It’s motorcycle weather!
And that means time to sign up for the Monster Run, July 11 – 12. This is the fourth year Stew Castle and his band of committed volunteers have organized this fundraiser for muscular dystrophy (MD).
Riders commit to a 1,667km ride beginning Friday, July 11 in Quesnel riders head to Lillooet for a mandatory check-in stop, then on to Whistler, into Vancouver for another mandatory stop across the street from the MD office, back on the bikes to Hope, another mandatory stop in Princeton, then on to Penticton, Vernon, and yes another mandatory stop in Kamloops, back to Cache Creek and home to Quesnel sometime on Saturday.
This is not a competition, riders are encouraged to drive at their own pace, let the volunteers and family know you’re doing okay and always put your safety and the safety of fellow travellers first and foremost.
Stew acknowledges without the help of volunteers, the Monster Run couldn’t happen because Stew is on the road for the ride, each and every run.
One of his valued volunteers is Sherry Tagmann from Prince George who rode in the first Monster Run but chose to put her energy into helping manage the ride along with Stew’s wife Cookie.
Sherry has been a motorcycle rider for about 10 years and was intrigued when she first heard about the Monster Run four years ago.
“It’s a great cause and I thought this would be a great chance to dispel some of the myths surrounding girls on big boy bikes,” she said.
“It’s a great way to show the run is for everyone.”
Sherry said they lucked out that year for weather but didn’t deny the run was gruelling.
“Everyone knows their body and must listen to what their body tells them,” she said.
She admitted by the time they reached Williams Lake on the return trip they’d been riding 22 hours and pulled over for a break.
Although Sherry hasn’t ridden for the past two Monster Runs, she emphatically said that doesn’t mean she won’t run again.
Having loved the experience of running the Monster Run, Sherry was reluctant to give up her connection to the event and has helped Cookie monitor the riders, taking the overnight shift.
“Sherry is my nightshift saviour,” Cookie said.
Between promoting the event ahead of time, monitoring the riders on the road and prepping for their return, Sherry and Cookie are almost as tired as the riders by the time the event finishes.
Cookie is happy to be a passenger on the back of Stew’s bike and even prouder of her Iron Butt patch, but she knows she’s most valuable at home during the run.
This designation is issued by the Iron Butt Association, an American-based organization dedicated to endurance motorcycle riding. To qualify for the membership a rider need only complete a minimum 1,600km ride in 24 hours. Many of the Monster Run riders have qualified for this patch.
Stew feels the fundraising for MD is just as important as the ride itself and all the fun and adventure along the way.
One of his lifelong friends suffers with MD and Stew is proud to raise funds for the cause. To date the Monster Run has raised $17,000 and Stew’s goal this year is to have the total hit $20,000.
“Each year we aim for $5,000 and have pretty well reached it, so this year we could top that goal,” he said.
As Cookie signs out the riders early Friday morning her last words to everyone, including her husband, are “have a great ride.”
For Stew, Cookie is his rock and he knows monitoring and paperwork are in good hands.
The first call-in is about four hours after leaving Quesnel and Cookie keeps a list of everyone who checks in.
“If I don’t hear from someone after 6 – 7 hours, I’m on the phone to the local RCMP and asking them to watch out for the make, model and license number of the absent bike and rider,” she said.
“Sometimes they just take a break but they have to check in or they might be explaining it to a cop.”
She tracks time, location and name of riders and then contacts their families so everyone knows they’re okay.
The run can accommodate up to 20 riders but ideally, Stew says 10 – 12 is great.
This year Stew isn’t traveling solo. He’s carrying a passenger named Booger.
“Booger was tired of gnomes getting all the publicity so he’s going to grab a little press for the Monster Run,” Cookie said.
“For $2, the public can sponsor Booger.”
In his entry form, Booger listed his mailing address as ‘under the shed’ and his contact information, ‘that nice lady.’
Although a little tongue-in-cheek, Booger represents the light-hearted but serious goal of the Monster Run.
So if you happen to run into Booger, sponsor a monster for just a toonie. All proceeds to the Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
For details on this years run, visit quesnelbiker.com for details on registration, the run and Iron Butt qualification or phone Stew or Cookie at 250-992-5016.