Ocean dip marks end of incredible journey
Four cyclists cross Canada to raise funds and awareness for HIV
Two months after departing Vancouver, four young Canadian bicyclists arrived in Glace Bay where they celebrated their crosscountry ride with a dip in the Atlantic Ocean.
For Chris Davidge, the end of the 6,700-km journey represented more than just the completion of an excellent adventure with three friends.
“I worked at schools and orphanages in Kenya and when I learned that as many as 90 per cent of the kids there were infected with HIV I was just heartbroken — I wanted to do something to help make things better,” said the 20-year-old student, who prior to attending the University of Western Ontario had spent part of his gap year volunteering in Africa.
After returning to Canada, Davidge came up with the idea of cycling from coast to coast as a way to raise both funds and awareness for AIDS research.
Before long, two of his friends from university and another buddy from back home committed to joining the Stony Plain, Alberta, native on the ride.
The four also partnered up with the Canadian Federation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) and the ride received a name — Cycle 4 CANFAR.
Davidge said they started out with the goal of raising $10,000 for HIV and AIDS research, but by the end of the journey they had already raised more than $33,000.
“We’re really pleased about that — it is a big problem around the word, even here in Canada where there are more than 71,000 people living with HIV,” he said.
Although they admit they could have used a bit more training before the ride, the four friends agreed it was an epic, character-building trip of a lifetime.
“We mostly camped out every night and prepared our own food,” said Yanir Levy, an Israeliborn, Ontario-raised student at Western.
“We had lots of adventures and we made it and we’re all doing just fine.”
The group, that also included Tommy Spriet and Neil Schmitke, were met at the Bayplex finish line by a crowd of people that included both Davidge’s and Spriet’s parents.
“It’s amazing and we’re really proud of all of them — they did it for a great cuase and had a great adventure and from what I hear they received lots of support all along the way,” said Davidge’s mom, Sandy.
After breaking through the finishing line ribbon and celebrating with some champagne, the foursome were led by local cyclist Bill Smith down to the edge of the water where they jumped into the Atlantic Ocean, 57 days after bidding farewell to the West Coast in a brief ceremony in Vancouver’s Stanley Park.
When asked how it felt to realize their dream the four cy- clists didn’t hesitate as they shouted “unbelievable” in unison.
As for their next adventure, Davidge said he’s leaning toward a kayak trip through the Grand Canyon.
Four friends celebrated the end of their coast-to-coast ride with a dip in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday in Glace Bay. From left, Yanir Levy, Tommy Spreit, Neil Schmitke and Chris Davidge completed the 6,700-km ride in 57 days to raise funds and awareness for HIV and AIDS research.