James Martin & Nick Laglace on their way.

The cyclists on their way through Banff.

Two 2018 Western kinesiology grads cycled from Vancouver to the Maritimes this summer on a journey to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer's.

Nick Lagacé and James Martin have taken six rest days since their start in July, and averaged a distance of 140 kilometres each day. As of Saturday, the two were in Pictou, Nova Scotia.

The cyclists flew into Vancouver on Canada Day, and started eastward three days later. Just before leaving, Martin celebrated his 22nd birthday with a bike up to Whistler, B.C., a two hour drive from the city.

The two set up a GoFundMe campaign under their moniker, NJxCAN, which collects donations for the Alzheimer Society of Canada. On their GoFundMe page, they write:

"We want to ride for Alzheimer's because it's a very scary disease, which is very difficult to cope with; both for the patient and their caregiver(s). We believe that no one should suffer or witness one of their loved ones suffer from such an awful disease now or ever."

They also want to inspire Canadians to be active and to explore their country.

The two are seeing much of Canada for the first time. They've documented people they met and places they camped on Facebook, Instagram and a series of blog entries on their website. Both of their favourite stops was Revelstoke, B.C.: a small, interior town they loved for its cafés and restaurants.

Along the way, they keep each other motivated to get up every day and ride; when one is having an off day, the other will compensate by making sure they keep up. They know that people are following their progress online and that the cause they chose is an important one.

Both of Lagacé's grandfathers struggled with Alzheimer's. One passed away in 2003, and the other, Raymond Lagacé, is in a home in Campbellton, N.B. Earlier in life, Raymond Lagacé was the mayor of a nearby town, Atholville, N.B., for four decades.

One of the duo's six stops was to visit him.

"It really brought the whole trip into perspective," Lagacé said. "Starting from Vancouver, and showing up there on bikes... it's just very hard to put into words."

Martin, the group's navigator, said they have less than a week until they reach their final destination, St. John's, Newfoundland. Once finished, they plan to find out where to live now that they've seen so many options.

People can donate to NJxCAN here: https://www.gofundme.com/njxcan


Martin is the Senior News Editor at the Gazette. You can contact him at martin.allen@westerngazette.ca, or @mtrallen on Twitter.

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