For Kristi Mahy, it’s not about the journey or the destination – it’s about the cause. On July 3, the 26-year-old Willowdale native departs from Guelph and will bike 16,000 kilometres across nine countries to Costa Rica, all to promote environmental awareness and sustainable living.
“My initial thought was ‘I’m not really sure I’m ready to do this,’” says Mahy. “But, when I thought of how the tour could benefit the community, that I would be learning so much, and sharing information with the public, I realized it was worth the time commitment.”
Mahy, who will be joined by her boyfriend, Garrett Gauthier, and two other friends, will be stopping along the way at numerous sustainable communities and reserves. She plans to learn about their local green practices, which she will then share with the world by tracking her experiences online.
“We’re going to profile every place we’ve visited, listing skills they have, resources they have,” says Mahy. While the trip will take a little more than a year to wrap up, Mahy’s own interest in the environment spans years. It started in 2001 at Earl Haig Secondary School when she decided to join the environment club.
There she helped organize a successful recycling program. Her green interests also followed her in 2004 to the University of Guelph where she graduated with a degree in environmental sciences. However, it wasn’t until after university that she began to understand how she could use her passion for cycling as a tool for environmental change.
Volunteering with the Otesha Project, Mahy cycled 1,400 kilometres around the Maritimes, performing plays based on the environment for local schools and community centres.
“It was a good practice run,” she says. “It gave me confidence to do longer trips.” Mahy is currently training for her 16,000 kilometre trip, cycling to local sustainable farms around Ontario. She says she feels nearly physically ready to embark on her trip. “We’ll definitely make sure we stretch all the time,” she says and laughs.