'I walk every day': New Brunswick outdoorsman proves age is just a number
It doesn’t matter the time of day or the weather conditions, Bill Mayo will find a way to keep moving.
“On a rainy day I have two machines in my apartment that I can get on and pedal and at night, if I watch TV, I can sit on a bicycle thing and watch TV,” he said.
Mayo also frequents local trails, the mall if he needs a change of scenery during bad weather, and around town.
Given his lifestyle and attitude, Mayo is proving that age really is just a number.
“I just forget I’m 90,” he laughed. “I walk every day, somewhere.”
His love of nature and being active started at a very young age. At just 10 years old, Mayo would help his dad cut down and sell wood and they’d spend time together camping and on a fishing vessel.
Ever since, the outdoors is where Mayo likes to be.
“When I drove to Florida, I stopped at every village and asked people about trails and if it was interesting enough, I would go and do it,” he said.
“My wife would have to stay in the car though because she had trouble walking.”
After that, May says, every trip turned into a week-long adventure to help ensure there would be enough time to explore.
From Sydney to P.E.I. to Florida, Mayo has decades worth of adventures. However, he doesn’t just lace up his hiking boots, he also helps build and maintain trails for other people to enjoy, including 10 kilometres of the Dobson Trail.
He has also taken on projects that took a bit more team work, like the Mayo Bridge.
“We used to cross brooks on the trail. You used to cut a big log or two logs, put them across the water, and that’s what you’d use for a bridge. So, one place every winter the ice took the trees out and we’d go back in the spring and the water’s up to here,” he said, motioning to chest level.
Taking matters into his own hands, Mayo decided he was going to build a more permanent bridge out of rocks, logs and netting.
“The first year, beautiful – the logs were still there, so I said, ‘Good we’ve got it!’ Well the next year, the people down there, they clear-cut on the hill, so of course there’s nothing to stop the water. So we went in the first time and our bridge was gone,” he said.
Luckily, an engineer in Fredericton came to the rescue creating a steel bridge for the area that has been named Mayo’s Crossing.
Mayo's Crossing spans over Rapidly Falls on the Fundy Footpath. (Courtesy: Bill Mayo)
While age might have slowed his speed over the years, Mayo still has his sense of adventure and he won’t back down from a challenge.
On Saturday, he is taking on a 42-kilometre walk as part of the 40th anniversary of the Moncton Outdoor Enthusiasts Club. It starts at the Chocolate River Station in Riverview, N.B. and loops across both bridges. Each lap is seven kilometres long.
“I think Bill is pretty well an inspiration to everyone,” said event co-ordinator Julian Screawn.
“Just him being at the event itself will probably bring some others out. Like I said, he is an inspiration to many of the club members. I mean if you’re 90 years old and you can do 42 kilometres… if a 90-year-old can do it then you can.”
Mayo is the oldest member of the Outdoor Enthusiasts Club, but arguably one of the most dedicated.
“He had lost his licence and he would still come to hikes,” said Screawn.
“He would walk to meeting points, which is about seven to eight kilometres, and then he would do the hike, which would be anywhere from 10 to 12 kilometres. So basically, how can you say no to not getting out and exercising really?”
With nearly 200 members, the club is open to everyone and does regular hikes on the weekend. This year, it’s planning other events to celebrate 40 years, similar to the walk this weekend.
“A lot of people come out and they meet others and form their own groups, so it is a good way to socialize and also exercise at the same time and what could be better,” said Screawn.
If one group wasn’t enough, Mayo is also apart of the Dartmouth Volksmarch Club, which he says was started by his sister and her husband.
“I’m not trying to out race anybody anymore,” he said.
“I just do it at my pace and let them do their pace and I’ll just say, 'Do what you can comfortably and stick with it.'”
As for this weekend, he says he’s there’s no harm in trying to complete the entire 42-kilometre walk. The event starts at 9 a.m., but Mayo says he’s going to get a head start and should be hitting the trail by 8 a.m.
“The advice that I have is be active, but don’t overdo it,” he said.
“Pick your norm that you can handle and do it every day if you can. That’s what I try to do.”
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