The Ice Road Challenge – Fat Bike Ride for Pikangikum First Nation

Dated: July 29 2021

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I’ve always been interested in Canada’s North. I feel a draw towards the space, the land scape, and the people. The wild flattish land (in the middle!), the spruce trees, and the plethora of lakes and rivers. Perhaps it is because I lived in Labrador for 8 of my first 10 years of life. Perhaps it is the images I’ve seen of my Dad, and his friends, as they worked on The DEW line in his early 20’s. As a young teenager I travelled from Prince Edward Island to Yellowknife along with my grade 8 class as part of a school exchange. Later as a tree planter, a few of my crew mates did a road trip from Prince George to Dawson City and Kluane National Park during our break between spring and summer planting season.

Like most Canadians, I live, play, and work south of Canada’s 49 paralell. (Red Lake is not ‘that far’ North, being on the 52nd paralell. My friend Maddy lives with her family in Iqaluit which is on the 63rd Paralell!)

When my High School friend Bruce called me in November and said, “Bryon, I know our next cycling adventure … we are going to ride Fat Bikes from Red Lake to Pikangikum First Nation in February … in temperatures of -20 to -40 degrees Celsius!” I confirmed immediately that I was in.

New Hope Community Bikes, with support from the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) have been building a bike program for Pikangikum Youth since 2017. The more I learned about the program, the more excited I became.

“The Ice Road Challenge”, allowed me to return a favour to cycling and help a northern community.

My family have contributed to various fund raisers for global causes. Travelling to Pikangikum was pretty much like travelling to another country. However, it is my country. I’ve been thinking much recently … “Think Global, Act Local”.

On Feb 6, I met 40 other riders in Red Lake. We had an immensely satisfying ride, cultural experience, and adventure. The riding season in Pikangikum just got a whole lot longer. We delivered Fat Bikes and Mittens … and raised $50,000+ to offer further bike programming, education and youth employment.

New Riding Experience, Visiting a Canadian Northern Community, and Building a Youth First Nations Cycling Program – that’s a win.

I made a video edit – click here to see it.

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Bryon Howard

From a very young age, I had determined that I wanted to be in the eco-tourism / adventure business. I would take small groups of people into communities in interesting parts of the world. I would ass....

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