Scott Douglas began his trek from Stettler to Calgary at 5:00 a.m. on Sat, July 8. Douglas had originally planned to go South on Highway 56 to Drumheller and then west on Highway 9.
However, as a precaution, Douglas decided to avoid Highway 56 and take Highway 11 and 21 instead. Once on Highway 9, he would continue east to a secondary highway that would take him to the Calgary Airport as his final destination.
Douglas had spent the last several weeks raising money for the Alberta Association of Communities Against Sexual Abuse (AACAA) and says that he was able to raise approximately $4,600. Fundraising efforts included selling stuffed bears for $25.
The names of two people who purchased a bear were drawn and the winners each received a half-hour helicopter ride provided by Ron Victor of Edmonton. Each winner was flown over where Douglas was at the time, and then given a tour of the area from a bird’s eye view. After both flights, Victor says he had enough fuel to take one last low pass over Douglas, before returning home to Edmonton.
Douglas has made similar trips in the past two years. The first trip was to Red Deer, during which time Douglas was faced with steady rain the entire way. The following year was better weather for Douglas. With the second trip being to Drumheller, despite having very little for shoulders along the route, he says people gave him plenty of room when possible. Douglas’s journey from Stettler to Calgary would be his longest one yet.
Having lost the use of his legs in a car accident, Douglas explains that bike riding was always one of his favourite activities. After his accident, Douglas invested $7,000 in a specialized hand bike so that he could continue the sport he enjoys. Now Douglas, who in addition to being an ambassador for the United Way, works at a local repair shop in the office, is able to combine two things he enjoys into one. Supporting special charities and riding his bike.
Douglas reached Erskine a little bit before 6 a.m. By the time he crossed Content Bridge and was on his way toward Delburne, the weather was starting to warm up. Douglas was able to get a good pace going for the most part; however, when he came to some of the hills outside of Trochu, he lost a great deal of speed, using his phone on a mount to track his speed and mileage.
Douglas says he appreciates passing motorists doing everything they could to give him a wide berth when they passed on the roads, and notes that many of them honked and waived as they passed. This helped keep him motivated along his journey. Several people also stopped at turn-offs along the way to get their picture taken and to donate cash to Douglas’ cause. He was also happy to answer any questions they might have about what he was doing.
By the time he got to Three Hills, Douglas says he was noticing problems with his gear diverter changing gears on him or getting stuck partway between gears. By this time the weather had been at the thirty-degree mark for some time with no cloud cover.
As Douglas continued along his trek, the unyielding heat was starting to get to him, and his bike was continuing to make the journey difficult. Douglas stopped for a few minutes to take shelter from the sun and the heat in a support truck. They still had several more hours to go to finish the journey, and after scouting several alternate routes by truck, none of which were easier to take, Douglas and the support team decided for health and safety reasons that it was best to stop.
“I don’t like not finishing things,” Douglas said as he contemplated his options.
He remained positive, having thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but faced with how he was feeling, and how much there was left to go, he finally agreed to call it a day.
Douglas is thankful for all the support he has gotten. Both leading up to the ride and during it. He says that he was inspired and motivated by the kindness of those who contributed and the words of encouragement he received. He was proud of what he had accomplished on his trip, and although he regrets not being able to finish, does plan to continue doing similar trips, although he says he may have to break them up over more days in the future if he plans on making the longer journeys.