Islander bikes across Canada to help children fight cancer

·3 min read
Carter holds up his bike on the first day of the 6,000-km bike ride in White Rock, B.C. There's a QR code on his shirt that people can scan to donate. (Submitted by Nathan Carter - image credit)
Carter holds up his bike on the first day of the 6,000-km bike ride in White Rock, B.C. There's a QR code on his shirt that people can scan to donate. (Submitted by Nathan Carter - image credit)

These days Nathan Carter wakes up at about five, then by six he gets on the road and continues his trek biking home to P.E.I. from British Columbia.

"It's been a heck of a heatwave out here in B.C., so I'm trying to race the sun right now," he said from Kamloops.

Carter launched the trip six days ago in Vancouver, with the goal of raising $5,000 for the SickKids Foundation. He hopes to reach P.E.I. in about two months.

"I hope I raise some money for the SickKids Foundation, but the ultimate goal is to inspire," he said.

"You can help out and do things in different ways, be it volunteering at a soup kitchen or whatever it maybe. You don't have to do some big grand gesture, like what I'm so fortunate to be able to do here."

Submitted by Nathan Carter
Submitted by Nathan Carter

Carter is one of more than 15,000 people who have registered for this year's Great Cycle Challenge, which started in 2016. It encourages riders to set a personal riding goal throughout August and the money raised will go to childhood cancer research, said the foundation in an email.

'Anything I can do to help out those little warriors'

Carter said he had always wanted to cycle across the country for charity, inspired by his friend Matt Lawrence, who completed a three-month bike trek from P.E.I. to San Diego to raise money for the P.E.I. Literacy Alliance six years ago.

And he wanted to raise money to help children fight cancer — a cause that is close to his heart, he said.

"Cancer has affected probably everyone. And definitely myself, I've lost a lot of family members. Just recently my father-in-law passed away last year due to cancer, and, specifically with children, it's awful," he said.

"Anything I can do to help out those little warriors, that's great."

Submitted by Nathan Carter
Submitted by Nathan Carter

He started to get himself back in shape enough to cycle in a moderate race last summer. This year he took two months off from work to go on the 6,000-km bike trek.

He said one of the challenges he's facing is the heat, so he wakes up early to get on the road and shuts down between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to avoid it.

Another is wildfires, which are taking place across B.C., he said.

"If there is a fire, the biggest concern on my end would be the smoke inhalation, because when you're biking you do breathe quite heavy," he said. "But the air quality seems good right now."

His wife is traveling along in an RV. Wherever he ends up at night, his wife picks him up and they drive to a nearby campsite and stay there. In the morning, she then drives him to the location where he needs to start.

She also helps with anything unexpected happening, like when his bike broke down — so she brought him the backup bike.

"My wife is an absolute rockstar," Carter said.

Coming home

Carter spends about eight hours a day on the road. He said it's "a very isolating experience," but it's no different from him and his wife alone in their apartment in Winnipeg during the pandemic.

At least this way, he will eventually return to his hometown — something that keeps him going so far, he said.

"Getting back home to P.E.I. is the number one because, you know, you've got ADL milk and the best potatoes you can get, and my family and loved ones as well."

Submitted by Nathan Carter
Submitted by Nathan Carter

He hopes to complete the ride and be on the Island by the end of September. Carter has raised more than $3,000 so far, which is over half way to his fundraising goal — something he didn't expect.

"The generosity and support I've received from Islanders and across the country so far has been pretty mind-blowing to me."

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