Ever since a crash on his bike last year left him close to death, Randolph Westphal drives from city-to-city.
He still brings his bike along, though.
And he’s still moving.
That, says the 56-year-old world traveller, is a testament to the philosophy that he says has kept him alive all these years despite 28 cancer surgeries and several serious spills on his bike.
“When you do what you like to do, you’re free in your mind,” said Westphal, in an interview at the Holiday Inn Express where he is staying.
Since being diagnosed with a malignant melanoma in his leg 27 years ago, the German cyclist says he has pedalled more than 211,000 kilometres and completed five world tours.
It was on his sixth tour last year in B.C. that he took a spill near Prince George. He ended up in hospital for a month and doctors told him he couldn’t continue the way he had been.
That he had been riding at all for the last two decades was a surprise to many, said Westphal, who decided to continue to spread his message.
It was his first cancer diagnosis that spurred him to take to his bike.
Doctors, he said, gave him no more than a year to live back in 1987.
He survived the year and decided he needed to prove himself and to combat the ‘negative stress’ he believed was the cause of his sickness and set out on his bike.
It was a personal journey at first, but when he ended up being hospitalized in Montreal on one of his early trips, a doctor suggested Westphal tell his story to others with cancer.
“I thought I’d die too. Now I have a new destination - to help other people,” said Westphal.
Westphal arrived in Sault Ste. Marie from Michigan on Wednesday and sets out Friday morning for Thunder Bay on his way, eventually, to the Yukon.
In the meantime, he’ll be riding his bike around the Sault with his two Siberian husky service dogs - Chinock and Nanook - hoping to help others by telling his story.
“It’s to show people, never give up,” said Westphal.
Watch for excerpts from a video interview with Westphal on Local2.ca