Went the distance: Days 72 to 76, Charlottetown, PEI to Cape Spear, NL – July 21 to 26, 2010

Cape Spear: Success!!

I have completed the journey I set out to do. I have bicycled thousands and thousands of kilometres across Canada, West to East, coast to coast. I have bicycled across an entire continent, the second largest country in the world, through all ten provinces, through intense wind, rain, snow and heat, up steep hills and mountains, then down them at incredible speeds. I biked up two summits at over twelve hundred metres. I biked through long stretches of flat highway in the middle of nowhere fighting off the psychological effects of boredom on seeing nothing hours and hours on end. I have had days where I cursed loudly at myself for not pushing fast or far enough and days where I have patted myself on the back for a great ride. My bike, built like a tank and powered by rocket fuel rode like a freight train across the country, together taking in the abuse that the changing climate and road conditions of Canada had to offer and its beautiful scenery from sunrise to sunset. I have met fantastic people along the way who were on their own journey or shared stories of past adventures and accomplishments, which made this trip all the more rewarding.

The desire for challenge and adventure is always in mind. For the past seven years the thought of bicycling across Canada stuck in mine. What about you?

I am proud to have taken part in this great fundraising initiative for the Griffin Centre and to help spread the word about mental health. This journey wouldn’t have been possible without the encouragement of my family and friends, the assistance and support from Griffin Centre and my colleagues at GBC, and contributions from people who donated for this great cause. Thank you all so much for all your help! Together, we have raised a total of $3,934.79

Special thanks to my logistical support team: Peter, my go-to web guru, Renata, who kept a lookout for changing weather and Andrew and Lori for gear swap and accommodations. And to Arleen, Bill and Catia for making this happen.

Now here is my last journal entry….


Went the distance: Days 72 to 76, Charlottetown, PEI to Cape Spear, NL – July 22 to 26, 2010

July 22, 2010: Charlottetown, PEI to Antigonish, NS

Light rain greeted me that morning. It made for a fast ride to Woods Islands in order to catch the ferry to Nova Scotia. I stopped to take some pictures when the opportunity arose. The mosquitoes liked my idea. Whenever I stopped, they swarmed me.

The thought of being close to the finish line and accomplishing such a huge endeavor brought a smile to my face. Well, more like a grin. It brought out more intense riding from the added adrenaline rush of knowing I have come so far. I started feeling this back in New Brunswick and the closer I get to Newfoundland the more intense I ride and the bigger the grin on my face 🙂

Taking the ferry to Nova Scotia

The seventy-five minute ferry ride gave me time to eat some snacks before landing in Nova Scotia.

Hello Nova Scotia!

The rain picked up a little more and with the added hills in Nova Scotia the ride to Antigonish was a little tough for the next couple hours.

Then it started to downpour.

I cannot recall riding in so much rain. What was fortunate was that the wind was either to my side or just a tad to my front. About 20 km from Antigonish I took refuge under a highway underpass. There I met two motorcyclists who had also taken refuge. They joked that they will no longer complain about motorcycling in the rain when here’s a guy on a bicycle doing the same thing. With the rain not letting up I fueled up on some chewy chocolate chip cookies and off I went. That helped me in that last stretch. And the rain slicked roads allowed for reduced surface resistance which helped my bike go faster. For some reason, I was in good spirits: grinning from ear to ear and even singing to myself in the hard pouring rain.

I arrived in Antigonish soaking wet. I have been cold and wet many times before. But this was the only day I ending up shivering and with my teeth chattering.

July 23: Antigonish to North Sydney, NS

Google map the distance between these two towns and you’ll know that it was a LONG ride for me to catch the ferry to Newfoundland. The ferry was scheduled to leave at 1:30 am on July 24th. I was not concerned about missing the ferry. My concern was getting to North Sydney before sundown. It’s dangerous to ride a bike on a highway at night. The next ferry was scheduled to leave on July 27th at 1:30 am.

It was slow going for the first half. I had more hills, headwind and intermittent rain. My knees were aching when I took a rest stop in Whycocomagh. I drank down a litre of chocolate milk, ate a banana and took some painkillers (been a few weeks since I’ve taken any) and was off again. I also stopped in Baddeck and had a large triple-triple coffee.

Roaring along the highway I ended up in North Sydney just as the sun had set behind the treeline.

While waiting for the ferry I took time to get some more food and supplies, eat dinner and explore a music event by the harbour. There was also a Kawasaki motorcycle stunt team, M & M Freestyle, there that I hung out and chatted with for a bit. One of the guys gave me invaluable travel tips for when I arrive in Newfoundland. I already knew the password to get on the island. Thanks, Keith.

Later on at the ferry terminal I took a nice hot shower to freshen myself up. It was a pleasant surprise that they had this type of amenity.

Steve, from Vancouver, BC

As the night wore on I wore out. I couldn’t wait to get on the ferry. I had reserved a dorm/bunk bed to get some good shut-eye during the trip. Then I was informed that the ferry was behind schedule and would be departing to Argentia at 4:30 am. During this tiresome and frustrating wait I met another touring cyclist also going on the same ferry. Steve was from Vancouver and had bicycled across Canada. His last stop is St John’s.

July 24th – Ferry ride to Argentia
Zzzzzzz…..zzzzzzzz….zzzzzz. I slept for eight hours then got up to walk around a bit, had lunch, watched an in-ship movie then back to sleep for another few hours until port.

Welcome to the Rock!

Welcome to the Rock!

A thick blanket of fog had enveloped the ferry terminal and the surrounding areas. You couldn’t see anything. Steve and I stayed at a campground only two kilometres from the Argentia ferry terminal. We decided to bike together the next day.

July 25, 2010 – Argentia to St John’s, NL

My original plan was to bike to Butter Pot provincial park. Like that last piece of cake, you want to take your time and savour it. That said, the weather conditions were fantastic. The headwind that we had for the first 40 km turned into a 30 km/hr tailwind. At one point I stopped my bike and stood up close to the handlebars. The wind pushed it forward. When I reached the provincial park, I did a check of the next day’s weather, it called for rain. The decision was obvious, ride on to St John’s.

Welcome to St John's

WELCOME TO ST JOHN’S! Seeing that sign was an emotional moment for me. I was overjoyed.

We booked rooms at the local university. Steve went out that night to enjoy a pint. I stayed in to do laundry as all my clothes needed a good cleaning. (I know what you are thinking, that I’m a bore. Well I haven’t finished my trip yet! )

July 26, 2010 – St John’s to Cape Spear, NL

St John’s is not the most Eastern part of Canada. Afterall, I started in Ucluelet, BC on Vancouver Island’s West Coast. I have to go coast to coast to complete the journey.

Chocolate Oblivion

I slept in that morning then had a late breakfast-lunch at a Mexican restaurant with Steve. We indulged in one of their desserts. You could not pass up “Chocolate Oblivion: a dark chocolate cookie crumb crust cradles cream cheese mouse packed with crushed Oreo cookies and semi-sweet milk chocolate chunks, topped with a cream cheese frosting border and more crushed Oreo cookies. All drizzled with plenty of white and dark chocolate.” In hindsight, I should have bought the whole cake and brought it back to my room and put a “Do Not Disturb Sign” on my door.

Cape Spear is the most Eastern point of Canada

It was a challenge getting to Cape Spear. First, a long climb up a steep hill called “The Wall” out of St John’s. Then a short descent. And just when I thought we were at Cape Spear another long climb, a gradual descent, then another long climb. It was the first time since British Columbia that I used my bike’s lowest front chain ring (I’ve got the standard three).

I arrived in Cape Spear, the most Eastern point of Canada.

Total distance traveled: All the way across!

Total donations received: $3,934.79

More trip photos

Going the distance: Days 63 to 71, Rivière-du-Loup, QC to Charlottetown, PEI July 13 to 21, 2010

July 13, 2010: Rivière-du-Loup, QC to St. Jacques, NB, 130 km

Rail Trail from Rivière-du-Loup, QC to St. Jacques, NB

Gerry had told me about a bicycle path that can take me from Rivière-du-Loup all the way into Edmundston, NB. The bike path used to be a railway line and has a maximum grade of 3%, thus bypassing the hilly Trans-Canada highway. It was not a paved path, rather packed dirt and gravel. It seemed like a good idea. I even SMS texted Peter and Anne telling them I will be taking the path and that we could possibly meet up along the way. That morning I had to procure some additional food for my trip. I did not leave town until 9:30ish. As I started along the path I felt the going slow. There were many other cyclists there enjoying the path as a day ride. My bike was too heavy to gain any momentum. There was no rolling resistance as you would expect from a paved highway. Even going uphill at 3% grade was just the same speed along a highway hill at a higher grade. The path snaked through the countryside and with a couple hours of biking I reached a cafe for cyclists. It was there that I asked how to get back on the highway. Also, I found out that I was two hours (approx 40 km) behind Peter and Anne. They left earlier that day. A quick exit from the path led me to the highway. A sign going back to Rivière-du-Loup, QC said it was only 5 km. Not encouraging since I was winding through the path for hours. Off I went to New Brunswick.

The rain came after I passed through Cabano, QC, providing some relief from the heat. Then it thunderstormed and I found myself biking through moderate rain all the way into New Brunswick.

Welcome to New Brunswick! Adjust your watches for the new time zone.

I opted to stay at a motel. There was a downpour most of the night.

July 14, 2010: St. Jacques to Perth-Andover, NB, 115 km

Welcome to Perth-Andover

That morning, I decided not to scrutinize my map to determine my day’s destination. Instead I just took off on the road heading South. It was fun. Just biking along not knowing where you were going to end up. As long as I was headed East to Newfoundland, then no worries. Eventually by the afternoon I checked to see my progress. Perth-Andover was not too far away. I stayed there at the only local campground. As a coincidence, it was the same campground the tandem team stayed at the previous night, in the pouring rain.

July 15, 2010: Perth-Andover to Woodstock, 95 km

A short, easy ride. The New Brunswick highway is smooth and fast with wide shoulders. I stayed at Yogi Bear campground. This place is great for kids. It has hayrides, scavenger hunts, basketball court, waterslide, two swimming pools, arcade, mini-golf and canteen serving ice cream and french fries. For adults, this place has the peace and quiet expected when your kids are at the waterslide, hayrides, basketball court or scavenger hunt.

July 16, 2010: Woodstock to Oromocto, NB, 125 km

Halfway to Oromocto I decided to take the scenic route, highway 102 through Fredericton. It provided for nice river and lake views.

My buddy Delano

My friend Delano lives in Oromocto. So I paid him a visit and hung out for two days. Delano, my army buddy, is more than military fit. He’s run half marathons on a whim and can do hand stand push ups. So I took his suggestions on how to establish a training program. Keep the exercises simple and focus on core strength.

That night we took a drive to Saint John, NB to grab a bite at a local pub and catch up on recent events. After we headed back to Oromocto to a pub-dance club to have a couple more drinks and hit the dance floor. Turns out this place was all too familiar to me. It was the go-to pub in CFB Gagetown where I was many, many years ago back in my army days. Oddly, I was the only guy there without a shaved head (my haircut is long overdue).

July 17, 2010: Oromocto, NB, Day Off

It was nice sleeping in. My day off consisted of Delano and I driving into Fredericton to enjoy a good latte and sight seeing in and around town.

July 18, 2010: Oromocto to Sussex, NB, 112 km

Welcome to Sussex

Delano biked with me that morning to the local coffee shop for one last drink. Off I flew, high on a large triple triple. 🙂 I finished the day’s ride in Sussex. The campground, Town and Country Campark, had a refreshing outdoor pool and drive-in movie theatre. My camp site was right next to a farm where a few horses were grazing. I got up close and personal for a photo.

July 19, 2010: Sussex to Shediac, NB, 115 km

Barb and Jean

I encountered light rain upon entering Shediac. I parked my bike under a covered picnic area behind the town’s Information Centre. It was there that I met two women having a picnic and enjoying lobster. Turns out Barb and Jean were sisters. Jean and her husband are retired living close to Shediac’s popular wharf. The wharf in Shediac was previously not well maintained and left to ruins. With Jean and her husband’s and the rest of the community’s efforts, it was rebuilt into a popular local hangout and tourist destination. At anytime of the day you’ll find fishermen looking for the day’s catch, people of all ages jumping off the side for a splash and swim, and people strolling along checking out which restaurant can satisfy their appetite. And if you’re an early bird, the sunrises are spectacular.

Displaying the hospitality of the East Coast, Jean offered me a place to stay. She has an RV parked in her driveway with a very comfortable bed (I must say) in the back. They even gave me my first taste of fresh Atlantic Lobster, yummy. Even though it was raining, we took a drive down to the wharf that night.

Afterwards we talked about their friend who is also biking across Canada. His name is Armand and just recently celebrated his 70th birthday. He already reached St. John’s, NL and is heading back home to Shediac.

July 20, 2010: Shediac, NB to Cumberland Cove, PEI, 85 km

I took the scenic route to the Confederation Bridge. I enjoyed biking along the coastline through Murray Corner.

Armand from Shediac

Just before PEI, I was surprised to meet Armand coming from the other direction. And he was surprised that I called him by his name even though we’ve never met before. Armand used to be a boxer. All those years of training gave him the strength of will to push on for his ride across Canada. He’s very polite when you talk with him, but I wouldn’t want to push his buttons even today… LOL. We chatted for a bit and wished each other a safe journey.

Confederation Bridge to PEI

When I arrived at the Confederation Bridge I had to wait about an hour for the shuttle van to take me across. You cannot walk or cycle over the bridge.

Hello PEI!

Camping by the Northhumberland Strait

I stayed at Cumberland Cove campground that night. It is a really small campground right by the Northhumberland Strait. My site was right by the shore; an absolutely fabulous view.

July 21, 2010: Cumberland Cove to Charlottetown, PEI, 50 km

I woke up to the soothing sound of waves hitting the shoreline and the sun rising over the cove.

I took a short trip into Charlottetown in order to enjoy the city. After checking in and leaving my bags at a hostel I biked around and explored the streetscape. It was busy at the marina. Tourist shops, pubs, ice cream parlours and a live band kept people entertained. Oh, and they have a Starbucks!

Total distance traveled: 6,627 km

Total donations received: $3,834.79

More trip photos

Going the distance: Days 47 to 62, Ottawa to Riviere du Loup June 27 to July 12, 2010:

June 27 to July 4, 2010: The week in Ottawa 

What a fun week in Ottawa!  All you can eat sushi, burgers, pizza, ice cream, Canada Day BBQ, steak and “a few” lattes were on the menu.  I also got to sleep in. 🙂 

New tire treads needed after 5000 km of bicycling

During the week I was able to lighten my load by switching my heavier warmer sleeping bag and air mattress with my lighter cooler smaller bag and foam pad, shaving 5 lbs off my load. All thanks to my logistical support, Lori and Andrew.  Go team!  I was even tempted to ditch my tent and go with my 100 % waterproof bivy sack to lighten my load even more. 

Unfortunately, as the week went on I became increasingly tired, eventually getting sick. Turns out I was decompressing, coming off the adrenaline from my trip. Not fun. I couldn’t even ride out on my planned departure day. I needed to rest one more day and drink plenty of fluids. 

July 5, 2010: Ottawa, ON to Cushing, QC, 109 km. 

It was a hot day to start. My friend Keith joined me for a 20 km ride out of the city. Road conditions were good with no hills, perfect for warming up my legs from a week of rest. It was a tiring start thanks to my chest cold. 

The heat will take a little getting used to. Even with the hot day I sped along Hwy 17 and ended up in Hawkesbury at noon. Then I took a two hour break from the heat and rehydrated before finishing the day in Cushing, QC. Bienvenue Quebec! Je m’appelle Martin. Il fait chaud!!  J’ai chaud!! Ou est les Starbucks? Une grande frappacino s’il vous plait. Merci. 

The first thing I noticed after going over the bridge that separated Ontario and Quebec was the smooth roadway which made the ride easier on me and my bike. 

July 6, 2010: Cushing to Montreal, QC, 116 km 

Biking along Hwy 344 provided good scenery of the “Riviere des Outaouais”. It was in the town of Oka that I took a much needed break from the heat and humidity. 

The water in my water bottles had lost their cool within the first hour of riding. I kept refilling them whenever I could. My only insulated bottle provided me with the H2O relief. 

I didn’t arrive in downtown Montreal until late afternoon. I had stopped off first at MEC to check out gear and supplies. I chatted with a local cyclist who happened to be shopping there. He told me about the two possible routes to Trois-Rivieres, my next days ride. Hwy 138 was on the NorthWest side of Fleuve Saint-Laurent versus Hwy 132 on the SouthEast side. In light of our chat and his warning not to take Hwy 132 due to heavy traffic, I made the decision that I would bike on whichever side the wind crossed the St Lawrence to. The cool breeze from the river would provide relief from the heat wave. 

July 7, 2010: Montreal to Trios-Rivieres, QC, 137 km 

Best way to beat the heat

My ride out of the city was a little frustrating. There were too many stop lights to gain riding momentum. I had taken Hwy 138 in order to get a nice breeze and a fantastic view of the river. Traffic was minimal. 

I stayed at a hostel that night. Unfortunately, there was no air conditioning. The eight-bed dorm room on the second floor I was assigned to was hot and stuffy. There was only one small window and a fan to get air. So I took the chance to sleep on the hostel’s second floor balcony. Taking out my sleeping bag and foam pad I enjoyed a good night’s rest staying cool under the starry night sky. 

July 8, 2010: Trios-Rivieres to Quebec City. 145 km 

It was a smooth early morning ride out with little traffic. Still experiencing the heat wave, I opted to bike a tad faster to maximize my distance before the heat and humidity slowed me down. 

Tandem Tour (Left to Right): Jeff, Ben, (ME) , Ian , Brent

And just after my first break I was surprised by who biked up behind me. It was the tandem bike team, Brent, Ian, Ben and Jeff. I thought these guys were long gone after hearing about them early on in Ontario. Turns out they also took a week off. They had started their trip on May 5th while I started mine on May 11th. Their bike weighs 80 pounds and combined with the four of them adds up to 800 pounds. With all the weight on two tires they break spokes almost every day and their wheel rims also crack and break. Fortunately, they are supported by their friend driving a pickup truck and trailer carrying their essential gear and supplies. Their trip ends in Halifax. 

I rode with them for a half hour before their own scheduled break. Their truck was parked ahead off the side of the road in a field ready with food and water. There were two more cyclists present. Turns out Lisa and Ayla are doing their own cross country ride. It was nice to meet more people on tour and chat about our rides. 

I moved on ahead seeing as I had taken my own break just before meeting them. Given that their speed on flat roads was fast I was sure they would catch up. 

A couple more hours of biking in the heat required another break. I cooled down for forty minutes then set out. Before I left I first pumped up my tires just a little bit more. I biked for less than thirty seconds when ‘pop!’, my front tire blew. I did a quick change of the tube and picked up a psi gauge at canadian tire, which happened to be across the street. This was the pen-style one used for cars which I don’t think is as accurate but was the only thing available. I was surprised that I had overinflated the tube when I have had even more pressure in my tires over the last two months without them blowing. 

I met with the tandem team on the road again and we continued our chat about our experiences to date. 

We went our separate ways once more as I sped on ahead into the city. They have their support vehicle and trailer and can pack their bike up once they arrive at their day’s destination. 

July 9, 2010: Quebec City 

In Old Quebec

I took a day off to take in some scenery. I dropped off my bike at a local bike shop called Sports Bazzar to true my spokes as well as get more tubes and new brake pads (my back brakes were almost worn out). Despite the heat, exploring Old Quebec was great. I had crepes for lunch and a moccacinno at Les Petite Cochon. I even saw the tandem guys again. They were leaving that afternoon during the rain that was scheduled to arrive shortly. 

A downpour of rain in the afternoon washed away the day’s humidity. It gave promise to cooler days ahead. While everyone had umbrellas and rain jackets, I was one of the few that walked around getting wet. Quite refreshing and enjoyable. 

July 10: Quebec City to Saint Joseph de lapoint de Levy, 30 km 

I didn’t mind the lunchtime start. It was still a hot and sticky day but not as bad as the previous days thanks to the rain the day before. 

Oops!

I had just crossed over the bridge to the South shore of the St. Lawrence when ‘pop!’ My front tire blew again. But this time my new tire tread was shredded at the side wall.  Frustrating. I knew I could go back to the bike shop, Sports Bazzar, to get a new tire. They treated me well there. It was a little too far away, so with the help of my “eyes in the sky’ I found out that there was a bike shop less then 200 metres from lucky me. It was a quick walk over only to discover that they had just one tread left in my size and with a lower max psi of 75. By the time I made the change another cyclist came by and asked if everything was ok. His name was Gerry and he was very interested in my trip. He invited me to ride with him for a bit as we were both heading East. Gerry took me along a bike path right by the river. We talked as we rode and I found out he’s in his early 60’s and does double ironman competitions, wow! 

Gerry

Gerry has excellent sportsmanship. He does not care if he finishes first, second, third or last. As long as he competes with himself and has a smile on his face during the competition then it’s a good race. He’ll even stop other marathoners who look frustrated to tell them to keep smiling and enjoy the event.  Gerry also bike toured in France and was welcomed in many homes for meals and lodgings. So it was no surprise that he invited me to stay the night at his place, 30 km east of Quebec. With the day not progressing well, I figured I’d call it a day. Gerry even bought me another tire at a bike shop close to his place just in case I blew mine again. 

Upon arriving at his farmland home, I met Gerry’s wife, Caroline. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast who, like her husband, bikes, cross country skis and kayaks, to name a few. That night we had dinner at their son’s place. Kevin, his wife Isabelle, and their son, Julian, provided a delicious meal, great conversation (sofa king, lol) and a truly entertaining evening. 

July 11: Saint Joseph de lapoint de Levy to Saint Jean Port Joli, 85 km 

Handcrafted Kayak

That morning Gerry showed me the kayak he picked up not too long ago. Not just any kayak, but a hand crafted wooden kayak that took roughly 360 hours to build. I was salivating at the fine craftsmanship and attention to detail. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. If you had this kayak you’d end up putting it in your bedroom.  And when you’d wake up every day you’d look at the kayak and say “good morning, honey” before rolling over to your significant other to say “good morning, sweetie”, lol.  The next night you’re sleeping on the couch. 

Gerry biked 60 km with me towards Saint Jean Port Joli. It gave me the chance to hear about his double ironman stories. One story was really inspiring. There was a woman who kept trying to finish the cycling portion of the yearly double ironman before the timed cutoff to qualify for the next leg. It was her third try where she was in danger again of not being allowed to continue. An experienced competitor rode up beside her and asked, “Are you tired of losing? Then do exactly what I say”.  Following the strict advice, she managed to finished within 2 minutes to spare on a 36 hour bike ride. She cried for two days. And I can’t forget to mention “Phenomenal Phil”. He competed well into his 80’s and is a legend in Quebec. 

July 12: Saint Jean Port Joli to Riviere du Loup, 95 km. 

Some people have a bowl of cereal in the morning, I have a bowl of cappuccino. It was after my breakfast that I biked to a cafe to enjoy the morning and load up on rocket fuel. 

I took time to change the lower psi tire I bought the other day with the one Gerry gave me, a much better tire. Thanks, Gerry. 

The day was sunny and cool from the breeze over the river. I flew along the roadway enjoying the scenic Quebec country side. 

That night I received a text message from Peter and Anne, the young cyclists I met at Kirkland Lake, ON a few weeks ago. They were 10 km behind me. 

Total distance traveled: 5,800 km 

Fantastic news!! The total donations received is now $3,834.79. Wow!  Thank you all. We have surpassed the set target in donations. These funds will help Griffin Centre provide programs and services to vulnerable youth and adults.  

More photos from Days 47 to 62

Going the Distance: Days 42 to 46 (Cochrane to Ottawa, ON)

June 21, 2010: Cochrane to Kirkland Lake, 150 km

Steven, from Cochrane, was right about the road conditions going South. Flat to start off with then progressing to some hills.  Whenever I see hills ahead of me I think back to the “hills” in BC. It makes what’s in front suddenly seem easy.

Succumbing to my food cravings I took a break in Matheson at lunch time. I found a cheap place with great tasting burgers. But then everything tastes great when you are in constant need to fuel up. Nothing is really off the menu except for anchovies and Vector bars. Ugh!

About 10 km before turning off from Hwy 11 to Hwy 66 towards Kirkland Lake I could just make out a moving object some distance ahead. With my eyes squinting I saw that it was another cyclist going in the same direction. It would take me a while to catch up given our speeds were on par. Going faster and getting closer I discovered there were two cyclists. They were on tour with each bike only having rear panniers. I rode up just behind them, rang my bike bell and said hey.

Peter and Anne at Kirkland Lake

Both 22 years old, Peter is from Guelph, ON and his girlfriend Anna is from Montreal, QC. They are biking across the country to raise awareness for AIDS orphans in Africa.

We camped together that night and shared some stories. Peter and Anna work together at a trampoline gym and were able to get time off for the trip. They have been on the road since April 11th, 2010. Their food vice on the trip is ice cream, eating it almost daily. I was a bit envious. There have been a few times where during a day off I have been at a grocery store pacing back in forth in front of the ice cream freezer salivating. But they don’t have mocha almond fudge. My food vice is Chewy Chips Ahoy Cookies. They won’t crumble when squished in your food bag and if it’s hot out a couple melt together to form one big delectable treat.

Anna and I had something in common. Anytime you meet another touring cyclist on the road one of the questions usually asked is, ‘How many?’. Some have three, others have nine.  So far on this trip we have had 0 flat tires. Yep, I’ll spell it out for you, Z-E-R-O flat tires biking 4200+ km so far. Outstanding!

The next day we had lunch in town before heading out on the road. It’s not problematic to start the biking day in the afternoon. You just need to have sufficient time to get to your destination and decent weather to not hamper your ride. If it was pouring rain or there was some serious headwind I would stay put for a day. Or go only half way if there was a place to stay somewhere in between. I was surprised to find out that a few times Peter and Anna would leave at 4:30 pm and bike 80-100 km, pushing hard to get to their next stop. There is enough sunlight to do it since sunset is around 9 pm these days.

We are all headed to the same destination but are taking our own paths to get there. I was heading South on Hwy 11 through North Bay then onto Ottawa for a week off. They went on Hwy 66 into Quebec through Mt. Tremblant and planned to take a couple days off in Montreal. We exchanged numbers and will text our respective locations in the coming weeks. There is a possibility that we could meet up again. I am taking more time off but bike a just a tad farther each day.

June 22, 2010: Kirkland Lake to New Liskeard, 90 km

Being lucky for not getting a flat tire has come to mind before meeting Peter and Anna. I quickly dismiss my luck and think about other things for fear of jinxing myself. Today however I mused on the issue, “If I was to get a flat tire were should I be?” Maybe in front of a coffee shop? I would be sipping on a cafe mocha making more enjoyable the task of taking my tire off, replacing the inner tube and getting my hands covered in dirt and grease (my bike’s pretty dirty). Or at least in some town where I could sit somewhere comfortably and leisurely change it? I wasn’t going to let the bike tell me where to get the flat, I was telling the bike.

I enjoyed reading advertising billboards along the side of the road. It gives you a sense of the expected population size and services offered in the next town or city. The more signs leading up to it, the larger and more developed the town. One sign piqued my curiosity: Thornloe Cheese Factory. I only like a few cheese varieties but I wanted to check this place out. To my surprise they had ice cream for me to indulge in. One of the office staff there, Carmen, was excited to see someone on a bike tour. She took some photos of me with my bike and gave me for the trip a small package of cheese curds high in salt to retain water. Thanks again, Carmen.

Just before New Liskeard there’s a tri-city junction with the usual cookie cutter stores you see everywhere. A Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire, motels and some fast food outlets were tempting me. It’s nicer when you go into town.

June 23, 2010: New Liskeard to Temagami, 62 km

Ha ha ha ha, nice! I woke up to a flat tire this morning. It was my rear tire.

And here’s the ‘Martin you’re lucky again’ part. The spare tubes I bought back in Toronto have have the thin presta valves. I thought they were the thicker schrader valves that matched my bike pump. I don’t have an adapter for my pump to inflate the tire. Could you imagine if I had a flat tire where I was in the middle of nowhere, such as the 160 km barren ride from Klotz to Hearst? I would have had to take time to find the hole and patch it up or hitch a ride to a town that hopefully has a bike store or some sports store that sells bike tubes.

New Liskeard has two bike-sports stores. They both opened at 10 am which gave me time to walk through the town.

At the first store, Active 1 Source for Sports, I bought a new tube with a schrader valve for the purpose of replacing my flat. It was slightly thicker rubber to handle the higher PSI. I suspect if you go to a big box store to buy a tube you may get something not up to the task. The owner, Michele, was really nice and was keen to hear about my trip. Her son does a lot of biking. With her passion for the outdoors and biking it made sense for her to own a sports store. They didn’t have the valve adapter in stock so I went to the other shop to purchase. They are $1 each and I bought two in case I lose one. I opted to put the tube with the schrader valve on my bike because it is easier to pump up. I have a tough time with the presta valve adapter. I can never get my ideal PSI. Air usually escapes from the connections between the adapter and my pump.

The biking day started off hot and humid then turned into a rainy drizzle. There were plenty of hills and choppy roads that kept my focus in check. Nowadays when I see construction signs ahead on the road I get elated. It means that the road has just been paved making for a smoother ride. Between my suspension seat post, plush saddle and padded shorts I may not feel a lot of the bumps in the road, but my bike does.

I was just outside of Temagami where construction had stopped traffic at one end of the road to let oncoming vehicles go through the only available lane. Biking down the hill in the rain I passed stopped cars and trucks. One transport truck had blasted his horn a couple times. ‘What’s he honking at?’ I thought. Then as I looked over at the young driver he had is window down smiling at me, waving and giving me the thumbs up. I get kudos from vehicles at least once a day by either waving and/or giving quick taps on their horns. It’s a nice feeling and gives you the kind of energy boost that performance bars don’t provide.

I had originally planned to go to Marten River which is about 40 km South of Temagami. With the lunchtime start, changing weather, hills and my own sluggishness I had called it a day in Temagami. It was not a far ride and I was not impressed with myself. When I arrived at the provincial campground, Finlayson Point, I discovered they had their hot water heater out of order. There were only cold showers available. I considered the cold shower deserving of my poor riding. If I had been more motivated today, I could have enjoyed a hot shower in Marten River Provincial Park.

I can’t remember the last time I took a cold shower. I do remember starting it off warm and gradually making it cool. The shower I had this night was quick. Like a little kid jumping and evading a lawn sprinkler or a blast from a garden hose, I did as much as I could to minimize direct exposure to the high pressure blast of cold water.

It continued to rain all night and even harder in the morning.

June 24, 2010: Temagami to Mattawa, 157 km

It was early morning when I biked to the local coffee shop to fuel up on some caffeine and wait for the rain to subside.  I really wanted to make up for my short trip the day before. My plan was to go to North Bay but was open to going further if conditions were good. The rain let up by 9 am and I was off. It’s been a while since I had a hot cup of java. I was riding at a good speed and just before lunch I was halfway to North Bay. I took a break in Marten River to send out a few texts to friends and refilled my water bottle. Back on the road I was happy to see it was paved well and with no hills.

Turtle Crossing

Just up ahead I saw a small object directly in front of me moving slowly on the road. A turtle?! So why is this turtle crossing the road? To get the Shell station, ha! It was big enough, about a foot long. If I had not stopped I would have hit it. I pulled off to the side and rested my bike against a roadway railing. If there was a car behind me or a truck that turtle would have been road kill. I was nudging it with my foot to get it out if the way from passing cars. It didn’t like that and got defensive, hiding in its shell, then aggressive jabbing its head out and jaws open pecking at the bottom of my shoe. With the turtle off the road I went back on my way. I got to North Bay in no time, maintaining an average speed of 25/km hour. There was still time in the day to bike further so I stopped off at the Information Centre to see what type of campgrounds are East along the highway.

Unfortunately, the majority of the time when I walk into an Information Centre wearing or holding my bicycle helmet and ask how far is it to the next town, their answer is, “about an hour’s drive”. It’s really a reflex for them. The staff are used to drivers coming in. So I estimate that one hour’s drive is 80 km and if my speed is 20km/hr then it is a four hour ride.

Samuel Champlain Provincial Park is about 50 km East of North Bay. It was nothing but hills one after another. My desire to get to Ottawa for a long rest provided me with additional drive and focus to maximize each day’s ride.

Usually around the 120 km mark I feel the effects of bicycling. Exhaustion, sore knees and lack of power in my legs become an issue. I stopped for a bit to fuel up on some trail mix. I have noticed it takes about 5 to 10 minutes to get the energy back. Combine it with water and some pain killers and I would be okay for the rest of the ride. Even though I was tired, I enjoyed the scenery that the Mattawa River provided. About 2 km from the provincial park I saw a billboard sign about a campground in Mattawa, 10 km further. Okay then, if I pushed on more I’ll be just a little closer Ottawa. It was a good decision to move on instead of staying at the provincial park. The campground I stayed at offered a great view of the river with my camp site the closest to it. I took a nice hot shower, did some laundry and called it a night.

June 25, 2010: Mattawa, ON to Deep River, ON, 105 km

Alternating between long and short rides I took a 100 km ride to Deep River, ON. I chose to sleep in and took my time getting up in the morning. Heading off at lunch time I was again greeted to choppy roads not fit for bike or car, man or beast. I cringe when I ride on these roads.

20 km into my ride I saw a truck pulling a camper trailer stopped on the road’s shoulder. Its hazard lights were on and roadside triangle safety markers set up. It looked like everything seemed to be under control with a woman holding a crowbar between the two rear trailer wheels pulling on it. I asked if she needed assistance. Turns out she did.

We introduced ourselves quickly given the ongoing repair. Her name was Sally Ann and her husband’s was Ken. They’ve been touring on the road since December last year traveling from Texas all the way to Alaska.

Ken was underneath the trailer replacing a wheel spring that had broken. Pulling the two wheels apart with the crow bar would help to get the spring in. So I took the bar and pulled hard. Two wooden planks protected the wheels from the bar. It gave just enough leeway for Ken to get the spring in. It did take some time.

Ken asked me if I noticed the road coming out of Mattawa. “There are paved roads there?”, I joked. He understood that as a yes and the humour helped alleviate his own frustrations.

With the trailer repaired we both said our goodbyes and off we went.

June 26, 2010: Deep River to Ottawa, 200 km

In Deep River

I could have done a 130 km ride and stopped in Fritzroy Provincial Park for the night. Then the next day do a 70 km ride to my friend’s place in Ottawa. I had emailed my friend the day before and said that it “would take me two days to get from Deep River to Ottawa, unless there’s a Starbucks every 50 km and the roads were completely flat, lol”.

I was up at 5 am but didn’t technically leave Deep River until 8 am. I took the opportunity to take in the scenery and some photos by the river before leaving.

Wilderness Tours courtesy of Brent

A grey Dodge pickup truck that passed me on the road caught my eye. Crammed in the back there were two dirt bikes, two kayaks and a third kayak on the roof. I got the impression that the people in the truck have or had a lot of fun activities on the menu. The truck had stopped at a gas station up ahead and I pulled in to take a photo. The driver’s name was Brent and he and his girlfriend conduct kayaking and wilderness tours. I told them I was headed to Ottawa for a week’s break and have an interest in kayaking-camping along the Mattawa River. Brent offered to make it happen. I couldn’t take him up on that offer now but he gave me his contact info should I do so in the future. Thanks, Brent.

By 12 pm I had gone 80 km. I took an hour break to rest up, ate some food and filled up my water bottles. Even though there was a slight headwind, the roads were flat and fast. I decided then that getting to Ottawa that night was my goal.

I had to take additional breaks during the day. My aim was to be in Ottawa between 7 and 8 pm. This was a realistic time barring any unforeseen circumstances. I took Hwy 17 until it turned into the Hwy 417 then headed through Marathon Village and Carp.

Carp was a nice small town just West of Kanata. How nice was it? It was nice enough to get another flat tire; an extension or delay of my day’s ride however you want to look at it. I could hear the hissing of air coming out from my front tire. It took three or four seconds before it flatted out. Well, it is my second flat in four days, nothing to get too worked up on.  It happened right next to a storefront with a comfy bench. 🙂

I made a quick change and starting pumping up the tire. I only had the spare tubes with the thinner presta valves left. I had to play with the adapter so air wouldn’t escape. My bike pump has a flexible telescoping rubber line that attaches to the valve, a swing out foot stand for support and a pump handle you can use two hands with. Although I don’t have a gauge on my pump I can sort of figure out how much pressure I have by feeling how solid the tire is and how much effort I end up pumping the air in.  After, when I start biking I can then feel what rolling resistance there is and if more pressure is needed. This has worked for me during this trip so far. I didn’t even come close to how hard I pump when the tube ruptured and popped out like a gunshot. My ears were ringing for a minute and some people opened their front doors in the houses across the street to see what happened. I took out the tube and saw a three inch tear in it. “Okay, relax”, I thought to myself. I have two more spare tubes…with presta valves. 😦 I was delayed for a while. I put another new tube in and couldn’t ramp up my PSI high enough. I was only able to get half the pressure I needed (max 85 PSI). I could ride with it but there would be much more surface contact, rolling resistance and effort for me to bike at my normal speed. So be it. It was getting late and I had 40 km more to go.

I continued to bike with the lower pressure in the front tire.  Feeling frustrated (stupid tire!) and desperate to get to Ottawa before dark worked my favour. I was cranking my bike harder and faster. The last time my legs muscles had a tough workout was in BC.  So far that hasn’t changed. It wasn’t too hard to maintain a good speed from channeling my frustrations into my legs.

I arrived in Ottawa just as the sun was settling below the street lined trees  ready to touch the horizon. But I still needed to get to my friends’ house, some 20 km away.

I was riding behind a pair of city cyclists who were out for a late day ride. They saw my gear and we chatted a bit as we rode East along one of Ottawa’s main arterial roads. I told them I was headed to South Keys and they gave me directions. Normally I would stop and check my map first to get the best street route my gut instinct was telling me. But heck, they live in Ottawa and know the area better than I. So I followed their advice…..and ended up taking the scenic route, or slight detour, however you want to look at it. I have been on the road for 13 hours, so to me it was a detour. I’ve had enough scenery for the day thank you very much.

I was surprised at how much energy I still had. I was biking between 25-30 km/hr in my current bike’s condition.  Even though I traveled 200 km and arrived at my destination after dark I felt I could do another 50 km.

I will be hanging out with friends this week and enjoying some of the Canada Day festivities, including a BBQ. 🙂  Then I’ll be heading out on the road again on the 4th or 5th of July.

My bike needs new treads, more tubes, maybe new brake pads and a tune-up (truing), as well as some gear/kit and clothing adjustments.

I have a question to the cyclists out there. I have 32C wheels with no tread left. Should I get another pair of 32’s with max 85 PSI or maybe try a 28C with 100 PSI and up for less roll resistance. Will the thinner tire increase my probability for flats? Or should I get the 32’s since I am already used to it? My bike with gear weighs 75-80 lbs. And my weight has decreased significantly to 150 lbs.

With only 2,300 km to go I should complete the trip before the end of July. Piece of cake (knock on wood times 1000)!

Total distance traveled: 5000 km

Total donations received: $3,000

More photos from Days 42 to 46

Going the Distance: Days 34 to 41 (Thunder Bay to Cochrane, ON)

June 14, 2010: Thunder Bay to Nipigon, 114 km

The day greeted me with sun and a few clouds in the sky. I took Lakeshore Road out of Thunder Bay. It was about 10 km of quiet car-free easy riding. One of the houses I passed had four homemade directional sign posts. Each one had about a dozen signs pointed to various destinations around the world made by visitors passing through.

Gas stations are usually boring. There was one that I passed that captivated my interest. The outside of the building has a mural illustrating the great outdoors. Wolves on one side and postcard style illustrations on the other of bears, fishermen and a hillside.

I met another cyclist while camping in Nipigon. Bruce was from Port Perry, Ontario and happened to be celebrating his 70th birthday. He was a tall, fit man with short white hair who looked like he could have been 60. His wife Judy was with him driving their van and camping trailer. A green canoe was fastened atop of the van. Bruce’s goal was to bike 1400 km back home and take some time to fish and camp. Their dog kept alert for bears and other wild animals. Our mutually destined route was Hwy 11. The flatter roads would be easier on our knees. I could have accompanied Bruce on the next day’s ride but I preferred to sleep in that morning. 🙂

June 15, 2010: Nipigon to Geraldton, 163 km

To my surprise this route did have some nice scenery and some hills. Riding around Helen Lake provided some quiet tranquil moments. There were few cars and trucks on the road to interrupt the morning part of the ride. And peaking out on a hillside was a small waterfall.

I caught up to Bruce 88 km into my ride, just shy of Beardmore. He had called it a day and was with Judy at a rest area. They were going to camp out for the night and continue the next day to Geraldton. I wished them a safe journey and rode on to Geraldton, MacLeod Provincial Park.

June 16, 2010: Geraldton to Klotz Lake, 83 km

This was a short ride of 80 km. I took a break in the town of Longlac, 30 km east of Geraldton. Longlac is at the north end of Long Lake and was used as a trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1814. The people there are very nice and helpful, especially the ones working at the post office. I had to triple check that there was indeed a campground at Klotz lake. It is a long ride to Hearst and Klotz Lake would provide a slightly shorter distance.

Off I went to Klotz Lake Campground. It is a fishing and hunting resort complete with rustic cabins and camp sites. Klotz Lake is popular for fishing. It’s 16 km long and about 2 km wide with small islands that add to its beauty. This trip is about luck and being at the right place at the wrong time. I stayed at Klotz Lake campground the same time a whole bunch of fishermen from Michigan did their annual trip. That night I enjoyed a pot luck dinner with beer battered deep fried fish, fresh from the days catch, soup, pasta, lemon cake, a wine cooler and venison (or it might have been bear meat, not sure). I wasn’t able to supply any real food of my own. Unless you consider eating granola bars and trail mix a better choice of food that what was enjoyed that night.

June 17, 2010: Klotz Lake to Hearst, 167 km

This is the day I have been thinking about since Thunder Bay. A 160 km ride with nothing but trees. It was a hot day to start off and I needed to be focused. Along the way I could see a few closed down motels, boarded up for reasons unknown. The heat brought out plenty of bugs. I could see them circling around me trying to find a good landing spot.

When I ride I prefer to have my hands on the lower part of my bike’s drop bars. It’s the most comfortable position for me. But today was the first time I could feel pain in my wrists and arms. A few times I had to change hand positions and shake out my arms to alleviate the pain. It wasn’t until later on in the ride that I popped some pain killers.

I made sure I had plenty of water with me. I’ve done longer rides before but riding in the heat is a new element for me. I was used to the wet weather that marked that last couple weeks of the trip. Today’s ride was one of the few psychologically challenging ones I’ve endured to date. There was no escaping the lack of scenery, the blazing sun, the bugs and the long distance until I reached my destination.

Bienvenue Hearst, a town who’s primary language spoken is French. Pourquois? Turns out many people from Quebec migrate to Northern Ontario for work. They have settled in Hearst, Kapuskasing and Cochrane.

June 18, 2010: Hearst to Moonbeam, 120 km

It was an easy ride to the town of Moonbeam made famous for a UFO sighting. Oh wait…I was just informed by some men in black that it was actually a weather balloon. I stand corrected. I stayed at Twin Lakes Campground. This trailer park has two man-made lakes in its centre with sandy beaches and a 225 foot slide that drops into the lake for kids. Even though there were thunderstorms that night it was sunny the next morning.

June 19, 2010: Moonbeam to Cochrane, 104 km

I was going to take a day off in Moonbeam but the sky was cloudy and the wind was to my favour. I didn’t leave until lunchtime. I had opted to relax a bit in the morning. It’s only a 100 km ride to Cochrane (again, two months ago I would never used the words “only” and “100 km” in one sentence, lol)

My first stop in Cochrane was Canadian Tire. Not the most exciting stop but I was looking to pick up some supplies. A man shopping there saw my touring bike and was interested in knowing more about my trip. Steven, a local resident, did his own tour of France when he was younger. On his tour Steven received the hospitality of people he met on the road often staying in their homes. He wanted to pay it forward by offering me a place to crash for the night and share a few stories from both our travels. I didn’t stay the night but did stop by to enjoy dinner with his wife Heather and two daughters Jennifer and Michelle. Jennifer is in senior kindergarten and Michelle is just 14 months old. Jennifer took a curious liking to me but since I just finished my ride and had yet to shower I told her I had “cooties”. That word must be ingrained at a DNA level. She didn’t know what it meant but instantly backed off and started building a fort with blankets and pillowcases to protect herself in the living room, lol.

Steven talked about his own trip. He knows bikes and did a lot of racing in his younger years. I was surprised and envious to hear that his average speed was 35 km/hr on his French tour.  He had thinner wheels with 110 psi max. I have thicker wheels at 85 psi max.

While at his home I took the opportunity to weigh myself with Steven’s bathroom scale. I’ve lost 17 lbs since the start of my trip. And its not for a lack of eating.

June 20, 2010: Cochrane – Day off.

Time to relax and rest my legs. I visited some stores in town and inside a gift store-trading post they had three vintage Bombardier snowmobiles on display. One was the first sold in Ontario in 1951 for $991. Even though a sign said ‘no photography’, I took some quick discreet photos of the machines when staff wasn’t looking.

Total distance traveled: 4200 km

Total donations received: $2700

More Photos from Days 34 to 41

Going the Distance: Days 28 to 33 (Winnipeg, MB to Thunder Bay, ON)

People I’ve talked to along my journey are surprised when I tell them that mental illness touches 1 in every 5 Canadians.

Awareness and early identification are often the first steps to effective treatment for children and youth with mental health disorders.

Here are some signs to look for:

  • getting significantly lower marks in school
  • avoiding friends and family
  • having frequent outbursts of anger and rage
  • losing his or her appetite
  • drinking a lot and/or using drugs
  • damaging other people’s property
  • worrying constantly
  • frequent mood swings
  • lacking energy or motivation
  • attempting to injure him or her self

To date, we’ve raised $2,000 for Griffin Centre so they can provide programs and services for vulnerable youth and adults. Thank you to all those who have donated. We are getting closer to our fundraising goal.

June 8, 2010: Winnipeg to West Hawk Lake.
Thank you all for the birthday wishes. I almost finished a whole cheesecake. So close!

Feeling refreshed from my previous day off I made a solid 160 km trip to West Hawk Lake, just shy of the Ontario border. It was raining as usual. Not a downpour, more of a light drizzle. I was traveling on a nicely paved highway with a gravel shoulder. This meant I had to be more alert of vehicles coming up from behind me.

When I arrived at West Hawk Lake I biked through the small town to see what was around. Two inns, two campgrounds, two gas stations and a bar with only one food item on the menu, pizza. I stopped at one of the gas stations that was closed for the day to take a break and drink some water. A big black suburban truck drove up, circled around me and stopped. I noticed the metal cage in the back hiding behind the dark tinted windows. It was easy to figure out that was a law enforcement vehicle. The driver came out and was enthusiastically asking questions about where I came from. He was excited to hear about my journey so far. We introduced ourselves and chatted for a bit. I got the impression that in his line of work he doesn’t get much time off and wants to do a tour of his own. So I informed him that if he worked for Toronto Police he could get a year sabbatical after a certain number of years or take occasional unpaid leave in border services, lol.

I biked into a three season trailer park to see if I can camp there for the night. I didn’t see any office or anyone else for that matter, even though there were lights on at some of the trailer sites. Were they all in hiding? ‘Olly olly oxen free’ I said in amusement. What I saw next wasn’t a person rather a deer. Then another one. They were curious as to who this person was biking through the camp. Their camp? I kept biking and found a trailer with someone cleaning up outside. I asked her about camping at the park and she said it’s trailers only here. No worries. Seeing me with my bike she offered me a sandwich and a drink. Yummy, a Bacardi Breezer. Not the best choice after a day of biking but I won’t turn down that type of ‘muscle relaxant’. The woman’s name was Roslyn and she was with her husband and brother fishing. She showed me photos of large fish that she caught the other day. Very nice. I hung out for a while keeping a close eye on the darkening sky. About a half hour later I said goodbye and headed to the other campground. There were only two other campers there. I called it a night.

June 9, 2010: West Hawk Lake to Willard Lake, 137 km.

Welcome to Ontario

Welcome to Ontario

Hello Ontario! My home province. It’s an odd feeling. Even though I am far from Toronto I feel like I am just taking a ride around the neighborhood. Riding through Kenora was nice. They have a number of shops along their main street that are visually inviting. And I took in the scenery of the Lake of the Woods. I continued on to Willard Lake where I called it a day. I stayed at a motel that had hand crafted tables and a Tiki bar in its restaurant. The staff, Michael and Tonya, were really friendly. Tonya had told me that just the day before she had four guys riding a tandem bike as guests. I had read about them in the newspaper two months ago. They too are bicycling across Canada and I was only a day behind them. Could I catch up? I also heard about a guy roller blading and skateboarding across Canada. Interesting.

June 10, 2010: Willard Lake to Wabigoon.

Oliver, originally from France, is biking from Toronto to Vancouver

Oliver, originally from France, is biking from Toronto to Vancouver

I took my time today with a short 84 km trip to Wabigoon. During today’s ride I spotted a touring cyclist coming from the East. I crossed the road to say hello to the fellow traveler. Oliver is originally from France and came to Toronto this past year. He’s biking from Toronto to Vancouver to raise awareness for his cause, Save the Children. We chatted, took photos and exchanged emails.

Constantine, from Germany, biking from Montreal, QC to Dawson City, YT

Constantine, from Germany, biking from Montreal, QC to Dawson City, YT

As Oliver and I were chatting, another cyclist came up behind us, again from the East. I didn’t think he was touring but oddly when he got closer I saw a sleeping bag and one pannier. Hmm? Turns out Constantine is biking from Montreal to Dawson City. He’s originally from Germany and quit his job back home to tour Canada. Wow! I couldn’t take my eyes off his bike. He bought a towny-type bike, has a 2L pop bottle taped to the front and some sort of milk carton duct taped to the frame, possibly for storage. I called it the McGyver bike and I believe 100% that he will complete his journey. Good luck to both of you.

June 11, 2010: Wabigoon to English River, 144 km.
I have gotten used to the constant drizzle of rain. In fact, I am usually in good spirits as I go throughout my biking day. Not sure how I’ll feel when I get a day of sun. Some day I’ll find out. With the exception of the forest scenery, this day was a routine bike ride.

June 12, 2010: English River to Thunder Bay, 180 km.

Art Burns riding to Burnaby BC on his E-bike

Art Burns riding to Burnaby BC on his E-bike

Just before passing through Upsala I saw something unusual riding towards me. Someone was riding one of those electric scooters with bike pedals. Out here along a barren road!? Ahhhh, I see it. There was a small portable generator on the back that recharged the battery. The rider’s name was Art Burns. He is traveling to Burnaby, BC from Stratford, ON. He is probably the first person to do the trip on an electric scooter. Art has a good setup. iPhone for tunes with mini speakers and small digital camera on the front powered by the generator. He’s using You Tube to record his journey. Since he has an iPhone I mentioned that he should get Google maps and latitude so his friends can track his position. Art then told me he saw the tandem bike the other day before but there was only one guy riding the bike. I wonder what happened and I felt the desire to catch up.

I had other questions to ask Art. Does he have a spare tube if he gets a flat? Does he think the 500 watt motor will survive the BC hills and not burn out? Does he know the vehicle regulations in the other provinces (Ontario’s roads allow for electric scooters/bikes)? But I choose not to. I didn’t want to jinx his trip. Good luck Art.

Hue, from Montreal, QC

Hue, from Montreal, QC, is skateboarding across Canada

Between Upsala and Raith I saw a lone individual on the side of a road having a smoke. It looked like a hitchhiker waiting for a ride. Then I saw the skateboard (longboard). It was the guy I heard about a couple days ago. Hue is from Montreal and started out roller blading across the country from BC. He switched up the blades and now’s he is longboarding. I asked about the tandem bike team and Hue said he saw them the other day. He said the bike is broken and they are taking turns riding it. The team should be in Thunder Bay and are having it fixed. I’m getting closer.

My plan was to end my day at Shabaque Corner 60 km west of Thunder Bay. And the next day I would do a short trip to Thunder Bay. Instead I went all the way to earn myself a full day off.  Exhausted and out of water I ate some trail mix to get a little more energy for the last 20 km push into Thunder Bay. Things then started going downhill from there. No, literally the road went on a decline, 🙂 and I pretty much coasted into the city.

June 13, 2010: Thunder Bay.

Arctic Watershed at 504 metre elevation, West of Thunder Bay

Arctic Watershed at 504 metre elevation, West of Thunder Bay

My day off. It’s raining but that’s the norm for my trip. On the 14th I am heading to Nipigon. It’s there I will need to make my route decision for the next 900 km. Either travel on Hwy 17 through Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury to North Bay OR Hwy 11 over and down directly into North Bay (the truck route). They’re almost the same distance with Hwy 11 being slightly shorter by 50 km. I am told by a few people that Hwy 17 is very scenic and has steep hills. While Hwy 11 is flat and boring. My knees have been feeling the pain and I have been good at not using pain killers; about once every week.

Total distance traveled: 3,350 km
Total donations received: $2,000

More Photos from Days 28 to 33

Going the Distance: Days 20 to 27 (Medicine Hat to Winnipeg)

“Back in my day, I had to bike three days to get a decent latte.” This is something I will tell my kids should I ever grow old, get married and have kids, lol. This coming from a guy who will use his TTC Metropass to go three stops to the nearest Starbucks or Second Cup (I’m an equal opportunity latte drinker).

It’s amazing. Just about a week ago I was saying “Hello Saskatchewan!” Now I will be saying “Hello Ontario!” in less than two days.

Saskatchewan, Naturally

Saskatchewan, Naturally

May 30, 2010: Medicine Hat to Swift Current. All the stories about Saskatchewan being flat are false. There are rolling hills that match the rolling landscape. It doesn’t take any imagination to see that the Prairies is an oversized golf course.  It was a good day for a bike ride. The wind was to my back and the sky was clear so I had to maximize my distance with this ideal weather. Oddly enough, it is usually my brain telling my legs to pedal. However, today I was in a zombie-like trance with my legs just automatically pedaling on their own.  Along the way you see the usual road-side debris expected of highway traveling. Assorted pop and beer cans and bottles, coffee cups and chunks of truck tires from blown wheels. Then something caught my eye. I instantly knew what it was as I was thinking of purchasing it for my trip. A portable solar power charger. I stopped immediately and backed my bike up to where it was, even running over it with my back wheel (oops). Some unfortunate traveler dropped the Solo charger from his/her kit. It has a carabiner clip that must have been unhooked from the person’s bike. This charger retails for $80. A quick test of the device gave the “green light” indicating that it works. Problem is, you need the USB attachments for it to charge cell/pda’s and the like.  Stowing with the rest of my gear I didn’t stop much for breaks from then on. After the day was done I biked 210 km. Outstanding!

Welcome to Swift Current

Welcome to Swift Current

May 31, 2010: Swift Current to Moose Jaw. I am on a roll, ha! Another great day. The winds continued to be at my back and off I went to Moose Jaw, 175 km away. Some days I use my MP3 player to listen to music in my right ear keeping my left ear open to traffic. On these last two days I did not. Each song represents only a specific distance covered based on my speed. I would rather just bike and not be conscious of the time or distance with every passing minute. That is hard to do because with all the biking in the past month I can now determine my speed based on my gear setting and how quickly I am cranking my pedals, not even looking at my speedometre. Combine it with my own sense of time and I can estimate how far I traveled at any given moment. It takes away some of the unpredictability of the ride. 😦

Welcome to Moose Jaw

Welcome to Moose Jaw

June 1, 2010: Moose Jaw to Indian Head. Before I passed through Regina I saw one of those truck weigh stations. I went and humoured myself by riding onto the scale platform. My bike and I weigh 110 kg. The bike with my gear weighs 40 kg. It looked like the scale is not entirely accurate and will round up or down to the nearest 10.

Originally, I had the notion of staying in Regina. Perhaps I could catch a movie later? Instead I opted to move on to Indian Head for a total ride of 150 km.

Indian Head, home of Little Mosque on the Prairie

Indian Head, home of Little Mosque on the Prairie

It is at Indian Head where they shoot the outdoor scenes to Little Mosque on the Prairie. I stayed at the local campground where I met other cross country travelers. Roger and Diane are from Hull, Quebec and are traveling in an RV to visit friends in Alaska. Diane even brought an espresso machine which she put to good use. 🙂 We chatted for a bit and I discovered they have a son who wants to do an extended bike tour. Bonne Chance!

June 2, 2010: Indian Head to Whitewood. Given the easy riding so far I have not been getting up as early as I should. I used to leave at 7 am (still not as early as other more regimented cyclists). With the passing days, the constant check of the weather forecast and my increased sense of how much distance I can cover, some days I leave at 8:30 am and others at 10 am. Given that I am no longer in BC and have much flatter roads I get upset with myself if my average speed drops below 20 km/hr. Yet, back in BC I would be lucky if I managed 15 km/hr. I also think my legs are not getting enough of a workout with the lack of hills. Maybe I should bike back to BC? Not a chance! I know Ontario roads will have their ups and downs.

Jamie (top) and Vic (bottom) wait and relax until their spare tire arrives

Jamie (top) and Vic (bottom) wait and relax until their spare tire arrives

On the way to Whitewood I noticed an 18-wheeler pulled over on the side of the road. Its hazard lights on and safety pylons placed around the truck. Hmm, what is going on here? As I rode closer I noticed some guy sun tanning and another playing a guitar. Huh?! I was thinking that these guys must have recently watched the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s” and did not feel like working today. It looked pretty funny. But turns out they blew a tire and were waiting for a replacement. They made the best of a bad situation. Jamie the guitar player hailed from Collingwood, ON and his sun tanning co-driver Vic was from Guelph, ON. These guys had originally driven from Mexico and because they take turns at the wheel they can cover longer distances in shorter time.

Whitewood, SK

Whitewood, SK

June 3, 2010: Whitewood to Moosomin. Good weather cannot stay with me forever. The day was cold, raining heavily and a strong headwind slowed me down physically and mentally. Not a good day to ride. With the amount of distance I covered in the three days prior I decided to call it a short day, a 50 km ride. I was at a restaurant in town when I overheard a senior say to her friend ‘That man is wearing leotards!’ ‘No’, I said smiling and correcting her observations, “They are moisture wicking long johns under my bike shorts.’ I then checked into a motel and stayed warm until the next day.

June 4, 2010: Moosomin, SK to Brandon, MB. Wow, I got through the Prairies relatively unscathed without any consistent headwind. Woohoo! Just before entering Manitoba I was going to sing one of the extended versions of my favourite song. ‘Extended version’ really means the first verse or two and chorus over and over again until by chance I remember the rest of the song. Before I was to begin someone behind me says ‘Hey there’. A touring cyclist rode up behind me. Pavel lives in Oakville and is riding home from Vancouver. To do this trip he carried over and maxed out his vacation days getting a month off work. He left on May 17th and is going at least 160 km/day. Kudos to you, Pavel. I rode with him for an hour or two, posed for some photos, then he got a flat tire. He told me to go ahead and I was sure he would catch up given the pressure he has to complete his trip.

Pavel and Martin at Manitoba border

Pavel and Martin at Manitoba border

When I reached Virden, MB I pulled into a gas station where I saw another touring cyclist getting air for his tires. Turns out Chris is from Sault Ste Marie and is biking west to Vancouver. We exchanged pointers on what to expect on the roads ahead. Unfortunately, he has to bike with headwind. During this conversation, Pavel had biked by the gas station. I was unsuccessful in getting his attention.

The roads are really bad in Manitoba. A few times I could not even ride on the shoulder. The bike would just vibrate apart . . . or my own joints would get a thrashing.

I did enjoy camping in Brandon. It’s good to pick a spot where the morning sun greets you and dries out the tent so it does not pack wet and heavy.

Portage la Prairie

Portage la Prairie

June 5, 2010: Brandon to Portage la Prairie. I actually biked through Portage la Prairie and stayed at a campground 10 km east of the town. The original plan was to stay at a motel in town, bike only 65 km the next day to Winnipeg and then take the subsequent day off on the 7th. My desire to negotiate (haggle) the price is fun but sometimes unsuccessful. Why pay for a room with your credit card when you can pay a lesser rate in cash. I approached one motel proprietor and asked what the room rate was. He said it was $75. I countered “How about if I give you $60 cash?” He left the front office to go check. A few moments later he came back and said there are not any more rooms left. Too funny.

June 6, 2010: Portage la Prairie to Winnipeg. A short 55 km bike ride give me the luxury of sleeping in and taking my time getting ready in the morning. I maintained a good pace despite some slight headwind and choppy roads. I was looking forward to my day off and thinking of ways to enjoy it.

Welcome to Winnipeg

Welcome to Winnipeg

June 7, 2010: Winnipeg. It is a weird feeling biking around the city without the accustomed weight of my panniers. I usually pull hard on my handlebars when riding from town to town. Now with all the weight off it I feel like I can almost lose control of the bike. Activities on this day include bike maintenance, laundry and stocking up on food and supplies for my next few days travel. But more importantly, drinking a frappuccino, eating sushi, cheesecake and drinking a Smirnoff Ice. Yes, I am another year older.

More Photos from Days 20 to 27