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From Whistler to Yellowknife in 10 days

Group of nine road riders set to take on The Ride of Your Life

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The sojourn may sound a little bit unbelievable, but Quinn Lanzon believes he and his motley crew of eight other road riders can pull it off.

2,206 kilometres. 10,906 metres of climbing. 10 days.

That's the plan for Lanzon and Co. as they get set to embark on The Ride of Your Life on May 25.

Lanzon, who will celebrate his 30th birthday on May 24, initially came up with the idea to go to his birthplace of Yellowknife to mark the jump into a new decade, but taking bikes wasn't initially part of the plan. Lanzon was talking about long-distance riding with Will Cadham, who had pondered riding from South Korea to Vladivostok, Russia, before realizing it wasn't reasonable.

"I just thought 'I haven't been up north (since childhood) and it could be an interesting ride,'" recalled Lanzon, who grew up in the Ottawa area. "I pitched it to the wrong person, because he immediately thought it would be a great idea."

From that point, Lanzon started to go about determining logistics, eventually zeroing in on late May as an ideal time considering weather and traffic.

The first day will have the riders start in Whistler and end in Lillooet. At 169 kms travelled, it will officially be the shortest ride of the tour. There will be a detour, however, as the nine participants will switch bikes to race the final Nimby Fifty near Pemberton.

"The first day is seeing if you're up to fitness," Lanzon said.

From there, the shortest day is 180 kms while the final day, from Fort Providence to Yellowknife, clocks in at an eye-popping 316 kms.

"That's purely logistics because it's the Arctic. There's no one there. There are no towns," Lanzon said. "The two closest towns are Fort Providence and Yellowknife."

The night prior to reaching Fort Providence, the riders have no choice but to camp in two six-man tents in Sixtieth Parallel Territorial Park just north of the Alberta border.

Lanzon explained that he hopes the journey gets more solitary as it progresses.

"Hopefully (there will be) less traffic as we get farther north. The biggest concern that we have as far as sections of road is between Williams Lake and Prince George, because we'll still be on the highway. After that, we're going to cut toward Dawson Creek and it should be a little quieter," Lanzon said.

One potential wrench, he acknowledged, could be the schedule, as it is a tight 10 days, leaving on May 25 and arriving in Yellowknife on June 3.

"Talking to other road cyclists who have done these types of trips, the main thing they flag is that usually when you do something like this, you take a break after five days," he said. "If anyone has any type of injury that's plaguing them, or just for your sanity—mostly sanity—the rest day is recommended.

"It's about pushing through the hard stuff and the experiences that you can get out of that, and see what you can do," he added.

Lanzon, the director of public relations for the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association (WORCA), is more of a mountain biker than road rider, as is the case with nearly everyone else on the journey. However, they've committed to learning the sport and doing the ride properly.

"Most of us have been training since December," he said. "The winter was when most of the volume of the training happened and then as the snow started to melt, we did a couple practice rides. We drove up to Lillooet while there was still snow here ... We rode Lillooet to Clinton and back. That was our first big road test. It was a horrible day. It was so cold with really, really strong winds."

In total, the crew has done four rides of between 150 and 200 kms to train.

Two riders, Huw Thomas and Braedyn Kozman, have experience riding on the road and the remaining participants will lean heavily on them to ride in packs and deal with wind.

The biggest change from mountain biking to road riding, Lanzon explained, is in the legs.

"On a mountain bike, there's always resistance so it forces your leg to stay straight because your muscles are engaged. On a road bike, especially when you're in a pack, you're drafting," he said. "Any time there's weirdness to your pedal stroke, it's exposed and you can feel it."

Graeme Meiklejohn, who was the cinematographer for

Facing Sunrise, which won Best Short Mountain Film at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in 2018, will follow along in the support car while shooting a documentary on the ride. He'll also plan to hop on his own bike to get some closer shots for the film.

"As soon as I heard, I was like 'I'm going to make a movie about this because it's outrageous and it's going to make for a very interesting film, just based off the initial group of people who are going to be going on the ride,'" he said. "As that roster of people has grown, it's gotten only better."

The rest of the team is: Alex Conlin, Mark Taylor, Matthew Tirrell and David Kenworthy. Jamie Blades was initially slated to ride but suffered an injury and will instead ride in the support car with Meiklejohn.

Lanzon notes six of the riders grew up in the Ottawa-Gatineau area and have known one another for 15 to 20 years.

There is a charitable element to the effort to the ride as well. Lanzon and crew received support from Tourism Northwest Territories, and through them, connected with the local mountain bike association and Rotary Club, which are in the process of raising funds to build a bike park in Yellowknife. More than $100,000 has been raised and builders will break ground on a pump track later this year.

Lanzon hopes the Ride of Your Life will garner another $5,000 for the park; they'd already raised $1,800 as of May 22.

For more information or to donate, visit www.therideofyourlife.ca.

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