It wasn’t a race. It wasn’t a fundraiser. It wasn’t a bucket-list item.
So, why did a group of local women decide to cycle across Canada? The short answer can be found on their website: “Why the hell not?”
The team of riders, called Masters of Cycology, included Nynka Greer, Kathy Manners and Jane Sorensen cycling full-time, while Heather Adams, Susan Clarke and Mary Girard were the support crew, driving not far from the cyclists.
The group started cycling together over the past decade, touring from places like Oshawa to Montreal, and Montreal to Quebec City.
During that trip, “we got this confidence and we really liked seeing Canada this way,” said Manners.
Greer had already cycled across Canada and “was a big inspiration for us,” Manners added.
When they began their ride in Victoria, B.C., in June, they were looking forward to seeing the country at their own pace. Sometimes they just went from Point A to Point B, usually during the highway stretches. Other times, they made sure to stop and take in all of the sights they could.
“Even though we had talked about the fact that we wanted a pace we could enjoy, what became clear right from the beginning is everyone had their own goals for the trip,” Manners said.
The common goals were to enjoy the adventure, stay healthy, finish the ride “and remain friends at the end of it,” Manners said with a laugh.
It worked. As noted on their website, the trip took 82 days, they rode 4,802 km through 10 provinces, unpacked the car 75 times, took 3,670 photos, had one flat tire and 22 bike-shop visits, saved $1,000 at thrift stores, consumed 36 helpings of ice cream, “and still friends.”
“It’s just a personal experience we wanted to have,” Manners said. “We all love Canada and we all love cycling.”
That personal experience was put out the for the world to see. The riders maintained a blog so friends and family could follow along.
“We had people all over the place watching, so there was some pressure to post something every night,” Manners said.
On their website are photos as well as information about their inspiration, including a quote they saw displayed in a coffee shop near the start of their journey: “Go fast enough to get there, but slow enough to see.”
“Everyone was so encouraging to us, sending us notes, telling us how inspiring it was,” Manners said.
The women are in their 50s to 70s and, intentionally or not, they were sending a message: “People feel like they have to be a certain fitness level or age to do a trip like this. They don’t,” Manners said.
While Adams was part of the support team, she decided to trade in four wheels for two for part of the trip.
“It was a challenge, and I feel it was a great accomplishment,” she said. “My priority was to enjoy doing the tourist bit, but I also wanted to get to know them and enjoy their company.”
For Sorensen, it was about the challenge.
“I thought, ‘This is possible,’” she said. “It was about setting a goal and taking that first step.”
They had changed their final destination while en route, and it seemed they were at Mile 0 of the Trans-Canada Highway in St. John’s, N.L., in no time.
“It came as a big surprise to us that, all of a sudden, we were finished,” Manners said of that emotional moment.
Find out more about their journey here.