With only bicycles and friendship, 10 adventure-seekers are going on the ride of their lives: from Whistler, BC, to Yellowknife.
The 10-day ride covers 2,200 km.
Nine riders – Alex Conlon, Jamie Blades, Mark Taylor, Matt Tirrell, Will Cadham, Quinn Lanzon, Huw Thomas, Dave Kenworthy, and Braedyn Kozman – will bike for 200 km a day, followed by filmmaker Graeme Meiklejohn.
Meiklejohn won Best Short Mountain Film at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in 2018. He hopes to enter (and win) again in 2019.
Quinn Lanzon’s hometown is Yellowknife.
The idea for this journey came from the realization that another challenging route – from China to Vladivostok, Russia – would be all but impossible to pull off, as it involved travelling across the northern border of North Korea.
“That’s when the idea of doing a big ride like this occurred. I guess the seed had been planted,” said Lanzon.
In the fall of 2018, he and fellow rider Will Cadham were talking about visiting Yellowknife. Lanzon has not returned to the NWT to visit since becoming an adult.
With his 30th birthday approaching, he decided it would be the perfect opportunity to organize the 2,200-km ride.
“Riding bikes has been pretty much the primary thing that I have done in my life. Like, I have a job and went to school and all that stuff, but bikes have been the one constant thing,” said Lanzon.
Biking was introduced to Lanzon once he left Yellowknife. He thinks it’s important to return to the place where he grew up – with the passion he has developed since leaving.
“I thought it was a really cool way of kind-of closing the loop and going back, and also a great way to explore the country,” said Lanzon.
‘The right mindset’
After calculating the possible routes and figuring out how many kilometres they could cycle in a day, the adventure started to seem more and more possible.
“We did the math. It’s 2,200 kilometres and we figured we could do 200 kilometres a day pretty easily,” said Lanzon.
“We thought 10 days, a good, round number, seems like a reasonable approach.”
Training began in the winter.
“As we started planning the trip and getting in touch with people in Yellowknife, we got in contact with the Yellowknife Mountain Bike Association,” said Lanzon.
He discovered the club, YKMTBC, is raising money to build a bike park for the community.
Yellowknife Mountain Bike Club plans to build a new bike park for the community, beginning in 2019.
“I think the first part of the project is a pump track, a permanent installment where people will be able to come and ride mountain bikes every day, for free,” Lanzon said. “They’ve already raised over $100,000.”
Jenia Rubel is the treasurer of YKMTBC. When he found out Lanzon and his crew were biking from Whistler, he was thrilled.
“It’s just really awesome to hear that people can come together and help us with this project,” said Rubel. “Just the fact that they’re not even from the area, and they are helping us fundraise for this, is a great way to show that the mountain biking community is full of awesome people willing to help each other out.”
Rubel hopes the mountain bike park will break ground this summer. The group has raised just over $120,000 but the full project is expected to cost $500,000.
“Quite a bit of that is material costs,” said Rubel.
The bike park is to be built in the Bristol Pit area of Yellowknife.
“It’ll be up on top of the hill, towards the corner of Old Airport Road and down into the cemetery road,” said Rubel.
“We’re just trying to build a free public facility for kids and parents, and whoever wants to go and have some fun and ride their bikes.”
Rubel looks forward to meeting the group in the coming days. He spoke to them by phone and admired their motivation for the trip.
“I think when it comes to journeys like this, it’s a lot [about] the mindset that people go into it. And by the sounds of it, they have the right one,” said Rubel.
Seven of the riders ahead of their trip from Whistler to Yellowknife.
The nine riders purchased road bikes when they committed to completing the journey from Whistler to Yellowknife.
“Not a single person on this trip owned a road bike before we decided to do it…. luckily, we’re all really serious mountain bikers,” said Lanzon.
The group insists mountain biking is harder than road biking, so road biking, they said, should be pretty easy.
The ride begins May 25. To donate and help the team raise money for YKMTBC, visit the ride’s website.