At 17, Saskatoon boy starts 31,000 km worldwide bicycle tour
B’yauling Toni already past Winnipeg after starting biking from Saskatoon on July 1
It's one heck of a way to spend your gap year.
A Saskatoon teen is planning to bicycle 31,000 kilometres on a worldwide tour that started just a few days after his high school graduation.
"School can kind of be boring and not very stimulating, and I was very excited to get going on a trip right after graduation and go off into the world so I didn't want to wait," cyclist B'yauling Toni told CBC Saskatchewan's Saskatoon Morning.
It might sound crazy, but even though he's young, Toni is not new to long distances and tough conditions.
The 17-year-old already has two bike trips from Saskatoon to Vancouver under his belt — one solo and one with his father and brother at the age of 12 — and last summer he biked 4,300 km from Banff, Alberta to New Mexico with only a change of clothes, a tarp and a sleeping bag.
Toni took off all alone by bike on July 1, with plans to bike from Saskatoon across the world, taking a few flights in between, to a total of 31,000 km over the course of six to eight months.
What do your parents think?
Toni's family has never owned a vehicle, so he's been getting around by bicycle from a young age. Throughout high school he worked at a bicycle shop in the city.
When asked how his family feels about him taking a solo trip, he said they were supportive.
"I grew up in a family that was very free to do what we want. We had a lot of freedom, and that's kind of the motto of my family so I can go and pursue these kinds of things and they pursue me pretty much," Toni said.
He said his parents are nervous, "but they try not to show it because they don't want to get me too nervous or too worried about my trip."
Toni has his route mapped down to the streets he'll be taking. The total distance travelled exceeded the length of the equator and the route passes through two points on opposite sides of Earth.
He is currently biking east towards Halifax, then hopping on a plane to start biking in Portugal across Europe to Russia and across Asia. He will then fly to Australia and bike across the continent, fly to New Zealand and biking the two islands and return to Canada in time for winter to finish off the trip.
The entire route is paved and relatively flat, which is a departure from the rough and changing altitudes of his Banff to New Mexico trip last summer.
Toni isn't all about flashy gear — in fact, his first-ever bike tour was on a $100 Walmart bike.
His trip last summer was on a basic mountain bike that was more than 30 years old
"When it gets down to it, it's not really about the gear it's about like the person riding the bike so you know like it doesn't matter how fancy it is, I'm not going to get anywhere if I can't peddle," he said.
This time around though, he has an actual touring bike, thanks to his workplace. He's also upgraded his tarp to a bivy sack, which he describes as a high-tech waterproof garbage bag that he can slip over his sleeping bag.
He will disassemble his bike for each flight, box it, transport it underneath the plane and reassemble when he lands.
Raising money along the way
Toni is an alumni of Saskatoon's Outdoor School program, which takes Grade 11 students outdoors to learn as they earn credits.
"I was just like amazed at how much more they learned within the (outdoor) school system than the regular school system, the public school that we're so used to going into, and how much more, like, passion the kids had for school," Toni said.
He said he was saddened to find out it's faced budget cuts that have reduced the number of people it can accept each year.
As a former student who was able to attend Outdoor School through funding from the school's alumni group, he is raising money for the alumni group through a Go Fund Me campaign. He intends to donate half of what he raises to the alumni group so that other teens can have the same opportunity he did, with a goal of raising $10,000.
with files from CBC's Sasakatoon Morning