PEI

Why this man is lingering over his winter bike ride through Atlantic Canada

Arie Hoogerbrugge was never one for spending time outside in the cold, but he says he is enjoying a winter bike ride through Atlantic Canada so much he is taking his time.

‘I've only gone through three snowstorms’

Arie Hoogerbrugge in Souris, P.E.I., near his parents' home. He spent Christmas with them for the first time in six years. (Arie Hoogerbrugge/Facebook)

Arie Hoogerbrugge was never one for spending time outside in the cold, but he says he is enjoying a winter bike ride through Atlantic Canada so much he is taking his time.

Hoogerbrugge's ride will eventually take him to Tuktoyaktuk, before he turns south for the long ride down the Americas to the southern tip of Argentina. But it started on Nov. 12 in St. John's.

Biking across Canada is a challenge at the best of times. Hoogerbrugge chose to do it in the winter specifically to add an extra edge.

"This was the greatest challenge I could possibly think about," he said.

"I'm not a mountain climber so, you know, Mount Everest was not on the radar. I don't know the first thing about a boat so I can't sail across the Atlantic."

When Arie Hoogerbrugge first loaded all his gear onto his bike, it was so heavy he was scared to pedal it. (Arie Hoogerbrugge/Facebook)

He was not even a big biker, or a winter sports enthusiast. He makes his home in Belize.

"I'm all about the jungle. All about the jungle the tropics," he said.

"I've actually been extremely lucky when it comes to the weather. I've only gone through three snowstorms."

Prolonging the journey

Having set this ultimate challenge for himself, Hoogerbrugge figured the first six months of his journey, until real summer started, would be all about the grind and being strong enough. But a surprising thing happened. He found he was enjoying himself.

It wasn't about the weather, or the cycling, or the camping. It was about the people he was meeting.

The winter roads can be difficult. (Arie Hoogerbrugge/Facebook)

"I … never anticipated or expected the generosity of all the people I'd come across," he said.

"I am really trying to prolong this Atlantic Canada part, just because of how much I've enjoyed it."

As an example, he tells a story about his first day on the P.E.I., Dec. 17.

"The wind was merciless. It was relentless and it was dark and I ended up going into Charlottetown just looking for a place to get out of the wind to set my tent up," he said.

The generosity of Atlantic Canadians has touched Arie Hoogerbrugge. (Arie Hoogerbrugge/Facebook)

"I had to push my bike, the wind was just so strong. And I checked my phone one last time and there's a message on Facebook from this woman in Charlottetown, and she is like, 'There is a warm bed waiting for you.'"

Prince Edward Island was also a special stop for Hoogerbrugge because his parents now live in Fortune Bridge, near Souris, and it was a chance to spend Christmas with them for the first time in six years.

Hoogerbrugge expects to cycle 55,000 kilometres before he ends his trip in Argentina, a journey he believes will take about three years.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Sean Young

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