Kane Mercer, who is doing the ride in honour of his father Rand who died of cancer, decided to end here partly because of a connection with New Glasgow’s Ian Bos, who previously walked across Canada for the same cause.
“Two weeks ago I was still planning on ending my trip in St John's, Newfoundland, but at around the same time that I was looking into the ferry schedules I realized that Newfoundland might not be a possibility since the ferry doesn't run every day to the port that I would need to arrive at,” Mercer said. “I also heard a nice story from my own hospice through an email I got from them. They described Ian's Journey from New Glasgow and how he had walked across Canada and made it to Victoria, B.C., and was well-received there.”
Because of the connection between the hospices he altered his plans and decided to stop here.
"Kane's journey brings back a wave of nostalgia for me; the shared grief, the freedom of the open road and the gratitude of hospice palliative care,” said Bos. “The Aberdeen Palliative Care Society is grateful to Kane for concluding his trip here and are proud to close this one big loop with our partners Victoria Hospice in B.C."
Mercer took some time to answer some questions about his trip for The News.
Q: Why did you decide to do this trip?
A: The thought first entered my mind when I was still living in Korea in 2015. I was thinking to myself that it would be nice to do something big like a trip across Canada but I didn't know exactly how that trip would look like or what the logistics of it would be. I think this idea for the trip came from deep inside and I felt that it was something that I personally needed to do not just for my dad but in order to refresh and make forward movement in my life doing something that I love. After coming back to Canada I decided to return to school and that gave me the perfect opportunity to do this trip.
When my dad became sick with cancer he told me that he didn't want me to quit my job and return back to Canada; instead, he wanted me to follow my dream – and I know that I love teaching and I know that I love cycling, so in some way this trip is my way of following his final wishes for me.
Q: What has the support been like for you along the way?
A: I've received all kinds of support on my way through the country from encouragement to people offering their homes or spots at their campsites to people buying me dinner or lunch and then sneaking away before I had a chance to thank them.
The support has been overwhelming and if I could say anything about that I would say that it's usually spontaneous and has nothing to do with me telling my story or explaining why it is that I'm doing what I'm doing. Some people will just see me on the bike and that's enough for them to want to help me in some way, and it's very refreshing. I think this whole trip has only reinforced my belief in humanity.
Q: Any interesting adventures along the route?
A: This whole trip has been one big adventure! Of course there are some times that stick out in my mind more than others, but even times when things became a little bit challenging, in the end it was really part of what made this side trip so special for me.
One example is that I rode from Princeton to Summerland on the KVR (Kettle Valley Railway) through the advice my brother. This is a section of the Trans Canada Trail and it goes into the middle of an area where there isn't really much out there. The first part of the trail was pretty nice although was a little bit rocky and it brought me up this gradual climb to a ridge overlooking the valley. Up until that point I thought it was hard but rideable, but the conditions just kept on getting worse. I was up there deep in the mountains and by that point the trail had gotten so bad that the back of my bike was fishtailing and I was starting to fall off my bike and things were starting to get dangerous.
The Trans Canada Trail is pretty good in some sections but there's also sections like this where it is all become multi-use and a lot of people are doing ATVing and motor biking on the trail as well so it had loose sand with huge rocks. I was joking around saying afterwards that it was like riding on a sandy beach with ankle-busters scattered throughout. I crashed a few times and then eventually I asked some people on dirt bikes whether or not they knew an easy way down to the road because I was worried that I would be stuck there without any means of getting out. They told me to take a logging road down and that's what I did, but the situation wasn't the best and after a few more crashes I had a bungee cord wrapped around my rear wheel and the clips on my one of my bags broke so I had to cut the bungee cord with a knife and strap the 30 lb of gear onto my back while I searched for a campsite.
Eventually I made it to a campsite but there were no amenities. It was OK though, because the people around let me lent me water. I always received help on my trip when I was in need.
Also, I saw quite a bit of wildlife on my trip including a bear and a cougar and a lynx it was really nice to be a part of the nature around me.
Q: What do you hope your ride has accomplished?
A: Every time I talk with people about my story, I get all kinds of reactions. Many people will open up with their own stories of losing a family member, or their own personal challenges which they've gone through. I think that death is a part of life, even though it's a difficult part of life, and that although we try to push it away in our everyday interactions, it's also important to acknowledge that it's happening all the time and that most people go through these kinds of difficulties in some respect.
I think that if my cycling across Canada to follow my own dream can help people to think about their own lives and something that they might want to do before they pass on, then I think that it's great. There's no better time to plan for fulfilling your dream than now. At the same time, I think that these kinds of conversations about losing loved ones and the services and care which are essential also help greatly.
Also, we can't forget the people in hospice and palliative care units that give selflessly to ease our sick and suffering. What they do on a daily basis has a real positive impact on our society.