Here at YWCA Sasktoon, we are often inspired by our members. Daily in fact. It is an honour to be part of so many people’s pursuits, dreams and goals. Larry McCallum is one of our members who always had a unique goal in mind after his retirement. He moved to Saskatoon 7 years ago from Toronto and his goal was to ride his bike home from Saskatoon to Toronto. This is a total distance of 2217 kilometers.
In spring 2021 Larry retired and our manager, Fred Dyck was able to sit down with him to discuss his pending journey back home and the details about why he chose this goal.
F : What company are you retiring from?
L: I am retiring from Federated Co-operatives Limited. I work with and manage a great team that develops and supports the retail checkout (Point of Sale) systems across the local coops in western Canada.
F: What does your wife Eilish think? Does she think you are crazy?
L: Eilish who is back in Toronto now, but still taking the Saskatoon YWCA online classes, thinks I am a bit crazy trying this but is supportive.
F: You mentioned your goal of 29 days of cycling with three rest days. What day are you leaving? What day do you expect to arrive in TO?
L: I plan to leave Sunday July 4 and I hope to arrive home Wednesday Aug 4. For some flexibility and unforeseen circumstances, I am only booking out a couple of weeks. This will allow some flexibility and allow for less changes should something unexpected happen.
F: When did you come up with this idea?
L: The idea started when I was looking to replace my 25-year-old hardtail mountain bike. I wanted a road bike but not a racing thin tire bike. A new class of bikes – Gravel Bikes was growing and I had my eye on that type of bike. As I was considering it over 6 plus months, a new model of the bike I was looking at was announced and that was the one I wanted. It was made for cross country riding and that is when the idea of riding back after retirement from Saskatoon to Toronto started to germinate.
F: Any specifics on how you came up with the idea and why it interested you?
L: I looked at it as a way to unplug and transition from working to retirement. I like to frame a big challenge and then break it down and figure it out. That was a big part of the attraction is to build a plan and figure out all the logistics and contingencies. It is also an adventure that will stay with me for a long time. From an experience perspective – I want to go somewhere I hadn’t gone before.
F: When did you start training in for your journey?
L: I was a regular cyclist – Saskatoon has great cycling trails. I would bike lots in the summer and even Fat Bike in the winter regularly. I had a decent training base and all I had to do was add some longer rides. In summer 2020 I added a regular weekend 70Km ride. This summer I added full packs to my longer rides to better simulate the real thing.
F: What do you think the biggest challenge will be?
L: The biggest challenge is space and weight of all the gear, clothes and food needed. I feel I am at my absolute limit. But the time for planning and training is done. It is time to GO. I must remember there will be some adversity – take a deep breath and deal with it. Keep your head up, enjoy the scenery and smile. In the simplest terms, point your wheel eastward, do a million pedal strokes to get home and enjoy the adventure.
We wish Larry the best of luck and good weather for his trip and will check in with him to see how it went. It may seem hard to top what Larry is doing with his summer but we always like to hear about the interesting things our members do. And, if they happen to be physical movement things like biking to Toronto we would love to hear from you.