Out of the comfort zone, into the tires

I would be lying if I said I jumped at the chance of taking part in the Across Canada charity cycling tour. The truth is that it was after quite a length of internal struggle that enough mental hurdles were removed for me to muster the courage to express my interest to Michael, my friend and one of the organisers of the event.

The whole idea, for all its appeal, was simply overwhelming. The physical challenge itself sounds mighty formidable. Cycling Across Canada, in the wilderness, rain or shine, for ten weeks, covering a distance of over 7,500 km, averaging over 120 km of trudging per day. It simply doesn’t look like something I would be able to do. My previous ‘greatest’ daily biking achievements were all under 100 km and attained with total exhaustion, dead muscles and sore butt. Naturally, I had great doubts about my ability to achieve this mission impossible.

My wife’s initial response when I tested the water by sounding out the idea to her was far from encouraging. She made it starkly very clear that she thought the challenge would be too much for me and she didn’t support my participation. My hope of getting her endorsement to this grandiose commitment was immediately dashed.

The financial commitment is no less daunting. Apart from the CAD4,000 registration fees, which would cover some expenses for the trip, such as accommodation and some meals (which means one has to pay for the others), each participant has to raise CAD6,000 for charities. Any amount one cannot raise, he has to make up for it himself. Not taken to lobbying others for support, I had no confidence in securing donations anywhere near that amount, meaning that a big hole will be burnt in my pocket. I could also imagine that a lot needs to be spent on the gear and supplies to enable me to survive the ten weeks in the wild and being exposed to fickle conditions. That certainly would enlarge the hole in the pocket even further.

But commit myself I did, after much struggle. The opportunity was just too tempting to turn down. I have always admired people who have the courage and toughness to take long journey on a bike. And while I don’t think I will ever be able to emulate those who do it on their own, such as the Hong Kong young man who took 209 days to cycle 14,000 km from Germany back to Hong Kong in 2012, at the back of my mind, doing something similar, even remotely similar, remains a pipe dream that I secretly harbour. When I learnt about this event in which ten participants will cycle across Canada together, including some who have the experience of doing it before, and there will be a vehicle to support the trip, I knew this would be as close as I can ever get to achieving my dream. It is certainly going to be challenging, but what better way is there to push myself to new limits and get me out of my comfort zone than to take on this monumental journey?

There are other benefits, such as being able to see a lot of Canada on two wheels and raising money for charities, but they are just icing on the cake. Committing myself to pursue a dream, no matter what, in the hope of becoming a stronger and braver person, is a goal that tops it all.

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