An Inuvik-based world-record holder is showing you can coach an athlete from anywhere — even from the Far North.
Chris Bruckner, the current Guinness World Record Holder for fastest cycle across Canada in 13 days 3 hours 49 minutes, is lending his expertise on the matter to Bianca Hayes, who will set out to attempt the record herself to raise awareness and funding for ovarian cancer — one of the deadliest forms of the disease.
“If there is one person I could choose to beat my record it would be Bianca,” said Bruckner, who has been coaching Hayes remotely from Inuvik for the last 11 months. “I am confident in Bianca’s abilities, but I am nervous for her. She must get to Halifax in less than 15 days elapsed time, and that is no easy feat at the best of times.
“There are so many variables that stand in her way: live traffic, mountains and weather, to name a few. Combined with the knowledge that she will be riding herself into injury, it will be a challenge for Bianca to remain positive and maximize her ride time, especially as the event drags on.”
She sets out June 13 from Vancouver, with the hope of reaching Halifax June 28.
This isn’t Hayes’ first time making the trek. She’s already plied the long road from Vancouver to Halifax once, in 2020, where she became the fastest woman to make the journey by bicycle. However, her ability to use her feat to raise awareness about ovarian cancer — which has the same survival rate today as it had in 1970 — was diminished by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Admitting the journey tested her limits, Hayes said she has a more well-rounded plan of attack for her second Trans-Canada trek.
“Tubeless wheels for sure,” she said. “We had a ton of flats. During the pandemic, everybody bought a bike and cleaned bike stores out of all of their supplies. So we had very old tubes and I popped about 22 over the course of 19 days.
One area of the trip she and Chris had in common was the accumulation of wear and tear on the body, particularly on the hands. Both experienced nerve damage over the trip that made it impossible to change their own tires, so without a support crew completing the speed-trek is nearly impossible.
So this time, she’s bringing a full contingent with her.
“One of the other things that I realized was I need a bike mechanic and I need more people in as a support crew just because everybody is sleep deprived,” she noted. “Clearly you need to be able to cycle people on and off. So this year, I’ve got four people in a recreational vehicle supporting.”
Having someone who has also made the trek as a coach is also a helpful addition for this second trip.
Completing the journey in record time requires a high level of physical prowess. To prepare for the trials ahead, Hayes has been biking an average of 20 hours per week and focusing on building up her strength, power and endurance.
“In the fall of 2021, our focus was primarily strength training in the gym,” said Bruckner. “Bianca would complete functional threshold power (FTP) testing every four weeks to determine her progress. We would analyze the data together, and determine new goals for the foreseeable future.
“In 2022, the plan involved more group road riding and longer duration rides while weaning her gym routine back to maintain her current strength. The reality of ultra-endurance cycling events is that if the trip is going well, it is going to get worse. If the trip is going poorly, it’s going to get better. Bianca knows if she is able to follow our gameplan, the overall average of her ride duration will likely ensure she will get to Halifax in world record time.”
With an ambitious goal of raising $1 million for ovarian cancer research, Hayes has a long journey ahead in fundraising as well. She is currently sitting at $60,000. She said she plans to continue seeking donations after she completes her journey, with hopes of bringing in corporate sponsors and other philanthropic organizations.
Known as a silent killer, ovarian cancer is one of the least survived variations of the illness. Due to several technical limitations, it’s difficult to detect early and oftentimes women are only diagnosed after the cancer becomes terminal. There is currently no screening test for ovarian cancer, as opposed to prostate and breast cancers. As with most cancers, if detected earlier, the disease is far more survivable.
Hayes’ sister, Katrina, was among ovarian cancer’s victims in 2018. Since then, Bianca has dedicated herself to helping science fight the disease through her cycling and bringing national awareness to the disease to get more eyes looking for better treatments.
If you would like to help Hayes in her fundraising journey, you can visit her website at https://www.biancahayes.com to donate and learn more.