From black flies, Prairie thunderstorms and even a run-in with a hip-hop artist, the MacKinnon brothers may have seen just about everything Canada has to offer.
But they’re still only halfway through their trip.
The Comox-raised brothers —Scott, Sean, Ross and Ryan — are in their 40th day of a bike trip across Canada to raise awareness and funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder which affects motor skills, speech and movement.
They have been peddling across the country in the name of their grandfather — Baha — Olympian, lawyer, UBC Athletics Hall of Fame member and author Neville Munro.
As the brothers approached Ottawa on Tuesday evening, they received an introduction at the Senate from Senator and B.C. Olympian Nancy Greene Raine.
Although biking 12-hour days across the varying Canadian landscapes has taken a toll on their bodies, the boys admit the trip so far has been an incredible experience.
“The trip has been much more challenging than expected,” said Scott. “We have struggled our way across three provinces and have just passed over the top of the Canadian Shield, which quite possibly could be the most difficult part. Overall, the highs have definitely outweighed the lows.”
He noted some of the most difficult parts of the trip so far have been the mountain passes in B.C., northern Ontario and day-to-day life of sleeping in tents, trying to find food and keeping the bikes working.
“Someone should have mentioned to us how big Canada really is,” he noted.
The brother’s goal for journey is simple — to raise $1 for every kilometre they ride, as well as $1 for every kilometre Baha would have ridden, for a total of $40,075. The Biking For Baha team is sitting in the fourth spot in fundraising for Team Fox in 2012 at $24,352.
Although the brothers admit fundraising has slowed a little the further east they travel, they are amazed by the support they have received so far.
“We think that bicycles are our new conversation starter,” said Scott. “We have never been approached so many times by people, just excited to start a conversation. We never realized how intrigued people were with touring cyclists. We meet a new person at every gas station we stop at.”
Scott added the most unexpected part of the trip has been the generosity of strangers.
“Constantly, complete strangers go out of their way to help us; it has been amazing to experience.”
He added when times get tough, the brothers return to the basic reason for their trip — their Baha.
“We talk about how much pain he went through with Parkinson’s and how these experiences do not even compare at all to what he and other Parkinson’s suffers feel,” Scott said.
Through their blog, the brothers share their adventures, which includes battling biting black flies in northern Ontario, pushing through thunder, rain and monsoon-like winds through Manitoba, and meeting Detroit-based rapper Obie Trice in Kenora, Ont.
After spending some time in the nation’s capital, the boys will continue their journey through Quebec and the Maritimes, before flying back to Vancouver and then biking back home to the Comox Valley in July.
To donate to Biking for Baha, or for more information or updates from the road, visit the brothers’ blog at: bikingforbaha.weebly.com.