Bill Brooks, with his self-built bike, preparing for his epic challenge. (Contributed)

Pedal Power: 72 year-old set to cycle from Arctic Circle to Sidney

Cycling Without Age Society board member aims to bike 4,500 km to raise funds for charity

An adventurous 72 year old is cycling from the Arctic Circle to Sidney to raise funds for the Cycling Without Age Society.

Bill Brooks, a board member of the group, plans to ride 4,500 kilometers in 60 days.

“Approximately on June 8 I’ll be dipping my wheels in the Arctic Ocean and starting to head south. The road itself has got about 1,000 km of gravel. It’s going to be a real interesting experience,” he says.

RELATED: Sidney group offers free, fun ‘trishaw’ bike rides to seniors

Brooks is an old hand to marathon challenges having completed two coast-to-coast journeys from Victoria to Cape Spear in Newfoundland and then Tofino to Cape Spear via a different route.

He completes all his rides unsupported and usually rides solo. His latest journey will require him to camp and carry all his food. He cites the wet and muddy weather conditions as the greatest dangers facing him. To handle the tough terrain and pot-holes, Brooks has switched to sturdier wheels and replaced his 35mm tires with 45mm ones.

He also built the bike himself so that if any component breaks, he can rely on his knowledge to repair it.

“There’s a thousand miles between bicycle shops, so if you break down there’s only one person who can fix it,” he says.

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On June 3 flies to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories and then expects to spend a couple of days trying to hitch a ride to Tuktoyaktuk.

He’s been told that his best bet to get to ‘Tuk is to go to radio station, broadcast he needs a ride, then hang around downtown looking for a 3/4 ton truck en route to ‘Tuk.

As well as the distance, Brooks will have to contend with the undulating terrain.

“From ‘Tuk to Whitehorse I think it’s something like 15 or 20,000 feet of climbing. I know between ‘Tuk and Prince Rupert it’s 33,000 feet of climbing.”

Although Brooks dislikes solitude on long isolated days, he mostly rides solo as he can find his own rhythm. One problem he has had to face in the past and might face on this journey are the implications of making a mistake while navigating. He says that in areas with no cell phone coverage, if he takes a wrong turn, it could potentially be hundreds of kilometres before he’ll arrive at a town, realize, and then have to set off to correct his mistake.

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Brooks is excited to raise money for the Cycling Without Age Society, which offers free piloted bike rides to seniors and disabled residents.

The group uses trishaws, known as a bucket bike in Europe, where two people sit and are guided on their journey by a pilot who pedals from behind their seat. There is space for a senior and their care attendant, and they are covered by a cozy blanket. A new endeavour, the charity have been operating since March.

“If we could raise enough to buy one trishaw it would be an absolute dream, they’re currently running at about $8,000, to help more disabled people enjoy bicycle riding,” says Brooks.

To follow Brooks’ journey (handle Too Old to Know Better) visit crazyguyonabike.com.

To donate or to pledge per mile completed visit cyclingwithoutagesociety.com.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

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