Christian Meier returns from Europe to Race Tour de Delta
~ One of Canada’s top cyclists coming back to race BC Superweek
Christian Meier has a day job – and a uniform – most cyclists would envy.
Meier races professionally all over the world, but is based in Girona, Spain, and now spends most of his year in Europe, riding his bike against the best in his sport. Last season, Meier competed on a Garmin Pro Tour team that also featured fellow Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, who finished seventh at last year’s Tour de France, and Washington State’s Tyler Farrar, who won this year’s July 4 Tour de France stage and raced at BC Superweek in 2004.
Meier is now part of United Health Care Pro Cycling’s expansion into the European peleton as a Pro Continental squad, but when he returns to BC Superweek at the Tour de Delta from Friday, July 8 through Sunday, July 10, he will be wearing a different kit, one that means more personally than any team colors.
Instead of the blue-and-white colors of his United Health Care squad, Meier will kick off BC Superweek on Friday, July 8, in a simple black and white jersey with the words “F— Cancer” blaring boldly across his chest.
Like the “last chance” tattoo inside his left forearm, the jersey is a tribute to the brother he lost to brain cancer in 2009. It’s also a commitment to raise awareness about prevention, particularly among young people.
“There just doesn’t seem to be a huge push to cancer awareness and prevention, especially with the younger demographic, which is what F Cancer is trying to do,” Meier said of his attempts to raise funds and attention. “Even just the name grabs the attention of younger people – and everyone else for that matter.”
Meier started the initiative last year at BC Superweek, and returns this year with another new plan to raise awareness. It’s called “I am riding for _______” and involves a sticker on his bike with the name of someone affected by cancer.
In addition to a spot on his bike, Meier shares their story on his personal blog (http://bikingbros.com/), using them for inspiration when he races.
“We need to get the word out that over 90 per cent of cancers are curable if caught in stage one,” Meier writes on the blog. “I will be keep you updated as things progress and stay tuned to the “I AM RIDING FOR” section to read the story of person who is inspiring me to pedal that much faster.”
Meier said so far it has been mostly people he knows personally, but he is looking to open it up as he comes “home” for BC Superweek.
“It is usually people I know who have been affected but if people have a story they want to tell or experience they want to share, I’d ride for anyone whose had to deal with cancer,” he said. “It’s a huge battle for all of us and I know there a lot of great people out there I could ride for, and get inspiration from.”
Meier rode with his brother Michael’s name plastered on his bike at last week’s Canadian National Championships, and his older sibling is never far from his thoughts. Michael woke up one day with a horrible headache and had surgery two days later to remove a brain tumor, but the cancer returned suddenly that summer, and he passed away while Christian was riding the Vuelta a Espana, forcing him to abandon his first Grand Tour with four stages left to go.
Meier is working to get back there with United Health Care, whose expansion plans into Europe include one day riding at the Tour de France, which along with the Vuelta and Giro d’Italy make up the three Grand Tours. But he’s not about to abandon his efforts to raise cancer awareness in the meantime, even if early detection might not have been enough to help his older brother.
Michael Meier was a week shy of his 26th birthday, married with two young children, when he died. Christian is 26 now, and got married last fall.
“What could have helped him a lot is knowledge in general,” Christian said. “How the disease affects you, what you can expect and also what you should look for in treatment. My brother and family were not well enough educated on the cancer and therefore maybe were to quick to accept what they were being told by doctors, and looking back they maybe should have gone elsewhere. We should have sought out more specialized services and it frustrates me that it was maybe just a lack of knowledge may have cost him more. There is a lot of money being raised for cancer research, which is super, but a lot of cancers can be cured with early detection so this is also something we should put resources into.”
You won’t catch Meier complaining about his life on the bike these days. Born in New Brunswick, he moved to Langley to race and won the Canadian National Road Race Championship in 2008, then moved across the Atlantic to race with Garmin last season, before moving over to United Health Care.
No matter how far he travels, Meier always looks forward to coming “home” to Langley, and racing at BC Superweek, giving other local riders the chance to test themselves against the best, something he looked forward coming up the ranks.
“It’s been great and I’m glad to still be racing in Europe and always glad that when I’m home I get to do these local races like BC Superweek,” he said.