Martin Bauman pedaled into Halifax alone on Tuesday on a cross-country biking journey spurred on by a father’s depression and a cousin’s suicide.
The idea came to 24-year-old Bauman one cold Saturday morning last October.
He was catching up with a family friend who was doing the Ride for Refuge, to raise money for refugees.
He asked his friend: “Why are you doing this when you could be sleeping”?
The answer he received was one that got his wheels spinning.
“Sometimes with problems of this scope, it can seem like it’s hard to make a difference,” said Bauman, a Waterloo, Ont., native.
“(My friend) felt like that was one small way he could.”
Bauman started thinking about mental health — a cause that not only affected him, but the lives of his family and friends.
Just before he turned 10 years old, he lost his cousin to suicide.
Three years later, his father began battling depression.
And around the time he was entering middle school, he began to have his own issues with anxiety and self-confidence.
“It was a process of learning that I am enough … and worthy of love and acceptance,” said Bauman.
All of these experiences led him to hop on his bike on June 7 to start a three-month journey across Canada.
Bauman began in Vancouver and is planning to end in St. John’s by the beginning of September.
As of Tuesday, he had completed about 6,500 kilometres.
He’s riding under the banner “Keep Pushing: Martin’s Ride for Mental Health” and is raising money for the Mood Disorder Society of Canada and Canadian Mental Health Association.
His goal was to raise $10,000, and he’s already surpassed the $11,500 mark.
Bauman said support from family, friends, and even strangers, has been overwhelming.
“This for me, has been a restoration in humanity,” he said. “Realizing that there are good people out there.”
Bauman’s trip has been smooth riding so far, expect for a minor pedal issue he had while entering Truro.
He said it has taken extreme physical and mental strength to make those pedals move an average of 100 kilometres every day.
But his perseverance has been fueled by breathtaking views and Canadian generosity.
In cities where he doesn’t know anyone, he’s been using a cyclist surfing network called “Warm Showers.”
Homeowners will often ask Bauman to share his story, which usually leads to conversation about their own experiences with mental illness.
“I think that does a great deal towards breaking down stigmas we have towards depression and what it means to be depressed,” he said.
Prior to doing this bike ride, Bauman didn’t openly share his struggles with anxiety.
“When you actually do talk about it, it’s a relief,” he said.
He thinks the country has made progress when it comes to fostering this open discussion.
But it’s still a work in progress.
“I hope I can contribute, in whatever small way, to continue to tip the scales toward progress.”
Those wishing to make a donation can visit www.mdsc.akaraisin.com/MartinsRide.
Original publish date: Aug. 9, 2016