Cyclist, 62, takes Alzheimer’s message from Pole to Pole

Sixty-two-year-old Henry La Croix is riding his bike from Inuvik, N.W.T. to Ushuaia, Argentina to raise awareness of and money for Alzheimer’s research.

‘What you want to keep in mind is that the mind you save may be your own,’ says Henry La Croix

Henry La Croix at a road sign just outside of Inuvik, N.W.T. The 62-year-old Toronto man is heading off on a 20,000 kilometre bike trip from the Arctic to the Antarctic to raise awareness and funding for Alzheimer's. (David Thurton/CBC)

A 62-year-old Toronto man plans to leave Inuvik, N.W.T. tomorrow on a bike ride that will take him from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

Henry La Croix estimates it will take him about seven months to complete the journey to Ushuaia on the southern tip of Argentina, a distance of about 20,000 kilometres.

He plans to travel 100 km a day.

“At this point, getting on the bike and actually starting down the road will be a tension reliever,” he says.

La Croix planned the trip — which will be self-financed and unsupported — as a way to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s research, something he’s experienced first hand.

Six years ago, his sister-in-law Janet was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.

A successful lawyer and mother at the time, she’s no longer practising law.

“Alzheimer’s is a devastating condition,” La Croix says. “Not only for the individual themselves but for everyone around them.”

“As the disease goes on, your horizons shrink: your ability to anticipate, to look ahead, to remember what you did, to have goals, to incrementally plan your life every day. And that’s what you have to do on an expedition of this nature: anticipate, think, enjoy things, look beyond the Richardson mountains, as beautiful as they are, while you’re climbing them, so it’s a stark contrast and something I hope to keep in mind.”

Right now, about 500,000 people in Canada suffer from Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Society Toronto, that number is expected to double in the next generation.

“I think 'scary' would be a word to describe the condition for most people,” La Croix says.

He wants people to donate to help fund research at the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada's website.

“Really, what you want to keep in mind is that the mind you save may be your own.”