Epic journey across nation leaves former Red Hawk humbled 0
Debbie Ray, left and husband Carlin Val, take a break from their 7,000 kilometre odyssey across Canada in front of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa on Wednesday, Aug. 22. Ray started the not-for-profit Cycle 2 Save (www.cycle2save.ca) organization to raise money and awareness about how a healthy lifestyle can be a preventative method against chronic illness. She hopes to raise $1 for each kilometre. Submitted by Debbie Ray.
Seeing the dramatic Rocky Mountains in the west, the calming prairies in Saskatchewan, the refreshing lakes, rivers and forests of Ontario, and the buildings of old Quebec and feeling the embrace of its “biker friendly” attitudes has left an indelible impression on a former Red Hawk.
Debbie Ray, who grew up in the Highlands and won the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School Athlete of the Year award in 2002-2003, reflected on her cross-country cycling journey to raise money and awareness for preventative measures to a healthier life with husband Carlin Val.
She’s discovered life is a lot like biking.
“If you keep your focus on the end goal you will surely make it (no matter how big the obstacles), but if you keep glancing at ditches and pot-holes you are bound to end up making your ride more challenging and less enjoyable,” she said.
Not afraid of adventure, Ray started this 7,000 kilometre trip from Stanley Park in Vancouver on July 5 and plans to be in Halifax some time in September. As of Aug. 28 the couple was in Quebec City.
Ray is riding and raising money through her not-for-profit organization Cycle 2 Save (www.cycle2save.ca) and has held presentations, given speeches and offered education regarding daily activity and how proper nutrition can be a means to prevent chronic disease, mental illness and injury. She hopes to raise $1 for each kilometre.
Her website said the money will be donated to charitable organizations that encourage proper nutrition and/provide opportunity for physical activity in our communities.
She acknowledges heading out into the unknown can make anyone anxious or doubtful, but believes in just going for it.
During her ride she has learned a lot about life and herself. With any epic effort and adventure brings “life lessons.”
Ray said they learned to take their time, take every opportunity to help others and the more you put in the more you get out.
There have been personal challenges on this trip.
“I have learned that my mind thinks about giving up long before my body does. If you can keep moving forward it is amazing what you can overcome and how strong you really are,” she said.
The trip was possible, she said, because of support from friends and family, including sponsors: Mountain Equipment Co-op, Martin’s Bike Shop, Smith Optical, True Organic, Bayshore Broadcasting, and Buff Canada.
Health and regular physical activity is important to Ray.
“It is a great way to reduce stress, to feel good about yourself, to get in-tune with your body. When you work hard to be active you tend to make better food choices as well. When I am active and eating well I have way more energy. I sleep better. I have more patience. I have increased focus. I am a happier person,” she said.
Ray has learned most people want a healthier life.
“I have learned that the majority of people in Canada who we have talked to are ready and willing for a shift in "lifestyle". They want to eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods - they want more education regarding nutrition, they want the opportunity to be active everyday, they want to go off medication and feel in control of their health - they want all the physical and mental benefits and the energy that comes from this change in lifestyle,” she said.
When you cycle for nine hours a day, cook on a camp stove, bathe in rivers and search nightly for a place to pitch a tent, there was an obvious need for new habits.
“We have changed our lifestyle slowly (cycling for more hrs/day, "bush camping" more often then designated campsites, eating out less often...) and it took about 20 days to truly settle into these new routines,” she said. “Of course the challenges that come from a change in any lifestyle depend on the significance of the change. We encourage everyone to make small and simple changes to improve their health - to start is often the hardest part.”