QUISPAMSIS, N.B. — A former long-haul trucker who traded his big rig for a bike says he has been touched by the show of Maritime hospitality as he journeys across Canada and through Alaska to the Arctic.

“I’ve been planning this bike ride since 2011, so that’s been nine years,” says Arie Hoogerbrugge, who is originally from Grimsby, Ont. “The trucking was simply to finance the ride, and then the window of opportunity presented itself, and I took it.”

Hoogerbrugge started his journey in Newfoundland and is now working his way through the Maritimes. He will continue heading west towards Alaska — but he’s not stopping there. After his Arctic bike expedition is complete, he plans to cycle to the southernmost tip of South America.

He expects it will take him roughly three years to complete the 55,000-kilometre journey, and he’s prepared to encounter all kinds of bad weather.

While he’s equipped for winter travel, he doesn’t push his luck.

“Typically, when a snowstorm hits, I’m off the road. I’ve gone through about five or six so far, but you know, not heavy, heavy, and you usually try to get off the road fairly quickly,” says Hoogerbrugge.

His bike also has studded tires to help him manoeuver Canada’s slippery winter roads.

“They actually have steel studs and they help me with my traction over ice and snow,” he says.

What Hoogerbrugge wasn’t prepared for, however, was the enthusiasm and encouragement he received from the Maritime cycling community.

“Everywhere I went, everywhere I turned, someone was reaching out offering me a warm bed to sleep,” he says. “I’ve been on the road about 80 days and I think I’ve only camped about 30 of them. The rest has been complete strangers inviting me into their home virtually every night.”

Other cyclists say they are inspired by Hoogerbrugge’s undertaking.

“I like to do long rides. The longest ride I ever did was 209 kilometres, and I couldn’t imagine doing that day after day after day,” says Dean Roberts, who owns a bike shop in Quispamsis, N.B. “Although, cycling is a very peaceful activity, so I can see the allure of wanting to be out with yourself and your thoughts and your trusty steed.”

Roberts checked every component of Hoogerbrugge’s bike on Monday to ensure it’s still in good working condition.

Hoogerbrugge expected to hit the road again Tuesday, with help from new friends along the way.

“It’s just taken on a life of its own and so I just do the pedalling part, and everyone else does the generosity part, and it’s been phenomenal.”

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