My Name is Nick Mentz, I’m 18 years old, I’ve lived in St. Albert all my life, and this summer I’m cycling across Canada.
First, some math. The approximate distance from Victoria, British Columbia to Halifax, Nova Scotia is 6200 kilometers. My average speed while cycling is 25kmh. l will be on my bike five hours every day. Hence, I will be cycling 125km each day, for 50 days in total.
Bicycling touring, loosely defined, means to travel long distances by bicycle, with trips lasting anywhere from a few days to years. In a week from now, on April 28th, I will embark to cover some seriously long distances. In fact, I will be riding my bike across the second largest country in the world. Cycling across Canada has been an idea of mine for about a year now, and it seems so incredible that after spending a good part of my winter dreaming about and planning this trip, it’s only a week away. There have been many nights where maps of provinces have covered my living room floor, and on each of these maps I have carefully, using a highlighter, marked out the route I plan to take. Other than this rough form of route planning, I have done little more to structure my days on the road.
I will be doing the trip entirely self-supported which means I will be carrying all of my gear directly on my bike. This means I can take as little or as much time as I like meandering through the Canadian countryside. It also means that I will be cooking my own food as much as possible and camping for the majority of the trip, keeping costs to a minimum.
Unlike many people who do this trip to raise awareness and money for a good cause, I’m doing it for purely selfish reasons. The farthest east I’ve ever been is Saskatoon (unless you count a few days spent in Ottawa on a school trip) and I have an itch to experience this whole country. Apart from this, I’ve always wanted to take on something really big like this that I know will test me physically as well and mentally, and to see how far I can take it. But mostly, the reason I’m doing this is because I honestly think that it will be fun.
Waking up at dawn, spending sunny days cruising on smooth highways, and relaxing at night beside a crackling fire. This is what I have imagined this trip to be. Obviously this is just me living in some idealistic world, and in reality there will be as many hard days as there are good ones.
My initial feelings of excitement and eagerness, while not gone, have been clouded over slightly by the early realization of what I am about to take on. It seems like I transition from keenness to anxiety and then back again at least four times a day. The past couple weeks have been insane. I got back from a two month Wilderness Course in Costa Rica on April 9th. Since then, I’ve been scurrying around St. Albert to buy all the items I’ll need for my trip, quickly catching up with friends and frantically pedalling around the city in a vain attempt to force my legs in to some sort of shape. I know that two weeks of mediocre training is not even close to enough training for me to be fully prepared, but I figure there really isn’t a way to get yourself in perfect shape for such an undertaking. I’ll just have to ride through the pain. Every day.