Photography provided by Ali Becker and Mat Leblanc
Canadians Ali Becker and Mat Leblanc are celebrating their home country’s move to legalizing recreational cannabis with a bike ride.
But not just any bike ride. The British Columbia-based couple will take a cross-country mountain biking tour to experience the great outdoors and cannabis hotspots, and share their “cannabis-infused lifestyle” with their followers.
“Our new adventure is inspired by the exciting change in the cannabis landscape in Canada and the movement towards federal legalization. It’s also inspired by the profoundly positive effect that spending time outdoors has had in our lives,” said Leblanc, who turns 34 on June 1, 2018, the start of their cycling tour. “The Good Vibes Tour also gives us a chance to open up about our own unique relationship with the plant and how it has been a catalyst for positive change in our lives. We’re hoping our message can help inspire and motivate others who come in contact with the tour and expose them to some of the unique concepts that have helped us maintain a healthy balance in our cannabis-infused lives.”
Leblanc and Becker, 32, have routed a version of The Great Trail, formerly the Trans Canada Trail, which is the longest recreational trail in the world. They’ve budgeted four months for the whole trip, so they have a target end date of mid-September, “but we’ll keep cycling as long as the weather holds,” said Becker.
“Our love of bike touring, backcountry exploration, camping and adventuring lead us to choose this more remote route, which still passes through cannabis hotspots and major Canadian cities along the way,” said Leblanc. “It’s the perfect mix of remote nature trails and urban exploration.”
“The Good Vibes Tour starts in cannabis-friendly Victoria, travels through Vancouver – the cannabis capital of Canada – through [our home of]Nelson, our favorite cannabis hotbed, across the prairies where we hope to link up with cannabis communities we don’t know much about yet – in Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg – we are undecided on Toronto, but we kind of feel like it’s a must-do since it’s been such a hub for the cannabis movement in recent years,” said Becker. “Then to Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Fredericton, Moncton, Halifax and, if we have time, Charlottetown, [Prince Edward Island].”
All along the way, they will be documenting their adventure through daily vlogs, blogs, photos, live streams, stories and updating their route via GPS tracking on Strava and interactive GPS maps via the Relive app. They’ll be sharing on social media, including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and on their website, www.matandali.com. They also have a GoFundMe page.
“We will be donating a portion of the proceeds from our GoFundMe campaign to NORML Canada because we believe in their mission and their mandate and we think the work they are doing is incredibly important,” said Leblanc. “While we are all about celebrating Canada’s cannabis legalization, we still recognize there is a lot of work to be done and that some of the proposed rules and regulations surrounding legalization are misguided and oppressive. It’s awesome organizations like NORML that give the cannabis community a strong and directed voice and work towards a future of harmony and balance.”
In addition to being the start of their adventure and Leblanc’s birthday, June 1 is the couple’s anniversary. They met through a mutual friend who was hosting Leblanc’s 29th birthday at her house.
“We met that evening, bonded over beers, bikes and snowboarding and we’ve been adventure partners ever since,” said Becker. “The following day, Mat shattered his pelvis in a downhill mountain biking accident and his recovery really forced him to slow down and focus on healing and strengthening his body.
“While he re-learned how to walk and regain his range of motion, cannabis was a major player in his pain management and recovery routines. I joke that this gave me the chance to ‘catch up to him,’ because at the time, my fitness was virtually non-existent. I was a heavy cigarette smoker, alcohol drinker and sugar monster living a fairly sedentary lifestyle, but I was craving change in my life, we both were. We sparked something in one another and made the decision to start turning our lives around.”
In fact, this isn’t the couple’s first cycling trip across Canada. In 2015, they took their first epic adventure.
“It really redirected our lives,” said Becker. “We were both working jobs we didn’t really love and the four-month cycling trip helped us break away from those routines and create a new story for ourselves. We were consuming cannabis the entire trip and it was our first touch with concepts like micro-dosing edibles and using cannabis in a much more intentional way.
“But we were also really closeted about our cannabis use at the time and although it was profoundly beneficial in our lives and on our trip, we were still caught in some of the societal shame and silence that has surrounded and suppressed cannabis and cannabis consumers and cultivators for so long.”
But by the time they returned to Nelson in the fall, the first cannabis dispensary had opened up in town and they saw their opportunity to join in on the cannabis conversation.
These new experiences will be much more open.
“Followers and supporters can expect to see all of the amazing places we get to cycle, camp and consume quality cannabis and get a really raw, behind-the-scenes look at our adventure-filled, cannabis-infused lifestyle,” Becker said.
She joked, “They’ll probably get to see me break down and cry a time or two as well. … We’re hoping to have some magical encounters with the variety of wildlife that uses the trail networks as well as the interesting and entertaining people we meet along the way.”