The jury is still out on whether a 3,000 kilometre bike ride from Vancouver, B.C. to Whitehorse, Yukon will beat summer camp says 9-year-old Dylan Waddell.
Stopped at Hope’s bike park, Waddell and his father Tyler (also Waddell) are hanging around in Hope, around 150 kilometres into their journey. The team has hit a roadblock, Tyler said, as fellow biker Tony Fazeli had to be admitted to Hope’s Fraser Canyon Hospital.
Fazeli, who rides a hand-powered bike as in 2004 he became paralyzed from the neck down, began showing signs of shock and was rushed to hospital Sunday, June 21. He was suffering from septic shock connected to a pre-existing medical condition. He has since been released from hospital, as of Wednesday.
Tyler said his friend isn’t ready to give up the ride – for now the trio are taking a breather in Hope and waiting to see how the ride will look from here. “We’ve planned this for a whole entire year,” he said, including grinding out at several jobs, preparing gear and outfitting the ride van. Tyler said he is “Mr. Mom” on the trip, driving the support van and ensuring other drivers know about the cyclists ahead, preparing meals and being ready to fix bikes at a moments notice.
So far Dylan said he has seen ‘berries, waterfalls, landslides’ on his 50 kilometres ridden so far. He’s also listened to Fazeli’s constant singing when he rides, and rides in the van. And he’s been keeping busy by reading books and not listening to dad, he said, Big Nate is what he’s currently got in his hands.
The two riders are also raising money – Tony is riding for the Boys and Girls Club of Canada and Dylan’s choice was the BC Children’s Hospital, where kids even from the Yukon where he lives get treatment. People can support them through pledges per kilometre, Dylan explains, so far he is up to 63 cents per kilometre.
As a single dad, Tyler said he’s particularly jazzed about helping out the Boys and Girls Club because of the work they do with before- and after-school programs, summer camps, meals, support to parents and other work.
The ride is somewhat of a repeat of the same route Tyler took last year, riding by himself with a sign strapped to his back which read ‘Mental health is real. Talk to me.’ He rode last year for the Canadian Mental Health Association and was doing the ride with Tony in spirit as well. Dylan said his dad doing the cycle was “pretty cool, I guess.”
He took many hours of video during last year’s ride, with people sharing their mental health struggles and how people didn’t know about the services available in their towns. “There are so many things available, for people to access, but nobody knows how to get to them or what’s available,” he said. Doing the ride itself was beneficial for him, he said.
“There’s something special about riding a bike because your only focus is forward. You’re not thinking about that last kilometre you passed, anything,” he said. “There’s no chance to look back on anything, there’s only forward. And to be that connected with nature.”
The team are taking videos and drone shots during this trip, which may one day become a documentary.
For Dylan, his favourite part of riding has been going downhill. And dad has been pushing him on, when he gets tired Tyler urges him to go another few kilometres more.
Tyler has since his first ride created a non-profit, Light the Pathway Society, focusing on connecting people of B.C. and Yukon with mental health resources.
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