Over the long weekend, you might have noticed a man on his bike traveling through Creston.
That was Matt Devine, who is biking 13,000 kilometers across Canada to raise funds and awareness for children with disabilities.
Nicole Devine is following him in their van, making sure he is fully rested and taken care of along the journey.
Devine, who already previously logged a 300 km run through the Rockies for sick kids, says this was another challenge he was glad to take on.
“I was a 300-pound drinker and smoker. I led a very unhealthy lifestyle,” explained Devine during his stop in town.
“I want to inspire other people who are seeking a similar journey on the fitness or mental health side.”
After his 300 km run, Devine says he wanted to do something “even more crazy for children”.
“So we said, well, maybe we should ride across Canada, but let’s do it the hard way, and let’s throw in another 6000 km. We decided to ride east to west, up to the north.”
Devine has teamed up with You Can Ride 2, a charity that helps children with disabilities get on bikes so they can experiences movement, freedom, and joy.
“We’ve seen kids light up as we’ve biked across Canada and met these organizations that exist throughout the country.”
If 13,000 km sounds like a lot, it’s because it is, and Devine says it has been a challenging bike ride.
“Day one in the east, we hit horrific cold wind and rain. In Ontario, we hit high heat and super elevation. Manitoba had horse flies and bad roads with near traffic misses,” Devine added.
“It’s just been one after the other. Wind as soon as we hit the prairies. It’s just been nonstop with the wind.”
He adds the elevation of the Rockies has been another challenge to overcome, with the route out of Cresoton having the highest day of elevation since Ontario.
And Devine says he doesn’t want to sugarcoat it.
“I don’t try to polish this. I think that stuff you see on social media is kind of polished. A tough day is a tough day. There’s no secret sauce to this.”
“You just have to kind of put your head down and grind it out. At the end of the day, you think of the kids, but at that moment, you’re in a lot of suffering and pain and discomfort.”
Devine says to deal with the difficulties of the ride, he’s tried to focus on the view, something that he finds easier in the valley.
“I try to lose myself in the landscape, and it’s easier here. You kind of look around and realize you’re doing something that, although it’s really not the most comfortable thing, you think, I’m so lucky. I’m blessed to be able to do this because a lot of people can’t or maybe want to, but are scared to take the journey.”
“I’m in the beautiful mountains. I’ve seen valleys. It’s breathtaking and it’s rugged at the same time.”
However, he says the “hills are still hills”.
“No matter how beautiful they are, it’s still another hill.”
Devine says he doesn’t have children but felt moved to help those dealt a bad hand.
And so far, it’s been a rewarding experience.
He recalls meeting a double amputee boy in Montreal, who experienced his first bike ride.
“He doesn’t even know what it feels like to be able to run, walk with the other kids. But for that moment, he’s on a bike and he’s riding with me around a parking lot. And for anybody else, that may be nothing, but for these kids, it’s transformative. Like their faces light up, I cheer up. I bent down to talk to him and I had to walk away. The little boy was so overjoyed.”
And he says that’s something he wants adults to understand too.
“Movement is medicine. It’s truly the best cure there is for any disease.”
He says there is still a way to help, even if you’re not there peddling beside him.
“Donate, follow, talk about the message, talk about the story, talk about this journey.”
Devine has an Instagram where he posts updates of his ride with daily stories and end-of-the-day recaps.
Additionally, donations can be made on the Ride for Change website.