BMX rider Mat Fee (middle) with Cycling for Sobriety support team members Jon Karamanos and Courtney Rota in Surrey Friday afternoon, outside John Volken Academy on King George Boulevard. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

VIDEO: ‘Cycling for Sobriety’ BMX-er arrives home in Surrey after cross-Canada ride

Recovering addict Mat Fee is on a five-month journey that ends this week

It was a Surrey homecoming Friday for Mat Fee, the man who is riding across Canada on a BMX bike.

He set out from Halifax on May 1 in an attempt to set a record for the world’s longest ride on a single-speed bike.

More than that, the 7,000-kilometre “Cycling for Sobriety” ride has been an effort by Fee and his two-person support team to raise money and awareness for the addiction-recovery services at John Volken Academy in Newton.

“That place really turned my life around,” Fee said in April, before the start of his cross-Canada ride. “I want to let people know it’s there and how it changed my life, and that sobriety is possible.”

On Friday afternoon (Oct. 4), Fee arrived to a hero’s welcome and hugs from others who live and work at the facility, located on King George Boulevard at 68th Avenue.

After being on the road for more than five months, it was a surreal moment for Fee as he realized his bike ride is nearly over.

“It’s a little overwhelming but it feels great, that’s for sure,” Fee said.

Last spring, he and his team drove across Canada in an RV, to map the route Fee would ride back home to B.C. Over the spring and summer and now into fall, he’s cycled anywhere from 50 to 150 kilometres a day, through all kinds of weather and over all kinds of terrain.

• RELATED STORY: ‘Healing’ and ‘on schedule,’ Surrey BMXer more than halfway home on cross-Canada ride, from August 2019.

Fee was joined on the ride by support team members Jon Karamanos and Courtney Rota, who both followed along in a RV.

Rota has known Fee for around eight years, and is in recovery herself.

“We’re good supports for one another and he asked me to come out and help with everything,” Rota said. “It’s been unreal to be able to witness this and watch him and be part of it. I’m super happy.”

Fee’s long bike ride isn’t over just yet, as he’ll continue on to Vancouver on Sunday (Oct. 6). That morning, other cyclists are encouraged to ride with him from the PNE to Victory Square, with a 10 a.m. meeting time at the PNE (corner of Renfrew and Hastings). Arrival time at Victory Square is at around 11:45 a.m.

On Tuesday (Oct. 8), Fee is schedule to ride to the Legislature in Victoria, on the final leg of his journey.

Fee said riding a BMX bike across Canada is something he dreamed about since the age of seven, around the time his family moved from Duncan to Terrace.

“I rode bikes trying to make friends,” he says in a bio posted to cyclingforsobriety.org. “Some of these kids were older and they sexually abused and tortured me. Not long after this, my parents divorced and I blamed myself. I began to socially disconnect and in my teenage years I became an outcast. I started partying and hanging around with the wrong crowd. Hard drugs and drinking became my life at age 15.”

Later, he landed in hospital after crashing his truck while driving high, and his mother showed him a news clip about John Volken Academy. After three months of treatment, he experienced “great personal growth,” despite the challenge of living in such a therapeutic community.

“It was what was needed,” he posted on the Cycling for Sobriety website. “I learned about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and finally at the age of 30 I got answers to why I mentally and emotionally suffered.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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