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Springbank to host sixth Ride Don't Hide event

Participants embark upon their routes during the 2018 Ride Don't Hide event at Sprinbank Park for All Seasons. This year's event will take place June 23. Photo Submitted/For Rocky View Publishing

Cyclists from throughout Alberta will descend on the Springbank Park for All Seasons June 23, to raise funds and awareness about mental health issues during the Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) only Ride Don’t Hide event in the province.

According to Amy Ball, communication lead with CMHA’s Calgary region, the national fundraising bike ride aims to “bring mental health into the open.” The event is of its kind in Canada, she said, with almost 10,000 participants across the country. 2019 marks the sixth time the ride has occurred in the Calgary region, and she added it has been hosted at the Springbank Park for All Seasons since its inception.

“We are trying to raise awareness and essential funds for mental health programming in Calgary and area,” Ball said.

While mental health can be challenging to address, Ball said, events like this can provide an opportunity to start the conversation.

“We know mental health is really hard to talk about, and some people have problems accessing services due to a number of reasons,” she said. “Events like Ride Don’t Hide give people a fun day to connect with other people, to connect with our services and to get out and exercise.”

Each participating rider is encouraged to fundraise, Ball said – and this year, CMHA has adopted a new model where anyone who raises at least $100 has their registration fee waived.

“A lot of riders are connected to the cause, whether themselves or through a loved one,” she said. “We have a lot of people riding in memory of people who they’ve lost to suicide.”

As of June 13, $92,868 has been raised – 53 per cent of the $175,000 goal.

“All the money raised at the Calgary ride will stay in the Calgary area,” Ball said. These funds, she added, will support CMHA’s Calgary programs, which include support classes in municipalities surrounding the City such as Airdrie and Cochrane.

Riders have the option of cycling along one of three routes, according to Ball. The advanced route runs 105 kilometres (km) along Highway 22 to Beaver Lodge, past Elbow Falls. A 50-km intermediate route will take riders to Bragg Creek and back. Finally, riders can complete one or two 10-km laps through the Springbank area as part of the family ride.

Each route leaves at a different time – 7:30 a.m. for the advanced, 9:30 for the intermediate and 11 for the family ride – so all riders finish around the same time, Ball said. Following the ride, she added, participants can enjoy a barbecue lunch and festival activities.

There is no age limit to participate, according to Ball, but riders must be over the age of 16 for the advanced or intermediate routes.

Registration is available at until noon June 22, as long as spots are available. As of June 10, 426 people had signed up.

“Once we have reached our rider maximum of 550 riders, we will have to close registration, so if people are interested, we encourage them to sign up sooner rather than later,” Ball said.

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