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Monday, April 22, 2024
Biking 4,400-km in memory of his brother

Kaleb Schriefer is riding the Tour Divide from Alberta to New Mexico in honour of Noah, who died of an overdose

Kaleb Schriefer was crushed by the loss of his younger brother Noah in January 2021 and he plans to bike through the grief this June on a 4,400-kilometre Tour Divide ride in his sibling’s memory.

“It’s an event for me and my healing through grief and through this traumatic journey that we’ve been forced to go through,” Schriefer says.

“We were thick as thieves growing up … We grew up here in Virgil and we spent all our time running through Four Mile Creek. He was well-known in the community. This was a big shock.”

Noah “Bubba” Schriefer, who would have been 30 this April 5, died of an accidental overdose. He was the youngest of five kids in the Schriefer family, who own the Pie Plate in Virgil.

Kaleb Schriefer, 36, says Noah struggled with addiction for many years.

“He was so much more than that. That’s not who he was,” Schriefer says although there had been relapses, Noah was getting better.

He was known for his adventurous spirit and Schriefer says he was motivated to traverse the world’s longest single-track mountain bike route in his memory.

The Tour Divide is an annual mountain biking trek spanning the length of the Rocky Mountains, from Canada to the Mexican border. The Grand Depart kicks off on June 10 in Banff, Alta.

“He was the adventurer. I consider myself adventurous for sure. But this is huge and epic and he was about the huge epic journeys. He was out snowboarding in B.C., surfing Costa Rica and Australia,” he says.

“He was home in the mountains. He really kind of came to his own out in B.C.”

He will leave his brother’s ashes at the top of the mountains during the ride, where he says he will feel Noah’s presence the most.

As for the ride itself, Schriefer says he stumbled on the route after watching a documentary.

The idea of completing the route “some day” was a perfect bucket-list addition. It wasn’t until after he lost his brother that he resolved to make it happen.

“When he passed it was just like, ‘OK, this is what you’re going to do.’ This is what I have to do for him and for me,” he says.

He will be “bikepacking” the route, which means carrying everything he needs for the estimated five-week trip with him on his bike. There are small towns along the way to top up his supplies but he will have all his clothes, sleeping gear and cooking supplies with him for the entire route. He is also doing the trip alone.

“I’m going solo. The only one coming with me is Noah.”

“(The ride) is about breaking yourself down and you go into these really dark places as a person and then you come out the other side, better and more aware of yourself,” he says.

With loss, he says an overwhelming theme resurfaces: “You cannot avoid grief.”

“You can try and avoid it but eventually it catches up to you. If you continue to avoid it, it just destroys you. So, it’s something that you have to go through. You have to feel all the feelings,” he says. And this ride is his way through it.

Schriefer has a support system at home, including his wife and three kids, who are hoping to travel from St. Catharines to meet him at the finish line.

A GoFundMe is set up to help with the expense of Schriefer’s odyssey. All net funds raised above expenses will go to the Chill Foundation, an organization that empowers youth through board sports.

“They take at-risk or endangered youth and support them through life,” Schriefer says.

He will also be doing a fundraiser on Tuesday, April 5, at the Fit Collective gym in St. Catharines. He’s calling it the “Tour de Burpees.”

He says the plan is to raise $1 per burpee and the event will be livestreamed.

“They do this thing called birthday burpees, where you do the number of burpees as you are years young.”

He says he decided to turn that idea into a fundraiser for the ride on Noah’s birthday, April 5.

Donations for his ride can be made to his GoFundMe page at https://gofund.me/7cf76890 or by searching for “Bubba’s Memorial Ride on the Divide.”

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