It has been a long trip for cyclist Ryan Phillips and he’s so close to the end that he can almost taste the salty spray of the Atlantic Ocean.
The former professional hockey player began his trip to raise awareness for mental illness more than two months ago at the Mile 0 monument in Victoria, B.C.
The gruelling journey has taken him across Canada and now he’s less than 100 kilometres away from his goal of reaching P.E.I. and dunking the wheels on his bike into the ocean.
“It’s been an emotional adventure but it’s probably been one of the most fulfilling deeds I’ve ever had the opportunity to give,” said Phillips on Saturday as he took a break in Moncton, N.B.
Phillips trekked across Asia only months before he began his cross-Canada trip, and he plans to travel south to the U.S. or South America once this journey is done.
He has a goal of biking around the world and is calling his journey “Spin the Globe.”
But the cyclist says the journey is also a personal one. His family members deal with mental illness and he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few years ago.
Bipolar disorder typically involves periods of both manic and depressive episodes, although individual experiences may vary. For Phillips, that has meant extreme highs and lows along his journey.
But he said he hopes that by being open about his own struggles, he inspires others to speak up and reach out if they are having their own difficulties.
“The number one message is, please, please, reach out,” he said.
“There will be somebody who will listen.”
WATCH (July 5, 2019): Across Canada bike-tour to raise mental health awareness
The trip across more than 5,600 km of rugged Canadian terrain has restored his faith in human kindness, Phillips said.
People offered him places to stay or things to eat out of the kindness of their own hearts, he explained, and it’s taught him an important lesson.
“We’re all different, but we’re all the same,” Phillips said.
“It has been an invigorating experience.”