Mattawa resident Josie Dinsmore loves to bike, and she’s putting her passion for the pedals to great use—helping to raise funds for the SickKids Foundation by participating in the Great Cycle Challenge Canada. This is her third year participating, and she hopes to raise $500 from donations by riding 400 kilometers throughout the month of August.
“I had a lot of fun participating in my first two years” of the Challenge, Dinsmore explained, noting that for those events she cycled a total of 771 kilometers and raised $1,188 for SickKids. And this year she plans to log as many klicks as she can, because “it’s so much fun to keep trying to ride further and further on your bike and accomplishing huge distances using only your ‘human power,’” she explained.
Once August rolls around, Josie’s odometer starts turning, as throughout the month she will tabulate her distances for the fundraiser. Donations can be made throughout August but can be given now as well. To do so, visit the Great Cycle Challenge Canada website, search Josie Dinsmore, and pledge to her page. At the time of writing, she’s received $70 of her $500 goal. Overall, 12,364 people have taken part in the Challenge, raising $1,472,456 for SickKids.
Specifically, these funds help kids with cancer, and Dinsmore explained that over the years, organizers of the event have detailed some of the kids’ stories to share on the event’s website. “It’s a terrible disease, and it would be even more awful for these little kids,” she said, acknowledging that she’s “never known any kids who have cancer, but I have known lots of adults.”
As for those stories from the children, “it’s really interesting to hear them, and sad that they have to go through all of this.” The stories are heart-wrenching at times, and unfortunately “the organization has also had to share the sad news that some of the kids that they shared their story about in the past have now passed away from the disease.”
So Dinsmore carries on cycling, hoping her efforts can help alleviate some of the suffering these children endure. “It really makes you think more about things, and why it’s so important to do whatever we can, even if it’s just a small amount like riding our bikes to raise some funds for research,” she said. “It all counts and is important.”
She’s always been a fan of biking, but until 2018, had not undertaken any “crazy distances” as she does now. Back then she estimates the longest ride she took in a day was at the most 15 km. But in the summer of 2018, she had a little more time off from work, and “finally had the chance to get out on my bike a lot more.”
Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park was one of her favourite sites to wheel through. She would drive her bike there and push the pedals for a time. “And that was nice,” she said, but soon after, one question began to nag her: “could we bike to the park?”
The ‘we’ includes her mother, Bonnie, who often joins Dinsmore on some of her cycling excursions. To prepare to answer her question, Josie mapped out a route, trying to include as many “back country roads off of the highway” into her plan, and once outlined, the total distance “was almost 40 kilometers.”
“And at that time, that was a lot, far more than we’ve ever done before.” But they decided to try it anyways, and they succeeded. The feeling of accomplishment helped spur them on to more frequent and even longer rides. The very next day they both embarked on another 40 km trek.
“We kind of got hooked into trying longer distances,” she admitted, as if the bike was a new addiction, spurring her on to new roads and adventures. Ever since those formative rides, Dinsmore has been hitting the pavement and crushing the gravel to see new sights and conquer new paths.
She enjoys the pace of biking, a speed that allows her to enjoy the scenery and watch nature unfold before her. Sometimes, Dinsmore will bike up to 100 kms per day. Sure, some people can do that “in a couple of hours” on their bikes, she admitted, “but for us, that was quite a distance.”
There’s not much she doesn’t enjoy about cycling, but she particularly likes the challenges her bike presents to her—and overcoming those challenges. “It’s neat to pick a distance and say, ‘let’s bike this route,’ and then you actually do it, and you realize how far you’ve actually went.”
And there are still many routes left for Dinsmore to discover, and this summer she will make a solid dent in that list, all the while managing to help some sick kids along the way. To follow her progress, be sure to visit Dinsmore’s website Adventures with Josie.
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.