Travel Story 

Ottawa cyclist crosses country on DH bike

Determined McGinn goes 4,600 km with full downhill tires

If he really thought about it, Ken McGinn doesn’t know if he would have ever attempted to pedal from his home in Ottawa to Whistler on his Intense M1 downhill bike.

"I’ve always been more a doer than a dreamer," said McGinn. "In a way I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, but I didn’t really know I was doing it until a few weeks before."

If you don’t know bikes, McGinn’s full rig weighed in at over 45 pounds, with eight inches of travel and a 2.5 inch downhill tire in the back, seven-plus inches of travel and a 3.0 inch tire up front. He deactivated the chain guide, but rode the entire way using his size 36 chainring.

He also added a little weight to the frame, mounting a home-made pannier on the rear seat post. As well, he kept his air shifting system, ("the third sold in Canada," boasts McGinn) despite the fact that it added weight and hassle if he ran out of air between gas stations. Add his gear and food to the mix – about 100 pounds in the pannier and on his back – and you get the idea that McGinn made it as hard as possible for himself.

"I have an 18 pound carbon fibre road bike at home, everyone wanted to know why I didn’t take that instead, but that wasn’t what this is about. I wanted it to be a challenge, and to do something that nobody has ever done before," said McGinn.

"Back when I started mountain biking, in about 1980, we used to ride up the mountain and then ride down. Now everybody is taking the lift to the top, which is great fun, but it’s getting away from what biking is all about and that’s getting from A to B, enjoying the scenery, getting some exercise, giving the environment a break."

As a skin cancer survivor – the last mole tested came back negative – McGinn looks up to Lance Armstrong. On his trip he tried to raise awareness of skin cancer everywhere he went, while soliciting donations for Armstrong’s foundation.

He doesn’t know how much was donated in the end, but hopes he got the message across in more than a dozen media interviews across Canada – get any suspect moles checked by your doctor, and take care of your health.

"When I was first diagnosed about 10 years ago I didn’t know what to do. The doctor told me to stay indoors, wear hats, wear sleeves, and that was the complete opposite of who I was – I’m a surf bum, a bike bum and a ski bum," said McGinn.


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