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Cyclist braves the elements to help raise awareness

One man, 40 000 km. Michael Schratter leads the Ride Don't Hide campaign
One man, 40 000 km. Michael Schratter leads the Ride Don't Hide campaign

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

September 8, 2011 — One man is braving the elements in a 'Ride Don't Hide' campaign around the world.

Riding across the country has had numerous weather challenges
Riding across the country has had numerous weather challenges

It's a one man campaign, but Michael Schratter is committed to riding 40,000 km across the world to raise awareness about mental illness. The Vancouver man has struggled with bipolar disorder and ADHD and is hoping to shatter the stigma about mental illnesses.

He began his journey last August and has covered over 30,000 km so far. On August 17, 2011 Schratter embarked on the Canadian leg of his worldwide journey and faced Mother Nature head on. An encounter with Hurricane Irene was only one obstacle Schratter faced.

He stopped to share some stories with The Weather Network Wednesday.

What have been the worst conditions to bike through?

There's nothing worse than a headwind if you ask me. I'd sooner climb mountains all day than deal with a headwind. I'd say the strongest headwinds were in Peru. I was unfortunately cycling the wrong direction, I was cycling north to south and the prevailing winds on the Pacific coast of Peru head south to north. So for about two weeks steady I was just crawling with sand in my eyes and sand in my mouth and nose.

Any pleasant weather experiences so far?

I had to deal with tropical, monsoon season, just the tail end of it when in the tropics. Quite often this is quite refreshing. I'd be sweating and really hot and the rains would come on and they'd just be showering me as I cycle so they weren't too bad.

How did Irene impact your ride?

Hurricane Irene shut me down in Montreal. I was cycling into Montreal from Trois-Rivières and that day was a write-off because I couldn't cycle because of Hurricane Irene.

What has been one of the biggest challenges of your ride so far?

Once getting through that first month there were no physical issues. It became a psychological game, it just became whether you want to get up and go, regardless of how you felt. Rain or shine, you have to go. The biggest challenge of the trip was isolation more than anything. You're alone on the bike for six, seven hours and most of the countries I was in, there was a language barrier.

How fit do you have to be for a ride like this?

I wasn't a very active guy, nothing extreme. I went to the gym maybe twice a week, cycled to work. The first month of cycling was the most challenging. The body goes through these adjustments, old injuries flare up, knees, back. After the first month you're physically conditioned, you just have to persevere through the first month.

What conditions are you gearing up for next?

September 22 will be the end of summer and I'm going to be dealing with rain and possibly snow for the first time in this whole campaign. They've got me crossing the Rockies in early October to beat the snow so unless western Canada gets an early winter, I should be alright. I finish the campaign in November in Vancouver and I'm not looking forward to all of that cold rain that comes with the west coast.

You can follow Michael Schratter as he enters his final months of the journey.

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