Two cyclists aiming to inspire others and raise funds to build a school in Cambodia were in Terrace today (Aug. 11) as part of a 6,700 kilometre journey they have dubbed “Ignite Possibilities: Cycle to the top of the world.”
JB Owen, 51, and husband Peter Giesen, 52, departed from their home in Red Deer, Alta. in late June with a tandem bike, motor home and two teenage daughters in tow.
The couple cycled across Canada last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was a motivating factor in deciding to ride, especially because they weren’t cyclists or athletes.
“So many people were kind of stuck and not sure what to do with their lives and sort of waiting to see what COVID was going to allow, and I really got on this thing about possibilities,” Owen said in an interview with the Terrace Standard.
“COVID was limiting so many people’s mindset, and so I was like, ‘let’s just do something exciting, let’s create, show people what’s possible.”
Owen is the founder and chief executive officer of an empowerment publishing company called Ignite, and Giesen is the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer. As publishers, the couple said they feel a responsibility to foster reading and growth.
They partnered with Classroom of Hope, a non-profit organization that builds schools in developing countries. Owen said that all proceeds from Ignite’s online book sales and direct donations on ClassroomofHope.org will go towards building a school in rural Cambodia, and that the cycling tour is meant to bring attention to the cause and inspire others.
The couple’s northwest leg comes after they rode from Red Deer to the Alaska border. After a stop in Prince Rupert, they plan to travel east through Smithers, Jasper, Alta. and back home, having new experiences along the way before the ride ends this month.
“We’ve lived in Canada for 50 years, and there’s parts of it that we’ve never seen. So we’re in our own backyard, and people just are afraid or fearful of going out and exploring it because they’re like, ‘I can’t do that,’” Giesen said. “Get on it and go do it, there’s so much out there to experience.”
Next year, Owen and Giesin are planning to cycle across Canada again and explore the Atlantic provinces, which they did not get to do last year because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Get out in nature because it’s awe inspiring,” Owen said. “The abundance, the beauty, the majesty, the power of nature is so incredible, and you guys have it here, it is phenomenal.”
“We’ve had people tell us about secret little spots. We’ve had people share, support, encourage, honk, wave. Just be so awesome. And that is truly a blessing despite COVID, Canadians have just been so generous and so kind and it just again makes me so prideful of my country.”