When Vicki Greenwood was forty-seven, a breast cancer diagnosis upended her world as she suddenly found herself fighting for her life. It was challenging, humbling, and at times scary, but Vicki survived.
She endured the treatments, and her husband came home with an unexpected gift when she was done. He gave her a used road bike and proposed a new challenge, suggesting she train to complete The Ride to Conquer Cancer.
Thousands of like-minded cyclists participate in this ride every year, each with a uniquely personal connection to the cause. Together they raise funds that accelerate medical breakthroughs that transform cancer outcomes. Vicki agreed to take on the 200 KM cycling challenge, making a decision that altered the course of her life.
Vicki completed the challenge and competed in the Kelowna Grand Fondo that same year. She was hooked. She says, "I got addicted because riding made me feel like a kid again, like I was playing in the beautiful outdoors. At the same time, I was pushing my body to excruciating limits and thinking wow, look at what I just did! Look at that hill I just climbed! Look at that view!"
Twelve years and a couple new bikes later, Vicki has transformed her love of cycling into her life's purpose. Today, her cycling resume deems her a Vancouver rider of note. She co-founded the city's first women-only cycling club, WOWride Cycling, making the sport more accessible to more women.
She says, "Back in those days, cycling was a male-dominated and as such intimidating for women. I wanted a women's club so we could ride at our own pace and stop for coffee when we felt like it. We wanted to connect with each other and build community on and off our bikes. So that is what we did."
Vicki no longer rides with a club, but her passion for the sport hasn't diminished. Today she coaches classes at The Cycle Collective, one of Vancouver's most renowned indoor cycling hot spots. She also travels around the province as a ride leader and facilitator for Cycling BC, the non-profit governing body for the sport of cycling in British Columbia. Today her passion is to educate riders on cycling safety etiquette.
Cycling is booming in Vancouver. It grew in leaps and bounds during the pandemic and the city emerged as one of the most popular places for cycling in Canada. That means there are many more bums on the roads making safety more of a concern.
Vicki also teaches cyclists how to safely ride in groups which is trickier than most people anticipate. She says, "Group cycling is very stressful at times. Just because you can ride a bike doesn't mean you know how to follow someone safely."
Cycling changed Vicki's life in beautiful ways she could never have imagined before her Cancer diagnosis. At 58, she's found great joy in being surrounded by like-minded people and making a difference in people's lives. All because of a scary diagnosis, a used road bike, and a challenge.
Vicki doesn't see herself stopping any time soon, even though she is less competitive these days. She says, "My goal now is to move enough to feel good in my skin and keep up with my riding companions. I just want to stay in shape and be able to ride a ride without falling apart." And someday, when she feels it's necessary, she’s excited to transition to an e-bike. Vicki says, "When I'm ready for that, which is not yet, the sky's the limit."
Vicki's story reminds us that the roads we ride contain unexpected twists and turns, sometimes, we must climb, and other times we can simply enjoy the glide. When you're on a bike, you're sitting on one of the best seats in the world, your blood pumping through your muscles but not so hard that you miss the view along the way. It's also fun to stop and grab a cup of coffee with friends along the way.
After all that's why we ride.