Revelstoke, B.C., resident Mikey Friedland had no idea what was in store for him when he decided to go on a bike ride to raise funds and awareness for mental health.
“I didn’t have any training,” said the 23-year-old. “I planned this about three weeks before I started and I learned as I went.”
Friedland cycled for 50 long days on his ‘Ride Don’t Hide for the North’ campaign, travelling more than 4,000 kilometres over the summer from the Canada-U.S. border in Osoyoos, B.C. to Tuktoyaktuk, a hamlet in the Inuvik region of the Northwest Territories.
He overcame inclement weather, rockslides and treacherous highways, while fleeing bears and mosquitoes.
In the end, he raised more than $30,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association, but the cyclist maintains he didn’t do it alone.
“They just stopped to give me water and fried chicken,” he said, describing one of many kind gestures from strangers who helped him along the way.
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Friedland had no car following him to ensure his safety, and said passing motorists would sometimes pull over and give him roadside meals or snacks. Others offered up their cabins for him to sleep in.
“As I was patching my tire, a man stopped to offer me some hard boiled eggs,” he told Global News.
“I had help from dozens of strangers including Canadians from all backgrounds.”
It’s those personal connections and acts of kindness that surprised Friedland even more than the perils he faced on the road.
He said the gestures, and handfuls of little personal victories, made the journey very meaningful.
“It’s something I’m trying to take into my life off the bicycle,” he explained. “Create these moments where I can get that satisfaction, get that feeling of accomplishment and self-worth.”
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Friedland said he was motivated to ride for mental health after facing his own struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Statistics Canada, one in five Canadians surveyed during the pandemic had at least one of three mental health issues: major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The positive screening rates were three times higher for young adults between 18 and 24 years old.
Safely at home in Revelstoke, Friedland is still collecting funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association, and sharing his journey on YouTube. All funds raised will be split between the organization’s branches in the Shuswap and Revelstoke area, northern B.C. and the Yukon.
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