Mat Fee on his BMX bike outside John Volken Academy in Surrey, in a photo posted to Cycling for Sobriety’s GoFundMe page. (gofundme.com/cycling-for-sobriety/donate)

Cycling for Sobriety: Vancouver Island man rides BMX across Canada

Mat Fee will end at Victoria’s Legislature building in October

Cycling across Canada on a normal road bike is a major undertaking, but doing it on a bike that has no suspension and only one speed is something else.

Mat Fee, born in Duncan, is riding his BMX coast to coast to show others overcoming addiction and living life the way you want to is possible.

Starting in Halifax on May 1, Fee is headed for Montreal and expects to finish his nation-wide tour at the beginning of October here in Victoria at the Legislature building.

As a child Fee was sexually abused. Too young to comprehend what had happened, he blocked out the memories and went on living.

READ ALSO: An inside look at Our Place’s Therapeutic Recovery Community

“I ended up falling in love with drugs and alcohol and that became my life,” he says.

Trying various treatment centres, it wasn’t until the seventh time he found a way back to himself. A year into Fee’s stay at the John Volken Academy, a therapeutic recovery community with centres in Seattle, Vancouver and Phoenix, he was able to uncover those repressed memories and begin to process them in a healthy way.

Before finding the academy, Fee describes a labyrinth of walls with constant, overpowering anxiety that made his life “hell.” During his two years at the academy, Fee recalls writing a letter that changed everything as he began to realize the importance of human connection.

“It was a really nice sunny day, everybody was sitting outside and I remember just feeling really happy that I was there and around all these people who were happy too,” he says. “That single day, that single moment, just really stuck with me and I was able to carry that with me.”

View this post on Instagram

Relapse Prevention Plan (RPP) There are two people with whom I have been through thick and thin; Chris and Darren are the Program Directors here at the John Volken Academy. I wouldn't be where I am today without them. It has been a spectacular journey. They have stuck by my side and encouraged me to keep moving forward while I dealt with healing from my most traumatic past experiences. What these two do here at the academy is remarkable. The world needs more people like them. Today Darren, Chris, and I wrote a relapse prevention designed for myself while I'm BMXing across Canada. What follows is a list of tools, people of support and people to contact in case of emergency. Also a list of red flags myself and others need to be aware of so that I can be called out if need be. This can be viewed as an insight into the daily life of an addict in recovery. It is vital to be constantly conscious of personal behaviours and the ever present risk of relapse. Mat's Relapse Prevention Plan Support I will have set up daily checkins at least 3 times a week with the right kind of people who tell me how it is and will hold me accountable…. Chris S. Darren P. Omar T. Jane T. John Volken. Gabrielle S. Jon K. Jason R. Schedule and Routine I will treat riding my bike as though it is my job. Outside of riding my bike riding I will follow a scheduled routine that I will be committed to in order to stay healthy. Journaling Reading self help books Meditation Do something nice for someone Art/Music Checking in with Jon K Phone calls. No junk food I will attend lots of AA meetings all across canada at least once a week minimum Running on rest days Daily affirmations and gratitude lists __My Red Flags__ My ego Isolation Bad attitude and negativity Any hint of dishonesty Catastrophizing Putting myself into situations that aren't safe for my sobriety Not following through with plans or commitments ___My Triggers__ Party girls Bullies Financial stresses Old party friends Disappointments Violence If I feel unsafe I will have a list of phone numbers I can call in case I need support. #cyclingforsobriety #c4s #johnvolkenacademy #jva #relapseprevention

A post shared by John Volken Academy (@cyclingforsobriety) on

Riding 60 to 100 kilometers a day, Fee says it hasn’t been easy, especially with a head wind he’s been facing in the eastern provinces.

READ ALSO: Special Report: Living with addiction while saving others during the opioid crisis

“There was one day where I was going over the hills in New Brunswick and I was pedalling as hard as I could just to go down the hill,” he says with a laugh. “It was brutal.”

Support from strangers on social media keeps him going.

While there is a gofundme to help support his cause, Fee wants to stress that the ride is more about raising awareness than funds.

“There’s a lot of shame and guilt in addicts, if the stigma gets broken down — even just a little bit — so someone can feel safe enough to reach out and ask for help … that’s what I’m trying to do,” he says.

To follow Fee’s journey visit @cyclingforsobriety on Instagram or follow his Facebook page Cycling For Sobriety or visit cyclingforsobriety.org.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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