rider — the 14th for Whittome — and it's hard to keep things fresh, but there have been some noticeable changes overall.

"At the beginning, there was more people getting their head shaved,'' she said. "That's changed over the years.''

People have remained generous to the cause in difficult times.

"The economy, the way it is now, there's a lot of funding cutbacks for a lot of organizations,'' Whittome pointed out.

"The tour always manages to pull in a good amount. Certainly over the years, I've seen the benefits and the cures.''

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