On 28 May, six weeks after flying out from his VSA assignment in hot and steamy Solomon Islands, Lindsay Gault will board a plane bound for Canada to begin a 12,000km bicycle trip.
The ride will take him from Inuvik, a west Canadian town high in the Arctic Circle near Alaska, to Nova Scotia in the far east of the country. Lindsay will dedicate the trip to his father who died from cancer aged 49 and to “the adventures he could have had”. He’s also riding for his younger sister and sister-in-law. As he prepared for this trip, both were diagnosed with breast cancer.
With departure from his Wellington home looming, Lindsay says he’s feeling a mix of nervousness and excitement, “with nervousness leading by a nose”. There’s so many details to sort, lists to check and training rides to complete. He’s no stranger to punishing long-haul bike rides, however, having also ridden:
- 12,000 kilometres from Cairo to Cape Town in 2011, to raise funds for bicycles for disadvantaged children and for remote transport for health workers
- 3000 kilometres from Nairobi to Lusaka in 2013, to raise funds to fight cancer.
Early in 2016, not long before Lindsay and his wife Barbara set out for their year-long assignment in the Solomons, he rode the length of New Zealand, also to raise funds to fight cancer. His trail bike went with him on assignment, where he explored the bush on Isabel Island and cycled as far as he could to sit in absolute quiet and enjoy the peace and magnificent birdlife.
Coping with not-so-tropical Canada after the tropical Solomons is probably the easiest of the challenges coming up, he says. “It is about getting gear that is warm when wet, that copes with the worst possible conditions.”
More difficult are nutrition and load issues. It’s important to get right the delicate balance between what gear to carry and how much it all weighs, and to carry enough food and water when burning up to 6000 calories a day. Since the idea of the Canada ride first occurred to him it’s taken Lindsay nine months to think through the pure logistics - how long, how far and where to stop – and to make a realistic assessment of the risks – the wildlife, weather and remote emergency.
On a long ride the first days on the road are tough, he says. “You must be able to survive without a downward physical and mental spiral. You need to be ruthlessly organised, looking after your bike, looking after your body.” Once on the trails, good navigation is vital to avoid wrong turns and delays.
In the Solomons, Lindsay was an IT adviser, a role that drew on his experience of building up a successful software company over nearly 40 years. For all the effort that took, it left little legacy, he says. “This ride is about putting my passion for adventure and discovery to a good use. I have dedicated my remaining active years to living in adventure but providing a contribution along the way.”
You can follow Lindsay’s progress as he blogs about his trip on cancer-ride-arctic-pacific-atlantic.kiwi.nz.