By Robyn Rexin
Four cyclists and one RV driver (sometime cook, logistics/planning person, intermediate and communications person, and photographer all rolled into one) decided to celebrate turning 60 years old by teaming up with Global Aid Network to cycle 8,500 km across Canada to raise awareness for the need of clean water and to raise funds to build 60 deep-capped water wells in 60 rural villages in the countries of Benin and Togo of West Africa, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.
The wells would be hand-pumped as there is no electricity. Each well would service 1,000 villagers with disease-free water.
The journey began in Victoria on July 1 where the cyclists dipped the front wheels of their bicycles in the Pacific Ocean, took the ferry and cycled to Abbotsford, then Lytton, then Kamloops.Karen Moilliet and John Gerber on their bikes and Ian Moilliet met the group – Mike Woodard, Rob Montgomery, Richard Blaschek, Timo Itkonen and all purpose person Jacquie Blaschek – at the Yellowhead Highway turnoff into Vavenby on the evening of Friday, July 4.
Everyone went to Vavenby Christian Church where the cyclists set up camp. The church was also hosting a potluck supper that night for the group.On Saturday morning the group left for Valemount. Their aim is to cycle approximately 180 km per day to cross Canada to St. John’s Newfoundland in 60 days.
The team’s RV, which was donated by Fraser Way RV, has a picture of an African boy holding a bottle of clean water in one hand and a bottle of dirty water in the other. Beside the picture it says “Help us give the gift of clean water – $8.50 gives one person clean water for a lifetime.”The group is very thankful for all the other donations that it has received.
They were given 40 energy bars and money for gas and food. When passing through Clearwater they stopped at the ice cream parlour at the corner into the business section of Clearwater and the owner donated some sausages. He had heard the radio interview with the team that morning on the Kamloops’ channel.When staying in Victoria and discussing with their hosts the purpose of the trip the hosts’ children – ages six and eight – listened in and came downstairs to give Woodard $8.50 that they had taken from their piggy banks.
This is the first time that a cycle trip has been done for this purpose and for this age range. There have been no health issues other than a couple of wipe-outs. The men trained for the trip for a year, very extensively for the last six months. They have not had to ride in the rain yet.These people are really getting to know each other well by living together in the RV. Most of them met on the computer. Woodard and Richard and Jacquie Blaschek are from Abbotsford, B.C., Montgomery from Ottawa, Ontario, and Itkonen is from Mission, B.C.
After reaching St. John’s they will all fly back home. For more information and/or to donate to this cause visit cycling4water.ca or firstname.lastname@example.org