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Former Olds Resident Cycles Across Canada In 30 Days!

Spicer's journey highlights the beauty of Canada's landscapes, many of which are threatened by urban sprawl and climate change

From smashing rocks together to space travel, ambition has taken humanity incredible distances. 

For Kevin Spicer, that distance spans Canada’s East to West Coast. 

Spicer is 27 years old and lives in Georgia, United States, but he was born and raised in Olds.

Kevin Spicer in front of a sign reading Welcome to Alberta at the British Columbia and Alberta border
Kevin Spicer in front of a sign reading “Welcome to Alberta” at the British Columbia and Alberta border | Town and Country Today

The ambitious cyclist just finished cycling across Canada in less than a month. He started his journey in Vancouver and ended it in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Spicer’s journey originally began with the goal of fulfilling his father’s dream of riding a bike from Olds to Peterborough, Ontario, where he grew up.

“He talked about it my entire childhood, and he was never able to do it because of jobs, because of me and because of everything else that happened,” Spicer told The Albertan.

Unfortunately, Spicer’s father, now in his 60s and due for a knee replacement, could not make the trip himself. 

Spicer, on the other hand, was fit as a fiddle and up for the challenge, but that wasn’t always the case.

On top of cycling, Spicer used to water ski and competed at the highest level in the US National Collegiate Athletic Association.

In 2018, Spicer injured himself during a jump and herniated two discs in his back, ending his career in water skiing. 

Spicer couldn’t walk for a few months, but during that time, he discovered his love for cycling and has enjoyed the sport for the last six years. 

Spicer cycles four days a week and lifts weights. He also runs three days a week with his wife, Rachel. 

But he would need more than physical fitness to overcome Canada’s terrain, weather, and wildlife. 

Shifting Gears

Canada’s landscape is not easy to conquer, even for someone like Spicer, but that didn’t stop him.

“We’re prepping for snow. We’re prepping for blizzards. We’re prepping for the wind. We’re prepping for really flat terrain and really hilly terrain, so I’m going to have two different sets of wheels,” said Spicer, explaining his preparations.

“I’m going to have equipment to make myself go fast on the flat ground, and I’m packing equipment to make sure I’m light enough to go up the hills as well,” he continued. 

Spicer kept a bottle of bear spray under his bike in case he encountered wildlife like coyotes and bears. 

Spicer at the beginning of his journey at the Pacific Ocean | Kevin Spicer | The Albertan
Spicer at the beginning of his journey at the Pacific Ocean | Kevin Spicer | The Albertan

Faster Than Expected

Spicer kicked off his journey on May 23. His parents followed behind him in an RV so he had a place to sleep every night. 

Spicer spent up to nine hours a day on his bike, often cycling as many as 200 kilometres in a day with the help of tailwinds. 

Spicer’s longest day was an almost 12-hour slog through Nova Scotia during extreme heat.

“And then today, it was 25-mile-an-hour wind not in the right direction, and it was 34 degrees Celsius for the majority of the day, and it was so hot,” Spicer told Town and Country Today while on the East Coast. 

To survive the Maritimes weather, he stopped multiple times to drink fluids. But Spicer wasn’t just battling the elements but also fighting his body. 

“At the beginning, I was having problems with my knees. The knees would hurt. The left knee would hurt, and the right knee would hurt. But at about 20 days, it just kind of went away, and honestly, like injury-wise, it’s just mental injury now of getting through the rest of this,” said Spicer during the final stretch of his trip.

Throughout the long journey, Spicer also had to replace three tires. 

Partway through the trip, Spicer realized that he could finish in 30 days instead of the 50 he initially estimated, but there was a catch: he would have to abandon his original goal to visit Peterborough. 

Like any good father, Spicer’s dad was unbothered and encouraged Spicer to chase the 30-day goal. 

Kevin Spicer ahead of his coast-to-coast journey practicing cycling on gravel
Kevin Spicer ahead of his coast-to-coast journey practicing cycling on gravel | Kevin Spicer | Town and Country Today

Around Canada In 30 Days

Kevin Spicer poses with his family at the end of his journey in Newfoundland | Kevin Spicer | Mountain View Today
Kevin Spicer poses with his family at the end of his journey in Newfoundland | Kevin Spicer | Mountain View Today

With the help of his family, Spicer successfully travelled across Canada in 30 days. He cycled through every province except Prince Edward Island because he decided to take the ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland instead. 

St. John’s was the perfect place for Spicer to end his challenging cycling journey because it is near the most eastern point of Canada.

When Spicer wasn’t battling the elements or riding his bike uphill, he took in Canada’s awe-inspiring landscape.

“And that’s one thing: it is just how big and massive Canada is, but also how desolate it is and how there is so much space. And there is so much nature out here…but it’s a pretty remarkable place, especially after riding through the entire thing,” said Spicer.

Canada is the second-largest country in the world, behind Russia. According to 2019 data, most of Canada’s population is concentrated near the US border, and 60 percent of our country’s landmass is uninhabited. 

Canada is often cited as home to some of the world’s most beautiful natural landscapes, but that may not always be true. 

Expanding Population

Figure showing the growth of Taber, Alberta’s CSAs | Statistics Canada

In 2023, Canada recorded the fastest population growth in 66 years, increasing by over three percent.

More people means more urban sprawl, which is the outward expansion of urban areas like cities. 

Contiguously settled areas ( CSAs) are measured boundaries that represent the physical footprint of settled areas on Canada’s landscape.

CSAs measure the expansion of urban areas over time. 

Think of CSAs like puddles. Similar to how a puddle gets bigger when it rains, CSAs grow as urban areas expand outward. 

Over one-third of land converted to built-up areas between 2010 and 2020 occurred in Ontario. Alberta’s CSAs increased by almost 20 percent in the same time period.

The Changing Climate 

Urban sprawl isn’t the only threat to our country’s landscapes. Climate change threatens to destroy not just our forests but our towns and communities. 

A side-by-side comparison of the Peyto Glacier in 1999 and 2021
A side-by-side comparison of the Peyto Glacier in 1999 and 2021 | NASA | Yale E360

Last year, over 6,000 wildfires scorched almost 17 million hectares of land, an area larger than Greece. 

Wildfires in Alberta were especially devastating and displaced over 38,000 Albertans in 2023.

Warmer temperatures and wildfires are also accelerating the death of our province’s glaciers, including the iconic Peyto Glacier. 

“Now they’re practically all gone. Those are, you know, 50-metre high mountains of ice covered in rock that are now gone completely,” University of Saskatchewan Prof. John Pomeroy told CBC News while speaking about Banff National Park’s glaciers.

In the not-so-distant future, our Rockies could lose their signature snow-covered peaks unless something is done about climate change. 

Many of the natural landscapes Spicer saw during his journey could cease to exist. 

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