A cyclist from The Netherlands, who is about halfway on his two-year, round-the-world tour, spent a night in Kamsack last week.
Alwart Boers arrived in Kamsack on Thursday after having biked the 130 kilometres from Russell, Man., and on Friday he left, going towards Saskatoon, on his way to Vancouver.
Boers left his home in Delft, the Netherlands in September 2014 and rode south to Morocco in Africa, across the Sahara Desert to Dakar and on to Dares Salaam in Tanzania. He then flew to New York City, arriving on June 6. From New York, he cycled north to the Great Lakes and back to Toronto to visit the world headquarters of Right to Play, a charitable organization which he is promoting during his tour.
“I’m doing this for two reasons,” Boers said Friday morning, just prior to having breakfast with Joan Barron of Kamsack, who had seen Boers and his bike outside the town office the evening before and offered him a place to stay for the night.
“It has been my dream to cycle around the world,” he said. “And I’m riding to raise money for Right to Play, which builds educational games for children all over the world.”
The odometer on his custom-built bike reads more than 20,000 kilometres and Boers says he expects it will read about 40,000 kms when he completes the journey.
In addition to visiting the organization’s head office in Toronto, he made a point of stopping into their offices in various countries along the way to see what is being done, and to speak to the children and staff.
“I’m a motivational speaker,” he said, explaining that he is also a mechanical engineer with an engineering degree.
“During the trip, people often give me money for the charity, or can donate through the website at righttoplay.com.”
All the money that is donated to Right to Play goes to the organization, he said, adding that to pay for his expenses for the trip he is using his own funds which he had saved.
Speaking to Boers, one is met with an infectious optimism, an upbeat positive personality that is definitely enjoying what he is doing. His words reflect that pleasant demeanour.
“I don’t have high expectations, so therefore I can enjoy where I am: this place. I enjoy what I am seeing.”
Asked about highlights of the trip so far, Boers mentioned Namibia in Africa where while cycling on dusty gravel roads, he would often pass by giraffes and elephants, not confined behind fences, but walking freely alongside the road.
“It was pure and beautiful.”
Boers said that along the trip so far he has had no problems of any significance.
“The world is mind-blowing, in a good way, if you’re open to that.”
Asked of his impressions of Canada, as compared to other places he has visited, Boers said that Canada is “low key, with an easy-going life. It’s peaceful, social and people seem to be interested in what’s happening.”
Speaking several languages helps Boers on the way. Like many northern Europeans, he is fluent in Dutch, English, French and German, but he says the most important is “body language.”
Expecting to be in Vancouver by the end of August, Boers plans to travel 100 kilometres a day. His “fully-packed” bike with tent, sleeping bag, cooking utensils, clothes, camera and everything else weighs 50 kilograms.
“I can even generate my own electricity,” he said of the generator attached to the wheels. “The bike has a belt drive, no chain. It is an awesome bike.”
Every two or three days Boers posts an update on his website (alwartboers.com) so that people he meets can keep in touch with him and see the photos that he takes along the way..
His website contains an item dealing with food.
“The people who know me better, they know that I am a king in the kitchen, love to cook and always try new recipes. Not! By doing this kind of traveling, I found out that good, healthy food is more than just food. It’s important. During the last few months I was eating everything that was possible, instead of thinking what my body needed.
“For sure every day is a bit different but this will give you a impression what I eat and drink a normal cycling day: three to five litres of water; one litre of fruit juice; six to eight pieces of fruit (bananas, apples, mangoes, pineapple); slice of bread with peanut butter; three eggs; package of raisins; 250 grams of spaghetti or rice with eggs, meat or fish, plus local snacks along the road (most of them baked in oil).
“I am saying local snacks, not local vegetables. If I look back, I was just too inexperienced with making good food with vegetables. And all kinds of local vegetables are available along the road. But what does my body need? That’s what I am going to be figuring out.
“During the last few days, I had some chats about food and the energy of food. That’s makes me realize that I have to become wiser about cycling my world tour and eat healthy food!”
Boers was born in 1990, “the year the Hubble space telescope was placed in orbit around the earth, which has captured my curiosity,” he says on his website.
“Over the years, I have developed myself as a mechanical engineer, a sportsman, and an active and dynamic person with lots of energy which brings me to all my adventures.
“Because I grew up in a little village on the west coast of the Netherlands, I have spent countless days on the bike. I reached everything by just taking my bike and cycling. No wind was too strong, no sun was too hot.
“Over the years, I have grown more and more in this and I started to make my first cycling trips, to Paris, towards the Ardennes, along the Rhine to Cologne and a magnificent trip through the Balkans and Italy.
“In 2014, I got on the bike for “the journey,” a journey of everyone’s dream, a dream that is becoming reality for me!
“Passionate, fi t and curious about the secrets of this world, this is how I will begin my world trip,” he said explaining that starting in the Netherlands, he would be going south to Africa and then to North America.
After making it to Vancouver by the end of August, he says he plans to head south, going first to Los Angeles, then into Mexico and South America to Chili. He will then fly to New Zealand and then go to Australia where he will cycle along the east coast before getting into Indonesia and then will go north to Nepal on his way back to Europe.
Right to Play is a global organization, using the transformative power of play to educate and empower children and youth, said information from the organization. Through playing sports and games, Right to Play teaches children essential life skills that help them overcome the effects of poverty, conflict and disease so they can create better futures and drive lasting social change in their communities and beyond.
Founded in 2000 by four-time Olympic gold medalist and social entrepreneur Johann Olav Koss, Right to Play’s programs are facilitated by more than 13,500 local volunteer coaches and more than 600 international staff.
Working in both the humanitarian and development context, Right to Play builds local capacity by training community leaders as coaches to deliver its programs in 20 countries affected by war, poverty and disease in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America.
Between 1994 and 2000, Right to Play, formerly Olympic Aid, continued to raise funds for children in disadvantaged situations. In 1996, Olympic Aid formed a partnership with UNICEF and raised $13 million US prior to and during the Games in Atlanta. The funds assisted UNICEF in vaccinating approximately 12.2 million children and more than 800,000 women.
Today, Right to Play has a permanent presence in the field of Sport for Development. In addition to its sport and play programs, Right to Play is established as a pioneer in international advocacy on behalf of every child’s right to play, and it is actively involved in research and policy development in this area, the information said. The organization’s vision is to engage leaders on all sides of sport, business and media to ensure every child’s right to play.