25276 Ben Apedaile on the journey of a lifetime: All in the name of ‘freeing the children’
Alaskentina: a journey of 22,000 kilometers plus
By: 27182 Officer Cadet (IV) Carmen Kiltz
Ben, who studied Civil Engineering at RMC (as an RETP); played on the rugby team, served as a Combat Engineer Officer in the Army Reserves and currently works as a Water Resources Engineer in Calgary.
Having begun in Deadhorse Alaska, the trio is working their way all the way to Ushuaia in Argentina on motorbikes- a journey that crosses over sixteen countries and works its way through dirt roads, underdeveloped areas, and different climates.
The purpose of this journey is to help support “Adopt A Village,” an international development program by Free the Children which aims to break they cycle of poverty that burdens families and communities.
The “Boys on Bikes” aim to raise a dollar for every kilometre they ride- that’s $22,000. They are looking forward helping the very people who will welcome them into their communities as they travel through the Americas.
Dom, Tym, and Ben keep a travel blog to take us along on their journey. Internet access is not guaranteed everywhere, since they are often riding through secluded areas. Their last post was July 13, where the trio spent the day packing and repacking their kit to fit onto their bikes and preparing for the unpredictability in terms of laundry, meals, schedule and routine that would be to come. You can also follow them on their Facebook page, “Alaskentina,” which seems to keep more up to date. On August 2 they were coming into Lillooet, BC.
The group’s journey is completely unsupported, which means they have to take care of any mechanical problems themselves, they carry their own kit for the entire journey, and even document and edit their own footage. You can follow their travel blog, learn more about their journey, and donate at http://www.alaskentina.com/.
I managed to catch up with Ben, who is nearing Vancouver (at the time of this writing), to gain some insight:
C: Carmen, B:Ben.
C: You were a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada. Can you highlight any memorable moments or lessons learned from your time at the College?
B: I loved my time at the College. Playing on the rugby team probably taught me more about leadership, hard work, and decision making than any PMT session. The most memorable moments are probably ones the college staff would rather not see printed in e-veritas but I will say that the college taught me to balance hard work and fun. Following through on an adventure like this is a result of being surrounded by people who are ambitious and don’t say no to a challenge. I met plenty of these people at the college who continue to inspire me today
C: As a part of Alaskentina, you are supporting Free the Children- Adopt a Village. What made you decide to help this cause in particular?
B: We wanted to support a cause that would help the people that might welcome us into their communities, and it was important to us that it was Canadian. After researching charitable organizations online, Free The Children stood out to us as it had a successful history; and MoneySense gave it an A+ rating, meaning that more money was being put towards the cause itself instead of overhead costs.
C: One can see that all three of you have well-equipped your motorcycles to withstand the elements and long distance of the journey. How have you prepared yourself for this trip?
B: I don’t know that I was fully prepared for the trip, or that I could have been. I’m not very mechanically inclined, and although I did work on the bike a lot before leaving with the help of a local motorcycle club in Cochrane, AB, there are certainly still many issues that could go wrong that I would have trouble fixing on my own. We spent about a year planning for the trip, and spending all those waking hours thinking about the trip, I was mentall ready for it. We were reading up about border crossings, getting around the Darien Gap, tools and spare parts for the bike, personal gear, group gear while keeping a close eye on the Canadian dollar.
C: Travelling 22,000km across 16 different countries is a remarkable feat. How long do you expect the journey to take?
B: First of all, it will definitely be more than 22,000 kilometres. That was the distance given by Google Maps just from Deadhorse to Ushuaia. Tym and Dom rode out to Calgary first, then the three of us travelled north to Deadhorse putting on over 4000km between Calgary and Prudhoe Bay. We have been and will continue to take secondary highways where time and conditions permit, increasing our overall mileage as well. We estimate the trip to be closer to 35,000km and hope to have it completed some time in December 2016.
C: On your website you mentioned that you did not think you’d be able to make it on such a trip; at what point did you see the trip as becoming a reality?
B: As soon as my boss granted me a one-year leave of absence, a friend said he would rent my condo, and my girlfriend Steph gave me permission to go it was a reality. That all fell into place around July 2015, giving me a full year to save money and focus my spare time on preparing for the trip.
C: What do you see as being your greatest challenge on the trip?
B: I think the challenges on the trip will vary from region to region. Up North we have already had some challenges with remoteness. Whether it was the distance between gas stations or the breakdown we had in a remote area without cell service and six hours from the spare part we needed, we always had to think about where the next place was to get gas water and food. As we move south through the States, the challenges will be avoiding traffic and keeping our expenses down. South into Mexico, Central America and South America, there will be a language barrier as none of us speak Spanish. It will be easy enough to get by in restaurants, but discussing mechanics and bike parts with locals might be a bit more difficult. We will also need to worry more about security, avoiding big cities and staying off the roads at night.
C: Thank you and we wish you all the best!
To learn more and to help Ben and his two pals visit their website.