Nantel goes the distance for sustainability

Marc Nantel is pictured after his arrival at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus on the morning of Aug. 9.


Marc Nantel, NC’s associate vice-president, Research and Innovation, cycled from Oakville to the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus on Aug. 9, making good on a sustainability promise he made on the Day of Reflection.

InsideNC caught up with him after his long ride – a total time of  three hours, six minutes and 46 seconds.

Here’s what he had to say.

Why do you feel it was  important for you to cycle this distance today?

I live in southeast Oakville and drive to the college every day. Even though I keep my speed reasonable and do about 40 miles/gallon, it’s still a fairly sizable carbon footprint. 

On the Day of Reflection, we focused on sustainability and asked college staff to come into work in a way that would spend less carbon, and a lot of them did.  I, unfortunately, had to drive in that day because, being part of the committee that put on the Day of Reflection, I had to be there relatively early.  To make up for that, when I was at the podium with Taryn Wilkinson giving away prizes for the best efforts, I pledged to ride from my home to the college at least once this summer. 

Quite apart from getting me back into cycling and into shape, I wanted to show that I, too, want to do my part.

How did you find the ride?

It went really well.  I had done a practice run last Thursday: I had driven my bike into work and cycled back home from the NOTL Campus. I had the wind in my face for the whole of the Niagara Peninsula. 

Seeing as much of that part of the ride is on the QEW’s North Service Rd., I had had my work cut out for me.

It took me three hours 22 minutes, with a 26.5 km/h average, but I made it. That’s what convinced me that today’s ride would be relatively easy: this time, I had the wind in my back!

Did you have any challenges during the ride?

Well, I actually fell once, in Burlington, when I was too focused on downshifting on the way to a red light to unclip my special riding shoes.  Imagine that you’re on your bike, slowing down to a stop, and that you’re unable to take you feet off the pedals. Yep, you fall!  I laughed it off, if only to show the motorists around me that I was okay. 

I scuffed my left knee, but it wasn’t going to stop me, at this point.  My right knee started to hurt — just tired, I guess — around Grimsby, so I had to throttle down a bit. 

Until then, I really thought I could make it to the college on a 30 km/h average.  In the end, I hit a 29 km/h average, which isn’t bad, considering.

Do you know the exact distance in kilometers that you travelled?

My little on-board computer says it was 90.29 km.

Using our e3CAT calculation software, I learned that the GHG emissions resulting from a 90 km drive to work with my car would be 0.017 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e).     

But since I pledged to do this, I trained quite a bit, with more than 500 km under my belt.

How long did it take you?

It took me three hours, six minutes and 46 seconds of rolling time, as reported by the on-board computer.  I left Oakville at 6:05 a.m. or so, and arrived at the college at 9:22 a.m., so there were a few minutes spent drinking Gatorade and waiting for the lights to change.

What was the most rewarding part for you?

Making good on a pledged that I made quite off-the-cuff at Niagara Day, without actually thinking it through, for one thing!  It also got me back into biking more seriously, which is something I can now do with my kids being older (10 and 12). 

Do you plan to do this again?  (i.e. Niagara Day?)

I will do this ride again, and probably at least once a year.

Since I’ve now officially disposed of my promise, I don’t really need to do it on Niagara Day per se. The logistical problem there is that, to get from home to the Welland Campus would take even longer, and I’d have to leave at 4 make it to the activities in time, having to ride in dark night, which is not safe. 

I plan instead to drive my bike to NOTL on Niagara Day and cycle to Welland, weather permitting.

Are you hoping to inspire others through this initiative?

If I can help, through this ride, start something that will continue to keep sustainability in our minds, it would be great.

I had challenged Steve Hudson at the Day of Reflection; I have full confidence in him coming through, and maybe he will challenge someone else, and so on, and so on.



How are you getting to Niagara Day? Take the Niagara Day challenge and reduce your carbon footprint.

Do you know someone else from the NC community who goes the distance for sustainability? Let us know at


Share this article