A Cowichan Lake family prepares for the trip of a lifetime.
Tod and Carla Spooner and their three children, ages 11, 13 and 15, and their one-year-old terrier, are getting ready to cycle across Canada.
Plus, “everyone will pedal on their own,” Carla noted.
It all started two years ago, at the start of the pandemic, when the family cycled the Trans Canada Trail through British Columbia and loved it, even though the trail was really rough.
“Since my husband Tod turned 60 this year, we thought we might as well try an even bigger adventure while we’re all healthy and the kids are young enough to come along,” Carla said. “I’m up to my eyeballs in planning and creating rosters. April [was] months of food preparation, preparing as much dehydrated food as possible for the start of the trip. It’s good and it lowers the price! The bike gear is ready, the rain gear is acquired, now it’s about nailing down the little details, and lots of them!”
The plan is to embark on their epic journey from Mile Zero to Victoria on the morning of May 24. They will give themselves a full week to travel to the northern end of Vancouver Island and hope to cover between 60 and 100 kilometers a day. for three or four months. Their goal is to end up on the east coast of the country somewhere in the second week of September.
“It’s a big effort if you look at the big picture,” admitted Tod. “You take it one day at a time, and if at any point it gets a bit overwhelming, you take a break.”
It will be the end of the reasonable driving season by the time they get to the other side of the country, he explained.
“We have half of spring, all of summer and half of fall to do this. We are not trying to cross Canada in record time. We’re not interested in abusing our bodies with marathon days.
They not only want to see, but also explore and learn all about Canada.
While riding, they will also help raise funds for the Great Canadian Cycling Challenge for children with cancer.
“At the end of the day, it’s about riding across Canada,” Tod explained. “If we take the time to cycle across Canada, we might as well take the time to do something outside of our own enrichment.
Tod has been a cyclist since he was the age his children are now. He knows from experience that they can handle the trek.
“I’ve always liked the freedom of cycling. You are not tied to a route; you are free to stop and talk to people. You’re really approachable to people, so it’s a good upbringing,” he said. “Just because they’re kids doesn’t mean they can’t cycle across Canada.
They stocked up on light and opted to use hotels and laundromats along the way.
As for fixed stops, they have a few.
“I would like to bring my children to Ottawa, the capital of Canada,” said Tod. “I want to take them to Montreal. I want to take them through Quebec City. In his youth, Tod’s French Canadian army regiment was stationed in Quebec.
“The rest is pretty flexible,” he said. “We want to visit people we know across the country and meet people along the way.”
Riding a bike, he said, allows you to “really understand who people are outside of all the politics and rhetoric. It gives you a little more faith in humanity than most people.
While his two youngest children look forward to him, he admits his 15-year-old son is a bit more ambivalent.
Tod is sure he’ll be more excited once they’re on the road, if their trip through British Columbia is any indication of how things will go.
“He turned into a different person that trip. I think we all did.
Cycling long distances, he said, “takes you away from the worries of everyday life and some of the nonsense we think is important.”
While it sounds like a daunting undertaking, and it is, “cycling across Canada is not an impossible task,” Tod said. “It’s not like we’re crossing the Sahara. If you take it one day at a time, time passes and you take it day by day, you find that you are where you want to be. And it changes you as a person, and for the better.
However, the family will not return home once on the other side.
“At first we talked about flying back, but the family needs a new vehicle. I think maybe we’ll buy a van somewhere in the Maritimes and drive home with that vehicle,” Tod said.