“The people that we’ve met have been absolutely wonderful and supportive and giving and generous. It’s renewed our faith in humanity. We’ve met people randomly, and they’ve said, ‘What do you need? Come to our house; we’ll feed you.’ Total strangers. When I tell people our stories, they immediately want to help,” says Tiffany Muncaster.
Tiffany and her partner Graham are biking across Canada in tribute to her father, Jeffrey Splinter and his friend Garnett Johnson. They died tragically in a bike and vehicle collision in July of 2020, leaving behind many loved ones. Tiffany and Graham are biking 6,150 km to Northern Ontario, where Jeff and Garnett resided.
“It’s a marathon,” says Tiffany.
The couple departed on May 1st this year and will arrive on the first anniversary of the collision.
So far, the trip is going well, says Tiffany.
“We’re right on schedule for making our time and getting to New Liskeard Ontario for July 29th. We’re getting into the swing of our lifestyle for these three months. We’re able to do our days mentally. In the beginning, 50 km, 70 km felt mentally daunting.”
The couple is biking on the Great Trail (otherwise known as the Trans Canada Trail). Tiffany explains the added challenge.
“We’re not doing a straight line on the highway; we’re going up north on gravel roads and on mountain biking trails and walking trails and trails that don’t exist. We wanted it to be more of an adventure for my dad and Garnet and to get off the busy streets.”
Tiffany is doing the hard and vital work of grieving her father along the way.
“It’s a grieving journey. I feel him with us every day, helping us. Biking across Canada was something they were passionate about one day doing, so it feels like I’m taking them along.”
While Tiffany has never undertaken a cycling trip of this magnitude, cycling has always been a part of her life.
“He would always bike at Christmas time with shorts on,” Tiffany laughs. “He was Dutch, so biking’s a big thing in that culture. It helped him a lot with his day-to-day. When he got up, no matter the conditions, he went for a ride and would come back with a smile on his face. He loved it.”
The two friends were biking close to home when they died instantly in the tragic accident.
“They were biking around their community on bike lanes, following the rules of the road. When they went onto the highway section of that bike lane, a bus was out of control. The driver had passed out.”
For Tiffany, the loss is still fresh.
“It’s been a big year of grieving for my family and me.”
The couple has had a chance to connect with people they meet about bike safety and the bigger changes that are needed, for example, with infrastructure and legislation that protects cyclists.
A gift of the journey so far has been the beauty of the natural surroundings.
“We were able to see a lot of different Native ecosystems. The variability has been very beautiful. There is striking beauty in Saskatchewan; beautiful grasslands and lakes. And in Alberta, we got snowed on, but it was gorgeous. And I’m looking forward to going into the Canadian shield where that’s its own rocky, forested beauty.”
The most significant challenge so far has been the weather. One day, the couple tried to bike in 70 km winds but unsurprisingly didn’t make it very far.
“Being exposed to weather and navigating how far we can go based on the weather conditions has been difficult but also exciting and dynamic because we’ve faced everything so far. Snow, wind, rain, heat.”
The end of their journey is in sight for Tiffany and Graham, although they can already tell that finishing will be bittersweet.
“The Bike Temiskaming Shores group is going to meet us, and we’re going to ride through New Liskeard together as a big community. My dad had lots of friends there, so we’re going to have some one-on-one time and hang out for a week.”
So, what will happen to their bikes at the end of the journey?
“My boyfriend keeps joking that we’re going to ride our bikes into the dump and then fly back,” Tiffany laughs.
Learn more about cycling safety, or support the cycling organizations that Tiffany and Graham are donating funds here: