Seely Alder crosses the border into Saskatchewan in early July.

Seely Alder crosses the border into Saskatchewan in early July.

Editor’s Note: After Paul Madore gave us Dave Alder’s new co-ordinates, Pete Avis contacted him because he was a roommate of his during their later MARS/Naval training. From that correspondence, he learned that Dave’s wife, Seely, had recently completed an east to west bike ride across Canada. Ironically, this was during the same time frame that John Dixon was traversing Canada and parts of the US from the other direction, ie, west to east. Dave provided a short summary below, which is followed by an article about Seely’s ride written for the Alzheimer’s Society of Nova Scotia newsletter. Of note, Seely ended up raising $17,100 for this very worthy cause.

Dave wrote: “Last year was a big one with Seely cycling across Canada raising money for Alzheimer research and family support. She completed 6100 kms between Halifax and Victoria in 85 days (16 days of rest in that period).   I drove our Honda Fit and did the logistics. I did cycle a bit on the end of her days back from the final rest spot.   We did spend two weeks in Victoria and some fun time with Tyrone and Debbie. Tony Evans helped cycle with Seely through the Rockies and that relaxed me a bit knowing that she was being escorted. I normally moved the car in 20-25 km increments and read a pile of books in the shade. What is good for the heart is good for the brain. Exercise is a good antidote for brain rust.  I am very proud of her and her achievement going across Canada. She is my little diesel engine.   She was not fast (20kms/hour), but she was consistent. One day in the Rockies, she climbed 35kms of hills. She also did a 142km day into Kenora through construction, rain, thunder/lightening and wind.”

Riding in remembrance

By Sarah Lyon, Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia staff member

Not too many people would be giddy at the idea of biking across the country. But Seely Alder is. “Our journey will have me biking about 6,700 kms through portions of eight provinces and three States” [note there was subsequently a “slight “ change of plans, so the entire journey was actually through Canada].

Day 20 (3) Camping Chute des 7 Soeurs Quebec (002).jpg

Seely said prior to the trip. “(My husband) Dave will be my support crew, with the car and all of our camping gear, as well as his bike, so that he can join me at the end of the day and bike with me to our campsite or motel.”

The adventure took months of planning, including routes and places to stay. It also required months of training on highways, trails and the gym. It’s a strenuous process that isn’t for everyone. But the Alders’ motivation is one that all too many Nova Scotians have experienced: Seely was riding in honour of her mother, who had passed away from dementia. “We wanted to do this journey in support of the

Alzheimer Society, as our family, just like many others, has been affected by the disease,” Seely said.

“My Mom was diagnosed in 2011 and for a long time benefited from the medications. Dave and I benefited directly from the Society by taking their educational program to help family members understand the stages and progression of the disease.”

On Victoria Day weekend, Seely started to pedal out of Halifax. As you can imagine, when you are biking alone for hours at a time, you notice things a little differently. At a little over a week into her ride, Seely noted: June first turned out to be a rather special day. It is amazing the things that can trigger memories.

For me, it was seeing a field of cows, and remembering how much my Mom loved cows. Not really sure why she did, but she did. So, I had to stop to take a picture, and in that moment, I had some amazing feelings. My Mom may be gone, but she surely is not forgotten.

Seely and Dave have now traversed through the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan. They have had to alter travel plans as they go, so they may not in the end see all the provinces and States as originally planned. Every few days they send in an update that is posted on our website, so you can follow along:

Day 85 (2) Dave and I at mile 0.jpg

On July 19, Seely blogged: To date I have covered 4,411 kms. One of the questions I have been asked is what do I think about when I am alone on the road. I am never bored and think about all kinds of things.

I have been enjoying some wonderful memories of my Mom when we were all younger, and that has been good for me. Beyond that, my mind wanders. However, I always say ‘Hi’ to any animals I see along my route. The funniest is when I talk to cows. They are definitely curious creatures and appear quite fascinated by me and what I am doing.

Thank you, Seely and Dave, for taking us along on your journey and in doing so, supporting others who are on the dementia journey.”