The Goal and the Challenge

matteo-mainBy Matteo Perron 
Published: July 29, 2015


THE GREAT Canadian Ride is a road-cycling relay across Canada organized by the francophone school board. Almost every province has a section of about 300 km. Teens from grade 8 to grade 12 in francophone schools across Canada can apply to participate in one of the sections. Every section is three days long. The group pedals about 100 km a day, and we sleep in school gyms. I was lucky enough to be able to participate in the BC section last June, which goes from Kamloops to Vancouver. A total of more than 2,000 km were pedalled by all the participants in this cross-Canada cycling relay. I think it’s really impressive that youth from my age have accomplished a challenge of that scale. 
My experience in The Great Canadian Ride was awesome. At first, I thought it was going to be easy, but it turned out to be a huge challenge. There was a lot of training required starting in January and going on for 18 weeks.

Even though I trained a lot, it was still very hard. Apart from surpassing my limits, I got to meet amazing students, teachers and coaches. They would always cheer people on in the biggest of hills. We were always going through challenges as a team and never as an individual cyclist.
The hardest part for me was the hills in between Pemberton and Whistler — long, steep, never ending. My trick is to ignore the hill and to just keep pedaling and tell myself that I can do it. And the next thing you know, you are on top of the that hill. In the morning, we got up at 6, cleaned the bikes and got on the road. We ate lunch at noon and kept pedaling until about 100 km was done. One thing I really liked about it was that every day, after supper, we would sit in a circle and talk about our day.

I liked to hear about everyone’s experience, and I liked to share my experience too. All along the route, we promoted physical activity and healthy lifestyles encouraging everyone to follow our example and set out on the road to better health. The Great Canadian Ride brought me a message of perseverance I would be able to apply in any sphere of my life.
A lot of the students had never been on a road bike before, but I was lucky and I borrowed a bike from someone. I got to get familiar with road bikes and I rode in the Squamish valley to train. I never really got to train in the hills except going to Alice Lake and Quest University. My favorite thing about the ride was riding my bike! We got to ride in such amazing places like the Duffy Lake Road, the Sea to Sky Highway, across the Lions Gate Bridge and through Stanley Park. When we rode across the Lions Gate Bridge we had three Olympic gold medalists riding with us — Nancy Green, Maëlle Ricker and Dominique Maltais.

For the final five km, participants from other sections joined us to cross the finish line.
The reason I chose to do this cycling relay was to give myself a goal and a challenge at the same time. In the end, it was really worth it. I got to meet great people, pedal in amazing places and have fun! If I could describe my experience of The Great Canadian Ride in one word, it would be, AWESOME. If I have the opportunity, I think I would do it again next year. This event provided me an experience that was physically intense and also helped me to understand how important team spirit is in taking on major challenges.