Cyclist falls in love with city on cross-country benefit tour

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Photo: Michael Bourguignon

Wes Bauer took a break last week from his cross-Canada cycling tour to visit Quebec City, "probably one of the most gorgeous cities" he has seen so far.

Two months into his cross-country campaign against cancer, Wes Bauer last week took a respite in Quebec City and fell in love.

"This is probably one of the most gorgeous cities I've ever been to in Canada," said Bauer, whose cross-country cycling tour, dubbed Chase the Cure, kicked off in Victoria, B.C., on May 14, and is expected to end in St. John's, Newfoundland, on August 15.

"As I was riding into the city, I saw all these other cyclists and people out just enjoying themselves, even in the rain," he said. "Plus, with the cobble-stoned streets, there's just this ... I don't want to say European, but there's just this special vibe here."

Wes Bauer's father, Lyle, is president and CEO of the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He also happens to be a cancer survivor and the inspiration for his son's crusade.

After a successful battle with throat cancer, the elder Bauer created the Never Alone Foundation in 2005 to help patients and their families by raising funds for cancer research, education and support services. Following in his father's footsteps - at least where fighting cancer was concerned - eventually became a priority and a passion for Wes.

"It was very hard for me to watch my father be taken down by something you can't even see," said the 20-year-old Bauer, who took a year away from his studies at the University of British Columbia to ride some 200 kilometres a day across the country to raise funds and awareness. "My dad has inspired a lot of people, and I thought to myself that I can do something similar, that I have a chance to have an impact."

So far, he said, the Chase the Cure campaign has raised about $70,000, mainly through fundraising events held in CFL cities across Canada. After his stopover in Quebec, for instance, he was on his way to an event with the Montreal Alouettes, where the team was to auction off an autographed helmet to benefit the campaign.

Donations are also coming through the campaign's website, www.chasethecure.ca.

Training for the cycling tour was an intense experience for Bauer, who plans to study business at the University of Victoria once his journey comes to an end.

To get in shape for the trek, he spent hours every week cycling and training in the gym, building up stamina for what would sometimes turn out to be 10-hour days in the saddle.

So what message is he sending to people his age?

"Don't be afraid to break out of the stereotype of the 20-year-old," he said. "Cancer can affect anybody at any age, and we all need to take a stand and fight against it."