It’s not the biking that scares Alex Geisel about the Ride to Conquer Cancer.
For most people, biking more than 200 kilometres from Toronto to Niagara Falls would be a daunting prospect. But the Elmira man is an avid cyclist and expects to have no trouble covering the distance.
“It’s the donation amount that actually scares me more,” Geisel said.
The minimum fundraising amount is $2,500 per participant. Geisel has about $400 pledged, and just a few weeks to raise the remaining amount before the ride June 13.
The Ride to Conquer Cancer just started last year. In its inaugural year, 3,000 riders raised $14 million for the Campbell Family Institute at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.
When Geisel learned about it, he was eager to take part; not only does he love bike riding, but he’s a cancer survivor himself.
When he was six, Geisel was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a rare form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma that causes rapid growth of abdominal tumours. For the next year, he went through chemotherapy at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto until the disease was in remission.
Geisel also has a personal connection with Princess Margaret; after turning 18, he started going there for his checkups. Last fall was his 20th year of being cancer-free.
Geisel got serious about mountain biking when he was 21 and does some racing and competing for fun. This weekend, he’ll be biking in an eight-hour endurance race. Most people sign up with a team and take turns riding; Geisel signed up as a solo rider and is doing the whole thing by himself. Last year he managed 120 kilometres in eight hours; this year he’s hoping to push that up to 130.
For the past four or five years, Geisel has taken part in the Great Ride and Stride in Elmira, and he’s eager to be part of a longer event. The ride takes place over two days, with tents set up to camp overnight.
The part he’s most looking forward to is “just being surrounded by people and bikes,” Geisel said. “This one is different because everyone is there for a common goal.”
To sponsor Geisel, you can search for him by name on the Conquer Cancer website, www.conquercancer.ca, or enter his participant number 532084-2.