PUNXSUTAWNEY — Call it a very intense training regiment.
Twenty-two-year old Mathieu Krsnik, of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, has visited Boston and locations in New York state, but he hopes to see much more — all before the second weekend in June — of the United States on a cycling trip all the way to Florida.
Krsnik began his ride Sunday on a 10-pound bike saddled with 25 pounds of supplies and equipment. He wants to visit Washington, D.C., Jacksonville, Fla., and possibly Miami as he raises funds for the “Ride to Conquer Cancer,” a two-day ride that begins June 9 in Toronto and travels through Hamilton before ending in Niagara Falls June 10.
He came up with the idea for his U.S. trip just two months ago.
“Honestly, I wanted to challenge my independence,” Krsnik said. “I’ve never done anything by myself, especially to this extent.”
He said his grandmother passed away from cancer when he was 12 years old, and just recently, a close friend’s mother died of cancer.
Krsnik plans to fly back to Toronto for the “Ride to Conquer Cancer,” in which he’ll compete for a team sponsored by Diamond Estates Winery of Niagara-On-the-Lake, Ontario.
He’s already raised the required $2,500 to enter the race, and whatever he collects here will go toward The Campbell Family Institute at The Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, one of the top five cancer research centers in the world.
As of Wednesday, Krsnik completed 380 kilometers (236 miles) in three days. He departed Bradford Wednesday morning before arriving in Punxsy, where he was able to shower and find a place to rest at the Punxsutawney Area Community Center, thanks to director Rob McCoy.
Krsnik said he’s been the recipient of kindness — and donations — from strangers on his journey.
His first night, a young couple took him in for the night after he asked for directions, and another man provided him with breakfast, simply because his own children had taken a similar journey.
In St. Catharines, Krsnik works as a monitor/support staff for the city, and decided to take some time to plan his career path after college.
He cycles to work, but doesn’t consider himself an avid cyclist.
“But I will be after this,” he said.
Along the way, he’s learned that large trucks can create a dangerous draft, and the next time he tries a trip such as this, he’ll likely tour with a group.
Krsnik has also learned about Pennsylvania’s hilly and mountainous terrain.
“Going up hills isn’t a lot of fun, but there’s always a second side to the mountains,” he said.
Krsnik said he had heard of Punxsutawney and Groundhog Day, but honestly, that he wound up in town because some items he wanted could not be found in Big Run.
“But now I’m glad I came here,” he said.