French tour helps charity

Sep 18, 2003, vol. 28, no. 2
By Marianne Meadahl

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Mathieu Bohemier-Bernard hung up his cleats and hopped on a bike for the summer. The tradeoff was pleasurable but also for a good cause.

The SFU Clan soccer defender circled France along with colleague Laurent Vicente, peddling 3,850 kilometres in 27 days over back roads as well as stretches of the official Tour de France route.

While sight-seeing the pair raised money - a dollar for every kilometre completed - to purchase a specialized wheelchair for the Handisport Club of Montpellier in southern France.

The two met during a student exchange at the Université of Laval in Quebec. Vicente, from France, is also a student-athlete.

“We agreed that completing the perimeter of France by bike would not only be extremely demanding but would enable each to discover the country - his home and my ancestral homeland,” says Bohemier-Bernard.

“But we decided that making this a charity event would enable less fortunate athletes to benefit from our journey.”

The pair incurred two flat tires and one minor accident. Their longest day was a 208-kilometre jaunt between Bordeaux and Pau in southwestern France.

More gruelling were the climbs through the Alps and Pyrenee mountain ranges. Most memorable was their encounter with the actual Tour de France and opportunity to meet the professional athletes.

Earlier this year Bohemier-Bernard was named a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) All-American scholar athlete.

A chemistry major when he's not on the field, he carried a 4.13 grade point average last fall and has his eye on a future career in medicine.

He'll spend the next two semesters on a co-op work term in Switzerland with Lonza Ag, a pharmaceutical company.

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