Brampton man preparing to bike 340 kms across Ontario to raise money for cancer research

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Published July 22, 2021 at 5:39 pm

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The Ride to Conquer Cancer, an event organized by the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, will be held Aug. 28 and 29 and one Brampton resident intends to ride more than 300 km to raise money.

More than a decade ago, Jason Roth, during his annual physical, found out he could stand to lose some weight and improve his physical health.

“I knew I was overweight and out of shape. My exercise routine consisted of getting off the couch, walking to the beer fridge and grabbing another snack,” Roth said in an exclusive interview with Insauga.com.

“My doctor told me I had a cholesterol problem and a blood pressure problem and an obesity problem and that I really needed to lose some weight.”

That very day, after returning home from his physical, Roth got a call from his father, who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Later that night, while he was watching TV, Roth saw a commercial for the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

“I thought it would be a great way to raise some money in honour of my dad, and also push me to improve my health and get in better shape.” 

Before the pandemic, the event involved a two-part bike ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls—participants would spend the first day riding from Toronto to Hamilton, set up camp for the night, and complete the ride the next day from Hamilton to the Falls.

Roth believed it would be the perfect vehicle to help him improve his health, as he knew it would require discipline and training leading up to the event.

“There’s no way I would be able to just get off the couch and bike 200 kms in a weekend without training for it first.”

Roth had been a cyclist in his youth all the way through his time in high school, before giving it up when he started university.

However, when he decided to participate in and begin training for the event in 2008, it had been 20 years since he had been on a bike.

“The first time I got back on a bike, which was in March of that year, I rode for 15 km and literally threw up when I got home. That’s how out of shape I was.”

However, despite only about four months to train for the event, he still completed the journey.

“The first time I did it, it hurt. Oh man, it hurt,” he said. “I was in so much pain. Every muscle in my body hurt and it was really, really hard, but it was also incredibly inspiring. Hearing the stories of the cancer survivors, and about the work that the Foundation was doing was incredibly inspiring. I decided I was going to do it again next year.”

Roth did complete the event the next year, and then the year after that, and again the year after that.

This year, Roth will be taking part in the event for the 14th consecutive year.

Because of the pandemic, the event has been adjusted and riders are left to their own resources when it comes to the route they take and how far they ride.

Last year, Roth rode for more than 200 kms in a single day.

“I think I rode for the longest distance of anybody, but I’m not positive about that.”

However, after finishing his ride, Roth was surprised by how he felt.

“I was remarkably not tired. I expected to be exhausted. I really thought that when I got to the finish line at my house, I was going to be so exhausted I could barely get off my bike, but that wasn’t the case.”

Because of how good he felt completing his 210-km-ride last year, Roth intends to push himself even further this year, and complete the traditional route, which is normally done over two days, in just one. Then bike all the way back home.

“This year’s ride will be about 340 kms by the time I’m done,” he said. “I’ve pre-planned a route for the event. I’m heading from here in Brampton to Waterdown and then down the escarpment in Burlington to the waterfront trail to Niagara-on-the Lake and then up the Niagara Trail to the Falls. Then I’ll basically be retracing my route on the way back.”

Having taken some time to familiarize himself with his route, Roth doesn’t expect to be surprised by the terrain during his ride.

“I’ve ridden a lot of the roads before individually, not all at once, so I’ll be pretty familiar with them,” he says. “I did a test run this year from my house to Burlington and back again just to make sure that I knew what those roads were going to be like. I could see there are a couple of spots that are going to be a challenge for me, but I’ll be able to get through them.”

Over the last decade-and-a-half, Roth has raised more than $120,000 in funding for cancer research, all without the help of corporate sponsorships.

“I’m pretty proud of that. That’s all because of individual people donating $20 here or $100 there, I don’t have any corporate sponsorships providing large four- and five-figure donations, so I’m pretty proud that I’ve been able to raise that much money so far.”

After he passes Hamilton, Roth’s son, who is taking part in the event for the 10th time, will join him in St Catharines and ride with him to the original finish line at the Falls.

However, Roth doesn’t plan on resting for long before he gets back on the road for his return trip.

“We’ll take some pictures and rest for a few minutes and probably have a snack, and then I’ll be back on my bike and heading home,” he says. “Ten or 15 minutes is as long of a break as I can manage, otherwise my legs start to go into rest mode and I have a lot more trouble getting going again.”

Roth knows this ride will be challenging, but he’s prepared for it. He believes the biggest hurdle he’ll have to face is mental.

“I know it’s going to be hard to mentally force myself to continue when I’m tired and my legs start to hurt.”

Roth said the thought of all the people who learn the devastating news that they have cancer, the same words his father heard in 2008, is what drives him to keep going even when he feels exhausted and unable to continue.

“For me, if just one person reads this story and decides to join the cause, that would be a huge accomplishment.”

Further, while he has set a lofty goal for himself this year, he’ll probably have an even loftier one next year, and the year after that.

“We aren’t done yet, we haven’t conquered cancer yet. The Foundation needs every penny we can raise for them, so I’m going to keep riding until they tell me I can’t do it anymore.”

Those who want to find out more about the Ride to Conquer Cancer can do so online, while those interested in supporting Roth in his journey can visit his personal event page

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