Sioux Lookout resident completes coast-to-coast cycling journey
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Sioux Lookout resident Marc-Nicholas Martin-Paulichenko spent his summer cycling coast-to-coast across Canada, completing a ride of approximately 7900 kilometres.
His journey started on June 10 from Victoria, B.C at mile zero and ended on August 29 in St. Johns Newfoundland.
“I biked for 65 days, even though it took me 100. I took rest days in between and I took a week off along the way,” said Martin-Paulichenko.
“I thought it would be a lot slower. I thought I would stop more to look at the sights, sounds, take photos, and check out all the tourist attractions but, in reality, it’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of decision making too, like where am I going to eat? How far is the next day? Is there hills? How many hills? Where’s the next town? Is there food there? You’re always making decisions so, by the end of the day, you’re so exhausted. Not so much from biking, but mentally as well because you’re always thinking about so much,” he added.
Throughout his trip, Martin-Paulichenko would plan his routes and stops based on food access as well as where he could stay the night. He explained that, due to weather and his own cycling momentum, he would sometimes alter his plans and daily travelling distance.
“My plan was to go to a place, city, or town that had food. In Canada there are a lot of smaller towns with nothing, or they’re out of the way, so I wouldn’t stop there. I would try and stop in places where there was food or a campsite. There’s also a website for cyclists called warmshowers.org. It’s kind of like Airbnb but it’s free… Some days I would alter my plan. Sometimes it would be due to weather or some days I would be feeling better, so I would just keep going further. I would just alter my plan as I went along,” he said.
“I averaged 121 kilometres a day. My longest day was 327 kilometres, and that was only because of the tail wind coming through the prairies.”
Along with looking for places to eat after a full day of biking, Martin-Paulichenko shared that he had to prioritize eating and energizing his body while he was cycling as well.
“It’s one thing to eat after you’re done biking for the day, but having enough food while you’re biking is another challenge. I had to bring boiled eggs, beef jerky, and energy bars. My sister is a nutritionist, so she was giving me tips on what to eat and what not to eat. You have to keep your electrolytes up, which you lose through sweat, so I bought these electrolyte pills and my sister gave me some electrolyte crystals,” he said.
Prior to his journey, Martin-Paulichenko trained indoors using a stationary bike and a simulator as well as biking as much as he could around the Sioux Lookout area in the spring months. He said his training, coupled with a biking history that dates back to his childhood, helped him to prepare for his ride.
“I feel like the best quote I saw online was, ‘There’s not much you can do to prepare for a bike trip. You have to get on your bike and go.’ That was kind of my approach. I did some indoor training and I did some training in Sioux Lookout, but the weather in April and May wasn’t very nice. People would ask me on the trip, ‘What did you do to prepare for this?’ I used to BMX (bicycle motocross) as a teenager, so I’ve been biking my whole life. In Mississauga, we’d bike 15 kilometres, 20 kilometres, just to go to the bike park, but it didn’t feel like a big feat. It’s just what we did,” he explained.
When asked about the different sights and sounds along the way, Martin-Paulichenko said he saw plenty of land, green space, and Tim Hortons along the way. He was also surprised at how many people were familiar with Sioux Lookout.
“There’s a lot of land, a lot of farm land and green space. When you think about a place like Asia where everything is so overpopulated with buildings everywhere, and people everywhere, but across Canada you see there’s all this open space.
“Certain parts of Canada look and feel the same. You’re in Newfoundland but you feel like you’re in Sioux Lookout, or you’re in Prince Edward Island but you feel like you’re in the prairies again. I also found that no matter where you go, no matter what town, if you go to Tim Hortons, or their local coffee shop, in the morning you’ll always find a group of seniors sitting around drinking coffee.
“Sometimes I would mention Sioux Lookout, and I was surprised how many people knew of it or have lived there. I stayed with these people in Montreal and their son was flying in Savant Lake this summer as a pilot, so they were up here for a week. They drove up here from Montreal for a week to go boating and stuff… I was surprised how many people have heard of it or had been here,” he said.
Martin-Paulichenko shared that one of his favourite aspects of the ride was being able to cycle without turning back, while taking in new sights, every day.
“There are only so many roads in Sioux Lookout you can go before you have to turn back like the dump road, Hudson road, and the road to Dryden. The best part of the trip was you just get to keep going and everything was new. Every day was different with new sights and sounds. Some days were hills, and going down super big hills. It was awesome. On one hill, I reached 71 kilometres per hour, and then another hill took me an hour to climb and then it was four kilometres of no pedaling downhill,” he said.
“From British Colombia to Toronto there’s basically one road you can go on. In British Colombia there’s two or three different directions you can go, but after that you get back on the main highway. Once you get to Parry Sound, because you have to get off the 400 highways, I found the roads were more scenic and became more relaxed. That was probably the nicest stretch of roads from Parry Sound all the way to the end of Quebec,” he added.
When asked about having more cycling adventures planned following his cross Canada journey, Martin-Paulichenko said he’s still enjoying his recent feat, as well as all the experiences he had along the way.
“The day I finished people were asking me what I was going to do next. Right now, I’m just enjoying the accomplishment and thinking about everything that I experienced rather than thinking about the next thing,” said.