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Marathon Manitoba cyclist
plans 7,200-kilometre ride
WINNIPEG, MAN. (CP) -- Arvid Loewen says his body is an instrument, not an ornament, and it's going to be put to some pretty rough use over the next 2 1/2 weeks as the ultra-marathon cyclist pedals from Inuvik to southern Ontario. It's a journey of 7,200 kilometres to Point Pelee that the manager at Winnipeg-based Palliser Furniture plans on completing in just 18 days. "I love a challenge, I certainly like to know what I'm made of," Loewen, 44, said before leaving for his starting line in the Northwest Territories last week. He started his trip Tuesday and plans on cycling 18 hours a day with just four hours of sleep each night, finishing July 20. "This gives me an opportunity to really see what strength God has given us and what we're capable of doing."
Loewen is riding to raise money for the Mennonite Central Committee, an international aid and development agency run by the Mennonite Church, and the Family Life Network, an international broadcast ministry. "MCC was very instrumental in bringing my parents out of Russia in 1930 when they faced religious persecution . It's an opportunity for me to pay back some of things they've done for us personally." His wife Ruth and three teenage children will be part of his support crew. At night he'll sleep in a van or in a motel bed if one is luckily nearby.
Loewen is no newcomer to ultra-marathon cycling, although he says he didn't even take up the bike until knee injuries kept him from playing soccer. As a native of Paraguay, he says he grew up with a soccer ball in his hands. It was to Paraguay that Loewen's parents were sent by the MCC 70 years ago. "Being dependent upon your strength instead of being dependent on a team is very different for me." Since he started cycling in 1994, he's taken part in 14 international races. Two years ago he rode from Vancouver to Winnipeg in just 5 1/2 days for charity, raising $32,000. In competition, he regularly covers distances of 800 kilometres. Loewen says the only way to tackle something like a 7,200-kilometre ride is to approach it from moment to moment and not look at the enormity of the challenge. "All I have to do is get through (each) day, approximately 400 kilometres, 16 to 18 hours of cycling."