UPDATE! On April 22nd, 2017 JaBig Completed his journey to the Arctic Ocean and set the Guinness World Record for the longest journey on a fixed gear bike (ie-1 speed).
Though he has notched nearly 15,000 kilometres on his fixed gear bicycle over the past
year, battling some of the country’s most unforgiving highway terrain in life-threatening
frigid temperatures, Jean-Aime Bigirimana – better known as DJ JaBig – doesn’t consider
himself a “cyclist.”
“I’m just a cycling DJ,” the 37-year-old shrugs, on a recent stopover in the South Cariboo.
It’s a modest attitude for someone who this month broke the Guinness World Record for
longest journey on a bicycle within a single country, when his tally reached 14,667
JaBig’s coast-to-coast-to-coast ride started in January of 2016, when he left his home in
Montreal headed for the Atlantic Ocean. Once he reached the East Coast he headed
west for the Pacific, then due North where he is currently pedalling towards Northern B.C.
He hopes to reach the Arctic Ocean – more specifically Tuktoyaktuk – by April.
Life on the road, with little more than a cell phone, water bottle and a few extra layers for
when the temperature drops has become routine for the Rwanda native, who has lived in
Canada since 2002.
“It’s almost become my nine-to-five,” he explains. “I know I have to get up, plan my next
day’s ride, make sure I have accommodation, update my social media to let all my friends
and family know I’m OK, and plan ahead.”
The idea for the record-breaking ride came to JaBig practically on a whim, after he had
spent a summer cycling around Montreal, gradually clocking longer and longer distances.
After four months and 6,000 kilometres under his belt, he realized he had cycled the
distance from Vancouver to Halifax.
Setting out to do the real thing, however, JaBig was greeted with plenty of skepticism
“All of my friends, they thought I was on a suicide mission,” he laughs.
When it came to his method of transport – on a fixed-gear bicycle – he was told with no
uncertainty that it could not be done.
“At that point, it became a challenge. I don’t like to be dared,” he said.
He said he has been learning new things about cycling with a fixed-gear bike at every
turn, relying on those with more experience and social media followers who have offered
tips and tricks for ways of addressing problems along the way.
Despite the skeptics and the challenges – and he admits there have been plenty of both
– he says the journey has been an “amazing collaborative effort.”
“I’ve also proven that although it has been complicated, for me, I’ve been able to find a
solution for everything.”
Equally as valuable as the knowledge he has gained over the past 13 months has been
the experience of staying with hosts who have gratefully opened their homes to him as he
treks across the country.
“That idea around the world that Canadians are super nice… I can say it is definitely true,”
While he has his short-term sights set on reaching the Arctic within the next two months,
JaBig says he can’t help but planning his next adventure.
“One week into my trip, I realized I was hooked,” he says. “Now the question is, not what
next, but where next.”
Follow JaBig’s cycling adventure on Twitter and Instagram, @jabig, or at
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