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'I have to do something': Why a 79-year-old Port Coquitlam man is set to ride 100 km in one day

Adrian McRae will train hard and put up with a 'sore bum' to raise $10,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation in the Tour de Cure set for Aug. 28, 2021
Adrian McRae submitted photo
Adrian McRae, of Port Coquitlam, is training to ride the Tour de Cure to raise money for cancer research.

Adrian McRae has always enjoyed cycling.

He loves being out on the open road, enjoying the company of other riders and testing his mettle against hills, weather and wind.

But for the last seven years, the Port Coquitlam man has had more reasons to hit the road on two wheels — to aid in the fight against cancer.

McRae is a cancer survivor himself, and he has lost many loved ones to cancer, including four siblings, a niece and his wife of more than 40 years.

To counter the grief, McRae, who turns 80 in November, decided to take action.

He joined the annual Tour de Cure — B.C.’s biggest cycling fundraiser — because he wanted to feel like he’s helping in some way.

“I’m a hands-on kind of guy, I have to do something to make a difference,” says the New Zealand-born McRae.

Many residents might know McRae for his carpentry work as he built his home in Port Coquitlam in 1979 and started the Kingswood Builders Group construction company.

With his wife, Mary, he raised two children and now also has two granddaughters.

But, with cancer rampant in his family, McRae is serious about the need to find a cure to the many forms of the disease.

He himself had prostate cancer 25 years ago.

“We are making process,” McRae said about cancer research, “not as fast as we all would like, but we’re making progress; it’s a long road.”

McRae plans to ride over 100 km on Aug. 28, with the cancer survivor flag on his bike. He hopes to ride to Harrison Hot Springs as part of Team Ward Watkins (Ray’s Team) and raise $10,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation. (Click here to find out more and to donate).

When he hits the tarmac, he’ll be riding with two riding partners, John Manuel and Sue Watkins, with whom he has ridden several times over the years.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the tour to promote individual rides, with kilometres measured with the Strava GPS app, it’s the camaraderie of the tour that gives McRae the most juice to pump his legs to the finish line. 

“It’s quite an incredible ride — you meet so many people in the same position and you exchange your stories. It’s a great experience, you feel like you’re accomplishing something.”

For McRae, who has ridden the Whistler gran fondo a few times and will do the 140 km Tour de Victoria in October, cycling 100 km is not that far. He also rides twice weekly with the Tri-City Cycling Club, with rides up to 120 km.

For longer rides McRae says he trains, loads up on carbs, rests a week or two before the ride and has come in near the top in his age group.

He also plays golf, does spin classes in Coquitlam and has a bike trainer in his home to keep in shape during inclement weather. For older riders, he advises just getting on “the saddle” and putting on the kilometres.

“You don’t need any special skills to cycle, the more you ride the stronger you are and the better you get.”

The hardest thing?

“You get a sore bum. That’s just the way it is.”