More than 6,000 kilometres coast-to-coast. That’s how far Mike Kennedy (’05) travelled in 40 days, and he did it all on a bicycle.
Kennedy’s journey from June 21 to July 30, 2017 began as a way to refresh and recharge after a busy year of teaching at Acadia University, but it turned into much more. He used the trek to create awareness about the concept of exercise as medicine and raise funds for Sparks Fly.
“It’s an initiative that places stationary spin bikes in elementary school classrooms to help youth channel their energy productively and develop positive associations with exercise at an early age,” Kennedy says. “I’ve recognized the importance of unplugging for a few weeks each year to protect my mental health and reflect where I am in life. I’ve found the best way to do this is to make time and space to allow for creativity and deep thinking, enabled by long days outdoors and a wee bit of exercise.”
From touching down in Vancouver to dipping his tire in the Atlantic Ocean at Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, Kennedy’s Acadia family was there for him all the way. With every flat tire, gear change and hill he climbed, alumni weren’t far away, offering him delicious meals, places to stay, encouraging text messages and, in one instance, food delivery to a remote part of the Trans-Canada Trail in rural Quebec.
More than a dozen alumni connected with him on the trip, including Gabrielle Gallagher (’03) and her family, who were crucial in assisting with trip planning, and Diana Jeliazkova (’04), who welcomed Kennedy to Vancouver and made sure he started his journey with tasty treats and coffee. Kennedy also had time to catch up with his roommate Dylan Jackson (’05), among others.
“Since stepping foot on campus in September 2001, the people I’ve met through Acadia have continually encouraged me to dream big and offered wonderful support in bringing dreams to life,” Kennedy says. “This was very much an Acadia family affair from the start.”
While Kennedy has trouble picking a single ‘best day’, he says one of the most memorable was the last day of the trip. In what Kennedy describes as an only-at-Acadia instance, Wolfville Mayor Jeff Cantwell surprised him in Kentville. “He escorted me via bike into Wolfville, providing encouragement the entire way, something I won’t soon forget,” Kennedy says.
His toughest days were during a stretch from Thunder Bay to Nipigon in Ontario. “The route involved a modest amount of climbing. It was pouring, there was a strong headwind, and my pedal clip kept acting up, all contributing to a lot of additional effort and a short-term knee injury,” Kennedy says. “The bright side was that every day seemed more manageable after that.”
Now that he’s back in Nova Scotia, Kennedy plans to apply the lessons he learned on his trip to his everyday life, including patience, persistence and finding positives in tough situations. He will be back at Acadia in September teaching Intro to Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting and Intro to Business in the Fred C. Manning School of Business.
For more on his cross-Canada journey, check out his blog: https://goo.gl/uSZ9UX .