ON THE ROAD WITH THE OTESHA PROJECT BY MATT COLAUTTI
in Centre-du-Québec! © Otesha Project
A 350-km route in 4 days
Every year, groups of inspired volunteers pile all their gear onto bikes and set off on a tour of the Canadian heartland. They stop at communities and schools the way, performing and teaching their message of sustainability. They are representatives of the Otesha Project, the Ottawa-based charity devoted to teaching how small lifestyle changes can minimize our impact on the Earth. Part cycle tour, part social community, Otesha specializes in reaching out directly to Canadians, one kilometre at a time. Sustainability remains central to all aspects of the tours. Groups create their own “Food Mandate,” which includes careful monitoring of their consumables. Some groups have even gone so far as to carry all their waste until the end of the ride (to encourage conservation). Others have monitored their daily water and food intake. That’s not to say that the groups go hungry. “We are eating continuously,” recalls Otesha alumna Kira Burger. In 2008, Burger completed her first tour, a two-month ride from Ottawa through Algonquin Park and the Bruce Peninsula to Sudbury. “On another tour we did everything from visit wineries, to goat farms, to abattoirs, to large-scale industrial mushroom operations, to small-scale organic farms,” she explains, before rhyming off a mouth-watering list of sustainably developed menus. Of course, sustainability is more than just food and travel – it’s also about people and relationships. A natural friendship develops on the road, where challenges serve to only make the team stronger. After all, the most widely regaled cycle tour stories are the ones that happen when things go wrong.
from the St. Lawrence river to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains! “We weren’t extremely lost, but we were confused by our directions,” begins Kira, recounting the sandy, hilly road that was the site of one of her best tour memories. “It was one of those days where we were asking ourselves, ‘Is this a joke?’ Every time we would manage to push the bike trailers up the hill we would have this big celebration, high-five, coast down the hill and then do it all over again. You can take it as a tough experience, or you can make a really great time out of it.” Whatever challenges they encounter, Otesha volunteers arrive nearly every day at a new community with energy left to perform. A decade of performances has reached over 150,000 Canadians, and a network of 500 alumni continue to spread the message. “It’s really hard to quantify all the ripple effects,” says Kira, “but we’ve seen some pretty incredible things come out of this.” For anyone who has ever wanted their adventures to have a larger impact, the Otesha Project promises to be a great ride. This season’s tours will explore aboriginal nations in the Thousand Islands, local food in the GTA, and the epic British Columbia coast. Applications, training, and planning are already under way. And the open road is waiting.
CAN CYCLING $per479.50 person, double occ.
3-days package available.
In cooperation with:
Information / Reservations 1-888-816-4007, ext. 300
INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN THE OTESHA PROJECT? To learn more about joining a ride, or to make a donation, check out otesha.ca. adventuramag.ca summer 2013 7