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August 19: Tour de Bonnechere, Eganville

Join the Valley's original cycling event.

Register for the Tour de Bonnechere today to get your own race t-shirt!
Early registration closes July 31st.
Registrations received after this date will not receive a race t-shirt.

Sunday August 19st promises something for everyone with a 100km route, a 60 km route, a 30km and an 18 km family ride to and from the Bonnechere caves with cave visits, a picnic and other fun activities for children.  It is not a race but rides can be timed for those who would like to challenge themselves.  The main site at Eganville’s Legion Field has the start and finish lines and other key amenities for the day, including great food, live music and a family and community atmosphere.  In just a few short years, the Ride has grown from double digits to hundreds of cyclists of all ages and skill levels.   Through a coalition of partners including GearHEADS, Phoenix Centre, Algonquin College, North Renfrew Family Services and Bonnechere Caves, we bring active transportation, community and mental wellness together.

What’s the connection?

The family and community nature of the Tour de Bonnechere lends itself brilliantly to mental health advocacy.  We work against a tide of fear, myth and misinformation that has been shaping our attitudes about mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, and suicide for centuries.  These attitudes have created wedges between individuals and their communities, deepening the despair and social isolation of those living with mental illness.  There is a palpable shift afoot, however.  We are in a critical moment in history where the loudest voices are not necessarily fearful ones.  They are the voices of personal truth about what it is like to live with depression, PTSD, schizophrenia or another similarly tormenting condition.  We are also hearing from those left behind in the wake of suicide or the self-destructive processes of addiction.  Families fractured by mental illness are speaking to those similarly impacted in order to minimize the collateral damage of shame, guilt and misinformation.  We are hearing from advocates and activists who are giving voice to those who have long been voiceless – the inability to speak and act in ones interest is an embedded symptom of mental illness.  Indeed, it is a glorious day when we stand as a community of people and say, “This is me.” or  “This is my child, brother, sister, partner, mother, dad.” “And this is what it’s like.”  As a mental health educator and advocate, I have been privileged to hear the stories, share the facts, dispel the myths and invite people to get involved in a critical conversation – one that interrupts cruelty and despair, points to injustice, and advocates for support systems and structures to ease the myriad of burdens associated with mental illness.

Look who’s talking.

When one person speaks their truth publically, they give voice to thousands who feel immediately less alone, less ashamed, and possibly more hopeful.  When decorated Olympic skater and cyclist Clara Hughes told her story about living with depression in 2013, she raised the quality and clarity of the social conversation about mental illness.  When she hit the road for Clara’s Big Ride – cycling across Canada to raise awareness about mental health at the community level – she launched our communities into similar action.  Both public and private sector groups have answered Clara’s by coming together – the Tour de Bonnechere is our signature fundraising event.  It pays tribute to Clara as a cyclist and mental health advocate but it also embodies the crucial role that physical and outdoor activity plays in mental wellness.   We welcome agencies, organizations, communities, businesses, municipalities and individuals who are interested in supporting mental health education and awareness while promoting County-wide mental health services.

We thank the grassroots  founders of  the Tour de Bonnechere who have generously placed this event in the hands of mental health advocates.  On Sunday August 19st, we will do it proud.  Learn more about the Tour de Bonnechere and register on-line at tourdebonnechere.blogspot.ca  or email tourdebonnechere@gmail. for additional information. 

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OVCATA is a voice for cyclists and all active transportation enthusiasts in the Ottawa Valley, advocating for safety and good conditions, bringing people together, and encouraging participation. Here are some of the things we accomplished in our first year.

2017-2018 directors of OVCATA

Co-chairs: Ish Theilheimer (Golden Lake)
Patricia Krose (Whitewater Region)
Secretary: Ron Moss (Pembroke)
Treasurer: Debbie Fiebig (Renfrew)
Members at large:
Damien McCarthy (Petawawa)
Bob Peltzer (Bonnechere Valley)
Eric Price (Pembroke)
Greg Ellis (Maberly, Lanark County)
Robert Howe of Barrys Bay provides legal advice and support.