Roger Champagne Bike Ride pedals into 26th year

The family of Roger Champagne donates a bike to one of the students making the trip
each year. This year’s bike recipient was Coryn Nelson, who received the bike Friday.
by Stephen Dafoe

It has been many years since Roger Champagne was gunned down in Las Vegas by a man looking to feed his drug habit. But the Morinville man, well known for his kindness in the community, has never been forgotten by friends, family or the hundreds of Morinville Community High School (MCHS) students who were born some years after the man’s passing. Such is the legacy of Roger Champagne whose memory is honoured each year by MCHS students who take to the mountains for a bike ride that carries his name. For many of those years, the Champagne family has presented a bicycle to a student to take on the annual trip.

Roger Champagne was one of the original people to organize the annual mountain bike trip, and he built a tandem trailer to haul the bikes and supplies to the starting point of the trip. After the riders had begun their journey, he’d follow the students in his vehicle, offering help and a ride to those who encountered trouble along the way – if he couldn’t fix their bikes himself. Champagne, well regarded for his skills in the kitchen, did much of the cooking on the trips.

Twelve students ranging from Grade 9 to 12, accompanied by some teachers and adults, will participate in the 26th Annual Roger Champagne Memorial Bike Trip from Lake Louise to Jasper along Highway 93 over a period of three days.

MCHS teacher and trip organizer Greg Boutestein has taken part in the bike trip since 1997.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for students to challenge themselves mentally and physically,” Boutestein said of the upcoming trip. “They can step outside their comfort zone and embrace the alpine majesty that is in our own backyard.”

In preparation for the ride, Boutestein has been organizing six weeks of Saturday morning training runs along highways in Sturgeon and Westlock Counties.

In addition to the annual Roger Champagne Memorial Bike Trip, the school also organizes the Annual Fred Scharmann Memorial Hiking Trip, which takes place in the same vicinity as the bike trip. The hike honours local business owner and Bike Trip supporter Fred Scharmann, who was a long-time support truck driver on the Roger Champagne Memorial Bike Trip before his death.

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