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Beyond Bike Shorts: A Look at Some of the Tour de Cure’s Best Fits

July 4, 2024

Found in General,  Tour de Cure

Don’t let their crazy ’80s mullets fool you, Rock The $#@! Out Of Cancer has raised an incredible $800,000 in 15 years.

The Tour de Cure is an incredible coming together of a community determined to make a difference. The largest cycling fundraiser for cancer research and care in B.C. is meaningful, heartfelt, inspiring — and fun. Made even more so by the creative costumes that you wouldn’t expect from your average cyclist.

Here’s the scoop on a few of the eye-catching ensembles to watch out for:

Rockin’ out for Research

Inspired by his own cancer journey and his friend Lisa, whom he lost to a brain tumour, Wayne Oberst captains one of the first Tour de Cure teams to crank up the volume on their kit.

After riding as team 2 S-L-O-W in 2010, Wayne’s wife, Lory, suggested they amp it up in honour of their mostly music industry supporters with a new name: Rock The $#@! Out Of Cancer. When asked what ‘$#@!’ stands for, Wayne cheekily suggests, “People should insert any four-letter word that best describes how they feel about cancer.”

They first donned the dayglow rocker mullets to make their riders more identifiable to their sponsored support vehicle, but the Chilliwack-based team’s rock ‘n’ roll roots go much deeper. Their in-house band, Rock Therapy, have hosted several benefit concerts and performed at the ride’s half-way camp two years.

Wayne Oberst (left) has literally rocked in raising funds for cancer research.

The ’80s mops have been often imitated but never duplicated and have piqued a lot of curiosity over the years.

“We’ve been asked many times if the wigs are hot or if they blow in our face,” admits Wayne, who says on the contrary, the artificial locks lift in the wind and are “barely noticeable when riding.”

Unless, of course, you happen to be on the road when a bunch of headbangers on bikes cruise by.

Caped Crusaders for Oral Cancer

“It all started with David Bowie,” says Better Outcomes 2 Co-Captain Joel Fransen. So, how did it get to Batman capes and ears? In 2015 the team rallied in honour of their founder, BC Cancer Oral Medicine Specialist Michele Williams, who had recently passed away from cancer. Together, they raised almost $250,000 for oral cancer research.

In 2016, the team needed help inspiring their networks who had given so generously last year. “To motivate people, I said, ‘If I get to $5,000 by the end of April, I’ll do the ride as Ziggy Stardust,’” says Joel.

It worked, and Joel rode in a red, spiky wig, lightning bolt jersey and space-inspired shoulder epaulets as the alter ego of David Bowie, who had just passed away from liver cancer.

Everyone on route goes batty for Better Outcomes 2's Batman outfits.

The costume received so much love that the next year the entire team decided to join forces with a superhero theme starting with the Caped Crusader. The plan was to pay homage to a new one every year.

“We were going to do Wonder Woman, Superman and Green Lantern, but everyone went just batty for Batman, so we’ve stuck with it.”

“It’s Batman forever now.”

ROY G BIV Representing the North

The Wheelin’ Warriors of the North wear their signature rainbow loud and proud, splashed across their chests, but this wasn’t always the case, says team captain Karin Piché.

After losing her friend Nola to skin cancer in 2012, Karin founded the team in her honour. Silicone cause wristbands were big back then, riders would trade and collect them, she says. When choosing a colour, Karin forwent black (the skin cancer ribbon colour) for something that better represented Nola: a rainbow.

“Nola was gay, and she lived much of her life hiding her true identity. She married and had children before she divorced and met a woman who was the love of her life.” Unfortunately, not long after they wed, Nola was diagnosed with cancer. “It was a blessing that she got to be her authentic self before she passed away,” says Karin.

Any hesitancy about adopting the international symbol of pride melted away as the team embraced the six-colour accessory.

Karin Piché (right) is proud her team has raised $1.7 million since 2013.

It eventually made its way into arm sleeves and small pops of colour on their otherwise black-and-white jerseys. In their 10th year riding together, the Wheelin’ Warriors of the North gave it a place of prominence.

For Karin, the rainbow has two meanings — both advocate for inclusion. There are more than 50 different cancer awareness colours, she says. “For the Wheelin’ Warriors of the North, one colour was not enough. The rainbow represents all of us, all of those we have lost, and all those still fighting.”

When in Rome with Two Guys

Female fighters were rare in ancient history, but it was Charmeine Faiola of the Gladiators who first took up the gauntlet to cycle to raise funds for cancer research in 2016.

Charmeine Faiola of the Gladiators is riding for all the warriors facing cancer.

The following year, her husband, Guy Faiola, was at a family wedding talking up her heroics. A relative expressed an interest in participating and the next year he and Guy and another family member formed a team.

“They all come from the same area in Italy and called themselves Gladiators because of their Roman heritage,” says Charmeine. “I thought it would be appropriate to add the red plume to our helmets to indicate our warrior status.”

And rightly so, as their small team, which now includes a second Guy (Testani) has been knocked down but not out by cancer — losing parents, a brother and son to the disease. In addition, both Guys are cancer survivors.

The Gladiators proudly wear the names of their “warriors” and “angels” on the back of their jerseys and in their honour, Charmeine says, “We will continue to fight, and we won’t back down.”

Short Legs, Big Hearts

“Say yes to fun,” was something Frances Zago reminded her husband, Luciano, shortly before she passed away from multiple myeloma in 2021. The next year, Luciano, together with Frances’ longtime friend Karen Williams, formed a Tour de Cure team to ride to raise funds for cancer research. In Frances’ honour, they decided not to take themselves too seriously — hence the dog ears and tails affixed to their helmets.

“We named the team after Frances and Luciano’s beloved Corgis, Arwen and Viggo,” says Karen. Frances’ constant companions on the trails of the North Shore, the small but sturdy doggy duo brought smiles to people wherever they went. As did Team Corgis’ adorable kit on their inaugural ride in 2022.


Team Corgis were inspired by a beloved friend's two best friends.

“We rode the entire day together as a pack of Corgis having so much fun as others responded — people clearly love to see adults wearing dog ears and tails.”

This year, Team Corgis ride with teammate and Karen’s husband, Paul Wearmouth, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy for a stomach cancer diagnosis he received in September.

“Fortunately, Paul has been able to remain active throughout his treatment,” says Karen, “and he will add gold survivor arm sleeves to his team kit this year.”

Have fun and provide hope for people facing cancer in B.C. by raising funds for the BC Cancer Foundation through the Tour de Cure, presented by Wheaton Precious Metals. Sign up today!