Arts student goes on national bike ride to create change for women
June 25, 2012
Alexander Waddling didn’t let knee pain and cold weather get in the way of his dream.
The third-year Faculty of Arts student cycled from Toronto to Vancouver to raise money for the White Ribbon Campaign, a national anti-violence-against-women group. Waddling and his friend Danny Surjanac conceived Ride for a Dream and together raised $2,000 during their 41-day trek across Canada. They averaged about 123 km per day and their longest day in the saddle was 9.5 hours.
Although the ride is over, Waddling is still accepting donations at http://rideforadream.wordpress.com/donate/ and documented his updates from the road in videos.
The duo mostly camped on their travels, occasionally staying at friends’ places or checking into motels when needed. Waddling said it rained everyday from the time they left Ontario until they reached the Rockies in late May.
“It was cold rain too,” Waddling said. “The cold was the most challenging part. The day we rode into Regina, it snowed. From Regina to Moosejaw, it was -4 C, raining and lots of wind. We couldn’t feel our fingers or hands.”
Waddling encountered another problem when he felt excruciating knee pain early on in the trip. He took a full day to rest but the pain returned within 10 km the following day. The idea of not finishing the race began to eat away at Waddling but he strapped on a knee brace, slowly nursed it back to health and pushed through to the finish line.
The elements aside, Waddling’s favourite part of the trip was meeting all the interesting, helpful people along the way: the kind stranger who drove to the next town to get a new bike chain for them and didn’t even accept money when they offered; and the sweet waitress who got watery-eyed and wanted to donate her tips to the cause.
“It reaffirmed to us that this matters to someone and that was really motivating,” Waddling said. “The main focus was building awareness and changing that over-masculine perception in society. It’s important to know the psychology behind violence against women, not just the actual acts against them.”
Waddling is studying psychology and philosophy and got involved with the White Ribbon Campaign at Ryerson’s first What Makes a Man Conference. He was inspired by the speakers and reached out to co-chair person Jeffrey Perera to increase awareness and for his own self-improvement. His biggest motivator was his five-year-old sister who he says “deserves to be respected and feel safe as she gets older.”
“This was liberating for me,” Waddling said. “I wanted to unify all the different chapters of the White Ribbon Campaign across Canada and to get everyone moving in the same direction. I wanted to build a national identity.”
While the trip was physically and emotionally challenging at times, Waddling said he would definitely do it again.