Cross-country cyclists make a stop in Ponoka

“It’s giving them confidence. It’s giving them life skills.” Fundraiser Jon Haskins

Rider Jon Haskins holds up a flat tire from his bike during his and a friend’s Ride for Play bike tour across Canada.

Rider Jon Haskins holds up a flat tire from his bike during his and a friend’s Ride for Play bike tour across Canada.

Trekking across Canada can’t be easy and doing it with bicycles has to be even harder, but for two cyclists, the trip is intended to benefit children across the world.

Cyclists Jon Haskins and Glen Hempstock’s goal is to raise $25,000 for Right to Play, an organization that brings sports programming to kids around the world. That’s a large distance to cover and has already proven to bring many challenges but they feel their goal is worth it.

The trip started in Vancouver, B.C. June 2 and will finish in St. Johns, N.L., will cover more than 10,000 kms and is expected to raise thousands of dollars for sports programming.

The cross-country tour was thought up by Haskins about six years ago and only recently was he able to bring his plan to fruition.

“Twenty-five thousand dollars will actually provide 500 kids in Canada and worldwide with one year of sports programming,” explained Haskins.

He works with Youth Justice in Toronto, Ont. and he feels the Right to Play program is an ideal candidate for their fundraiser as he spends time with kids who use the program.

“It’s kind of amazing to see the transformation (with youths),” says Haskins.

“It’s giving them confidence. It’s giving them life skills,” he added.

Biking across the country has put their bikes and equipment to the test. Hempstock has a bike trailer he pulls, carrying their essentials as well as spare equipment.

Flat tires, bent derailleurs, rain, dirt and more flat tires are just some of the issues the two have faced; staples were the biggest causes of flat tires in Alberta.

Money earned along the way goes directly to the fundraiser and any food and repair costs are paid out of pocket or from their sponsors. British Columbia posed different challenges, both bikes’ rear rims have been replaced and spokes have broken along the way.

Despite these issues, Haskins and Hempstock enjoyed cycling through the Rockies and they look forward to what the rest of the country has to offer.

The trick to staying focused and not wavering? Pushing each other to keep going.

Haskins says he and Hempstock would run together in marathons and Hempstock’s determination has always helped him continue on.

“There’s going to be days when we’re not going to want to bike anymore,” explained Haskins.

While the two have different cycling styles they manage to keep each other going and bike at similar paces wherever they go.

To minimize the costs of accommodations, the two camp where able and have co-ordinated with friends to stay at their homes. Andrew Jacobs, a Ponoka marathon runner hosted their stay in Ponoka two weeks ago.

For updates on their trip check out www.rideforplay.com. The two update a Twitter and Facebook account and are even using Instagram to keep folks apprised of their trip. Haskins says they expect to finish in September. So far just over $9,000 has been raised.