I met Keenan in the fall of 2003. We were the two youngest people in our group of exchange students at Uppsala. This meant that we were constantly having our friends buy us alcohol at Systemet. We would put in an order and patiently wait. We bonded over hockey, waiting for alcohol, and the fact that Keenan is probably one of the nicest people I have ever met. It makes it easy to bond with someone when that is the case.
Over the course of the semester in Uppsala we had a lot of fun. We did some stupid things, we did some smart things, and we even did some cultural things. We definitely formed a friendship that has withstood quite a few years and a lot of distance, and the fact that I am very slow in responding to e-mails.
I remember Keenan suffering from some insomnia during our time in Uppsala. Most people did at some point, and I still do. I completely blame the extremes of dark and light. One morning we woke up to hear a fantastic story from Keenan. He couldn’t sleep, which came as no surprise. What did come as a surprise was his bike ride. Keenan had ridden his bike from the Flogsta student housing in Uppsala to Gävle. If you were to take E4, the main highway, it’s about 110 km and would take you just over an hour to drive there. Keenan rode that stretch on a bike, in the middle of the night.
That ride was a harbinger of things to come. A couple years later Keenan came to visit a group of us living in Oregon. He was trying to recruit people for a crazy idea, a bike ride from Canada to Argentina. He even came bearing a CD trying to convince me to ride along with them. While flattered, my body is not made for riding a bike over two continents. Plus, I’ll be honest, I was skeptical of the ride actually happening. Apparently, I had forgotten a couple of things, specifically the kind of person Keenan is, and the fact that he rode his bike from Uppsala to Gävle in the middle of the night because he couldn’t sleep. As a general rule, never write anyone off who has done something like that.
Just over a year ago, Keenan left his hometown in Canada and headed off with his brother Jeff. They had put together a website, a plan to raise money for a charity, and a couple of bikes. Over 18,000 kilometers later and just a few days ago, Keenan and Jeff crossed the Argentinean border. I am left shaking my head at their adventures in bewilderment. I have gone on for nearly two years on this blog about my adventures in Sweden. An adventure that has taken place in one country where I already speak the language and have citizenship. I suppose adventure is always relative, but what these two guys have done is a true adventure. The kind of thing that makes me proud of my amazing friends, of the kindness of their hearts, and of the strength of their characters, as well as their legs at this point.
If you haven’t already, please head over to their blog ride for HOPE - canada to argentina by bicycle and leave them a comment, or join their Facebook group at Keenan and Jeff’s - ride for HOPE. If you’re really feeling engaged, donate a little bit of money, even if it is just a Loonie. See what I did there?
Welcome to Argentina guys.