Cycle of Hope 2019: Winnipeg father-son combo ride for Habitat for Humanity

By | July 13, 2019

A Winnipeg father and his teenage son are halfway through cycling almost 1,300 kilometres over 10 days — for a good cause.

On Saturday, John Loewen and Sam, 15, will take their first rest day since beginning the 1,254 kilometre bike trek across three U.S. states as part of the Cycle of Hope fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity to collect cash for affordable housing.

“I’m excited to do the ride,” Sam said in an interview before the two hit the road.

Sam told the CBC Manitoba Weekend Morning Show his dad was the key motivating factor behind getting him involved in the sport.

“[My dad] was always the type of person to go out and cycle all the time and he brought me along with him,” Sam said.

The father-son combo will join 26 other Winnipeggers as they weave a path from Oregon to Wyoming in their efforts to gather enough money for the non-governmental organization to build a home for a Winnipeg family.

The cyclists are on track to average more than 100 kilometres per day on two wheels, Loewen said.

Father-son combo cross 3 states on 2 wheels

The two-week journey involves 10 days in the saddle, four travel days, and one rest day.

After flying south from Winnipeg to Baker City, Ore., the gaggle of cyclists will head north on their bikes along the Payette National Forest in Idaho, continuing northeast to the Lochsa River before hitting the longest gradual ascent on the TransAmerica trail. The group will pass through Lolo National Forest into Montana, then conclude the trip in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

Over the course of the adventure, the cyclists will grind out an elevation gain of 10,658 metres, according to the Habitat website.

Loewen said he has been involved for the past 24 out of 26 years since the fundraiser began. Loewen said he was proud of his son and the personal reward of clocking hundreds of kilometres in less than two weeks.

“Not everybody is inclined or interested in volunteering on the build site,” the father said.

“Not everybody is in a position to sponsor a house. But, for the cyclists in us, we have this event that allows a significant personal challenge of cycling for over a thousand kilometres in two weeks … to raise money to to help transform the lives of habitat families,” Loewen said.

He said the cycling initiative brings in more than $175,000 annually for Habitat, which is an international non-profit that works with volunteers, donors and homeowners to build homes from scratch and fix up existing decent and affordable single-family houses and multi-unit developments, according to its website.

The full Cycle of Hope journey comes to an end with a parade through Winnipeg.