Dave Podmoroff had just set out for a global journey by bicycle when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Podmoroff, from Coleman, Alberta, embarked for Vietnam on December 10, 2019, for a trip that was supposed to take two-and-a-half years and span 65,000 kilometres. His trip was supposed to end in 2022 with a bike ride up north through Fort St. John to Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, to deliver a centennial celebration flag back to the territory, along with a special centennial hat.
Unfortunately, the pandemic forced Podmoroff to cut his journey short, and he left Indonesia on March 22, to quarantine in Canada for two months.
If Podmoroff, 55, wanted to be disappointed and feel sorry for himself, he would have good reason too. After all, he put a hold on his life to make this trip happen — shutting down his construction business and selling the apartment building he owned as a relationship came to an end. He felt all the work he had done and the money he made was for nothing and felt like he could do something more.
He rode on his bike across Canada two years ago, raising $7,000 for Testicular Cancer Canada, and felt ready for the next challenge.
"I moved to a different province, quit smoking five years ago, and turned the tide. I needed to find out what the world is about," said Podmoroff.
Even if the journey would've ended on March 23, Podmoroff would have had the experience he was looking for. He found himself playing the part of Santa Claus for more than 250 Vietnamese students at a private school Christmas party, merely by happenstance. His bike was originally flown to Mexico instead of Vietnam due to an airline mistake and, as he was killing time waiting for his bike to arrive, he met the teacher of the school.
"They got to know me, showed me around pagodas. I'm just a millwright, a hard-nosed guy, but this happened a bunch of times where people took interest," Podmoroff said.
As he was in Carway, Alberta living in quarantine like the rest of us, Podmoroff couldn't help but think his journey didn't have to end. He still had the centennial flag, and the territory would be celebrating its 150th year on July 1. He thought he could bike north and conclude that leg of his journey on Canada Day.
He embarked on May 19, arriving in Fort St. John on June 2, where he camped out a couple days at the Charlie Lake campground.
The borders into the Northwest Territories are controlled a little tighter than others right now, and Podmoroff had just received an email from the government informing him they had rejected his isolation plan upon entering the territory.
Once again, Podmoroff is at a crossroad.
He could keep cycling north through B.C., he could double back towards Peace River and travel to Yellowknife, or he could turn around and go back home. But Podmoroff didn't come this far and pack years of work and experience into six months just to stop when he meets an obstacle.
"I don't think the journey is done. I heard a quote recently that said, 'Never give up because you never know who you're inspiring,' and I think that's true," Podmoroff said.
Though he's not sure where the journey will take him next, he's looking forward to it and is ready for whatever happens. He wanted to venture out and do something different, and he's done that, and he encourages others to be open to doing the same.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.