Nanaimo cyclists crossing Canada for kids

NANAIMO – Realtor and retired bank manager cycling across Canada for Children's hospital and Alzheimer's.

The trip has been months in preparation, the gear is checked and loaded, and Nanaimo residents Brian Godfrey and Bob Wilson have set out on their cross Canada cycling adventure to raise cash for B.C. Children’s Hospital and to battle dementia.

The riders, whose trip is officially called Coast to Coast for Kids, leaves the Island  Wednesday (May 1) after they dip their tires in the Strait of Juan de Fuca at Mile Zero in Victoria and ride out to Sidney to catch a ferry to Tsawassen.

But rather than drive to Victoria, the men started their journey from their Nanaimo homes this morning (April 30) at 7:30 a.m. and are riding down Island.

“That’s only because my freedom 55 dream was to ride down the driveway and head off on the adventure,” Godfrey said.

Godfrey, 55, isn’t retiring, but he is able to take a few months off work as a Realtor for Nanaimo Re/Max for the trip.

Once on the Lower Mainland, they plan to ride as far as Chilliwack on their first day, if possible, and then tackle the Hope Princeton Highway the day after.

Godfrey set a goal to ride 2,000 kilometres this year to prepare for the trip. He’ll hit that mark by the time he and Wilson reach Victoria, but test runs for the sojourn, to break in the bikes and work out any kinks in equipment, actually started last fall.

Godfrey said he thinks he will have met his other goal of raising $10,000 by their departure date, depending on a beer and burger and silent auction event held on the weekend. Total fundraising goal for the trip is about $50,000.

Each touring bike with gear weighs more than 40 kilograms. To get through B.C.’s mountainous terrain, Godfrey’s wife, Shirley, will drive packs and other equipment as far as Lethbridge, Alta. From there, the men are on their own.

Godfrey said the toughest part of the ride through B.C. will likely be the grade up Anarchist Mountain, east of Osoyoos.

“That’s nasty,” he said. “I did that 15 years ago. I did it with a friend and it took us two hours in granny gear and then another hour to the summit. It was the two hours in granny gear that was the killer”

The total 7,300 km trip is expected to take about 73 days or until about July 22.

Wilson, who is riding to raise money to fight dementia through special therapy programs provided through the Nanaimo Travellers Lodge Foundation, said he is more concerned about encountering winds or flooding on the prairies.

“I’m concerned about winds on the prairies if they get into our faces and just the sheer relentlessness of the journey,” said Wilson, 64. “We’ll be taking rest days, but I’m not as young as I used to be. I wanted to get this out of the way before I go on old age pension.”

Wilson said a training run last fall gave them good indications of what they needed to make specific preparations for.

“You really need to be in good physical shape to start out with,” Wilson said. “I’m about as ready as I’ll ever be.”

The News Bulletin will have online updates of the men’s journey as they cross Canada.

To make a donation to B.C. Children’s Hospital or to check on the tour’s fundraising progress, please visit the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation website at www.bcchf.ca. Once in the site, click on “Events”, click on Community Events and then click on Coast to Coast for the Kids.

To donate to the Nanaimo Travellers Lodge Society, please visit the lodge website at www.nanaimotravellerslodge.com.

To follow their progress, Wilson will also be posting online on Crazy Guy On a Bike at www.crazyguyonabike.com/bobbriancoast

2coast.