Betty Bandstra is taking part in the Sea to Sea bike ride

Betty Bandstra is taking part in the Sea to Sea bike ride

Bandstra heading out on bike ride for charities

Betty Bandstra is not heading into retirement on the slow road instead she's hopping on a bicycle for a 6,300-kilometre journey.

Betty Bandstra is not heading into retirement on the slow road.

Instead, the recently retired French teacher, is hopping on a bicycle for a 6,300-kilometre journey across North America.

“It’s not because I like biking,” Bandstra said with a laugh.

“That’s the part I’m most unsure about.”

Instead, Bandstra said she was inspired to take up the journey after hearing about the experience from her brother-in-law Nick Benjamins who made a similar trip in 2005 and her son Theo who accomplished the feat in 2008.

In their stories, Bandstra said she was struck by how the group of cyclists became a close-knit community, how they were very supportive of each other and especially how they spoke of the connections they made with the residents of the various communities they visited.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting new people,” Bandstra said.

It is with that in mind that Bandstra signed up with the Sea to Sea organization to take part in a nine-week bike ride from Los Angeles to New York City, with stops in Toronto and Montreal, from June 21 to August 24.

The purposeof the trip is to raise funds for three different groups, World Renew/Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, Partners Worldwide and the Reformed Church in America.

The organizations have diverse mandates, ranging from stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa to disaster relief, soup kitchen programs and help for those living in poverty.

Despite her apprehension about cycling, Bandstra has been hard at work training as much as she can, including spin classes, circuit training and cycling and a 110-kilometre ride that included a flat tire.

Although Peter Krause at McBike taught her how to change a flat tire, Bandstra said she did forget one crucial step, to inflate the inner tube and so her ride back to Smithers took a bit longer than she would have liked.

The experience did not deter Bandstra.

“I’m actually starting to like biking,” she said.

Bandstra has already raised $13,000 but is hoping to raise more over the next several weeks.

To keep family and friends apprised of her journey, Bandstra has set up a blog and will post to the blog whenever she can.

You can follow Bandstra at bettybandstra.wordpress.com.

Donations for the charities, through Bandstra, can be made at www.seatosea.org under registered cyclist.

Tax receipts are available for donations.