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Fixed-gear rider on a quest for the Guinness World Record faces new challenges in British Columbia

By the time he reaches Prince George, B.C., Jean-Aimé Bigirimana will have biked 14,000 km

Image: AKEXA Burundi/Twitter
Image: AKEXA Burundi/Twitter

In November, Canadian Cycling Magazine reported the story of Jean-Aimé Bigirimana, the Rwanda-born fixed-gear rider with plans to take his whip across Canada—from coast to coast to coast. Along the way, the 37-year-old has certainly confronted his share of near-Odyssean challenges, including the theft of his bike in Burlington, Ont.

As his journey continues, blazing a path through 2017, Bigirimana is facing an entirely new set of challenges—especially out west.

As the Lillooet News reported, perhaps the most gruelling challenge was the Duffey Lake Road climb between Lillooet and Pemberton, B.C., an already daunting feat made that much more interesting by the heavy snowfalls coastal British Columbia has recently received. “It took me two and a half hours to go from the lake to the salt shed,” Bigirimana told reporters, describing two ends of the massive climb, “and it was in a snowstorm. I never understood why Google Maps kept refusing me on the Duffey Lake Road.”

Having tasted the severity of grades in the 12- to 18-per cent range, though—something Bigirimana described to Lillooet News reporters as “torture”—he gets it now. “It was because of the elevation,” he said.

Though the intense snowfalls of late January and early February forced him of the bike for a while, the unanticipated break, he said, offered new, less-physical opportunities in the meantime. Taking a pitstop from his quest for the Guinness World Record, he gave presentations on riding an his experiences to students at Cayoosh Elementary School and Lillooet Secondary School. Now, continuing on, the Montreal-based DJ and fixed-gear aficionado is rallying his strength for what might be the hardest challenge of the trip: the steep grades and terrain of northern British Columbia, followed by the Dempster Highway to Tuktoyaktuk, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. And he has to be there by April, the Lilloet News reported.

But by the time he reaches Prince George, B.C., he will already have broken the record—14,000 kilometres later. “I could stop there if I wanted to,” he told reporters, but he won’t.

“I’m doomed because I’m never going to stop travelling.”