Cyclist rides for loved ones lost to cancer
Stayner resident Joel Pinsk is thinking of all the advancements in research that are saving lives as he prepares for the 2024 Ride to Conquer Cancer.
“The reason I do this ride is getting to the finish line knowing I’ve raised funds for people to survive this,” said Pinsk.
His family has been heavily impacted by cancer. His mother was a three-time cancer survivor and when he was 13 he lost three aunts to cancer within a three-month timespan.
He describes the loss as life- changing and earth shattering.
This year he is dedicating his ride to his cousin Shelley Gurvey, who he lost to cancer this year.
When Pinsk lived in Richmond Hill, his neighbour Steve Merker was in the process of co-founding The Ride to Conquer Cancer, which last year alone raised more than $17.3 million for life-saving cancer research at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
Pinsk has participated in the event 12 times, eight as a cyclist and four as part of the motorcycle support team (after a hip replacement and a car accident put him off his bike, but this year he is ‘back in the saddle.’)
In 2010 he joined Merker’s team, but has also ridden with co-workers at the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). As a Reserves Air Force Officer and an officer with the Shelburne 164th Air Cadet Squadron, he hopes to represent the Canadian Forces in 2024.
Event participants who are cancer survivors fly yellow flags. Pinsk said over the years more and more yellow flags would appear as advancements in research and patient care evolved and improved the prognosis and quality of life of those with cancer.
“Because it’s a charity ride, it’s not a race, I’d roll up to some people and talk to them just to hear their stories and that motivated me, not only to continue the ride but it just made me feel great that I’m doing something that’s allowing someone to further their life,” he said.
The 2024 event takes place June 8-9. The route takes riders over 230 km from Toronto to Niagara Falls. Pinsk said, when he completed over 100 km on the first day of his inaugural ride, having only ever cycled 50 km in one session during training, he thought, “I can’t believe I did that and I was on Cloud 9 all the way.”
As a relatively new resident to Stayner, Pinsk is excited to train in the hills in this area, hoping they will prepare him for the dreaded climb up Hamilton mountain.
In the meantime the cooler weather is putting Pinsk onto his off-season indoor training regimen, alternating between his stationary bike and the gym but he is already actively fundraising in order to secure his spot in next summer’s race. He is on his way to meeting his $2,500 fundraising goal but is hoping to exceed that target. Donate at ride2conquer.ca. Click the donate button and search for Joel Pinsk.
Contributed photo: Joel Pinsk (right), a regular participant of The Ride to Conquer Cancer, is fundraising for the 2024 ride.