At 65 years old, Arvid Loewen will be putting his body, and mind, to the test once again this Saturday, attempting his longest singular bike ride.
"This Saturday at 7:00 a.m. at Birds Hill Park I will be starting what I call the longest non-stop bike ride," says Loewen of Winnipeg.
Loewen attempted this feat in 2009 and ended up cycling 711 km before he had to stop due to extreme fatigue. During this coming ride, he'll only stop for bathroom breaks, for an accumulated total of 60 minutes or less.
"As always this is a part of my effort to raise funds for Mully Children's Family (MCF)."
Loewen is hoping to raise a total of $250,000 to help give children in Kenya 500,000 meals.
"They have partnered with the poorest of the poor public schools around their eight centres. T oday, they have joined with 62 schools for roughly 20,000 extra children they provide food rations, one meal a day. If a child wakes up hungry, their first thought is how am I going to survive today. That's when they steal or go to the garbage dumps."
This is on top of raising 3,500 orphans at MCF. Through their care, food supply, and education, thousands of children have been taken care of physically as well as have made a decision to follow Jesus.
The Toll on the Body and Mind
"What is unique about this event is that there is no time limit but there is a time limit. There is no average speed required but there is no average speed required, because at some point I'm simply not going to be able to stay awake, whether physically, mentally, emotionally I'll say I'm done."
Loewen explains if he rides faster to cover more kilometres, he'll be running his body's capacity out faster.
"I need to learn how to recover while staying on a bike. You hit many, bottom of the barrel, low moments where you say, 'I'm done.' But you don't quit. All of a sudden it changes and you become more optimistic. I would expect in an event like this I will reach four or five times where I hit, 'That's it, nothing makes sense anymore, I can't do this.' The completely defeated attitude comes so quickly and catches you by total surprise."
Loewen says the biggest hurdle to completing an event like this is the attack on his emotions, when he hears a voice saying that what he's doing is worthless. To date, Loewen's cycling philanthropist efforts have helped raise $10 million to help feed children through MCF.
"That voice tries to minimize the importance of what we're doing. This is the road I have to be very careful not to go down because it's a completely self-destructive road. When I'm attacked, physically with the pain, the challenge of staying on the bike at 2:00 at night, then these thoughts come in, that the kids aren't worth it, they're not your responsibility."
Sometimes Loewen is able to push on through these emotional attacks, through prayer, and other times he stops cycling. On top of people helping MCF with donations, Loewen appreciates people's prayers before and during the event.
"It's been a long time since I've ridden through the night. There's a completely different experience riding through the night than through the day."
A few committed donours have said they will donate a certain amount per kilometre.
"As of today, I have $112/km pledged for my ride for this Saturday. With $112, that's 224 meals that each kilometre will provide. I've put myself into this pressure-filled situation that will hopefully encourage me to stay on the bike."
Loewen is hoping that four special guests will be able to make it out this Saturday for the ride from MCF.
"We are still sitting here today as they do not have their visas. They applied in early May but until they receive them, they cannot buy a ticket or board a plane. It's a huge urgent prayer request today."
Charles Mulli's daughter and her husband, along with two children that have made it through the MCF program are hoping to be here for the event.
"We're still hopeful and we'll continue with our events. We have a lot of events scheduled even after I'm done the biking."
People interested in helping Loewen reach his goal of $250,000 this summer can donate online. People are also invited to cheer Loewen on at Bird's Hill Park this Saturday during the event, but he notes that he won't be able to stop and chat.