Michael Schratter recently brought his Ride Don’t Hide journey to Vernon. His bicycle was recently stolen in Savona.

Michael Schratter recently brought his Ride Don’t Hide journey to Vernon. His bicycle was recently stolen in Savona.

Schratter scrambles after bicycle stolen

A former Vernon resident cycling around the world to raise mental health awareness has hit a speed bump.

A former Vernon resident cycling around the world to raise mental health awareness has hit a speed bump.

Michael Schratter, the Vancouver school teacher who is riding around the world to raise awareness about mental illness, had his bicycle stolen in Savona, near Kamloops, Oct. 19.

“This bike is special. And my job’s not done yet,” he said of his goal of wrapping up the Ride Don’t Hide journey in Vancouver by Nov. 12.

While in Savona, Schratter and his driving companion decided to drive ahead for a much-needed coffee break. They somehow forgot that the bike was still at the side of the road and once they travelled a few kilometres, they realized their mistake and doubled back. But once they arrived, the bike was gone.

He’s appealing to the person who took the $4,000 Focus carbon fibre bike to return it.

“Maybe the person who took it doesn’t realize it wasn’t just abandoned, and I suspect that person also doesn’t know it’s a key piece of this journey to help people with mental illness”, he said.

“Please, return the bike, no questions asked.”

Michael still has another bike – the one he’s used to travel most of the 40,000-kilometre circumference of the earth, but as he still has 3,400 kilometres yet to ride and the cold weather is closing in, the challenges are mounting.

The Ride Don’t Hide tour will continue, thanks to Willie Cromack, of North Vancouver, who will provide him with his own personal bike.

Schratter is encountering a groundswell of support as he makes his way across B.C., as communities, bike shops and branches of the sponsoring organization, the Canadian Mental Health Association, schedule events and celebrations wherever he goes.

“It’s such a great opportunity to meet people and get the message out that people with mental illness can still achieve their dreams and that the stigmas surrounding mental illness must be vanquished, so the barriers to getting help are completely swept aside,” said Schratter, who has bipolar disorder.

Schratter is trying to raise $100,000 for mental health programs for young people, and he’s just over halfway. Go to www.ridedonthide.com.