Former paralympian Nathan Clement is biking across British Columbia to show those living with disabilities that anything can be accomplished in life if they put their heart, mind and soul into it.
Clement suffered a stroke at the age of two and a half, which made him lose mobility in his left arm and leg.
Defying all the odds, Clement began swimming at an early age to help regain much of the strength he had lost after the stroke. Through hard work and determination, Clement quickly climbed up the ranks to earn a top seven spot in the 50-metre butterfly during the 2016 summer paralympics in Rio de Jenairo.
After retiring from competitive swimming, Clement wanted to plan out a new adventure and mapped out an over 1000-kilometre cycling trip from Fernie to his hometown in West Vancouver.
Clement said this trip is a test to see how far he can push his biking skills down the road.
“I travelled across the world for a while and after visiting numerous countries, I thought to myself and said ‘wow, these places are so beautiful that I’d like to bike through them one day’. Then finally it popped that I’d love to cycle the world,” said Clement.
“Right now, this trip will be a warm up to see how my body handles travelling day after day on the road. It’s also an incredible opportunity to see parts of the province I’ve never seen before.”
Clement started out on the trip about a week ago and has been following portions of The Great Trail to help him finish his first segment of the trip.
The route took him on a 1000-metre ascent up the Early Gray Pass from Kimberley to Crawford Bay and along Highway 3A from Balfour to Castlegar.
Clements notes the start of the trip wasn’t the easiest.
“At the start of my trip, I came across a massive washout area,” said Clement.
“As a result, I had to pull and carry my bike for five kilometres up a mountain pass in 35 degrees Celcius. That killed me on my first day and I had to stop short of where I was trying to get to.”
Despite the setbacks, Dave Clement, Nathan’s dad, has been helping him to to overcome obstacles by driving behind him along portions of the trip.
“It’s really nice to have that support, especially since it’s my first time doing something as long and grueling as this,” said Clement.
“My dad has also been honking his horn to help motivate me to keep going.”
After cycling through Castlegar, Nathan biked the Columbia and Western Trail to Christina Lake and then followed the Kettle Valley Rail Trail from Midway to Penticton.
Nathan hopes to now travel west to Princeton and follow roads around the Coquihalla back into Vancouver.
Nathan is currently a student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and plans to go into sport broadcasting after his studies.