Base Commander and family set 500-kilometre goal for Navy Bike Ride
By Joanie Veitch,
With the 2021 Navy Bike Ride kicking into gear on June 12, CFB Halifax Base Commander Capt(N) Sean Williams is looking forward to cycling with his family, and he’s already thinking about getting out on some local trails to help get them to their 500-kilometre goal for this year’s event.
“I didn’t really have a goal to begin with, for me it’s just a great excuse to get out and ride, but thinking about it…I’d like to see if we can do 500 kilometres as our part of the ride,” Capt(N) Williams said.
That may sound like a lot — and it is — but it won’t be completed in one massive push. For the second year in a row, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the annual Navy Bike Ride into a virtual format with individual cyclists and teams logging their rides over a 12-week period — from June 12 to August 20 — rather than having large numbers of cyclists gather for a single day, in-person event.
Now in its fifth year, the Navy Bike Ride raises money for two military charities, the Royal Canadian Naval Benevolent Fund and Support our Troops, last year raising nearly $60,000. This year participants are being challenged to log their rides to reach or surpass a cumulative 30,000 kilometres, the estimated distance HMCS Harry DeWolf will cover when it goes on deployment to Canada’s north this year.
This year’s Navy Bike Ride will be Capt(N) Williams’s third time participating in the event, and the second time he and his family have signed up. Last year they logged their rides in Ottawa — where they would sometimes cover as much as 40 kilometres in a single day trip, with stops for meals along the way — before moving to Halifax at the end of July as Capt(N) Williams took over base command in August.
Signed up this year with the base executive’s Freewheelers team, Capt(N) Williams said he sees the 2021 Navy Bike Ride as a great opportunity for registered cyclists to get out and explore the region’s trails over the summer months. For Capt(N) Williams, who grew up in Bedford, it’s also a chance to get back to his roots, in the place where he first discovered the simple joy of riding a bike.
“Back in those days I used to ride my bike everywhere with my friends and my older sister,” he said. “It was my main mode of transportation and, as kids, we had free reign of the town. We had the freedom to ride all over.”
Capt(N) Williams still has his first mountain bike — a Kona Fire Mountain that he bought with his paper route money. “I eventually replaced it but as an adult I resurrected it and for quite a number of years it was my main commuting bike,” he said. “It needs to be restored as it’s in pretty rough shape — it’s just a bare frame in my basement at this point — but I still have it.”
Although his bike is no longer his sole mode of transportation, Capt(N) Williams commutes to work on his bike most days, all year round — changing over to studded tires for the icy winter months.
”I’ve always found it clears my head and creates a separation between work and home. And I like not being stuck in a car,” Capt(N) Williams said. “Throughout my life I’ve always noticed that I’m happier when I’m riding. It’s good exercise, and it’s good for mental health too.”
Although most of his distance for the Navy Bike Ride will be covered on area trails with his wife and nine-year-old son, Capt(N) Williams will be logging his commuting distance as well. “That will help boost my number a little bit,” he laughed. “It all adds up.”