Paralympian and Powell River native Tristen Chernove will be setting off to break a record in the BC Epic 1,000 cycling course through south-central BC this weekend.
Weather permitting, Chernove plans on starting the course at 4 am on July 18, leaving from Fernie, BC, and riding a network of roads and trails for 1,066 kilometres to Merritt. This off-road, self-supported ride is the ultimate ultra-challenge with a current westbound course record of three days, 15 hours and 33 minutes.
“I’m really hoping I can be a significant margin under that,” said Chernove. “The crux move to make that happen is that first day.”
Chernove hopes to be the first para-cyclist to complete the course. He said no one doing the course from east to west has ever been able to make it to a ferry sailing across one of the lakes before the last crossing, so they end up waiting a few hours until the morning startup.
“If I can leave early and pedal hard and over to the ferry before all of the sailings of the day are done, then I’m a huge margin up on the record, said Chernove. “That’s what I’m targeting to do.”
Chernove had expected to lead the Canadian para-cycling team in Tokyo this summer at the Paralympic Games, which were postponed until 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said it was important to find an inspiring way to continue training and the BC Epic 1,000 is one of those ways.
At the 2016 Paralympic Games, Chernove earned three medals: gold, silver and bronze. His success continued in 2017 as he swept gold in all of his races at the world track championships and world road championships. In 2018 he earned another medal at the track worlds and collected a gold and silver at the road worlds.
Chernove is undertaking the BC Epic 1,000, in part, to raise awareness and funds for the Paralympic Foundation of Canada so more Canadians with a disability can access sport and follow their dreams.
“As a first fundraiser for this year for me to be contributing to, this one just felt absolutely right,” said Chernove. “They do a ton of work in advocacy and raising awareness around athletes with disabilities.
“I know exactly where the funds I am raising are going to go, which is straight into the Next Gen program, which makes access to all sport accessible into the national program for athletes with a disability.”
People wanting to donate can go to the Tristan Chernove BC Epic 1,000 Facebook page, where a link can be found to the donation page.
“Any amount someone can contribute, it’s all going to add up,” said Chernove. “This is catching a lot of traction across the nation. Every few dollars, if enough people do it, is going to make the difference.”
Chernove said he is looking to raise enough money to support a few athletes to transition into the national training program.
Anyone wanting to track Chernove during his BC Epic 1,000 ride can do so. He has a satellite communication device under constant tracking, so there will be a live feed of his location at all times. On the Facebook page, there will be a link, providing a live update every 10 minutes.
Chernove works and lives in Cranbrook and considers Powell River his hometown, having grown up here. He still resides in the community for part of the year, owning an acreage with a home in Lund.
“I spend a fair bit of time every year there,” he said, “and most of my family are there.”