On a day tailor made for a road trip, 22 riders left Kelowna to raise awareness for children in medical crisis.
It is the annual Cops for Kids Ride. The 'ride' includes five support people from the RCMP and a number of supporting enforcement agencies within South East District.
The 2012 Ride, presented by The Thomas Alan Budd Foundation, will take the team across the South Eastern corner of British Columbia, to raise awareness, and essential funds, for children in medical, physical or traumatic crisis.
The morning send-off began with a breakfast at the Sandman Hotel in Kelowna and then just after 9:00 a.m., the team headed south on Highway 97 to begin their journey.
Retired Staff Sgt.-Major and Ride Captain Julio Krenz led the riders on the 'wheel' adventure.
"It's a lot of fun. The riders here are pretty ambitious to get riding. They're prepared for this, both fundraising and physically," says Krenz.
Each rider has raised a minimum of $2,000
"We get volunteers from all over the south east of the province and we get riders from all over, including the Canadian Border Services and auxiliary constables, so we get quite a mix."
Over the 10-day journey, Cops for Kids riders will cycle into 18 different communities across South Eastern British Columbia, facing some challenging terrain and possible inclement weather conditions along the way.
Krenz says they ride is well received where ever they go.
"We get great receptions. In fact, some of the smaller towns give us the best reception. For example Greenwood, a small community and they had just as many people come out as Kelowna to see us ride in, and ride out."
During the ride, local community groups, restaurants, and hotels generously extend their hospitality to the team, which goes a long way to ensuring the success of the ride.
The route includes the assent and decent of two mountains passes: the Anarchist Mountain and Blue Berry Paulsen, which involve significant elevation changes.
Organizers say these encounters serve to remind each rider of the challenges that some children face on a daily basis. Many of these children will serve as Ambassadors along they way and greet the riders as they visit their hometowns.
"This is my first ride," admits Cpl. Brian Burke, who handles the K-9 unit in Penticton and is an avid cyclist in his spare time.
"I love it as both a sport competitively, and as a way to stay healthy. Through friends and other colleagues, I found out about the Cops for Kids Ride and I think that it's an excellent chance for me to give back to the community."
The riders will travel as far as Osoyoos on day one before stopping for the night. The 10-day journey will include stops in Cranbrook, Golden, Kamloops and Vernon before completing the circuit in Kelowna on Sunday, September 16.
To learn more about the ride and its participants, or to make a donation, visit their website.
Here's a short video of the 'bikers' taking to the streets.