It may look like he’s just sweeping floors in the kitchen of Flow Café and Catering, but Charlie Bauman has a plan brewing.
Last July, Bauman returned from a bike journey that saw him cycle through 13 states from Oregon to Virginia, and then from Virginia to Elmira, all to raise money for World Vision. On June 17, it’s back on the road, travelling the trans-Canadian highway to Edmonton, and then Alaska.
Along the way, he’s stopped at every major city and town he finds to pass the hat for the Christian charity, which offers humanitarian aid for impoverished children and communities. “I’ve always enjoyed cycling, and I was like, ‘You know what? Why don’t I do something I like, and try to make it for a good cause,’” he says.
“It kind of puts me in the sense of how they’re feeling, in a way,” he says. “I’m doing it by choice, so I can’t complain, but there are days when for 300km you don’t see anything, and you’re like, ‘I have no food, no water, I’m tired, I don’t want to go on. This is how it must feel.’”
He continues, “I’m decking myself out in World Vision gear,” says Bauman. “People will always ask me, ‘Oh, you’re a World Vision guy?’ I’ll say, ‘No, I’m just helping to raise funds for it,’ and I’ll tell them about it. They’ll say, ‘Oh, here, let me give you a few bucks,’ and those few bucks add up.”
So far, Bauman has raised $4,700, with an ultimate fundraising goal of $15,000. “There are towns I stopped in where they’d say, ‘Come to our community centre,’ and they’d have a bunch of people there and say, ‘This guy’s for World Vision.’ I got $150 from one town, stopped in at Yellowstone National Park and got $300 from there …”
When asked if he has any favourite spots, Bauman responds, “It’s really the people, not the location – the people make the scenery.”
Being back in Elmira – where he works at Flow and the Sip ‘n Bite restaurant – has been just a little strange for someone who has spent so many nights on the road. The trip, he says, “Takes away all the distractions of life – having a job, going home to a nice, warm bed and shower. It really makes you appreciate the nice stuff.”
He’ll need to appreciate that bed and shower while he has them, because the second half of the trip will pose the greatest challenges.
“Going up north, there won’t be as many people and there will be smaller towns. Just that complete solitude will be the biggest factor to push through. It’s the most remote part, and I want to see what that’s like, but it’s a double-edged sword.”
Bauman hopes to be back in Elmira in mid-October, and will raise the remainder of his fundraising goal at local events that will be announced at a later date. “I found at the maple syrup festival, hardly anyone knew what World Vision was. I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ But you go to the larger cities, [many] know about it, but it’s still a widely unknown charity. Their funds go to the children directly.”
Will it all be worth it in the end? While en route in the United States, Bauman travelled for a time with a European cyclist who long dreamed of traversing the red, white and blue. He finally made the plunge when his wife told him it was now or never. This is a philosophy that Bauman has taken to heart. “If you don’t force yourself to get out there and do it, you’re never going to do it.”
Bauman hopes to raise $15,000, or one for every kilometre pedaled. Donations can be made at http://my.worldvision.ca/mwv/fundraiser/367. His progress can be followed at www.facebook.com/Cycle4Humanity.