After losing a limb in a workplace accident, Paul Jankura's childhood friend would be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This would be the beginning of an adventure that would put Jankura on a 2300-kilometre bike ride straight into a hurricane, followed by an accident that would put Jankura in the hospital while strangers across Canada would reach out to help.
Jankura, who lost 13 pounds during the ride, believes the key to his success was taking the first step and never looking back. “Be naïve enough to start, but stubborn enough to finish,” he says.
You cycled alone for most of the trip, what thoughts went through your mind?
“For the first time in my life I was actually doing something that I was talking about doing. I used fear as fuel to push me towards that finish line. My self-talk was a roller coaster of positive and negative. My take away from this is; my positive self-talk steamrolls the negative.”
Did training lead to your success?
“My training is what built my confidence. I didn’t want to bike 250-300 km beforehand and psych myself out. So, I stuck with 100-130 km. My first time completing 100 km was during training this summer.”
You headed straight into a hurricane; did you consider quitting?
“I didn't dwell on it a lot because I didn't want unnecessary thoughts to begin to affect my performance. We caught up to it as soon as we hit New Brunswick, the same day Hurricane Dorian made its way through Nova Scotia.
The amount of rain that would come down and the consistency was almost unbearable. This was one of my tests. I remained focused on why I was out there. What ended up limiting my ride was the lightening. I did my own risk assessment. It was a tough pill to swallow.”
You had an accident that put you in the hospital, how did you keep going?
“The weather was actually perfect, one of the first days I had wind at my back. I was shooting for a 300 km day. My average speed was around 40 km/h. Even though my body was hurting, it was still getting stronger.
On the Trans-Canada Highway, I approached a climb that was daunting, but I knew on the other side I get to go down. This is where it went south. I was picking up speed - clocking in at 53 km/h. My front tire buckled, shooting my bike 30 ft in the air behind me and approximately 60 ft down a ravine. I somersaulted roughly 30 ft. As I came to a stop and looked behind, all I saw was the support vehicle heading right for me. Thanks to the skill my good friend, Devin, possessed behind the wheel, he was able to come to a safe stop.
Adrenaline rushed as I dripped with blood from road rash and my helmet dismantled. Searching through the thick brush, we found my bike - bent and twisted. We threw it in the back and rushed to the hospital.
My thoughts raced on how many people I would let down if I didn’t see this through. As I waited for my test results, I was on the phone with Mike’s Bike Shop in Moncton, N.B. Without hesitation they had someone drive to the hospital, roughly 100 km, to pick up my bike and work on it.”
Looking back, what will you never forget?
“The first day, I had company for the first 100 km, which was amazing. He didn't think he would make it 50 km and ended up making it to Toronto - which inspired me to keep going after we departed.
Conquering Cape Spear, it is roughly 15 to 20 km of steep hills. I had people telling me I didn’t know what I was up against. I ended up completing the ride much faster than anyone had anticipated."
Describe what it felt like to cross the finish line?
“I was overwhelmed. From being able to see my daughter for the first time in 15 days, to the horns of 50 cars cheering me on as I climbed that final hill. The amount of support from all the people - including the ones living with MS. What a rush.”
When asked about the future, he says, "For me, it's not over. There's still more to come."
Paul’s Ride to Conquer MS raised over $33,500 you can still make a donation here.