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Abbotsford-Mission trio to cycle to the Arctic Ocean to fund wells in Africa

Team to complete Cycling 4 Water journey in partnership with Langley charity
Local cyclists (from left) Richard Blaschek, Mike Woodard and Timo Itkonen set off this month to complete the Cycling 4 Water journey that started last year to raise awareness and money for water wells in Africa. (Submitted photo)

Three local cyclists plan to complete a charity ride for water wells later this month by dipping their tires in the Arctic Ocean.

The Cycling 4 Water team first set out on July 19, 2021 from Abbotsford in partnership with the Langley-based Global Aid Network (GAiN). Their plan was to dip their tires in the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic oceans while raising awareness and funds for water wells that would reach villages in Africa.

Riders at that time were Mike Woodard, Rob Montgomery, Timo Itkonen and Gabe McReynolds.

They had initially planned to start at Tuktoyaktuk and the Arctic Ocean and then cycle from there, but COVID-19 travel restrictions had not been lifted in the Northwest Territories at that time.

Instead, the team began their journey in Dawson City, Yukon then touched the Pacific Ocean at Prince Rupert and the Atlantic Ocean in the Halifax area, ending on Sept. 25.

RELATED: ‘Young-at-heart, old guys’ to cycle across Canada to fund wells in Africa

Woodard, an Abbotsford resident, said the trip was an “amazing experience.”

“Someone described this 63-day journey as the story of 1,000 little miracles; definitely a one-day-at-a-time journey. Some days were so physically difficult, others were ‘sun in your face and wind at your back’ days. Each day had great people moments,” he said.

But they still had a goal of reaching the Arctic Ocean.

This year’s team of Abbotsford-Mission residents Itkonen, Woodard and Richard Blaschek plan to complete the task, starting on Aug. 16, by cycling the Dempster Highway – a 920-kilometre gravel road – that leads from Dawson City to Tuktoyuktuk.

The trio hope to dip their tires in the Arctic Ocean on Aug. 27.

The first team cycled 8,600 kilometres and raised more than $500,000 to fund 63 wells. This year’s team plans to add another seven wells.

The first “Sea 2 Sea” ride in 2014 started with a conversation between Woodard and his long-time friend Montgomery.

The search for a cause landed with water wells because it’s such a basic need, saves lives and transforms families and communities. GAiN became the cause partners, and the ride started to take shape.

Woodard and Montgomery recruited two more cyclists and a support vehicle driver to join them. They found sponsors who provided a support vehicle and the funds to cover their expenses so that all the money raised would go to GAiN.

Visit to follow the team’s progress on their 2022 ride or to make a donation.

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Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
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