Ken Quon Ride On event saving lives 

Fundraiser bike ride and race outfits ambulances with monitoring equipment

Whistler’s Tom Thomson recently found himself watching The Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel, an episode where a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter performed a rescue of an ill fisherman in the high seas off the Aleutian Islands. Coast Guard crews performed CPR on the crewman, stripping him down in freezing temperatures to take his pulse and other vital statistics.

Thomson noticed that even those rescue crews, operating in one of the most dangerous crab fisheries in the world, don’t have the portable diagnostic monitor that is equipped in all of Whistler’s ambulances — with funds raised in the annual Ken Quon Ride On bike ride and race. In fact, Whistler has the only ambulances in the province equipped with the monitors, with the exception of the air ambulance. And after the 2008 event on Sunday, Aug. 10, the Pemberton ambulances should have the equipment as well.

“All of the proceeds from the race go right into the kitty, we don’t have any overhead costs and all of the money goes to keeping riders safe when they get hurt out there,” said Thomson, who along with Francis Chaisson has spearheaded the ride and fundraiser since 2006 in memory of local rider and fellow Wild Willies guide Ken Quon.

“The competition part of the ride is called the Re/Max Corridor Cup, and we know that our good friends in Pemberton have a few ambulances and that people do a lot of riding up there. The goal this year is to equip the ambulances up there with the same monitoring devices.”

In September 2005 Quon died, while guiding a ride, of an undetected congenital heart condition, literally falling over with his feet still clipped into his pedals. A plaque at the end of Upper Panorama marks the exact spot where he passed away.

He was an enthusiastic rider and guide, and his friends created the ride the next year to honour his memory and help other mountain bikers in distress. After talking to ambulance crews, fundraisers decided to put the funds towards the portable units that can be carried anywhere into the bush and will monitor an injured person’s vital signs all the way to the hospital. Each unit costs roughly $12,000.

The Ken Quon Ride On raises money a few ways — entry fees to the family ride and Corridor Cup Challenge, a silent auction, a raffle and other contests held at the after-party and barbecue at Riverside Campground. A recent car wash that raised over $2,200, and the July 22 Wild Willies Ride also requested a $5 donation to go towards the equipment.

The family ride is a casual cruise through Lost Lake Park trails, following a mix of trails, and the casual ride is a little more challenging and will take an hour on average to finish at a moderate pace.

The Re/Max Corridor Cup Challenge takes place on its own course. The format has changed this year with teams of two taking part instead of teams of four. Participants will make three laps of a slightly more challenging course, and the combined times of the riders will determine the winners in different categories. There will be all-male, all-female, mixed and youth categories, and adults will also be ranked according to their combined age.

“The riders are on their own out there, unlike events like the B.C. Bike Race where riders have to stay within two minutes of their partners,” said Thomson. “The only thing that matters is the lowest combined time.”

Thomson says the change in format will make the event more inclusive, and is friendly for teams that are non-competitive as well as the riders that will be gunning to get their names on the Corridor Cup.

The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children taking part in the casual ride, and $15 for adults and $10 for children taking part in the Corridor Cup. Both events start and finish at Riverside Campground, and entry includes the barbecue and a chance to win prizes. You also have to be a member of the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association (WORCA) to take part.

Registration forms are available online at www.kenquonrideon.com, and day of race registration will be available at the start line.

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