In 1994 Jacques Sirat decided he wanted a simpler life.
He says in a moment of clarity he quit his office job in France and began travelling the world on foot and by bicycle. Now, 220,000 kilometres later, he’s realized his childhood dream to see Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories.
Sirat, 53, realized that dream when he arrived in Hay River in mid-July after cycling north from the United States.
“When I was a child in my bedroom I had a map of the world,” said Sirat.
“And when I was looking at the Canada map, I was still looking [at] the Great Slave Lake. I don’t know why,”
But his determination to travel the world doesn’t end there, and perhaps, it never will.
War, jail and roadside surgery
When Sirat decided 23 years ago that he was going to live a simpler life, he started running.
“I quit everything to do running and tour Europe,” he said.
“I did 18,000 kilometres and 32 countries. In the first year I used 26 pairs of shoes.”
Sirat made his way back to France, worked for a brief time, bought a bicycle and hit the road again. He’s now been to more than 120 countries and says he has experienced the world in every way imaginable.
“I crossed Bosnia at the end of the war and [the] military beat me,” said Sirat. “It was a lot of tension when I passed there.”
Sirat claims he also spent time in a Yemen jail after witnessing police kill someone. He says he was let go after three days.
Two years ago, Sirat says his world travel was derailed after an accident in Africa.
“I almost died. The doctors said if I don’t take off your spleen, you are dead in two hours,” he said.
“They opened me and took off my spleen in the middle of nowhere… in the middle of the dust.”
Next stop: Fort Liard
Sirat says he’s been able to pay for his lifelong journey by renting out his home in France. He says travelling by bicycle is cheap, although he’s pinching pennies now that he’s in Canada’s North.
“Life here is expensive, just for food it’s…