Saskatoon man biking to Vancouver to raise money and awareness for opioid crisis

Click to play video: 'Cycling to raise awareness for the overdose crisis' Cycling to raise awareness for the overdose crisis
WATCH: A Saskatchewan man is braving the winter elements in a bid to raise awareness of the opioid epidemic. Ilajah Pidskalny is cycling from Saskatoon to Vancouver and shares the details of his journey so far – Jan 17, 2021

Twenty-five-year-old Iliajah Pidskalny is taking on an adventure that isn’t for the faint of heart.

He’s going to be up against treacherous conditions as he bikes all the way from Saskatoon to Vancouver, camping in between.

Pidskalny has done the 1,600-kilometre-plus route with warmer weather before, but the snow won’t be the only new part of his ride.

Read more: Family of Saskatoon overdose victim grieving over Christmas

The main purpose of Pidskalny’s journey — dubbed “Cycle To Stop The Harm” — is to raise money and awareness for the opioid crisis. He said it’s concerning how drug overdose deaths increase every year.

“If we can shed light on the overdose crisis, we’ll start to see a lot of other issues popping up,” Pidskalny said.

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“This sort of new empathic approach to drug policies, the compassionate mental illness approach I think will help shed light on mental illness or socio-economic factors that might be driving communities or people into drug addiction.”

Read more: Regina friendship centre asks Sask. for permission to proceed with overdose prevention site

He hopes to raise $20,000, which will be split between the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition and Moms Stop the Harm.

Pidskalny’s bike will be equipped with camping supplies, food and clothing. Slavo Kutas / Global News

Pidskalny has always enjoyed being outdoors. He graduated from the University of Saskatchewan’s geology program last April, and has been out biking, backpacking and camping since then.

Even with his experience, he said the cold will be a huge challenge. He expects it could get as cold as -40 C with the windchill.

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“Every day I have to assume that I’ll get really bad weather to keep me safe,” Pidskalny said.

Read more: Calgary-made bike giving freedom back to outdoor enthusiasts with disabilities

He wants to finish the ride in 30 days, but said it could take as many as 50 days if issues arise.

“If I’m biking too hard and too fast, I’ll start to sweat which is very dangerous in the evening. You have to slow down, stop, take off layers or put on layers,” he explained.

“You’re constantly battling.”

Pidskalny will be raising money through a GoFundMe page, and his journey can be followed on his social media platforms.

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