His Cross-coun­try cy­cling trip goes well be­yond tak­ing in the scenery

Ryan Martin to set out from Tofino, B.C. Mon­day with a goal of reach­ing St. John’s New­found­land, with a few stops south of the bor­der for good mea­sure, in fundraiser for Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - FAISAL ALI

IT WAS NOT EASY for Ryan Martin to con­front his men­tal health prob­lems at first, and bring them out into the open. But now, the 23-year-old is speak­ing pub­licly about his jour­ney, and is cham­pi­oning men­tal health aware­ness by em­bark­ing on a jour­ney of another kind, a cross-coun­try bike ride start­ing Mon­day.

The bike trip will take Martin coast to coast, from the small town of Tofino on the west side of Van­cou­ver Is­land to St. John’s in the east. And in the process, Martin will be rais­ing money for the Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion.

Martin has never tried any­thing on this scale be­fore, but says he is ex­cited to take on the chal­lenge.

“I’m a big cy­clist and I love cy­cling, but I’ve never taken on this big of a chal­lenge be­fore. So I’m so ex­cited for it. Just the ad­ven­ture and the aware­ness and ev­ery­thing,” he said.

Martin will be kick­ing off on his jour­ney this Mon­day and ar­rive in St. John’s in New­found­land some­time late Au­gust. He won’t be trav­el­ling straight through Canada, though. In­stead he plans to take what he calls the “scenic route,” ex­tend­ing the trip to about 9,000 kilo­me­tres over three months as he winds his way through Canada and parts of the U.S., touch­ing on most of the ma­jor cities in the coun­try.

“I’m kind of do­ing an im­prac­ti­cal route. A lot of peo­ple just bee­line it across the coun­try and fin­ish in a month-and-a-half. I’m do­ing more of a scenic route, just because I want to see the coun­try,” ex­plained Martin.

He’ll be do­ing the trip mostly solo, though he has fam­ily mem­bers – his fa­ther, mother and sis­ter – who will be join­ing him sep­a­rately at dif­fer­ent points for a few days. Martin will also be re­ly­ing on the kindness of strangers, in a sense, by us­ing the app Warm Showers, which opens the homes of individuals to cy­clists for free who are pass­ing through.

Along the trip, Martin will be camp­ing in other spots as much as pos­si­ble to save on ho­tel costs.

It’s an im­mense jour­ney for any­one to un­der­take, but Martin be­lieves it will help raise aware­ness and do­na­tions for his cause.

Martin him­self has strug­gled with his own men­tal health dif­fi­cul­ties, which is what mo­ti­vated him to un­der­take his bike ride.

“One of the big parts is because I’ve gone through a pretty long jour­ney fig­ur­ing out and ac­cept­ing my men­tal health chal­lenges,” he said.

In high school, he says can­didly, he suf­fered from anxiety which affected him off and on. But as he en­tered univer­sity, he found his men­tal health wors­ened.

“My de­pres­sion, episodes of de­pres­sion started com­ing in, in con­junc­tion with the anxiety. So I’d have these weird episodes and mood swings. I was re­ally con­fused why this was hap­pen­ing, when ev­ery­thing in my life was go­ing pretty well how I wanted it to go. But I was hav­ing these [mood swings] up and down, for no rea­son.”

For a long while, Martin didn’t talk about it, but grad­u­ally started to open up to a so­cial worker at the univer­sity which helped, for a time. How­ever, the feel­ing didn’t last, so he re­turned to the so­cial worker, and once again talk­ing about his prob­lem helped. But then, just as be­fore, his de­pres­sion and anxiety re­turned.

This went on for a few times, but it was only af­ter he had an emo­tional break­down that he was able to open up to his friends and fam­ily. He even­tu­ally was di­ag­nosed as bipo­lar type-2.

“So right now I’m at this place where I’ve gone through this whole jour­ney, I re­ally want to help other peo­ple who are go­ing through it,” said Martin. “And I want to help in­still that courage in them to open up to some­one and start talk­ing about it and to just not give up on them­selves and to keep work­ing hard to find the tools that they can use in their tool­box to help man­age their men­tal health chal­lenges.”

Martin is a Guelph res­i­dent, but he has deep roots in Elmira. His fam­ily was the orig­i­nal owner of Elmira Pet Foods and Martin Mills. His grand­fa­ther, Don Martin, is en­shrined in the Water­loo County Hall of Fame while his great-grand­fa­ther started the feed mill busi­ness in Elmira in 1923.

“I’m in­cred­i­bly proud in a number of ways,” said Ryan’s fa­ther, Tim Martin, of his son’s ef­forts. “His abil­ity to speak about it and to talk and to en­gage with a number of dif­fer­ent peo­ple is cer­tainly help­ing him and help­ing a lot of peo­ple. In that sense, I think it’s just in­cred­i­ble.”

The younger Martin will be head­ing off on his jour­ney May 14, start­ing in B.C. Any­one who would like to learn more about him, or make a do­na­tion to his cause, can head over to his web­site www.mind­cy­cle.ca. All do­na­tions will go towards the Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion.

[SUB­MIT­TED]

Ryan Martin will be head­ing on a cross-coun­try bi­cy­cle ride start­ing May 14 to raise funds and aware­ness for men­tal health.

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