People usually visit the mountainous parks of Alberta and Montana to get away from it all.
But Sarnia native Christeena Nienhuis plans to bike them for charity.
She and younger brother Jonathan will fly to Edmonton next week and, after being shuttled to Jasper National Park, will begin a trek of nearly 1,000 kilometers through Jasper and Banff as well as Glacier National Park in northern Montana. The tour begins July 30 and ends Aug. 8.
“It’s going to be beautiful,” said Nienhuis, who is no stranger to long distance cycling.
She completed cross-country bike tours for charity, known as “Sea to Sea,” in 2008 and 2013.
The 25-year-old school teacher at John Knox Christian School in Wyoming said long-distance cycling is a great way to force yourself to slow down in our fast-paced culture.
“You think about one pedal stroke at a time,” she said. “You can’t think about tomorrow or you just get overwhelmed by what you have to do the next day. You have to cut off the worry and cut off the brain and just bike.”
Cycling for distance is 10% physical and 90% mental, she said.
Having made the life choice not to own a vehicle, Nienhuis said her pre-tour training has been riding from her Wyoming home to wherever she needs to go, whether that be errands in Sarnia or the gym in Petrolia.
She also embarks on a 50-to-100 kilometre ride each Saturday.
“The only way to train for this is to ride,” she said.
While excited about the trip, she is also mindful of the inherent dangers of cycling in a vehicle-centric society.
“It’s something that I have to be OK with. Knowing that I could be injured.”
As for the physical impact of such a ride, Nienhuis says quad muscles will be “shot” and many riders will experience neck pain because they are in the crouch position so long. And, the butt really takes a beating as well, she joked.
“The butt is not built to sit on a seat like that for eight hours a day.”