Stewart Blaser finds himself riding solo more often than not these days.
"Those were two of my closest friends and riding buddies, right? And I've lost them," Blaser said. "I certainly find that I'm doing more rides alone, on my own."
On May 31, 2015, Blaser was cycling with friends Kelly Blunden and Ross Chafe when Blunden and Chafe were struck by a car and killed.
A passenger in the car, Pemberton's Paul Maurice Pierre Jr., was also killed.
"I just happened to be a couple hundred metres behind them, that's all," Blaser said.
"And normally I would have been riding right with them."
With the one year anniversary of the accident fast approaching, Blaser wanted to do something to remember his friends.
"Just being the month of May, I've got a lot of emotions and thoughts going through my head, and with the 31st coming up I was trying to decide what the hell am I going to do," he said.
"Part of me just wanted to curl up in a ball and hide away, and part of me wanted to do something."
In the spirit of Blunden and Chafe, Blaser decided to organize a casual memorial ride — from Whistler to the Duffey Lake salt sheds — while collecting donations for youth cycling development through the Whistler Cycling Club.
"I think about those guys a lot. They're the type of people that wouldn't want you to stop living life," Blaser said. "They would want you to continue living life to the fullest."
Blaser will depart from the Alpine Café at 9 a.m. on May 31 — cyclists are invited to join him for all or part of the ride.
Head to www.whistlercyclingclub.ca/event to make a donation or learn more.
"If you feel like it, come and join me," Blaser said.
"Join me for part of the ride or all of the ride. You can make a donation to the Cycling Club and it's going to go directly to youth cycling in the spirit of Ross and Kelly, and what they loved."
Blaser credits his family for getting him through what has been a difficult year, to say the least.
"I think I'm very, very lucky that I have a fantastic family, a lovely family that I'm very close to and care about immensely, and they care about me, so that is my saving grace, to be honest with you," he said. "My wife Rosie and my two girls Rebecca and Madeline. If it weren't for them I would be a lost soul."
And even though he's embarked on more solo rides this year, he knows he's never really alone.
"Whenever I go for a ride, whether it's a small one or a big one, or whether it's alone or with other people, I always have those guys in my back pocket," Blaser said.
"The big thing for me is that we never forget, and not that it would happen — I don't think anybody in our community that we've lost before their time is up is forgotten. But for me, it's just remembering what they brought to this community, remembering the two of them in a positive way, and keeping their spirit for life and for cycling alive."
Meanwhile, a trial date has been set for the civil suit launched by Ross Chafe's widow. Lizanne Bussieres is seeking unspecified damages against the driver, Samuel Alec, and owner of the vehicle, Carmen Ned, involved in the fatal crash. ICBC has also been named in the suit. The trial is set to begin in Vancouver court on April 3, 2017.
Donalda Blunden, wife of the late Kelly, has also launched a civil suit, however, at press time no trial date has been set.