One of the best bike rides in the country is the 1A near Banff when it’s closed to cars. Between the scenery and the hills, it’s an exhilarating ride.
On June 22, 13 students from Bishop McNally’s Bike Club capped the year with this spectacular field trip. Many students are recent immigrants and the ride allowed many to see the Canadian mountains for the first time.
“It was really awesome to see these kids working so hard riding and having fun together,” said Valeriya Mynak, Youth en Route student who went along to document the ride. “It was incredible to see, instead of getting angry and leaving their team behind, they stuck together showing their sense of community, that they wanted to conquer the hills together.”
Accompanied by teachers Joseph Lawrence, Brian Scott and Denise Ogg, the trip started at Johnston Canyon and rode 12 km west and then back again riding a full 24 km in two and a half hours. Six of the 13 students were riding bikes that were donated to the School by Youth en Route.
The Wolves on Wheels bike club began at McNallywhen two avid cyclists and passionate teachers, Joseph Lawrence and Brian Scott, founded a biking club with the goal of promoting sustainable travel and fostering a sense of community.
“For lots of these students, cycling is the only way they can afford to get around. It gives them independence,” said Lawrence, one of the teachers and leaders of the bike club.
The club provided a platform for students to connect, share biking tips, learn bike maintenance skills, and explore safe ways to navigate the city. It became a class of knowledge, friendship , and mutual support as students came together with a common purpose.
It was Scott’s dream to be able to take the kids out on this field trip, to demonstrate to other students what kinds of opportunities biking opens individuals to.
“Started as a dream, after doing all the paperwork we are finally here, kicking butt,” said Scott, the school’s welding and fabrication teacher.
To prepare for the trip, Scott, Lawrence and Ogg had to complete many hours of paperwork. For students, training included tracking their rides on Strava, some clocking impressive distances. The longest ride was 106 km in a day.
Youth En Route sticking to their mission supported Wolves on Wheels to use active ways of transportation and open doors of opportunities to explore surroundings in sustainable ways. The field trip, which included snacks, transportation and Grey Wolves on Wheels t-shirts, was financed by the Alberta EcoTrust Climate Improvement Fund grant.
Together, students overcame hills, appreciated downhill rides, and enjoyed the straight horizontal paths isolated from cars. Although the students had all different levels of athleticism, they had one thing in common, concern for each other. Numerous times the Wolf pack stopped and waited for its slower members demonstrating teamwork and compassion.
The influence of Wolves on Wheels extends far beyond the joy of biking. For many of those students, biking has become a way to navigate the city and find joy in their new home. The club has particularly empowered students who have recently immigrated from Eritrea, offering them a chance to connect with their peers by practicing working on bikes and riding.
Lunch break was at Muleshoe Lookout at the half-way point. The breathtaking view from this spot served as a reminder of the beauty of nature and the incredible experiences that biking can offer. It was a moment that will remain engraved in their memories forever.
Thanks to supporters, AllRush Print & Apparel, who collaborated with Youth En Route to create custom merchandise, and Greenwood Rentals, a Calgary’s Trailer Rental organization, which reduced costs for the. trailer to transport bicycles to the mountains.
As they pedal forward, Wolves on Wheels will continue to inspire others and make a positive impact in the lives of the students of their school and their community.
Youth En Route supported Wolves on Wheels to use active ways of transportation and open doors of opportunities to explore surroundings in efficient and sustainable ways.