Riding in dad’s memory

Chilliwack's Lance Nickel is taking part in this weekend's B.C. Ride to Conquer Cancer in honour of his father, Henry.

Chilliwack's Lance Nickel is taking part in this weekend's B.C. Ride to Conquer Cancer.

Chilliwack's Lance Nickel is taking part in this weekend's B.C. Ride to Conquer Cancer.

Lance Nickel will be spending Father’s Day weekend paying it forward.

The 37-year-old father of three lost his own father, Henry, to lymphoma in 2008.

After he was diagnosed in 2001, he had a few operations which compromised his immune system. In 2005, midway through Henry’s seven-year battle with cancer, he was transferred to Royal Columbian Hospital — it was April 28, one day after the birth of Lance’s first son.

Henry got pneumonia, then his lungs shut down, then his kidneys failed, and then he went on dialysis.

He died at the age of 58.

“When he passed away, he was far too young,” Lance says.

Lance felt cheated. He had just started a family of his own. Tyson was three, Lincoln was only a year old, Dylan hadn’t even been born yet, and already his father was gone.

“I needed to find a way so that other people could spend more time with family.”

So a year ago, he signed up to take part in the B.C. Ride to Conquer Cancer, not realizing until later that the event was on Father’s Day.

“It’s a way for me to make some kind of a difference,” he says.

Living on a farm, having a full-time job, and chasing after three kids, Lance has always been an active man, but he’s never done anything too extreme.

That will change on Saturday when he leaves the Cloverdale Fairgrounds on his bike for the 200km ride. Over two days, the team from B.C. will cycle south into the States. They’ll ride about 100km each day and finish in Redmond, WA on Sunday.

Lance has spent the last year training hard for the B.C. Ride to Conquer Cancer.

“Whenever I can steal a moment to go for a bike ride, whether it’s an hour or a few hours, I take it.”

He says cycling long distances “hurts like hell, but it’s a nice way to get out and get some exercise.”

Lance has raised $3,000 for the B.C. Cancer Agency (BCCA). The majority of the money came from donations from family, friends and coworkers.

“Even the kids donated a little bit.”

He also organized a garage sale where friends and family donated items to sell. All proceeds went to BCCA.

Now he’s looking forward to the long ride.

“I’m pretty jazzed up for it. I think it’ll be fun.”

With all the hard work he’s done over the year, there’s no doubt Lance will be thinking of his father on Sunday.

“He was a great man. He was a dairy farmer all his life,” he says. “Growing up on the dairy farm, it was just my brother and I, so my dad was always home and he taught us a lot.”

Henry loved soccer — he coached and reffed — and helped start the annual Chilliwack Youth Soccer Tournament.

When Lance crosses the finish line on Father’s Day, his three sons and wife Carolyn will be there to greet him. Then they’ll head back home.

What else does Lance want to do on Father’s Day?

“I’ll just leave it up to them,” he says. “We usually go up to the lake for a picnic, or play a game of soccer.”