A buck, a bear and a ground squirrel made appearances on the first leg of cyclist Angella Goran’s cross-country ride on behalf of the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
“I think it’s a good sign (animal interactions)” said the CWF athletic ambassador during a recent a stop in Penticton.
The purpose of the ride is to spread the message about conservation and the importance of getting people outdoors and connecting with nature.
Joining her on the trek is ride director Ian Lobb of Penticton, who is also no stranger to the world of cycling.
In addition to helping Goran, Lobb has done considerable course work with the Valley First Granfondo Axel Merkx event locally and other competitions around the world.
The pair stopped in the Peach City for their first day off since the journey began in Victoria on Aug. 14 and ends Oct. 29 in Halifax.
In addition to getting some rest and doing some laundry, Goran and Lobb took time for a visit with some young people at the Penticton recreation centre.
“The focus of what we are doing is all about getting kids and families back outdoors,” said Goran, 34, who devotes her time to business, sport and community, with the odd triathlon thrown in.
“When I was a little girl there was this unbelievable part of family life enjoying the parks but in the last 10 to 15 years technology has become such a huge thing in the home, versus let’s get outside and play.
“In my roles I’ve seen there isn’t that connection and being an athlete for Canada on different levels, it’s been a passion instilled in my heart to see more families and kids get back outdoors just like it was when I was that little girl.”
She doesn’t feel it’s necessary to “unplug” the youth of today but rather to help them use electronics in a way to better connect them to their natural surroundings.
As much fun as it’s been, Goran admitted after six consecutive days of riding, seeing the Welcome to Penticton sign was a relief.
“ I can tell you this (day off) is something I’ve been looking forward to for a couple of days now, from about the time when I was going from Hope to Manning Park,” said the cyclist.
“It’s been 100 per cent fun.
“It doesn’t matter how tiring it gets, when you get to meet the kids and the people who are on the route, that motivates you even more.”
Warm and responsive is how she described her reception from those she has met along the way.
Even the path to her destination has special meaning.
“There’s lots of history on this route when you look at the other Canadians who have passed along it,” she said.
“From Terry Fox to Rick Hanson, they’re role models on their own and I think to follow their footprints or wheel paths and be able to make an imprint for the next generation is a positive message of what we are as Canadians.”
For ride director Lobb, the trip to this point has been enjoyable, especially meeting the people.
“I’ve been across the country many times but not at this pace so it’s a little different but the best way to see the world is on a bike,” said Lobb.
“But just being able to get the message out there and working with the Canadian Wildlife Federation is incredible.”
You can follow Goran’s progress on their Facebook page, CWF National Bike for Wildlife.