Many Canadian triathletes are familiar with the Ride to Conquer Cancer as supporters or even participants. Canadian Cycling Magazine recently named the ride’s chief cycling officer, Steve Merker, one of the 14 most influential Canadians in cycling. In 2015, the event’s eighth year in Ontario, 4,853 riders participated, making it the largest fundraising event in the country. Merker says 80 to 85 per cent of those riders likely didn’t own a bike five to 10 years ago.
A lesser-known fact about Merker is that he got his start in endurance sports as a competitive swimmer but fell in love with triathlon in the off-season. He participated in one of the first triathlons in Canada in 1982, in which the athletes swam, ran and then biked.
In this video, he talks about his start in endurance sports, his passion for the bike and his personal connection to the ride. “I have dragged my wife into the Ride to Conquer Cancer a couple of time,” he said. “She’s also done some sprint triathlons. She’s my inspiration as well. She’s one of the reasons why the cancer really cause motivates me. She’s a cancer survivor. In ’96, she had an acute form of leukemia and she beat it. She licked it. It was a tough battle, but I saw the benefits of research and she benefitted from that. So that’s one of my inspirations.”