Man completes bike ride from Calgary to St. John’s
Derrick Shirley stands with his bike on Signal Hill in St. John’s after completing a
75-day trek from Calgary to Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital city.
— Submitted photo
It was an overwhelming end to a 75-day journey for Derrick Shirley of St. Thomas, Ont., as he made his way up Signal Hill on Monday.
“I was just overwhelmed with emotion at the top,” said Shirley, director and CEO of the It Takes 2 Youth Leadership Institute. “Just a rush of tears.”
Shirley started the journey to help promote his group, a not-for-profit organization focused on the development of youth leaders. He also filmed interviews on parenting with youth and parents and plans to use that footage for a film.
He also set up tandem bike rides along the way involving youth and police officers. He met Assistant Commissioner Tracy Hardy, commanding officer of the RCMP’s B Division in Newfoundland and Labrador, in St. John’s and was scheduled to meet with Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Deputy Chief Bill Janes on Tuesday.
On a personal level, Shirley wanted to complete the bike ride to promote heathy living. He lost 180 pounds five years ago after weighing as much as 400 pounds.
“I’ve always been a basketball player, but after high school I just gained a bunch of weight and I’ve never really shook it off,” he said.
There were some dicey moments over the course of his
75-day journey, which covered more than 6,000 kilometres. He flipped over his front handlebars and hit gravel along Lake Superior in Ontario, and Shirley also found Newfoundland challenging when fog became thick.
“Newfoundland roads, the shoulders are beautiful,” he said. “But it was extremely foggy about three days ago. (If) you’re on the side of a road, there’s not a lot of ... reaction time for yourself.”
Riding on the side of the road in wet conditions also proved to be problematic, particular when Shirley was sprayed by tractor-trailers along highways.
As for highlights, he said the people stood out.
“It’s not one province that’s friendlier than another. Everybody has a layer of kindness.”