© Jim Day - The Guardian
Jan Meulenkamp, 63, of West Covehead is getting ready to tackle the biggest cycling challenge of his life — a 1,200-kilometre mountainous ride in nine days from Vancouver to Banff in June in order to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis research.
Jan Meulenkamp has plenty of purpose behind his pedalling.
The 63-year-old West Covehead man started cycling about a dozen years ago for what he saw as an overdue need for physical conditioning.
"I was in quite poor shape at the time,'' he recalls. "There was no muscle mass."
Meulenkamp rolled along with great determination as his daily cycling increased to 50-kilometre runs after just two years.
"It's setting goals, I think, more than anything,'' he says in explaining the drive behind pedalling further and further.
Along the way, Meulenkamp has combined fundraising with his cycling.
He first raised money for a school breakfast program by riding his bike a good distance.
Then he biked to raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
The past four years, he has been cycling up a storm for Cystic Fibrosis, the most common fatal disease affecting Canadian children and young adults.
His regular cycling companion for the past five years, Paula Clark of Charlottetown, has given him good cause to cycle for a, well, good cause.
Clark and her husband, Patrick Davis, have two children, Cameron Davis, 13, and Claire Davis, 11, battling CF each and every day.
The pedalling pair is committed to raising $10,000 for the GearUp4CF event that will see Clark and Meulenkamp cycle from Vancouver to Banff over nine days in June.
Meulenkamp sees the 1,200-km ride over mountainous terrain as his biggest cycling challenge to date.
"Yes, there's serious climbs,'' he notes.
However, he is quick to add that while the cycling aspect is a personal challenge, the ambitious fundraising goal is the most important component.
"We have only a nine-day challenge,'' he says.
"They (Clark's children and others with CF) have an everyday challenge.''
Clark, who has already successfully tackled the difficult ride in the past, is confident that Meulenkamp will master this event with flying colours.
The pair cycled 850 kilometres around the perimeter of P.E.I. in 2013 over seven days as a fundraiser for CF.
"With winds that dogged us the full way, I know Jan is more than capable of putting me to shame in the mountains, as he did in P.E.I. last year,'' says Clark.
"He's been a phenomenal support to jump in with both feet to raise funds and awareness of Cystic Fibrosis,'' she adds.
As part of their fundraising effort of the GearUp4CF event, MacQueen's Indoor Spin Studio on Queen Street will be hosting a 12-hour spin-a-thon from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on May 2.
In addition to the Vancouver to Banff ride, Clark and Meulenkamp are organizing a 500-km event to cycle the Confederation Trail from Aug. 16 to 21 as a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis Canada. Each participant is expected to raise $2,500.
To learn more about taking part in any of the CF fundraisers or to make a donation, contact Paula Clark at 629-4830 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.