Clara's Big Ride is a journey the 41 year old Hughes undertook to start a conversation about mental health.
"My husband Peter Guzman has been Omega Brown Leather Strap
ride we can show people how important physical activity is, how for me personally it's a big form of medication," she explained. "Movement is my medicine.
Depression has been a constant companion Hughes's life. She has sought counselling from a psychologist on this bike trek.
didn't think we would do it and we were going to have to stop because of the weather," Hughes said. "When anyone tells me I can't do something, it just means I'm going to do it."
Hughes says physical activity, and it doesn't have to be pedalling 100 kilometres a day, is a key part of her treatment.
"Sometimes I feel devastated by what I've heard. You obviously hear a lot of stories and hear a lot of tragedies, but I also hear a lot of stories of hope and inspiration. It's a big load for one person. It's been a gift to be on the receiving end of people's realities.
With husband Peter Guzman and German racer Ina Yoko Teutenberg riding on her wings to block the wind, Hughes sped 150 kilometres from Nanton to Calgary a day after riding over the Crowsnest Pass.
Hughes, the spokesperson for Bell Let's Talk, rode as close to her adopted home of Canmore, Alta., as her route allows on Friday. But she wasn't stopping even for one night in her own bed.
Calgary was home to Hughes for a decade while she trained at the Oval and developed the engine to win her four Olympic medals in speedskating, including gold in 2006. She also won a pair of bronze cycling medals in 1996.
Their worst weather hit just a few days into the trip in March, when whiteout conditions near Kitchener, Ont., made the highways treacherous.
After 7,250 kilometres, it may seem downhill elevation wise to Ottawa.
"This is the only time I'll ever do something like this in my life and it's been a gift. I want absorb every single day while I have it."
"I really hope by doing this Omega Watch Ladymatic
Hughes started her trip riding south to Windsor, Ont., before looping back towards Montreal and communities along the St. Lawrence. After covering Atlantic Canada, she flew out of St.
Hughes touched down in towns in Labrador, Nunavut and Northwest Territories before embarking on the toughest cycling leg of the journey.
"That doesn't count if you have a prairie headwind," Hughes cautioned. "I am really praying to the weather gods for a tailwind through Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
with me every kilometre of the way except for four days when he blew his back out, but he was back in four days," Hughes said. "He's been my rock."
Clara Hughes into the prairie portion of her epic ride for mental health
"That's a big part of healing and I'm not talking about sport, I'm not talking about faster, higher, stronger, it's about health and it's about self."
They camped in trailers because there were no hotels along the way. Road conditions had them switching to mountain bikes at certain points. After flying from Whitehorse to Vancouver, they got back on their bikes and won't get off of them until Ottawa.
"I felt there was a lot of people who Omega Speedmaster Full Black
"I was like, 'We live over there. We're so close.' But that's what this ride has been," she Omega Seamaster 30 Military said. "It's been everything but home and home is going to be there forever and this ride is going to end pretty soon. This is the ride of my life.
Her six medals ties her with speedskater Cindy Klassen as Canada's most decorated Olympians.
Hughes rode away from Toronto's Maple Leaf Square 11 weeks ago and in a month, she'll wheel onto Parliament Hill on Canada Day after 12,000 kilometres and 110 days on the road.
"I'm a creature of endurance. I was in all my sports and the thing about this ride is the riding part is actually the easiest part," Hughes said Friday upon her arrival in Calgary.
"It's been all about outreach and that's been the most important part of it. It's left me realizing when this ride is over, there's so much more I need to do, that every one of us needs to do."
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