Timo Itkonen: Joining the Cross Canada Team!
Timo (far left) was born in Finland. In 1956, at the age of five, he moved with his parents, two brothers, and one sister to Northern Ontario. Six years later the family moved to British Columbia, which he now calls home. At the age of 19, he returned to visit the land of his birth, attended a Bible College, and met Marjatta, who later came to visit Timo in Canada. She stayed, they got married, and now they have four grown up children, and five grandsons! Timo had been a commercial fisherman in the past, and in the winter months, continued his education, eventually selling his fishing boat, and going to work for the Canadian Coast Guard for seven years. In 1981 he went back to college, and became involved in youth ministry at Finnish Bethel Church in Vancouver. He later continued his studies at Fraser Valley College, and Simon Fraser University. He is presently a high school teacher in Mission B.C.
Often seeing long distance cyclists pedaling along the highway near his home, Timo thought that he would like to do just that, pack up some gear, and ride away. Over the last decade, sometimes with Marjatta, or with other friends, he has pedaled various routes in British Columbia. One summer, Marjatta and Timo packed up their bikes for a four week adventure in Finland. They did a most memorable 500 km loop above the Arctic Circle, sometimes sharing the road with reindeer!
Every fall for the last ten or so years, Timo, along with friends, John and Daryl, goes on a two day, 200 km fundraiser ride for the B.C. Lung Association. But to ride across Canada this summer, what a challenge!
A few years ago Timo had the opportunity to visit a long-time friend in Uganda. Africa left a deep impression, having witnessed the struggle that the people had with lack of the basic necessities of life, including clean water. Since then, he felt the need to do something significant, and something that would have a long lasting effect. When Timo heard that a couple of sexagenarians were planning to ride across Canada in order to raise funds for wells in Africa, his first thought was, “Who are these guys? Do they need another rider?” But then, he later wondered, “Could I make it across Canada on a bike in 60 days?” Timo’s conclusion: “It must be attempted, the cause is just too worthy, too necessary, too important, to not give it my best effort.”