Thanks to Olivier Kerebel, I’ll never think of the French as pinky-pointed tea-sipping, croissant-nibbling wimps again. Instead, I’ll think of Olivier’s epic thigh-busting bike ride across Canada that he’s recently launch from Toronto’s Dundas Square. I’ll also think of his savvy use of social media to bring his friends along for the journey.
I met Olivier when he was crashing on a friend’s couch (set up via couchsurfing.org). The Parisian is in Canada for a year on a temporary visa, and hopes to eventually end his bike ride in Vancouver. His last blog update – befreetochange.wordpress.com/- places him in Sudbury, Ont. and he’s posted the mandatory photos of the Big Nickel.
Olivier is using an array of Web 2.0 tools to document his trip and share it with peers. He has a knack for shooting video while riding that isn’t too shaky, and even narrating a monologue while pedaling – which he somehow manages to upload to YouTube. There’s lots of pictures on his WordPress blog, and Olivier is also updating a Facebook page and Twitter account.
But my favourite social media feature of this biking journey is Olivier’s use of Polldaddy.com. A simple radio-button poll sits on the right side of his blog, and after June 6 Olivier’s followers will click away to decide which route he will take across the country. It reminds me of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series I was fond of in elementary school. The ability to help determine Olivier’s fate and how he experiences Canada during his trek adds real appeal to reading the blog.
Currently, the poll asks followers how cruel or how nice they plan to be to Olivier in their voting. Right now, it looks like Olivier’s in for a tough ride as 88 per cent of respondents indicate they’ll favour more difficult paths (including me – I’m hoping for a Grizzly encounter).
Olivier is also raising money for Save the Children through his blog, and anyone can make a donation online with a credit card. His goal is a humble $1500, but I’m guessing he’ll meet enough people along the way and gain enough interest with this blog that he’ll surpass that mark before he hits the Prairies.