|NICOLE VEERMAN, REPORTER/PHOTOGRAPHER|
JASPER FITZHUGH NEWSPAPER: March 21, 2013
Fire Chief Greg Van Tighem is riding his bike the length of Highway 93, beginning in Wickenburg, Ariz. and ending at home in Jasper, to raise funds and awareness for multiple sclerosis.
The solo, unassisted journey of about 2,800 kilometres begins on April 23 and will take three weeks to complete.
While surrounded by maps, Google Earth images of his route and handwritten notes breaking down where he’ll be each day of the trip, Van Tighem said he chose Highway 93 because of Jasper’s sister city relationship with Wickenburg—the community at the southern end of the highway—and because he likes the idea of riding one highway from start to finish. “It’s end to end,” he said, noting that he’s dubbed his ride “End to End to End MS.”
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility. It is most often diagnosed in young adults from age 15 to 40, and currently, there is no cure.
In the past seven years, Van Tighem has raised $145,000 for the MS Society of Canada, and on this bike ride, he hopes to raise another $93,000—a figure he chose because he’s riding Highway 93. To date, he has already received about $4,500 in pledges for the ride. Although $93,000 is a large number, Van Tighem said confidently, “I think it’s possible.”
Also possible, he said, is the bike ride that will have him pedalling an average of 150 kilometres per day. If everything works out as planned, his longest day will be 230 kilometres and his shortest will be about 40.
“It’s a pretty diverse landscape,” said Van Tighem of the desert, river gorges and mountains he’ll be travelling through. “I’ve Google Earthed the whole route and there are sections of well over 150 kilometres where there’s not even a building and it’s just desert. On either side of the road you’re looking at nothing but sand and brush, rock, and rattlesnakes.”
Since he’s doing the trip unassisted, Van Tighem will be carrying everything he needs on his bike.
The plan is to pack as little as possible, only bringing one change of clothes, some rain gear, safety gear, a tent, a sleeping bag, water and some snack food.
As well as raising awareness and funds for MS, Van Tighem will also be promoting Highway 93 as a destination route, with the help of Tourism Jasper. So, in every town he stops, he will be giving a PowerPoint presentation about Jasper and its sister city relationship with Wickenburg.
“I will be promoting Highway 93 as a cycling route,” he said, noting that he’ll be keeping a blog with photos, stories and possibly even video from his trip, so that cyclists can see what the journey is like.
When Van Tighem returns to Jasper in mid-May, he said he plans to hold a fundraising banquet at the Jasper Activity Centre, where he’ll talk about and show images of his trip.
To learn more about “End to End to End MS” or to sponsor Van Tighem, visit his website, endms93.com.