Ross McKinnell targets $10,000 for his community

In 1958, Ross McKinnell competed in the Commonwealth games, and today his love of cycling gives him a way to give back to Guelph General Hospital and his community as a Tour de Guelph cyclist and fundraiser.

It was a fascination for bikes that eventually led Ross McKinnell to the Commonwealth Games. Now 60-years later, at the age of 82, Ross still enjoys riding his bike.

When he was a young boy living on top of Hamilton Mountain, Ross would marvel at the sight of “an English fellow” who would ride his bike to the top the mountain each day to fetch his mail from the post-office across the street from the McKinnell home.

“I was fascinated by the bike,” recalled Ross. “Back then we didn’t use words like ‘cool’, I thought the bike was nice.”

At the time, Ross had a heavy, 3-speed CCM. His dream was to save enough money to buy a lightweight French road bike. After two years of delivering papers and working after school at the A&P grocery store, he made his dream a reality.

“It took me to many new places” explained Ross when asked what he loved so much about cycling. “I rode several races in Quebec, N.Y State, and finally Europe. I cycled in the U.K. and on the Continent. I stayed in youth hostels, with friends, cheap hotels, but I saw a lot of beautiful scenery, especially in Austria, Italy and Switzerland.”

When he returned home to Hamilton, Ross still had a bug for travel, and in 1957 when Canada announced they’d be entering a team of cyclists in the 1958 Commonwealth Games, he saw this as his chance.

It took two qualifying trials to make the team. Ross and three others competed in the 120-mile road race. Forty cyclists in total competed and only twenty finished, including all four Canadians and Ross in 16th place.

“It was a tough race” recalls Ross “It rained the entire time and the headwinds out on the flats were not something we trained for.”

When Ross returned home from the Games, he felt it was time to settle into a real job, but his love of cycling endured and still does today.

“I find it peaceful, it gives me an opportunity to clear away my problems. I was always a bit of a loner and I enjoy riding alone, it gives me a chance to think” said Ross.

Many years have since passed. Ross moved to Guelph, got married, started a family, and had a successful career. As happens sometimes when one ages, Ross experienced some health conditions that required medical care at Guelph General Hospital – for which Ross says “he always received good care.”

So when Tour de Guelph first started in 2014, Ross thought it to be a good opportunity to give a little back.

On Sunday June 24th, 2018, Ross will ride in Tour de Guelph for the fourth time. He has fundraised every year he has ridden and has set his 2018 fundraising goal at $3,820 to reach a Tour de Guelph career total of $10,000.

“If I can ride a bike, I should also be able to raise some money for the Hospital” explained Ross.

It’s community members like Ross that help make patient care better at Guelph General Hospital.