DuVine Inspiration: Candace Innes and Her Million Dollar Miles

Candace Innes is one of those guests. Along with her team of riders, Candance has raised almost $1.5 million for her charity bike ride of choice—Ride to Conquer Cancer—in honor of her husband, Eric, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2009.  For the past five years, we have been blessed to have Candace and her equally amazing friends on Team Innes travel with DuVine.

What is the Ride to Conquer Cancer?

The Ride to Conquer Cancer is a two-day cycling event that raises funds for Personalized Cancer Medicine at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, including research, treatment advances, education, and new standards of care. The Ride covers 100 kilometers per day. In Ontario, there are six different route options between Toronto and Niagara Falls, all covering the area known as the Golden Horseshoe. All routes converge on Hamilton at the end of the first day, where participants spend the night.

Since the ride began in 2008, it has expanded to multiple locations across Canada and grown to over 35,000 riders. Altogether, the ride has raised $138 million in Ontario and $280 million across Canada for cancer research! The ride has now become an international event with Australia and the U.S. joining in.

How are you involved in the Charity Ride?

I first became involved with Princess Margaret when I joined the Board of the Foundation in 2001. I spent nine years on the Board (the maximum term), during which time we launched a number of major fundraising initiatives, including the Ride to Conquer Cancer. I remained involved with the Foundation after my Board term ended as the Chair of the Lottery Committee (another of the Foundation’s major fundraisers). I rejoined the Board in 2015.

Why is this ride important to you?

My husband Eric signed up for the first Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2008, only to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer shortly after. He did not let his diagnosis deter him; in fact, he was even more committed to do the Ride and make a difference for all those who shared his fate. He completed the Ride while undergoing his chemotherapy and radiation treatments and was the second highest fundraiser, generating $121,000. I did not do the Ride in 2008, as I wanted to support Eric by following the route in my car in case he had any difficulties (which he did not).

He signed up to do the Ride again in 2009, but sadly, he lost his battle with cancer before the Ride. I took up his mantle—along with our two sons and a growing number of Team Innes members—in 2009, and we have continued to ride every year and raise significant funds for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Through our eight years of participating, Team Innes has raised in excess of $1.46 million. And our team is gearing up for another great ride in June 2016.

What brought you to DuVine?

Our first trip with DuVine was a real eye-opener for me. It was our Tuscany bike tour in May 2010, and I was trying to prepare to do my second Ride to Conquer Cancer in the following month. Our good friends, Bob and Josie Chan, encouraged me to join them on this trip, as they knew that I was still very much a beginner cyclist. My two sons joined me, Bob, Josie, and their two sons, and it was a transformational experience.

Our family had always done ski holidays together from the time the boys were four or five years old, and that was a true bonding experience. I learned that cycling trips provide the same unifying atmosphere, where we all share our personal joys and challenges with one another.

Why do you choose to travel with a group—what do you enjoy about that experience?

We really enjoy traveling as a group, even if the participants are not always the same. We have so much in common, so we know that each of us will be more than satisfied with the outcome. We also have a follow-up celebration when we get home to reminisce about our adventures, triumphs, and laughs. That prolongs and cements the memories.

Since that first trip, we gathered more family friends and continued to enjoy adventures with DuVine in Spain, Piedmont, Provence, Holland, and Belgium. Our DuVine trips each year have become either a pre-Ride to Conquer Cancer training opportunity or a post-Ride to Conquer Cancer celebration of our accomplishment. Either way, the love of cycling grows with each trip.

What keeps you coming back?

We have developed a wonderful relationship with all of the members of the DuVine team with whom we have had the privilege of traveling or planning. It is a true reflection of the DuVine philosophy of customer service. We have had Andy Levine, DuVine’s president and founder, join us to ride while we were in Provence, which was lots of fun. When we have done private tours, the itinerary is totally customized to our group, as they know us so well.

All of the DuVine staff that have helped us, from planning through to guiding, have been excellent. However, we do have a favorite guide who we try to arrange to have with us. Because we have such a mix of skill levels (with our sons being so much stronger than us), we have found that Arien Coppock truly understands our group and moves heaven and earth to make us all happy. That isn’t to say that all of the other guides don’t measure up, but Arien is special to us.

Have you traveled on a bike trip with any other companies before?

No, we have not toured with any other cycling companies; however, we have witnessed some of them when we have shared accommodation. Also, we have done quite a bit of research in talking with fellow cyclists who have used other cycling operators. Our conclusion is that the smaller group sizes and more personal attention that DuVine offers suits our needs the best.

Why do you choose to travel by bike (rather than on a bus tour, by car, or on foot)?

We enjoy the vista from a cyclist’s point of view. We get to enjoy scenery, visit more of the local establishments, and travel at our personal pace on a bike. We all get to do something we love (cycling), while collectively enjoying the tastes, the sights, the sounds, and the ambiance of some very interesting locales.

More about the Princess Margaret Cancer Center

The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto, Canada, is a comprehensive cancer center that offers a full suite of cancer services spanning the continuum from diagnosis to survivorship. It is the largest cancer center in Canada and is recognized as one of the top five cancer research centers in the world. In terms of scale, there are approximately 17,500 new patients annually, with one of the largest clinical trial programs in the world, and the largest surgical oncology team in Canada—one of the largest in the world.

How to Get Involved

For Canadian residents, getting involved in the Ride to Conquer Cancer can be a great way to give back and have a great time while doing so. Not from Toronto? Not to worry! Anyone can participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer in Canada, the U.S., or Australia. Sign up with a group of friends or your favorite travel companion and make it an excuse to plan a vacation around your charity bike ride.

Up Next: Europe’s 10 Best Coastal Bike Rides