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

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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