Sunday, July 15, 2012

Completion

Moncton to Truro - 175 km

The day started off with tired legs.  I think I was low energy because I didn't eat properly the night before as I was distracted by the car show and a little euphoria over being almost done. The wind was not really helping though and it took me some time to get to the Nova Scotia border.  It was my last province line though and that seemed to pump me up a bit.  That and I was very much being chased by thunder storms today.  You cannot outrun a storm.  It will either hit you or miss you but pedaling hard made me feel like I was escaping getting wet.

I ran into some other touring cyclist at a gas station just after the border.  We chatted for a second and they were just heading out so I said I would catch back up to them. I got a flat about 10 k into the chase and quickly changed it. The shoulder on the highway had turned to crap as there was a rumble strip now and barely any room to ride causing you to hit the gravel once in a while.  About an hour after fixing that flat I got another.  This day was stretching out way longer than I needed it too. Fixed and back on the road I broke my chain at a toll booth.  After 5800 km very few mechanicals it seemed like I was having them all at once. Either that or my bike knew that the trip was almost done and wanted to keep me on the road. Fixed that and jumped back on my bike for the final 30 km.

Stopped at a restaurant at about 6 pm and Jerome who was one of the cyclist I had met earlier was just finishing up his meal. There is something funny about meeting another rider on the road.  Its like "I see you have bags on your bike." "Did we just become best friends?" "I think we did!"  Jerome and I decided to ride into Truro together and share a hotel.  Made the rest of the ride fun and it was excellent to have someone to hang out with in the evening.  Jerome started his ride in Montreal and was finishing up in Halifax.  His riding buddy had knee trouble earlier in the day and decided to pull out and hitch the rest of the way.

Yesterday I learned:
- When you have not cleaned your chain for 2500 km you are going to get very dirty when it breaks
- Nova Scotia has a way cooler sign than New Brunswick
- I did not get beat up in a bar in Truro like the woman who pointed us to the bar said I would

Truro to Halifax - 95 km

The days are long but the trip goes quickly by.

Got up and it was cloudy out for the first time in a long time.  Jerome and I started out the day together on the bikes but I was rather punchy and my pace was a bit higher than I should have been riding.  We decided to meet up in town later so I rode off.  I attacked each hill and dug in on the flats.  There was a slight tail wind and I tore into the distance.  It felt good to push the pace with no fear of tomorrow. I was motivated to be done.  The ride in was smooth for the most part save one more flat which was easy to deal with.  When I met my parents (who had flown out to meet me) they had a awesome t-shirt for me and it was sooo good to have someone to share the finish with.

So here I am. Done in Halifax and not having to ride tomorrow.  45 days with 4 rest days and over 6400 kilometers.  There are so many things to take away from this trip but for now I have to let the realization of what I have done soak in a bit.  For now I still love bikes and I am looking forward to doing some races and some fondos to see where my fitness is.  I honestly believe that anyone could do this ride. The time lines may vary but bicycles are amazing and all you have to do is start pedaling.

Today I learned:
- Boston was the first cities to help Halifax when the explosion happened. So every year during the holidays they send Boston a 40 foot Christmas tree and several chefs to cook a large feast.
- There is a lot of fog here which makes getting to the ocean very anti climatic.
- I am glad to not be riding tomorrow but look forward to more rides in the future

Motivators:

I did most of the riding on my own but there is no way I could have done this with out the help of so many people so here they are in no particular order:

Thomas Mueller - who showed many people what true courage is and touch many hearts with his story and strength. We all need to work to make sure this story changes.

Glen, Anne and Claudia - Our world is less without you but we are all better for having know you.

Phil Mueller - who has done more to promote the sport of cycling in a short time than almost anyone I know.  I look forward to riding with you in the future.

Alex Bullock - A true roadie through and through. Thank you for making the beginning of the trip way less hard than it would have been on my own (and thanks to Allison and Leanne for blue juice and being fun). We are going to train hard this winter and do something crazy next year!

Julia LoVecchio - You saved me in the rain, feed me and took me out for a fun night. You rule! Thanks for your passion for all things athletic.

The UX Guys - Thanks for the support and the fund raising.  I am lucky to be working with talented and caring people.

The Mehrers - Thank you for being my home away from home.

Brett Anhorn - Thanks for the TM sticker.  You have no clue how much it helped me on the rough days.  I owe you one.

Peter and Pat Mueller - Your kindness and generosity kept me going though many cold wet days in the prairies.  I just wish Pat's cookies lasted longer than a day and a half...

Jennifer Solomon - Thanks for motivational pictures and random chats.

My Parents - I am what you made me. Thank you for helping, trusting and supporting me. I am truly lucky.

My family - So much love and support makes one want to go farther.

Bill Hunt - You rode though storms of bugs and ugly ass swampland all while I was sucking your rear wheel.  You sir are a good friend.  I look forward to getting a ride in on lighter bikes and more adventures in the future.  Thanks for riding with me when I needed it. (and thanks Eryn for being our logistics manager...you are awesome)

Thanks to Jared, Christine and Teg for thinking I was crazy but never doubting me.

Wenner - For being the best host and introducing me to your friends. You are a champion human being!

Gala, Sean, Danielle and Josephine - Meeting people who are fun, interesting and talented is rare.  Thanks for letting me roll with your crew!

And finally thank you to everyone who tossed me a comment on Facebook, Twitter or on this blog. Its amazing how even though I was alone for days on end there was still a feeling of connection to everyone.  Thanks for following along and pushing me through each day.

Final Beard Report:
I am going to keep the beard for the race this weekend in Canmore but I think it shall be gone soon after that.  I am just not a beard guy.  It itches and every time I look at myself in the mirror it doesn't look like me.  Sometimes in the morning it takes a second for me to figure out what is on my face. I will be in Vancouver for 3 days then I am off so if you want to see me with beard toss me a note.


Thank you to everyone who donated.  You helped me more than you know!  Thank you for reading as well.  I apologize for grammar and spelling but writing after a long day is rough.  Please donate if you can and if you have any other fundraising ideas feel free to contact me.





Friday, July 13, 2012

Cemeteries And Cars

Fredericton to Moncton - 180 km

It was hot today.  So hot I can't touch myself....HOT! Burning my flesh....HOT! (that first line works best if you read it with James Brown's voice.  I was hot today similar to yesterday but there wind was still so I made good fast kms.  I got a late start because I had to get my rear brake fixed.  I lost a brake pad somehow on one of the mega descents yesterday so I figured rear brakes were a necessity.  I didn't get out till 10 am so by that time it was already cooking outside.  Being able to make up ground easily in the calm air felt good though and I rolled along the road in a good mood.

So I have a new hobby. Not really a hobby but more of something to break up the day.  I have been checking out cemeteries.  I really find them fascinating (not in a morbid way or night of the living dead way) especially around here where you find tombstones from the early 1800's.  Its entertaining to think about what life was like back then and what the terrain and landscape was like when they were alive. It makes looking around while riding change your perspective of what you are looking at.  I wonder through them reading all the epitaphs and try to find the oldest one.  So far its been one from 1791 in a little town called Millville.



I rolled most of the morning on the 105 and then jumped on the #2 for the afternoon.  There was a 70 km gap without any services so I had to make sure I had enough water for that stretch.  The road was actually filled with long mellow climbs and equally long lazy descents. Other than that the day was smooth right till the end.  There were thunder storms looming around at the end and with 20 k to go I got a flat.  I thought for sure I would get caught but luckily the storms missed somehow and I was able to finish the day into Moncton dry.  Still have not been rained on since just outside Winnipeg.  I owe Bill Hunt huge for bringing me the good weather.

This weekend is the Atlantic Grand National car competition so there are crazy cars and people everywhere.  I went downtown for a bit to check out the crowds and the cars.  Definitly neat to check out the local culture and some of the vehicles were amazing.  Would have like to see more but I need a nap.  Rocking the McDonalds internet right now and then I am off to bed.  Tomorrow is the last boarder and I am left with only 260 km to go till Halifax.  My parents are flying in to meet me there and  I am so thankful to have someone to share finishing with.

Today I learned:
- Magnetic Hill in Moncton is really trippy....I still don't understand how
- I still like bikes
- Neil Young is the shiznit


If you have been enjoying what you are reading feel free to make a donation to Peloton65.com and the James Fund. Thanks for reading and the support!




Thursday, July 12, 2012

Potatoes And Sweat

Montmagny - Riviere-du-Loup - 145 km

I have to say that the ride on this day was one of the most scenic on the trip.  Views of the St. Lawrence were constantly on my left and to the right there were rolling farms and ancient mountains in the distance. I had The Decemberists in my head phone for most of the ride because it just seemed to fit the terrain. To make the point I actually ran across two ladies painting on the side of the road.  They didn't speak any English but I managed to fumble out 'Puis-je vous prendre en photo?' (I don't think it sounded like that though) and they agreed. To the right is also the view they were painting.  All in all it was a easy day on fairly flat roads after the big day before. Grabbed some groceries in Riviere-du-Loup and then found a place to camp for the night.

On this day I learned:
- There are lots of cyclists in Quebec.
- Its cool to roll though a town that was established in 1700's
- The St. Lawrence is a GIANT river

Riviere-du-Loup to Grand Falls - 180 km

On this ride I hit my 7th province and said goodbye to Quebec. The road gets hilly when you head south and leave the St. Lawrence behind. The boarder was only about 50 k away from where I was camped so I made it there in good time and did a little dance on my bike after some pictures.  It is crazy that I am this far and being that I am dealing with the distance every day verse the trip as a whole its hard to reflect and get perspective. Boarders slap me in the face and give me that perspective a bit.  So with that pump up I rolled into Edmundston to grab some lunch.

Somewhere a long the way I have expanded my Tim Hortons lunch budget.  At the beginning of this trip I would spend 6-7 dollars for lunch there and that was why I liked it. It was cheap and good and I knew what I was getting.  I rolled to my table with 16 dollars worth of The Hort...and I could eat more. I am going to miss guilt free donuts when I am done this trip. In the parking lot I ran into some conservation officers and chatted with them for a while about my trip.  I love the reactions from different people.  It is awesome that many people try to give me cash for Peloton65 but I direct them to the web.  I would have a large stack of cash though and it goes to show that Canadians are good people looking to help.

So I continued on to Grand Falls.  Very cool little town with a crazy gorge right in the middle of it.  Same routine as the night before grabbing some groceries and then off to find a place to camp.  The day was not too hot and the wind was at my back for most of the day so I rolled into town early and had a bit of time to explore.  Ate some poutine before heading out to the camping spot.  I will not and cannot get sick of poutine.

At camp I had a long chat with Don Theriault who was from the area, retired and now makes carvings out of moose antlers.  I have to say that the people of New Brunswick have been some of the nicest I have met along the way. Friendly, helpful and very interesting.

Yesterday I learned:
- You can dance on a bike but I am pretty sure I looked like an idiot
- Conservation dudes are cool
- I can eat more than obese people at Tim Hortons

Grand Falls to Fredericton - 210 km

I got out of my tent early and immediately realized that the wind was going to be in my face. Not a good thing when you are planning a 200+ day.  So I got my grind on.  The wind got much stronger as the day got warmer and pretty soon I was crawling along.  It was a slow painful day but at least the sun was out and even though it was slow at least the wind was cooling me off as I rode.  I stayed on the 130 for most of the morning and around 12:30 I was rolling into Florenceville one of the conservation officers that I met the day before saw me and pulled over his truck.  His name is Ed Sipprell and he directed me to the local Tims.  Ed was awesome as I ate we figured out a good route.  He was born and raised in the area and was pointing out things to see and a way to avoid the wind into Fredericton.  We decided I should hit the 104 by taking a cross section on the 585.  The route was so much better. Trees close to the road made the wind lighter and gave me occasional shade but man was it hot out. I was sweating buckets all day today.

I took a break to check out the longest covered bridge in the world at Hearland and drink as much as I could. I am a little bummed that I am missing the Potato Festival on the 21st.  Everywhere you look here its all about the taters.  McCain's is headquartered here and there are large factories every where you turn as well as huge fields of potatoes.  Hey if that is where poutine comes from then this place filled with nice people and potatoes dominates in my opinion.

The route Ed pointed out was awesome until I tried to modify it a bit at the 180 km mark.  I decided to jump on the 616 over Keswick Ridge. A road with the name Ridge in it should have tipped me off that this was a mistake.  Everything was fine as I rolled along and came to a lake about half way through.  After the lake however came the ridge part....HOLY CRAP was it a steep hill.  It was about 2 km of wall and I actually thought that I was seeing things.   I knew there was no turning back so into my easiest gear and away I went.  I couldn't sit and pedal and the only way I could keep going was to stand and use all my weight on the pedals.  I crawled up this thing basically at a walking pace. It was ugly as I was weaving all over the place dragging my 75 lbs worth of bike up the hill. At the top I had to stop as I was on the edge of puking.  It was the first time on this trip that I was out of breath and my head was swimming.  Stupid detour...I limped into Fredericton and I really hope that I didn't ruin myself for tomorrow.

Today I learned:
- Potatoes......Potatoes everywhere....
- The hardest day on the trip was today
- The hardest hill on the trip was not in the mountains
- Walmart has everything


If you have been enjoying what you are reading feel free to make a donation to Peloton65.com and the James Fund. Thanks for reading and the support!






Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I Wish I Was Better At French



Sorry for the gap between posts the last couple of days. I have been socializing (there are people in Canada and you can talk to them...who knew?) and had a bit of a lack of access to there interweebs. So with that in mind get ready for a huge ass blog post.

Pembroke to Ottawa - 156 km

I stopped at a truck stop first thing this morning to get some snacks for the road and noticed a map of Canada. I have been using my iPhone a lot for navigation and with that you get a narrow view of the distances you are traveling. You are focused on the route for the day and don't really get a solid perspective of the trip as a whole. So when I walked over to the map and saw where I was and where I have been I blurted out "HOLY F@#$!!!" After apologizing profusely for my profanity to everyone in the store (most of the people in there were truckers so it really wasn't an issue) I stared at the map a while longer. With the realization that I have gone a long way and I was close to getting this adventure done I aimed at getting off the the #1. After the last few day's shenanigans I was looking for quieter calmer roads. This had me winding though all the farm land out side of Ottawa. I hit the occasional gravel road but for the most part it was awesome to get to quite country roads surrounded by farmland under a beautiful clear sky.

Right after hitting a town called Carp I ran into another touring cyclist and he was actually going in my direction. His name is Curtis Anderson and he lives on Vancouver Island and that is also where he started his trip. He was awesome and it was great to have someone to chat with and ride with for the rest of the trip into Ottawa. We decided to ride to the Parliament buildings together and found ourselves weaving though rush hour traffic and chatting about our trips. Curtis was actually only intending to ride to Thunder Bay and he decided just to keep going! If you want to learn about his trip and follow his progress as well you can at: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=1&doc_id=10377&v=T1



I was going to keep going but decided to stay and wander around our nations capital for the evening. It was a bit crazy that I have never been to Ottawa and I was very impressed with the city. It was epicness everywhere. Buildings. Rivers. Statues. Even the post office was bad ass. I liked it a lot and want to return.




On this day I learned:
- I can climb a 70 lbs bike up an 18% hill. I am all that is man!
- Our Capital has a solid amount of badassness so yeah us!
- There are other riders out there and its way better to get off the #1 when you can.
- There is a town called Carp... yup... Carp.





Ottawa to Saint-Benoit - 155 km

After the success of getting off the beaten path the day before I decided to jump into Quebec and take the 148 to Montreal. I had read that the this road was much more cycle friendly and once I got out of the city the road was fairly light on traffic and had an excellent shoulder. I stopped at a McDonald's to use the bathroom and take a break and one of the customers asked me where I was coming from (first he asked me in French really fast and then switched to English). I said "Ottawa today and Vancouver to start with" to which he replied "TABARNAK!" and proceed to tell everyone around him what I had done and they all said "TABARNAK!" It was hilarious because I think I heard it said 7 times in the space of 10 seconds.

From there it was more small French towns along the Ottawa river. Every town has a giant Church in the center of it usually with a statue of Jesus suffering something fierce. I had not realized the level of religion in this area but at the same time the churches seem to be in ill repair for the most part. Not sure if this is because small towns are slowly going away or because religion in the area is changing. Soon I dove off the 148 and was riding though country back roads from farm to farm. All in all a very pleasant area to ride

The day was SUPER hot...very very humid as well. By mid afternoon it was actually made it hard to breath and it never felt like I could drink enough. I was originally thinking I would do the 207 km ride from Ottawa to Montreal in one shot but I decided to pull the plug at about the 150 km mark into the day because I was afraid of overheating. It was 34 C but with the humidity and riding on the black tarmac it felt more like 45 C. Found a park outside of the town of Saint Benoit and set up for the night.

On this day I learned:
- Humidity is not your friend
- I can pee florescent orange
- Farmers like to help people...I needed a lot of water on this day

Saint-Benoit to Montreal - 47 km

So a light ride today meant that I got to sleep in a bit (only a bit because my tent was smoking in the sun in the morning) and a easy ride to meet my host of the evening Wenner. Wenner is a champion human being who took me in, feed me and made me feel super welcome. He is honestly one of the most open and friendly people I know.

First thing he is an awesome cook and was greeted with scallops and salmon with vegetables for lunch and then we wandered around his neighborhood which is in 'little Italy' and there is an amazing farmers market right near his place and it took all my will power not to buy every piece of fruit I saw....it was all so tasty looking. We were there for lasagna ingredients because he was having people over that night so we kept our focus and got some amazing ingredients. All Wenner's friends were stellar as well and they brought food too! So I ate my face off (the lasagna was bitchin!) and throughout the night I was thinking I could totally live in Montreal. Its a cool city that I have always enjoyed visiting. Thanks again Wenner and I will be back to hang out soon or hopefully have you out to Vancouver! All in all a successful rest day.

Montreal to Trois-Rivieres - 135ish km

Got a late start to the day with not really wanting to leave Montreal and late night festivities. Getting out of cities is always hard with all the lights and traffic. Luckily it was Sunday and it was much cooler than the day before so I was able to get some kms in at a steady pace. Just after lunch I decided to stop for a snack and a stretch at a road side rest stop and there were four cycle tourers sitting on the grass stretching. WOOOO HOOO more cyclists to talk to after basically 4500 km of seeing no one its awesome to get to run into other riders. Turns out that they were all from Vancouver too and had left from Montreal late the day before and were headed in the same direction as me so I asked them if they minded I joined them for the rest of the day into Trois-Rivieres.

I honestly was not sure who I would meet on the road on this trip. Up until Ottawa, other than Alex (the French dude on the recumbent) I had only met hitch hikers and truckers with the occasional rig pig tossed in. This crew that I ran into on this day was more interesting and impressive than I could have ever imagined meeting. They had started in Montreal and planned to be at a wedding in New Brunswick and then head up to Newfoundland.

Gala on the far left had a few years ago done a gigantic tour starting in Amsterdam and heading through eastern Europe all the way to Istanbul. Danielle, in the blue shirt, is a former university volleyball player who was teaching me about meditation as we chatted on the road. Sean started this amazing project where for 52 weeks he had 52 different jobs. You can check out his site here http://oneweekjob.com/ and he even wrote a book about his adventures which I want to check out as soon as I get to a place with a English book store. And last but not least Josephine (right side on the slide), who created a web documentary called 'The Sticking Place' which is about Leah Callahan who is a Female wrestler and her journey to the Olympics you can check it out here: http://thestickingplacefilm.ca

For the rest of the day we chatted and rolled into Trois-Rivieres. Did some hunting for a grocery where I bought a whole cooked chicken and then I suggested we head to a camp ground that I had found on Google maps. I wanted a shower and needed some internet access. So Google failed me and we rode to a location that was obviously not the campground and when we eventually found the campground it was very different from anything I had seen in any of the other provinces I was in. This was more of a resort than what I was expecting with waterslides and RVs everywhere. We were informed that it was 25 dollars a tent (the places in Ontario are 25 for a section) and we all agreed that 75 dollars to put up a tent was bananas but the woman working the gate was super nice and let us 'use' the showers (they cost a dollar for 5 minutes) so we ate our dinners there and had showers. From there we loaded up and headed to a park that we saw on the way to the campground and set up our tents and cashed out.

Yesterday I learned:
- I have stupid tan lines that make people go Oooooooo!
- I can now eat an entire chicken....the whole animal
- 5 minutes is just enough time to shower
- You cannot buy beer at the Couche Tard (Macs) after 11 pm

Trois-Rivieres To Montmagny - 217 km

This morning was a bit slow as I was lamenting leaving my new friends. It was so much more fun having people to share the adventure with and I realized that this will more than likely be my last solo tour. But this trip is a bit different and we are definitely on We packed up and ate breakfast together and then said our goodbyes. We are on very different timelines and it made me lookforward to my next tour which I plan to be a bit more about exploring and less about distance.

So with a late start on the day I headed out to try to make up for the shorter days I had done in the last two days. The wind was at my back and was helping out so I made good time zipping from town to town along the St. Lawrence. The roads here are beautiful and occationally I got the smell of salt water which made me feel like I was getting close to Halifax. I am constantly amazed at the size of the river which is more like a lake. It is massive and getting wider as I go. Its also very scenic and today I only was able to roll though Quebec City and made a promise to myself to return to check it out more.

Using the wind at my back I rolled into town here at about 7 pm which was not bad for such a late start. From here I have 155 k a day. I am super inspired from the people I have meet the last couple of days and have a whole bunch of things to think about as I ride the last 1000 km. Almost there.

Today I learned:
- It is way more fun to travel with a crew
- Wind is my friend
- I am not aerodynamic at all

If you have been enjoying what you are reading feel free to make a donation to Peloton65.com and the James Fund. Thanks for reading and the support!























Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tires and Paintball Guns

Sudbury to Talon Lake - 150 km

This gentleman to the left is a life saver....I will get to that in a moment.  Started early to get out of Sudbury.  It was raining and there was a light wind in my face.  Not a good start to the morning so I put Eric Hutchingson on my head phones (he makes me feel better) and dug in to get through this day.  The wind wasn't that bad and the rain lightened up around 50 km in so all in all things were just clicking along.  The road here is horrible. I mentioned last blog that I was trying to decide which route to take and I had chosen the shorter one to my detriment.  Traffic was not that bad but the shoulder was tiny and broken up.  It was nerve racking riding every time a semi came by.



I had noticed a few days ago that I had pretty much ripped through my rear tire in the 4500 km of riding I had done.  If you take a look at the picture to the right you will see the orange parts are where I worn away the first layer of rubber and into the protective puncture resistant strip.  Basically my tire was toast and I was superstitious about changing it because I had not gotten a flat the entire ride which in my opinion was amazing. I think I held on a bit too long though as after lunch at Sturgeon Falls I got back on the road and immediately got my first flat.  Changed it and got back on the road.  About 60 minutes later I am flying down a huge downhill and just as a semi was passing me there was a giant pothole on the minimal shoulder.  With not much choice I smoke the hole HARD...so much so that I got another flat in the rear and I detentioned all the none drive side spokes on my rear wheel.  Fix the second flat of the day and jumped back on.  The rear wheel was so warped now that I had to open my rear brake and the rear end of my bike felt like riding a wet noodle.  I limped along like this for another 40 k till I got my third flat of the day.  Weeeeeeeeee.

At this point I was 20 km out of North Bay so I decided to hitch a ride into town rather than run the risk of totally blowing out my wheel.  It was amazing how many people passed me.  I honestly didn't think it would take as long as it did to get a ride (maybe a dude in spandex is intimidating).  So many pickup trucks passed me up and in the end it was a home care worker named Barb who picked me up.  She was awesome even though her car was small.  We got it to work and she dropped me off in downtown North Bay.  The very first person I met as I was walking around was a guy named Ryan who was shocked at the number of bags on my bike.  I told him what I was doing and I was looking for a bike store called North Riders.  He told me he new where it was and would walk me to it.  I was grateful for the help but I was a little nervous.  Ryan was wearing a wife beater, really really baggy jeans and had a tear drop tattoo by his right eye.  As we walked he explained that he had just gotten out jail a few days ago.  He was in for 6 month for dealing coke.  He had gotten his 'old lady' (his words not mine) pregnant and I found out half way through the walk that she was actually following us half a block back but could not keep up. He yelled at her a few times about "just going to help this dude out" and guided me to the shop.  I thanked him and wished him luck.  North Bay was interesting so far.

So remember the gentlemen at the top?  His name is Chris and he is a champion human being.  Usually shops have a few days waiting list for repairs to bikes and I was worried that I was going to be stuck in North Bay for a few days.  He jumped me ahead of the line however, did not charge me any labour and got me out of there in an hour with a new tire, some tubes (for back up) and a straight rear wheel. We chatted for a while about my tour and that he was thinking that he was going to attempt a similar trip next year.  Chris rules so if you are in North Bay check out his shop. http://www.northriders.ca/

Yesterday I learned:
- There are some really nice people out there to help you when you are having a crappy day.
- I cannot bunnyhop a 80 lbs bike no matter how hard I try.
- Superstitions are stupid.

Talon Lake to Pembroke - 188 km

Rolled out of my tent at 6:30 am and it was already warm and humid out. Today was going to be hot...really hot.  Its never a good thing when a 9 am you are climbing a hill and every part of your body is sweating.  To give you some perspective I drank almost 10 liters of various liquids today and I only went to the bathroom once.  Yup....once.  Basically as I poured it in me it then came out of my skin.  I had not been this sweaty since kick boxing in Thailand. The day was going well though with a ok tailwind.  The road after North Bay is rather hilly.  Actually comparable to what awaited me outside Thunder Bay.  With the light tail wind climbing meant there was no wind at all so I was smelling myself cooking on every climb and then milking the down hills for as much wind as I could get to cool me off.  Sweat and sun screen were in my eyes pretty much all day.


At about he 120 k mark I came across Canada's first nuclear power generation site. On June 3rd, 1962 the Nuclear Power Demonstration (NPD) Reactor 3 km east of Rophton supplied the Ontario power grid with the first nuclear-generated electricity in Canada. It was closed in 1987 so I didn't grow a third arm standing there.  I could not help but think that this place might be responsible for the zombie ground hog that I saw earlier in Saskatchewan.


Just outside Petawawa the day turned for the worst as some morons in a red neon shot me with a paintball gun as they drove by.  I did not catch their licence plate but did call and chat with the OPP and hopefully they will not be doing this again.  WOW was I angry but it did give me a significant adrenaline boost and I hammered the last 25 k to Pembroke.  I am left with a sizable welt on my left thigh and about 140 km to Ottawa and the Quebec boarder.  I am done with Ontario and this last stretch has been rough.  If anyone is planing to do this trip I would suggest avoiding #17 and go under Algonquin Park.  I should have taken that route. Even though it would have added 150 km.

Today I learned:

- Spandex is not appropriate protection against paintball guns.
- A vanilla milkshake in the middle of a very hot day is awesome.
- Nuclear power in Canada started here


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Monday, July 2, 2012

Horse Poop and Watermelons

Sault Ste Marie to Blind River - 144 km

Canada Day!  My original plan was to be in Ottawa for Canada Day but because of the time lost in the mountains and taking a couple of days in Winnipeg I am a bit behind...So Blind River it is.  I rolled out of the Sault late with very very tired legs.  The road helped me out with being flat and there was a light tail wind. For the most part the road was uneventful. The highway was also quite being Sunday so even though there is barely any shoulder most of the time, the ride was easy and peaceful.

There was some new stuff to check out.  There was this new sign which was a horse and buggy.  This pumped me up a bit and I was hoping to see some Amish but alas nothing to report.  The foliage had change a bit as well and the weather continued to be stellar.  Stopped and had some lunch at Bruce Mines and then rolled into Blind River. Being Sunday there was nothing open so I tried to stay up to watch some fireworks but fell asleep with the sounds of small explosions in the back ground.

What I learned yesterday:
- When you see a sign of a horse and buggy it means you will be dodging horse poop for about 15 km. You will not see a horse and buggy...just poop.
- I have basically worn through my rear tire but I have not been able to find a bike shop to get a new one.
- The Tim Horton's penetration in this area is astronomical.

Blind River to Sudbury - 169 km

Got up earlier today.  That is what tends to happen when you go to bed at 9:30 pm. I knew it was going to be hot today so I wanted to get as much distance in the cool of the morning as possible.  Got some bagels and I was off.  The morning was still and I made some good time but around 11 am all the long weekend traffic started and the road got very very sketchy.  I spend the entire ride in white knuckle mode and living off adrenalin.  The traffic was none stop and the shoulder on highway 17 is poop. Majority of the cars gave me room though and everything was ok at the end of the day. Tomorrow should be better as the traffic should calm down.  The heat however today was bad ass.  I drank so much and never felt hydrated.  This made me a bit low energy but I made it though the day.

Sudbury greats you with giant factories and nickle mines.  Not the most pretty town I have been to and not very cycle friendly either.  The roads are rough and I tried to get outside of town but the highway does not allow bikes.  I don't think I will be coming back to this town and I apologies to anyone reading this from here but this is the first place on my trip that I felt nervous riding though.  Cars did not seem to care here.


I was looking at taking highway 69 though Muskoka.  The southern route under Algonquin Park adds 150 km or about a day but it should be more calm and I was hoping to meet up with my friend Sam for a ride. Timing didn't work out though so right now I am leaning to staying on 17 because I am pumped to get to Ottawa and Montreal. I will do some more research tonight and let you know.


Today I learned:
- I don't preform well in the heat.
- There are more Harley Davidsons here than cars
- That I can eat two whole watermelons in a day

Hirotaka update:
Remember that Japanese dude who is walking to Toronto from Vancouver.  My parents saw him just outside of Kenora, Ontario a couple of days ago.  He is moving at about 50 k a day so should be Just past Dryden by now....holy crap.








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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hot Sand On Toes

Marathon to Wawa - 189 km

Basically there is not much between Marathon and Wawa so I decided to try and make the long jump to Wawa in one shot.  The road mellowed out a lot after Marathon so I was able to make good time.  The wind however was confused.  One moment it was in my face and the next it was pushing me along at a solid pace.  There was not much as I was told other than some huge mines.  It was forest, forest, forest...GIANT MINE...forest, forest. Some of the mines were gold mines I think, as one of the roads to a mine was called the Yellow Brick Road...Maybe I could have gotten a brain there.

About 120 km in I was sitting at a random gas station having a water and  cooling off in the shade.  I was feeling really run down from battling the wind and needed to recharge a bit.  I couple of kids rolled up on a dirt bike and a quad.  We ended up chatting for about a half an hour about the area.  Nick's (left) family has a cabin in the area but lives in Subury and Brenden (right) was from Wawa.  They were on their first day off since school ended and I think they were at the point where they had no clue what to do first. Naturally when talking to 14 year old boys the conversation turned to hockey and Nick is a goalie and Brenden's favorite player is Makin.  These kids were awesome and I totally wanted to bomb around on dirt bikes with them just like when I was a kid growing up on the farm.

After leaving them my mood and energy was a lot better so I tackled the last 70 k.  The wind turned on me however with 40 k to go making a very painful day in the end. I rolled into a camp ground right outside of town.  Finally met some other cyclist while camping! Three dudes coming from Hamilton heading to Vancouver and eventually San Francisco.  They had just graduated from Waterloo with software engineering degrees and decided to ride to their first jobs in San Fran. Made some dinner with them and chatted about the road coming up then passed out in my tent.

What I learned yesterday:
- The start of summer vacation is a great feeling.
- I think every restaurant along the #1 has roughly the same menu
- Mines destroy a lot more than I thought they did

Wawa to Sault Ste Marie - 227 km

So I got up this morning really early because I was not sure where to stop along the way to the Sault. The first part of the ride after is actually very hilly but once into Lake Superior Provincial Park I was very much distracted by the incredible views.  I am going to say that this section of road has been the most stunning part of my trip.  Part of this was the weather today with clear skies and the sun shinning off the lake everything seen to pop out at you. I found myself climbing harder to get to the next scenic view of a beach or the lake as a whole.

About 70 k in I stop for a snack at Katherine Cove.  I sat at a bench with the inscription "Tom Gillespie Boy Explorer for 85 Years"  The bench looked over this beautiful beach under the shade of some trees.  It was a perfect spot and as I ate my bagel I wished I could have met Tom.  With a little more mental fuel I headed back on the road.



I have only ridden over 200 km a few times. One was last week with Bill and the others were all in races which is a very different thing because you have people to draft and things are happening all around you. When racing you are not so much concentrating on how far you have to go but more on the race itself, who is attacking and how far the break is etc.  When you set out to ride 200+ km on your own its a bit of a mental battle in the beginning.  Today after riding for an hour and half and seeing a sign that says 180 km to your destination is really a slap in the face. My first thought was 'but I have done almost 50 k already?!?' So from there I tried to break up the day in 20 k chunks because it made the day more manageable.  I have aim for something smaller first, like just get to the 100 k point and see how you feel.  Ok once there get to the 150 mark and see how you are doing. At about the 160 mark the wind picked up behind me today and pushed me along at about 35 km/h WHICH WAS AWESOME!  Really made making it all the way possible as I thought I had to use the wind as much as possible because tomorrow it might be in my face.  That and breaking the day up with a couple of swims helped too. I got to the Old Mill Bay Campsite at 175 k and thought whats 50 more k.  Finished at about 7 pm. I will admit that I am more than a little destroyed right now and doing over 400 k in two days might be a bit of a mistake.  I will have to see how tomorrow goes.

Here is what I learned today:
- If you spend 12 hours in the sun you are going to burn some things no matter how careful you are
- I am very good at sweating
- No matter how old you get, you can still be a boy at heart

Beard Report:
Still itchy and I have noticed some things that are not fun.  Walking to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night means that you are going to walk through the odd spider web. Spiderwebs do not get out of beards easily and then it feels like there is spider on my face for the rest of the night.  I also think that when I do shave this thing off I am going to have one wicked beard tan line. This will be in addition to the t-shirt with nipples, watch tan, multi level sock tan and sunglass/helmet tan lines. Weeeeeeee.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

These Legs Are For Climbing

Thunder Bay to Gravel River Provincial Park - 164 kms



The morning out of Thunder Bay was grey skies and a slight breeze in my face.  Apparently Bill Hunt brings the good weather and when he leaves the weather leaves too.  I rolled along the lake for about thirty kilometers and then hit Highway 1.  All along the way people had been telling me that the road gets hilly out of T-Bay and I was kind of brushing it off as talk.  The road however looks like a roller coaster. Constant ups and downs.  This lasted for about 40 km and then things mellowed out a lot and the sun came out.  This area of the world is truly one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It is absolutely stunning with large cliff faces and mountain like plateaus covering the landscape all with the giant lake looming in the background. At the some time its also a very harsh area to bike though.  The short steep hills are murder on the legs and every time you stop you are immediately covered in black flies and mosquitoes.  My friend Alex who I was riding with at the start of the trip would hate it here.

I made it to Nipigon and stopped at the local information booth.  The kid there did not know a thing about a place to camp between there and Rossport.  I wanted to do about 160 so I grabbed some food and water and decided to risk it.  About 45 k after that I found a place hidden from the highway in Gravel River provincial park.  I learned something huge that night stealth camping....you alway have to pay attention to where the train track are.  I was a lot closer than I thought and wow do they make a lot of noise when they roll by and they roll by often late into the night.  That coupled with getting eaten alive while cooking meant that I did not get a good sleep.

Here is what I learned yesterday:
- The sunshine apparently shines around Bill
- The locals were not lying to me about how hilly it is
- Bears stair at you the same way cows do as you ride by them.  Not sure if they are thinking the same thing though. I think cows are thinking "Is that thing going to eat me?" and bears are thinking "Can I eat that thing?"

Gravel River to Marathon - 148 km

I got up early because, well I was up...and after a bagel and some pop tarts I packed up my gear and got back on the road.  About 5 k down the road I was confronted with the first of three 4 km climbs that were at about 8% grade.  There was no wind however and the sun was out so the kilometers were tipping by.  I was not expecting the road to get more challenging after yesterday but it is on this stretch. You are either climbing or hauling ass downhill leaving very little time for recovery.  I made good time though and a few interesting things happened along the road.  First I came close to wiping out today for the first time on this trip.  I was flying downhill at about 50 km/h when a wasp smoked me in the neck stinging me in the process.  To make it worse it fell into my jersey and stung me on the chest.  My initial reaction was to try to squish it but that just made it sting me again so then I tried to rip off my jersey...all this while still bombing downhill. Luckily I had a full zip jersey on and I was able to unzip it enough that the little bastard could fly out.  If I had hit a bump or the shoulder changed I would have ate it for sure.  Three stings...not cool but everything is good.

Second was I finally caught up to another cyclist.  His name is Alex and he is from France.  He is riding a crazy recumbent bike from Vancouver to Niagara Falls.  His pace is slightly different from mine and the shoulder is small here so we agreed to meet up for dinner in Marathon.  Alex is super cool! He lives on boat in the south of France and has crossed the Atlantic on various occasions. I asked him why he was doing this trip and he told be he had no clue because its kinda crazy. His wife passed away years ago and he says that he is going on trips to show her the world because he knows she is with him.  Reminded me of the movie 'Up'.  His English was a bit broken but we chatted for a while about other trips he has been on as we ate our weight in pasta.  He is 60 and very much someone to look up to.

Here is what I learned today:

- Don't think that it can't get any more hilly because it can
- Recumbents are meant to ride by yourself and not with other people.
- I am 850 km into Ontario which is basically Manitoba and Saskatchewan combined and it still feels like I just started...this is a huge province.


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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Half Way...

Ignace to Savanne River - 127 kms

We had plans to start out early on this morning but a flat on Bill's bike held us up after breakfast and we rolled out of Ignace at about 9:30 am.  Almost right away we were held up by some construction and then a lovely 4 km section of gravel...the day was starting off slow.  Soon after that though we ran into a Google Maps car on the highway and I promptly stuck my tongue out at it.  Anytime you get to make a face at a Google camera car I count that as a solid accomplishment so the day had suddenly taken a turn for the better.  We also got a exuberant honk and wave from a car which turned out to be my friend Mark Dewar who was heading to Winnipeg. Crazy that he saw us!

The road between Ignace and Upsala is rather boring with rolling hills and swamps all around.  We did stop for a break at a place with an amazing echo which we played with while eating a snack and dancing around to fend off the bugs.  The weather was cool though but sunny and clear making it easy riding.  We did run into a small bear on the side of the road and as we circled back to get a picture he/she had taken off. I was a bit low on energy today but Bill basically dragged me to our end spot.  Our accommodations that evening on the Savanne River were very much of the hunting/fishing camp variety.  We were greeted as we pulled in by a gentleman with no shirt and jeans who had more tattoos than teeth (he only had 3 tattoos that I could see).  He did have an awesome howling wolf on his back which both Bill and I failed to get a picture of. Very weak cell signal and a wifi that we had to walk to meant that we were just chilling in the cabin for most of the night eating pasta and re-hydrating. It was a beautiful spot however even though our cabin floor was on about a 12 degree slant and there were spiders everywhere.

Yesterday I learned:
- Google is everywhere...beware the floating head
- Howling wolf tattoos with the words 'Live Free' are coming back in style
- We discovered a new game called 'Wheel Of PopTart'.  I had put all the packages in my bag without the boxes meaning that we don't know what type of poptart.  First game I have invented that I win no matter the outcome.

Savanne River to Thunder Bay - 130ish kms

Today we got a early start as we had to get Bill's bike boxed up to ship back and it was supposed to be a very hot day so the we wanted to get some distance in the cool morning air.  The terrain was challenging rolling hills but we made good time. We were told in Upsala by the owner of the general store that it was all downhill to Thunder Bay after Raith but that dude totally lied to us. There was lots of climbing today and we cursed the Upsala General store all the way. We even lost an hour today as we passed into the eastern time zone.

We decided to take the longer route into Thunder bay to avoid some construction and check out Kakabeka Falls.  The water level all around was very high and the falls were raging!  So after a quick picture taking session and a lunch we rolled into Thunder Bay.

After cleaning up and getting Bill's bike to the bus station to get shipped back we headed to check out the Terry Fox Memorial. I did not expect that I would get as choked up as I did here.  Not only is the story inspiring but so very sad...the incomplete dream after so much suffering really got to me.  The timing was perfect though because with Bill leaving I was feeling the daunting task of heading over Lake Superior and was a little low on the amount of riding I still have to do to complete this. Getting to Thunder Bay was a triumph because I am now officially half way but holy crap....I am only half way. Being at the spot where Terry Fox had to suspend his dream was just the kick in the ass I needed to keep going.  He was an amazing inspiration and its an amazing story.

Today I learned:
- There is motivation everywhere. I have many heroes and Terry Fox is one of them.
-  There was a older dude that passed Bill and I with a hard hat and a bike that looked like something you would find a Shriner on.  It was humbling...
- Passed some cyclists going the other way today.  The conversation went like this: "Halifax?" "Yup! Vancouver?" "Yup!"  It was awesome to finally see some other people on tour.  Everywhere we have gone people tell us they have seen tons of people travelling on their bikes but I have not run into any of them.  Hopefully in the coming weeks I can run into some people going the same direction as me.

So with this post I bid good bye to Bill Hunt and me sucking his wheel for the last 700 kms.  Thank-you very much from coming out and keeping me out of my tent for a while.  Thanks to his wife Eryn Paterson for being our personal concierge! And thanks to Evans-Hunt for loaning him to me for the last few days.  Bill you are a very strong cyclist and I look forward to riding with you again. And for all of you here is a picture of Bill watering the forest to say good bye.



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