When I was driving back from a short trip to Kenora, I saw an RV with the words, “cycling4water” written across an RV. As someone who loves to cycle and is in the Water Resource Science program water at Lakehead University, I was immediately intrigued. I did a quick google search and came across their website. I sent an email asking if I could meet up for part of their journey. The goal of the trip is to cycle from sea-to-sea-to-sea. The Cycling4Water team began their journey in Dawson City, Yukon, and will finish their trip in Halifax, Nova Scotia. If weather permits the team will then head to the Northwest Territories to complete the Dempster Highway.
The team was quick to respond to their email and gave me the location of where they were staying so I could meet them for the journey out of Thunder Bay. At 7:30 am on a grey Friday morning I met the team where I was welcomed with big smiles and open hearts. The team had a big day ahead of them and decided on a tag-team approach where groups of two would alternate 30km sections of the journey to complete the ride before it got dark. On Friday morning Mike, Gabe, and I set off for their 40th Day of the journey. I led them out of town and onto Lakeshore Drive. The ride was full of conversation. We talked about water issues and shared about our lives. We made a quick stop at Wild Goose Beach to take a couple of moments to take in the lake and check out the sleeping giant. My time with the group came to end once we reached the end of Lakeshore we said our goodbyes and took a couple of pictures and I was off to bike the 35km back home.
The team was inspired to cycle across Canada to help raise money to build wells in African villages. Many preventable deaths are caused due to water-related diseases. The RV has quotes about the dire reality that many developing nations face such as “Each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diseases”. The team is composed of four cyclists, Mike, Gabe, Rob, and Timo, as well as Lyndon, who drives the RV and helps, keeps track of the logistics. All of the team members have spent time living in developing nations and they couldn’t imagine losing one of their children or grandchildren to a preventable death caused by a lack of clean water. Globally one out of nine people don’t have access to clean disease-free drinking water and a child dies every 2 mins due to a water-related disease. Their journey is inspired to raise money and help provide clean-accessible drinking water to villages in developing nations by building wells.
Many villages are located a good distance away from any source of surface water. Women and children typically have to walk at least 5 kilometers every day just to retrieve water. This time commitment of walking and other domestic duties often leaves women and girls unable to attend school and pursue an education. While the four men are cycling, Lyndon finds time to run at least 5km every day to bring awareness to the difficulties of providing water for families, something we often take for granted in Canada.
The group is doing an incredible feat by cycling almost 10,000km across Canada. And with climate change, water issues are only going to become more and more prevalent. The goal of the team is to raise enough money to build 65 wells (the average age of the group). The team decided to focus on wells because of the relatively low maintenance and skill needed to manage and upkeep a well. Each well costs $8500 and can provide clean water for life for a village of 1,000 people. For just $8.50 (the cost of some fancy coffee drinks), you can provide clean disease-free water for a person’s life.
Feel free to donate or reach out to join the team or have them give a talk. They’re doing amazing work and inspiring others to tackle challenges and issues one pedal stroke at a time. Tackling an issue like clean water can often feel delibating, but focusing on a particular issue and creating actionable steps such as a donation of $8.50 can ignite change and engage in more conversations and projects to help create a better world.