Normand Bouchard and his son, Francois Bouchard. Normand said one reason for the ride is to show even though his son is autistic, Francois can still go on epic adventures. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Autism no barrier to cross-Canada bike trip for young man and dad

They passed through Revelstoke on July 18

Almost 4,000 km later a Québécois father and son pedal into Revelstoke to stock up on chocolate bars and Subway sandwiches.

Normand Bouchard, 58, and his son, Francois Bouchard, 24, cycling trek across Canada from Montreal to Vancouver made a stop in Revelstoke on July 18.

While Revelstoke is a popular stop for bikers crossing the country, there’s one notable difference that sets these two apart. Francois is autistic.

“I follow him,” said Normand.

Francois’s handlebars are taped different colours. The left is green and the right yellow. Red and blue are for gear changes.

Normand stays right behind Francois, occasionally calling out a rainbow of instructions. “We’ve never had a collision,” Normand said.

They have been on the road for 45 days, biking roughly 100 km per day and camping along the way.

“I’ve never done a trip without my son,” said Normand.

To practice prior this trip, the two biked 1,600 km from Montreal to Halifax.

Normand said there is no one reason why they are biking across Canada, but several. One is they simply like to bike.

“And another is I’d like to prove that sick people can do this,” Normand continued. “Francois really likes the restaurants and the chocolate bars along the way.”

Francois has led the way across Canada for almost 4,000 km. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

While most people that bike across Canada go from west to east, Normand said they decided to go in reverse because it’s flatter in Quebec. They had more time to get in shape for the mountains.

However, the wind also tends to blow from west to east, leaving the Bouchards with the wind usually blowing against them. “But that’s okay. I’m not in a rush,” Normand said.

Out of all the provinces, Normand said the roads in Ontario were the worst, mostly because they did not have a shoulder.

Sometimes, Normand had to call out to his son to head for the ditch—immediately. “Some trucks come by very close.”

The two wear fluorescent safety vests and ponchos.

Normand is a process planner in Quebec and his work colleges have a giant office map with a pin.

As the two bike cross-country, the pin follows, tracking their process.

After a brief stop at Save-On-Foods during their visit to Revelstoke, the two stuffed Gatorade, Coke, and Chips Ahoy into their panniers.

“For moral,” said Normand with a chuckle.

Originally, the two were just aiming to reach Calgary.

“Each day beyond Calgary has been a bonus,” he said.

READ MORE: Rich the Vegan scootering across Canada for animal rights

READ MORE: Disabled athletes paddle and bike from Revelstoke to Nelson


 

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liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

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