Fueled by iced caps, adrenaline, and mental toughness, a Kelowna teen biked across Canada in 56 days.
Aaron Saufferer, 18, spent his summer between high school and starting school at Okanagan College for carpentry, riding his bike from Atlantic Canada to Deep Cove, Vancouver.
He camped along the way, sometimes sleeping in his one-man tent on the side of the road, when a campground was not available.
Saufferer found charm and challenge in each province. When he got into Quebec, “things got real.”
He doesn’t speak french, which added a level of difficulty to his travels. He was struck by the beauty and history of the province, before entering the slog through Ontario.
The great lakes added great difficulty, and distance, to his ride. Saufferer spent three weeks winding his way across the large province before reaching the prairies.
“Every time you cross into another province you get an adrenaline rush,” said Saufferer.
He sped across Manitoba in only three days before hitting the province known for a flat horizon.
Saufferer said that the little towns, vast landscape and sunsets that he experienced while riding the province’s gravel roads were highlights of the prairies.
Without hills, trees, or large buildings, the wind became “a big factor.”
When the gusts were in his favour, things rolled smoothly, but unfortunately, the wind didn’t always blow his way.
The weather conditions were “interesting” in Alberta. He was met with 36 degree heat when crossing the border before being challenged by thunderstorms and powerful winds.
Once he hit the Rockies, Saufferer was in his element. He biked from Kelowna to Calgary with a friend in the summer of 2021, and knows how to tackle the large mountains.
“I find it so easy to bike long distances when there is a view to look at.”
He crushed an average of 120 to 180 kilometers each day, sometimes riding upwards of 200 kilometers.
Saufferer stopped at Tim Hortons to stock up on snacks in most towns that he visited.
He would grab an iced cap, a couple of farmers wraps, and a doughnut or two before getting back in the saddle. Saufferer also fueled his ride with bread and peanut butter, eating a loaf of bread each day and three to four jars of peanut butter each week.
At night he would try to find a shower, or lake, to rinse off, before making dinner.
Despite the physical component of the ride, mental strength was the most important component.
“You just have to have everything together mentally.”