An Abbotsford couple plans to complete five long bike journeys over the next five years while raising $2.5 million for five charities.
P. L. and Kristen Meindertsma have started the Cycle 5 to Survive (C5TS) initiative to raise $500,000 each for Opportunity International Canada, Himalayan Life, iDE, Hope for Korah and LCC International University.
Their 2023 trip begins June 17 and involves cycling 4,300 kilometres along the Continental Divide, an off-road route stretching across Canada and the U.S.
The route has 45,000 metres in elevation gains – equal to summiting Mt. Everest from sea level five times.
The pair will start in Banff, Alta. and finish in Antelope, New Mexico (at the Mexico/U.S. border). They aim to ride 100 kilometres per day.
The couple will carry all the necessary supplies with them, including a tent, sleeping bag, cooking stove and emergency items.
They have taken a wilderness survival first aid course and have created an emergency plan should they become injured or sick along the way.
“We are so excited about this new initiative,” said P. L. ”It’s a great opportunity for us to make an impact on those who need it most and we are so grateful for any support we receive.”
P. L., who has a background in business, was born in the Netherlands and immigrated with his family to B.C. in 1982. He chose to abbreviate his name using just his initials.
Kristen, a physical education teacher, travelled across Canada to start anew, eventually settling in B.C. in 1994, following her mom’s death from breast cancer.
The pair were married in August 2000 and have two children – Maijken, who is hoping to make it big in international rowing, and Marijke, who is currently playing soccer at the university level.
P. L. and Kristen had both competed in university sports and together trained in triathlon racing. On their honeymoon 10 days after their wedding, they competed together in the Penticton Ironman Triathlon.
P. L. was struggling with his purpose in life and came up with the idea to do the five epic bike trips. When he presented his idea to Kristen, “she thought it was crazy,” he writes on the C5TS website.
“But (she) immediately wanted to join me on this amazing adventure and said, ‘Sure, let’s do it!’ “ he stated.
The number “five” is representative of their ages – in 2022, P.L. turned 50 and Kristen turned 55.
The pair say that every cent raised through C5TS will go directly to the chosen charities. They are covering all expenses, including credit card and processing fees, and each charity is waiving all administrative fees.
Visit cycle5tosurvive.com for more information, including about each recipient charity, or to make a donation.