British Columbia

North Vancouver cyclist's charity ride across Canada cut short after crash with motorcycle

Bianca Hayes said she was two days away from breaking the women's Guinness World Record for the fastest ride across Canada on Sunday — when her journey was cut short by a collision with a motorcycle.

Bianca Hayes was cycling to raise money for ovarian cancer — and in hopes of breaking a world record

Bianca Hayes on day one of her cycling trip. Hayes' effort to beat the world record was cut short after she got in a collision with a motorcyclist. (The Coconut Creative)

For nearly two straight weeks, Bianca Hayes cycled 20 hours a day eastward across the country, hoping to beat a world record and raise money for ovarian cancer charities.

But two days away from breaking the women's Guinness World Record for the fastest ride across mainland Canada, she said, her journey was cut short Sunday by a collision with a motorcycle in southern Quebec.

Hayes, who is from North Vancouver, said the motorcycle knocked her bike out from under her, leaving her with a concussion and a sprained ankle. 

"It's not common that cyclists are to walk away pretty unscathed from things like that so I just feel very lucky," she said in an interview.

The ride was to be Hayes's second across Canada to raise funds for ovarian cancer research in honour of her late sister. Her first cross-country attempt in 2020 took her 19 days to complete — four days short of 15 days needed to set a Guinness World Record. (The fastest-ever mainland cycle was Chris Bruckner, who completed the coast-to-coast journey in just over 13 days, according to the records company).

This year, she decided to try again.

Hayes standing with her bike in front of her team's trailer on the first day of their journey. (The Coconut Creative)

On June 13, Hayes launched her second cross-country ride, starting from Vancouver City Hall. She rode north through Kamloops, B.C., to take the Trans-Canada Highway across the country. 

With a team of four friends following in a trailer to support her, Hayes said she took a 15-minute break every four hours, and slept for just two to three hours a night. She says she rode hundreds of kilometres every day.

Hayes with her team of helpers before leaving on her journey. (The Coconut Creative)

Conditions were less than ideal.

On the fourth day of her journey, as she entered Saskatchewan, she faced headwinds of 60 km/h, combined with a 40 km/h side wind.

The following day, she encountered a dust storm in Manitoba that brought more headwinds and left her covered in dirt.

A day later, there was a heat wave severe enough for officials in Winnipeg to cancel a city marathon. Hayes managed the extreme heat by tying nylon stockings filled with ice around her neck.

"My legs swelled up to three times their size. It was incredibly painful," Hayes recalled.

Hayes riding through Alberta on day three of her journey. (The Coconut Creative)

"It felt like we went through all of the trials and all of these different ordeals and it would have made for an epic story to set that record and do it in the face of all those challenges."

5-year survival rate

Hayes lost her sister, Katrina, to ovarian cancer in 2018.

After her sister's death, Hayes' learned the five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer hasn't improved in the last 50 years. The lack of progress spurred her to raise funds for more research.

Katrina left behind a son, Calvin, now seven years old.

From left to right: Bianca and Katrina's mother, Sabine, Katrina Jessen, Bianca Hayes, and Katrina's son, Calvin. (Bianca Hayes)

"It sort of just sparked something in me," she said. "If not me then who? And if not now then when?"

"Knowing that he is growing up without his mom is extra motivation for me to continue what I'm doing." 

Funds raised

Despite being cut short, Hayes's ride raised more than $145,000 as of July 1. Her donation will be split between Ovarian Cancer Canada and the B.C. Cancer Foundation. Ovarian Cancer Canada said the funding will go toward research, advocacy and supporting people affected by the disease across the country. 

Hayes using a wheelchair after her accident in Quebec left her with a sprained ankle and concussion. (The Coconut Creative)

Their organization had planned an official welcome for Hayes's arrival in Halifax, which was supposed to be Jun. 28. 

"The team in Halifax was ready to greet her with open arms," said marketing and communications manager at Megan Gough. "We are just so honoured that she continues to advocate for us."

As she recovers from her injuries, Hayes said she may try for the record a third time in the future. 

Corrections

  • A photo caption in this story previously identified Bianca Hayes's sister as Katrina Hayes. In fact, Katrina's last name was Jessen.
    Jul 04, 2022 9:03 AM PT
  • A previous version of this story stated that Bianca Hayes said she rode about 100 kilometres every day on her cross-country trip. In fact, she said she rode hundreds of kilometres daily.
    Jul 02, 2022 8:29 AM PT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle Gomez is a CBC writer in Vancouver. You can contact her at michelle.gomez@cbc.ca.

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