An Ottawa family determined to spend the summer in their home province biked more than 1,000 kilometres to New Brunswick.
Laurie Clifford, Steve Mongrain and their 14-year-old son Alexander Mongrain made the 1,042-kilometre journey from Ottawa to New Mills on Chaleur Bay in 15 days.
The family arrived at their cottage Wednesday.
A Dalhousie native, Clifford moved to Ottawa 30 years ago but says New Brunswick has always been home, and she normally visits with her family every year.
"When COVID hit and for the first time in my life, I couldn't get home, it was kind of devastating," said Clifford.
The family doesn't own a car, and when the pandemic restricted them from travelling home last year, her son suggested they bike.
"I'm like, 'Well bud, it's a thousand kilometres,' and it wasn't a good time for anybody to travel anyway and we couldn't get into the province," said Clifford.
Her son brought up the idea of biking to New Brunswick again this spring, and that's when Clifford's husband agreed to the daunting trip.
Clifford said she initially thought the idea was crazy and planned to wait until flights became available, so she could fly on her own.
Then she decided she needed to challenge herself.
"It's been a really long, hard year and I thought maybe it's time to build up my resilience, both mentally and physically, and this may be the last time my kid may want to be on a family trip," said Clifford.
She said the family trained "a little bit" for a couple weeks and then, equipped with just a couple of T-shirts, pairs of pants, some bike gear, and the sea glass her son would pick up along the way, hit the road.
Each day was different in terms of how far they travelled, said Clifford. Their longest one-day stretch was 123 kilometres, and their shortest was 27 kilometres long.
"There were times when it was so challenging for me because I didn't have the same endurance or stamina as the boys, but by the end I was keeping up with them and doing the hills without fussing," she said.
Clifford said it was nice to see her son take on such a big challenge.
"Watching him and his mental determination, he's fierce and phenomenal."
Clifford said it became more difficult to find motels and restaurants once they passed Quebec City, but the family always managed to find a place to sleep overnight and to eat. They didn't book any rooms ahead.
The family did stop to play tourist along the way whenever they spotted a nice coastline or attraction.
Clifford said she probably won't ever bike that extensive route again, but it was a remarkable experience.
"It was wonderful, it's a once in a lifetime thing, but I think I'll take a shorter route next time."