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Cycling across Canada with Vincent Nadon

Vincent has taken on the challenge to cross Canada by bikepacking from East to West. More than 6000km just by the strength of his legs on his bike. It's in Europe that his adventure started...

Vincent Nadon crossing canada by bike - Näak ultra distance

My friends in Belgium (where I started my Ph.D. and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2015) gave me the challenge to cross Canada by bike as I was going back home in Quebec.

In 2018, I have decided that it was time for me to experience life in a different way after living 3 years with a Crohn’s disease diagnosis.  I was fed up with the difficulties of completing a Ph.D. (I did complete the Ph.D. after the trip) and felt it was a good time before my life could change further with Crohn’s (colostomy, malabsorption of nutrients, etc.) and couldn’t achieve this challenge anymore.

 Cycling across Canada with Vincent Nadon - Näak ultra distance

This is why I have decided to start fundraising for the Crohn’s and colitis Canada foundation along this trip. A race against IBD! However, my life tipped again when I got a flare of Crohn’s at the end of 2017 while preparing for the trip.

I had to attack the problem quickly before departure so that I could achieve this dream. So in May, I saw my gastroenterologist in an emergency state. He suggested changing medication to go with my first biologic treatment ever, Stelara.

 

After getting my second colonoscopy within 3 years, my doctor saw there was still inflammation in my intestines despite boosting my system with Imuran (Azathioprine) and Prednisone (Cortisone). He therefore strongly suggested I take Stelara, which I did. I got my first intravenous dose in the week before departure.

My doctor prescribed me some Prednisone that would taper down through the trip, fingers crossed that the whole medication cocktail would work to get my legs spinning all the way through the trip. 

Cycling across Canada with Vincent Nadon - Näak ultra distance

To prepare for this challenge I had started training with a coach planning during 1 intense month for ultra-cycling races in the previous cycling season (2017).I have completed my first Ultra Défi 1000km with 10 000m+ of elevation gain in 2017. Early in the 2018 season, I started strong finishing 2nd place in a 12h ultra-cycling race.

To make sure my mental would survive, I have trained in all kinds of conditions: wet, cold, hot, dry, windy, during the night and any combination of conditions.

In 6085 kilometers, Vincent has seen landscapes! A journey strewn with encounters and moments forever etched in his memory... 

Cycling across Canada with Vincent Nadon - Näak ultra distance

I have suffered from knee injury throughout the trip. For which I have tried a few things such as physio tape to relieve the pain, which helped, but did not make it completely disappear. It took me over a year to recover completely from this injury.
My Queen stage which started with a hot Revelstoke climb was an amazing day, but also amongst the hardest. I got stung by a wasp. Saw a few mountain sheeps on a cliff. Finished the day with 200km and 3000m elevation gain, all wet (with the rain) in Golden, BC.
Cycling across Canada with Vincent Nadon - Näak ultra distance
Another memorable moment was when I was going towards Waterfowl Lake on the Icefields parkway. It was raining, cold and my knee injury was really painful. The journey to the camping seemed endless. The next day it was super sunny, I could see the reflection of the blue lakes from far away.
I crossed paths with a tour guide that offered me a buffet in the back of the Guide Van. After starving for several hours, since I did not have much food with me at that moment, this was one of the best moments of the trip, if not of my life… A FREE BUFFET!!!
I have completed my challenge in 33 days (with 3 days off the bike) and fundraised 8500$ for the Crohn’s and Colitis foundation.
Cycling across Canada with Vincent Nadon - Näak ultra distance 

I like to discover local restaurants when I can. I feel it is part of the cultural experience that is mandatory. Crohn’s disease does limit me in what I can eat, I was avoiding most spicy foods and anything too heavy in fibers. I tend to avoid fried foods generally so that I feel good on the bike. Otherwise, I ate whatever I felt like depending on my cravings (Intuitive eating).

I also carried various snacks with me: energy bars (as many Näak bars as I could carry with me on the plane), protein bars, nut mix, candies, jerky, BC cherries and blueberries.

Cycling across Canada with Vincent Nadon - Näak ultra distance

I have learned many things about myself (resilience, courage, and to always listen to my feelings i.e. my guts) and people surrounding me through this trip. I still can not believe to this day how my fellow Canadians can be caring for each other and welcoming me in their home.

It was an amazing experience that helped me get away from my anxiogenic environment for a moment, to recover and come back in peace. People often ask me if I’d do it again. I always answer YES! The trip was perfect as is though, I don’t think I could have enjoyed it more (besides riding less in the night to see more landscape).

This was my first real bikepacking trip and not the last. It inspired me to complete my 2nd bikepacking trip in Taïwan, more details about this trip are in this blog post. I have a race and bikepacking trip in Iceland coming up in July 2022, stay tuned!

More details about Vincent's A-Crohn's Canada biketrip are available on thevelocitynerd.com.

Going the distance

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