This article was written about me for The Whig-Standard in Kingston
KINGSTON — An Ontario man who was on an epic bicycle ride across two continents has had to put his ride on hold and ride out the COVID-19 pandemic in Kingston.
Arie Hoogerbrugge, 46, of Grimsby is staying with his aunt after arriving in the city almost two weeks ago.
Starting in November, Hoogerbrugge pedalled his bike 4,900 kilometres through Atlantic Canada and Quebec and arrived in Kingston on March 19.
Prior to starting the ride, Hoogerbrugge worked as a long haul trucker, living out of his truck for the past several years.
The winter-long ride through Eastern Canada was the first part of Hoogerbrugge’s three-year, 55,000-kilometre journey that is to take him across Canada from St. John’s to Inuvik at the end of the Dempster Highway before turning south and riding to the southern tip of South America.
“My plan was to keep moving,” Hoogerbrugge said Monday. “Pretty much when I arrived, things started to escalate. You had all these provinces talking about closing their borders.”
Now, instead of riding his bike, Hoogerbrugge is staying in his aunt’s apartment waiting for the pandemic to pass.
“If I started moving on and three or four or five days later all of a sudden Premier Ford said no more movement in the province, I would be kind of an idiot for leaving a safe haven,” he said. “I’d be heading for the GTA where things are heavily populated.”
Instead, for the foreseeable future, he is staying put.
“We are moving around and it seems fairly taboo,” he said of the current situation in Ontario, where public health officials are encouraging people to stay home to limit the spread of the virus. “People are not too happy when they hear about people moving around.”
Having met hundreds of people along the way so far and having built an audience of people watching his progress online, Hoogerbrugge said he was worried about upsetting people by pushing on with his ride before it was safe to do so.
Plus, his ride so far has been marked by interactions with people, and he said he would be willing to wait until the pandemic passes if it meant continuing to meet people along the way.
Of course, delaying the ride several months until the pandemic passes means Hoogerbrugge may not be finished with cold weather.
“I’m not a cold-weather person. I don’t like the winter any more than anybody else,” he said of his ride through a Maritime winter.
“I did it. I proved myself. I don’t have to go out in the cold ever again in my life, but if this thing drags out for too many months, I have a feeling I will be stuck in another Canadian winter.”