Nelson’s Dave Wilson is no stranger to long hours on his bike.
Last year he cycled 9,000 km from St. John’s, Nfld. to Tofino. This Saturday he embarks on a 6,000 km ride north to Dawson City.
He’s going on the solo journey to raise money for the Arthritis and Autoimmunity Research Centre, a Toronto-based foundation looking for new treatments for arthritis. He also wants to raise awareness about an arthritic disease he has, called Ankylosing Spondylitis, which is slowly causing the joints in his spine to fuse together.
“For years, I went to doctors with back pain and they misdiagnosed it and gave me medication that didn’t help. There needs to be a greater awareness in the medical community about this condition,” says Wilson who spent this past winter working at Whitewater Ski Resort.
He finished his seasonal work at the mountain earlier this week, which freed him up for some time on the road. He plans to start his trip by cycling out to the coast, then start working his way up to the Yukon.
He wants to be in Dawson City by June 21, for the summer solstice.
“I’m expecting a really challenging ride. It’s going to be a lot tougher than going across Canada,” Wilson says. “The distance between towns is further. I’m going to be going four and five days without seeing civilization.”
He travels on the cheap, cooking all his own food on the road and camping in a tent each night. He carries all his own gear on his bike and doesn’t travel with a support crew.
“It’s just something I’m doing on my own. It’s therapeutic, in a way,” he says. “I’m in constant pain, with my back, and this is something I can do to take my mind off it. Exercise is one of the only ways I find relief.”
Wilson will be posting updates from the road on his website, watchmyback.ca. He also has a link on his site to donate to the Arthritis and Autoimmunity Research Centre.
Wilson will leave Nelson first thing in the morning on April 13. He’s not planning a send-off event.