- What is the history of EPIC? I have heard some confusing stories and/or I was an early supporter; where is EPIC now, and
what's happened since the beginning?
In the Summer of 2009, a friend of Ben's wanted to bike across Canada for fun. But shortly after beginning his trip, he realized he needed more training and time to prepare, so he postponed the trip to summer 2010. Ben, thinking that it might be fun, decided to join his friend on this trip. When they started making their plans, they realized that support could be raised through this trip for Invisible Children, and at that point, the EPIC team was born.
In January 2010, we came to the realization that due mainly to lack of funds, we would have to postpone the trip to 2011. A while later, in February, Ben announced he would be leaving EPIC, due to a few different personal reasons.
Near the end of February, Ben's friend also had to drop the plans of being involved with EPIC. At that point all of EPIC's activity and plans halted.
Although Ben had left EPIC in February, he still wanted to do a bike trip across Canada at some point in the next few years. Since EPIC was stalled and since Ben needed to set up a team to prepare for the future trip, he took back charge of EPIC at the end of April 2010, setting up a new website, blog, and Facebook group.
On August 22nd, 2010, a friend of Ben's, David Lewis, agreed to join the EPIC team as a Rider. Ben had been talking to Dave, along with some others, about joining the team, and on the 22nd, David agreed to commit to EPIC's goals and mission, making him the second Rider of EPIC. On January 2nd, 2010, a meeting was held at Ben's where two more Riders were added; Luke Lewis, Dave's younger brother, and Evan Redka.
Sometime around May of 2012, Ben realized that his post-secondary program at Conestoga College would be too heavy for him to keep training and planning for the ride, so he decided to take over full leadership of EPIC and let his other teammates do the riding. This turned out well since we still needed a driver for the support van, a role which Ben was able to fill. Being in the position of EPIC Team Leader allowed him to focus on the planning and organizing of the Ride, and during the trip he was able to manage the resources, camp, food, and online media while the Riders took on their own challenges.
Also, in the summer of 2012, our team made the decision to switch organizations. While the original idea was to raise awareness and funds for Invisible Children, the advent of Invisible's KONY 2012 campaign brought a lot of awareness to the conflict with Joseph Kony and the LRA in Central Africa. We felt that by 2013, the EPIC Ride would not have nearly the impact that it was originally intended to, and so the switch was made to Ratanak International, a non-profit working with other organizations in Cambodia. To read more about why EPIC made this change, check out this news post.
In late August of 2012, Dave spent a couple weeks in the Cambridge area with family and friends, and our team was able to meet together a couple of times. During one of those meetings we discussed, and agreed upon, adding another Rider to our team; Tyler Thornton, one of Dave and Luke's cousins. Tyler had a number of years' experience in riding competitivly, and was even proficient in riding a unicycle!
Unfortunately, in May of 2013, Tyler made the difficult but wise choice to leave the EPIC team because of a knee injury. His knees had been injured in the previous year, and so he'd taken time off to heal up and go through some physio. At 5 weeks before the EPIC Ride, he realized that he wouldn't healed enough to come on the trip, and so Tyler stepped down as a Rider.
We want to recognize Tyler's contributions and teamwork as part of EPIC over those 10 months, as well as his continued support of EPIC and Ratanak during that summer, as we went on the EPIC Ride.
On June 23rd, 2013, we left Cambridge in our Support Van and drove for 53 hours and 4,400 km out to Richmond, BC. From there we got set up and started cycling across Canada, crossing all 10 provinces and returning to the mainland from Newfoundland on August 21st. That evening we started driving home, and travelled for 24 hours and 2,100 km, arriving home on the evening of August 22nd, 2013.
We are now all settled in to routines at home, school, and work, and don't plan to do any more cross-Canada rides in the near future. At the end of 2013 we ended the fundraising campaign for Ratanak, with $38,905.51!