Saturday, August 21, 2010

Videos and Pics on YouTube

Just in case anyone is still checking in on the blog, I've uploaded to YouTube some videos and a little slideshow of pics from the trip.  Links below...

On the road in PEI:
A little prairie perspective:
Riding the prairies:
Rolling out from Crowsnest Pass:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Some final thoughts...

I've had a few days to relax, unwind, and think of something profound to say but to be honest, I mostly just feel numb. That cold, rainy start back in St John's seems so long ago, and so far away... and the endless miles since, are a bit of a blur. Sitting here in Victoria is still very surreal. I know I've done something special that I'll never do again. And of all the challenges I've set for myself, this was certainly the biggest... but it really hasn't sunk in yet.

Mentally, I feel a bit lost... having gone cold-turkey from the 24-7 routine of the last 6 weeks. I'd be tempted to go for a ride, if I hadn't already spent most of a day disassembling, cleaning, and packing up the bike for shipping home. Carmel and I did borrow some mountain bikes and go for an easy jaunt one day and I instantly felt better... though that may have had something to do with the several ice cream stops!

Physically, my body is suffering. Lots of little aches and pains, and I'm so tired that I want a nap almost as soon as I get up. The last week in the mountains really took alot out of me. I've tried some easy running with Carmel, but the legs are empty and not used to the pounding... It was very slow and painful. There are lots of great trails here though, so I am doing some nice walks.

Going through my pictures is fun and does help remind me of all the places I passed through and the interesting things I saw along the way. Several people have asked me what was the most beautful part of the country. I've always been partial to the mountains, but there was never a day from the east coast, to the Saint Lawrence valley, Northern Ontario, prairies, and finally the mountains, that I wasn't mesmerized by the scenery. Sometimes I had to force myself not to stop to take yet another picture! Sure, my favourite will always be the mountains (masochist that I am) but I loved it all.

I've driven the country once but you see so much more on the bike... partly because of the slower speed... but also, because you aren't cocooned behind glass in a steel shell. You feel closer to everything you pass by and can literally stop on a dime to soak in any view or make a detour that you would have cruised by in a car.

Still though, I think it's going to take some time to fully appreciate the experience. For now, I'm looking forward to getting home, seeing friends, and having another party!

Friday, August 6, 2010

C: Did he put on a pound yet? My mom is still anxious about seeing B's ribs, so it's cookies, squares, lasagna and ice cream. I'm just happy he's finished with no long term injuries (we hope) and that he wasn't hit by a car. Fortunately Victoria is cooler and dryer than normal this summer so he has lots of time to recuperate. Three days later he is still generally tired, and it's like an Ironman, finishing is kind of anti-climatic.
C: The ride is over and already he's running! B still suffers from sore quads, stiff calves, night sweats(afraid he'll wake up and have to do it again?!), and numb hands. But none of it is debilitating, (just annoying) so he is already going for short 6 kms runs up and down the hills here in the highlands (area of Victoria).It's barely 8am and he's already off on a walk/run.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Let the healing (mental and physical) begin. I actually arrived in Victoria yesterday (Monday August 2nd) but celebrating seem to get in the way of updating the blog.

My final day on the road was short... just 91km but was not without a last couple of challenges as I ended up doing 2 furious time trials... the first was over the last 10km to make the next ferry and save myself an hours wait (made it with less than a minute to spare)... and then a second all out sprint to the end through the streets of Victoria after being slowed up by some construction and knowing that Carmel and family/friends were waiting on me. I ended up missing my predicted arrival time by 9 mins... but that's not too bad after over 7000kms of riding!

The official finish was the mile "0" marker in Beacon Hill park in Victoria, where the TransCanada ends (begins?).  Carmel and everyone were there waiting and I basked in my moment of glory as I was showered with champagne.

As I sit here the morning after... I feel a little lost. It seems strange to not be doing the usual routine of packing up and rolling out for another day of pedalling. The whole thing feels surreal and it will take some time to unwind and settle back into "normal" life. I'll post some final reflections on my journey in a few days but for now, here are the raw details.  Despite what I said before I started, my competitive side took over once I got going and I did turn this into a race to see how fast I could get across the country and of course, to try and beat my birthday (which I did by 2 days!)

Number of days on the road:  42
Number of days actually riding:  40 (2 days off very early on for bike problems and visiting family)
Total distance:  7009 kms
Average distance per day:  175.2 kms  (or 108.9 miles)
Longest single day:  235km  (10 days over 200km)
Shortest day:  91km (the final day)
Total time on bike (just pedaling... not including stops):  339 hrs 25 mins
Average time in saddle per day:  8 hrs 29 mins
and finally... Weight at finish:  150.5 lbs  (start was ~165... so lost almost 15 lbs... but I'll be doing my best to drink that back on over the next little while)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

After the last 4 gruesome days in the mountains, I was finally able to enjoy myself today, knowing that there would be no more big climbs... just a relatively leisurely, mostly downhill run from Hope to the lower mainland. I even allowed myself to detour for a little sightseeing... visiting Harrison Hot Springs on the way down, and then riding along the US border road.

I'm spending tonight in Langley, within easy range of the Tsawwassen ferry for tomorrow after adding another 161km (in 7hrs 37 mins) on this penultimate day of my cross country adventure. That brings the total kms to 6,918.

I'm still pretty shattered from all those big climbs in the last 4 days. Today I had trouble getting up a baby 2km climb (admittedly it was a steep 11%). It doesn't seem like there's anything left in the legs, but part of that may just be that I know the end is near and I don't have to force myself to do anymore. I now know why no other cyclists take the southern hwy 3 route... It may be scenic, but it's the shortest route to the coast because it simply goes up and over every big mountain pass in its way. The worst part was not knowing how big those climbs were. I remember being all excited when I started the first one... picturing myself like the star Tour De France riders... but that wore off quickly with the leg and soul destroying grind of each new climb. Only the thought of the end kept me going... and maybe it was better not knowing how tough each climb was going to be... but it's all over now.

I'm so looking forward to tomorrow and the end. As I write this, Carmel is in the air, winging her way to Victoria (now why didn't I just do that?)... She'll be at the finish... the mile zero marker in Beacon Hill park... and I can't wait to see her and start celebrating.

The pics... Sasquach making off with the Kokanee is from the ridge above Osoyoos a couple days ago... the wooden statue is from my role-out in Hope this morning... and the Allison pass summit sign that marked the end to the final big climb of my trip just before a cold rain started and made the descent into Hope extra scary... a bad memory that is quickly receding and should be helped along by much drinking starting tomorrow afternoon!
Saturday: Hiding out in Hope. A day and a half and counting down. Strangely the last 160 plus km from Princeton to Hope, were rainy and cold just like the week I started in Nfld. It was a miserable day. I had to drag the vest and jacket out again as it was overcast and chilly, the cool mountain air of the Allison Pass. I was dragging all the way up, then bonked at the top, (probably why I was so cold), then it's 60 kms of flying downhill into Hope. The pavement is terrible (it's been stripped prior to repaving), and the wind- deadly. Had to stop and put my jacket on. You can still see snow on the slopes above.

Even though I can hardly walk today, (legs are dead), just knowing it's just one easy day to the end is envigorating! After this just have to head through the Fraser Valley ( the sound of that word) to Tswassen where the ferry leaves for Victoria.

201 kms-10 hrs 19 minutes-6,757 kms

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday (mid-day): Princeton, B.C.: Checking in to kill time and stalling before taking what might be the last massive climb. The Allison Pass, there are still lots of hills, but locals say this is the last huge one.Its windy, head winds and my legs have got nothing left. I feel depleted, and the wind doesn't help.Plus there is nothing between here and Hope, no towns, no services, so I already know I have to spent the night tenting it in Manning Park in the middle of nowhere.

By tomorrow night, I should be in Langley, lined up to take the ferry to Victoria on Monday.
Psychologically I'm really tired, fed-up, dying to finish. it might just be the frustration of being so close and still not finished.

It's funny there's nowhere to stay around here, but the traffic is endless. including bikers on Harley's. Why is HDR's (Harley Davidson Riders) are some of the nicest people you could ever meet, but that bike is so loud it's annoying. I won't miss never seeing one again! (Been passed constantly and the noise is something else).

Friday: Keremeos, B.C. Now the high desert country where it's blinding hot (33 plus) during the day, and cool (14 degrees) at night. Everything is cradled in the shade of a mountain, or perched along the top of a preposterous peak. There are no safe havens, no middle ground along B.C.'s southern hwy 3. Three brutal peaks; 21 -18 & 11 km climbs.

Grand Forks -Greenwood - the first pass, long and gradual (at least for this area), then at Rock Creek a 21 km climb that ends in a picturesque peak (with a viewpoint motorists stop at to peer into the valley), and the drop dead descent into Osoyoos. The last one, every Ironman Canada finisher knows, it Richter Pass which is easy by comparison at 11 km and has a downhill dip in the middle.

It is sooo hot, I miss the morning chill. (Had to wear a vest), now I regret not appreciating it more. There are lots of hotels/motels ( and tourists) , but forgot it's the long weekend so there are ZERO vacancies. Have to pop the tent on the grass behind a gas station. There's also an RV parked overnight, the owner says no problem. Even get to use the washroom (but no shower). By now I don't care, two days and counting.
179-9 hrs 23 minutes-6,556 Total

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Message from Fans:
I would very much like to see just what is left of a man after such madness has taken hold and run it's course. Will he be talking to himself and giggling uncontrollably? Perhaps just silence and far away eyes. Is Brian going to be a Jesus freak from now on? Brendan
Amazing Brian. Eat something. Well done on your tour. Drink something. That is a remarkable feat. Eat something. Enjoy a bit of a holiday soon. Did I say eat something? slainte, Pete

If there are plans for coming out this way, let us know we will easily accommodate people (or in Brian's case, a shell of a person?). I hope to be able to see him in all his bedraggled glory! Jenny

Grand Forks, B.C.: The last Thursday ever! The count down continues. It was another grueling day in the mountains (can you hear Phil Liggett?) with no shade, no help and no mercy. Outside of Salmo the climb up Bombi Pass to Castlegar is another 38 km climb. It's not as steep as the Kootenay Pass but it's longer, B had to stop twice on the way up to catch his breath and a drink. Relief at the top but the descent was equally gruesome since it was recently paved and with the rain it was a slippery, scary drop into Christina Lake. It's supposed to be 35 degrees again on Friday, (but at least it's a dry heat), he'll start earlier in the morning for the
remaining days.

Winnipeg Hotel- B's staying at a landmark hotel in GF, the "Winnie", and visited my dad's grave to take a photo. My dad would have approved of his trip, he loved sports (esp. hockey) but as my mother would say, "that man would watch any sport on TV"

137 kms- 7 hrs 17 minutes- 6,377 kms Total
C: Saddle Sores? B passed a "Brian's Saddle Shop" just after Kootenay Pass and was tempted to get help for his! Apparently it's slightly better now that it's drier (no rain), and less humid (less sweating), so it's starting to heal. His hands are still numb, and his legs cramp even when he's not riding. One can only assume the rest of his parts are still working, who knows? Maybe there's a limit to how many kms one can do in a week?

Brendan wants to see the" skeleton get off a bike" in Vancouver, Jenny wonders about "bedraggled glory", and Peter thinks B's mind will go next. It's like torture, continuous pain can cause madness right?

C: Queens Stage: Kootenay Pass -6 thousand feet of continuous climbing? This is why I am in TO and NOT cycling with B. If it's the single hardest thing he's ever done (and he likes pain), I would have been crying at the bottom. Like Yellow Lake in Ironman Canada, there are some times it's okay to walk your bike; (outrageous!! Ironman keeners say), but if you can walk the marathon (or parts of it), you can walk the bike. That's my theory. Now suddenly B wants a granny gear!! ( Brenda & I told him to get one at the begininng). However at least he got a standing ovation at the top from a bunch of bikers (B.C. is hog heaven), they had stopped to recuperate and couldn't believe a cyclist could make it to the top without stopping. They asked for his autograph (he loved that!) and took his picture.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day Thirty Seven: Cranbrook to Salmo, B.C. Longest, hardest hill ever, 34 kms of continuous uphill... not even one little flat break on the way to the top of the 6 thousand ft Kootenay pass and I did it without taking a break... mainly because I had no idea how long it was until I actually got to the top! Got cheers from motorcyclists resting at top when finished. It was the hardest climb I have ever done... Even trucks were grinding their gears and going so slow, it took them 15-20 seconds to pass me. One of the trucks was a Kokanee beer truck... I almost cried at the thought of all the cold beer just inches away. The reward was a 30k downhill where I did not pedal once... but had to stop to let brakes and wheel rims cool down! Finally finished the day and unbelievably, wound up at a motel run by an ex track cyclist, with signed photo of Lance Armstrong on the wall.
194 kms-9hrs 26 mins. Total to date 6,240km.
Day Thirty-Seven; (Wed July 28) Salmo, B.C. Over 6 thousand kms done, and only a fraction left (5 days max).
C: Brian's only company on the road. Imagine how hot that guy is in 30 plus weather

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day Thirty-Six: Tuesday July 28/10 Cranbrook B.C. At the Lazy Bear Motel (C: which B likes because of a childhood nickname Bear (after some TV show BJ and the Bear).
Now the end is tantalizingly near and painfully far at the same time. Maybe Grand Forks by Thursday, Keremeos by Friday, Manning Park Saturday, and Monday Vancouver and the ferry to Victoria.

Can't get over how much traffic there is RVs by the dozen with retired drivers! Constant trucks and cars packed with kids. B.C. is a tourist magnet. Its so stressful have had to put away the ipod to concentrate totally on the traffic. The shoulder is so bad,littered with rocks, cracked and uneven, so have to ride on the road. It's tense.

Heath wise good thing its ending. Have permanent numb spots on both hands and blisters on both cheeks! IE saddle sores. Knees and quads are aching and takes increasingly longer to warm up in the morning. I've noticed my legs cramp easily even when I'm not on the bike.

168 kms-6 hrs 58 minutes- 6,046 kms Total

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day Thirty Five: Blairmore, Alberta. (20 kms from B.C.) BM is a tiny town near Crows Nest Pass at the foot of the Rockies. Picturesque & QUIET. Everything(2 bars,little else) is closed by 5:30. For the first time forced to eat dinner TWICE.
Found a bar(empty as usual) and ordered the only thing on the menu-a personal pizza and wings. (Then watch the bartender undo the plastic and throw them into the microwave.) Still starving, I look for a corner store, nothing, BUT find another bar. Again it's empty BUT has a better menu so I order a burger n'fries. First time I ate dinner TWICE in the space of an hour.

Deathly silence, it seems unfair that after riding all day with no one to talk to, I arrive in town and there is NO ONE in the pub. Who would imagine I'd be desperate to talk?(with complete strangers - anyone? which is totally unlike me). It turns out there is such a thing as too much of a good thing (solitude). (C:Now I know why B is so annoyed when I don't answer the phone! And being out of town at a conference this week I haven't been around. A crime! Who knew.)

Weatherwise the mountains might bring relief. Cool in the morning and slowly heats up all day so not bad. Am apprehensive about rain in the mountains but might be lucky and miss it. On the energy front, am finding it hard to get going in the morning, generally tired, stiff, sore. Have to stretch out, and ride gingerly early on to settle the saddle sores. (Pain-free is no longer an option, but with only a week to go I can bear it). Tomorrow my mantra will be, "this is my last Tuesday", then "last Wednesday", last "Thursday". The mountains will be a distraction, now I need it.

148 kms - 6 hrs 40 minutes- 5,878 kms Total

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunday, July 25, Finish in Lethbridge, Alberta: The wind has died down, but it's boiling! With NO shade. Happy to get off the bike. Now have blisters and numb spots on hands, saddle sores are worse, its a grind. Don't know what I'd do without the ipod. Initially was reluctant to use it, now I need it. At a certain point, you just want to finish, I think I'm at that point. Should be in B.C. by days end.

In a first, find a women's wallet with ID, ten dollars, several pawn shop receipts, and a casino players card in it. There is a Casino here, so obviously she is a semi-regular player. Turned it into the desk and strangely she was still at the hotel (different room). Kind of sad.

174 kms-8 hrs 12 minutes-5,030 kms Total (corrected 5,730 kms Txs PN)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I've just enjoyed my first steak stince my fabulous sendoff in St John's. It didn't measure up to the St John's feast, but it was pretty damn good and I definitely earned it today... 224km in 10 hrs 22 mins to get to Medicine Hat, Alberta... yeah... province #9... only one more to go. (and that's 5,556km total to date).

I was Alberta bound from the moment I started pedaling this morning and 4 strong winds in my face all day were not going to stop me. Did everyone get the cheesy Gord Lightfoot and Ian Tyson nods there? Anyway Ralph's Steakhouse was a welcome stop after a very long day in the sun. It may not sound like anything special but it was everything it should be... country music and lots of guys in cowboy hats... Strangely, they were all black (the hats, not the cowboys)... so I guess the good guys all hang out somewhere else... suits me... I always wanted to be one of the bad guys.

The prairie roads continue to be a grind... lots of long, gradual uphills and leg destroying false flats... but I can sense the mountains looming ahead. Today was my last day on the Trans Canada... yeah again! Here in Medicine Hat I make the turn onto hwy 3 to begin my southern route through Alberta and BC... I'm looking forward to the change.

My excitement for the day was an attack by some falcon / hawk /whatever... it came down on me out of the sun like a fighter jet and the first thing I knew, I heard the sound of the air on its massive wing span... saw its shadow on the ground beside me... and actually heard the tap of its talons on my helmut... It quickly flew off, but it scared the #$#& out of me and I almost crashed. Clearly it didn't know what to make of me... and I think that if I had lost anymore weight, it might have just carried me off.

One of the pics above is obviously coming into Medicine Hat late in the day... the other is a look back at one stretch of the long prairie road... click on it to enlarge and get you can get a sense of the endless roads and why this part of the trek is such a grind... I know the mountains are still ahead, but right now, this seems like the hardest part.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

C: No these are not the same picture. Just an example of how similar the prairies can look to the unappreciative eye. The two spots are miles apart but you'd never know it. Storm clouds brewing, on the positive side you can see it way before it hits you, on the negative side there is noooooo cover, so you will be rained on. If B is lucky it won't rain today (Saturday) but it has been the rainiest summer in Saskatchewan ever. (I think)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day Thirty-One: Swift Current, Saskatchewan. It rained all day (at least it wasn't another tropical storm), soaked but relatively warm until a truck goes by and splashes up cold dirty water. Making it worse, pit stops are more uncomfortable daily, there isn't even tall grass between Moose Jaw and Swift Current! I don't care what anyone says, its awkward. Regardless of the isolation of Northern Ontario, this stretch of prairie is the most empty 100 miles ever.

177 kms-7 hrs 18 minutes- 5,332 Total

Thursday, July 22, 2010

C: Being from Saskatchewan I take exception to criticism the prairies are flat and boring. Regina is a city with heart, and all the amenities of Toronto's G20-a man made lake and transplanted trees at a fraction of the billion dollar cost. Plus as B is finding Saskatchewan drivers move over, (cause there's lots of room on a flat hwy and you can see a cyclist for miles) but besides that prairie folks know life can be tough, and they admire someone crazy enough to suffer the pain, rain, wind and heat. Farmers get that.

Day Thirty-One: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Finally and he's fit to burst! Bad enough the prairies are all up hill (in a painfully invisible way); and kills the legs, it also wrecks havoc with the bladder. Ever try stopping for a nature break when there are NO TREES. There is no discreet way to find peace and for a shy guy that's torture.

A surprize - Regina is a polite, pretty city, nice town down, civilized (C: small?) and with a beautiful "green mile". (C: imported trees and a fake lake). Moose Jaw too is an attractive town, with good motels and restaurants. Tx G. Cause covered in mosquito bites from the last flea bag motel. First things first, find a Laundromat, The Snow Hut (also sells ice cream), fight with the single moms over washers, kids crying and dogs barking the whole time. Staying at the Travel Lodge on Athabasca and Main, so nice, so clean, so air conditioned.
143 kms-6 hrs 26 minutes-5,155 Total

What you're not done yet? It's a toss up between who is more competitive Brian or his dad? A less competitive parent might have said "What? Cross the country on a bike? But why?" (C: my mom for instance). B's dad thinks it's fabulous, why not? And as fast as possible. A lifetime runner Bob still thinks hiking all day, alone in the Arizona heat is an adventure. Gee I wonder where B gets it?
Day Thirty: Indian Head, Saskatchewan. (80 kms east of Regina). The prairies are sooo NOT flat! It's a long, steady grind uphill with no breaks. The other challenge, unlike eastern provinces, the TC does NOT run through towns, so you have to get off the hwy to look for a motel, then backtrack if there isn't one. It was a sunny, slightly windy day, perfect for riding. In case that doesn't continue, I took advantage of it for a fourth straight day of 200 plus kms. Am exhausted though. This motel earns the dubious distinction of the worse yet! Cramped, dusty, the taps leak, the windows and door barely close, there are no hangers, the sheets seem clean but everything is damp. No phone, no internet, a TV with one channel (C: Tx God for CBC!). It's only 150 kms to Moose Jaw, and I'm looking forward to it (and a clean motel) already!

226 kms-9 hrs 41 minutes-5,012 Total

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

After my 3rd straight 200+k day yesterday (206 to be exact) to get to Virden, I'm off to a quick start today... only 10am and I've already crossed into Saskatchewan... stopped at the tourist info place (yet another computer though with the usb port disabled, so no pic)... It's so nice to have put the lousy roads of Manitoba behind me and it was worth the effort for those long days.

Not sure how many more big days I have in the legs though... Contrary to popular opinion, the prairies are not flat... especially going west. Even when the road seems flat, your legs tell you that you are slowly creeping uphill towards the rockies... and I'm feeling it. It's getting harder and harder to get back on the bike each morning.

Still, I'm past the 2/3 mark and it is beginning to feel like I can really do this. Time to get back on the bike though... lots of kms still to go today and it is a beautiful day for riding... winds are light (so far)... and the sun is shining after finishing in the rain yesterday.

P.S. Lesley... I love any flavour, but if you can do chocolate-orange, Carmel is out and you're in!
Day Twenty-Nine: Virden, Manitoba (80 kms west of Brandon): B: With apologies to Britney Spears..."oops I did it again" , went another 200 plus km day since Brandon was no stretch at just over 100 kms. Can't wait to put Manitoba's hwys behind, worse in all 7 provinces so far, no shoulders, and too much crap; rocks, glass, junk everywhere, its' impossible to get a decent ride. Can't even use the ipod cause have to concentrate intensely. Been nearly swiped by passing cars (can almost feel the mirror graze me).. scary. Now have two saddle sores.(ooooooo)

There were thunderstorms all day but it only actually rained the last ten minutes. As for dinner, every thing closes at 8pm. After a few days being reduced to gas station snacks, now I don't bother cleaning up, just find a restaurant. I barely made it today (ten minutes of a buffet) at the Dragon Inn. Better sweating & rushed than starving.

The other challenge is motels, I have to look up motels in the phone book ahead of time to find out WHICH towns have them.
206 kms-9 hrs 31 minutes-4,786 kms Total
Day Twenty-Nine: What you're already in Virden, Manitoba (nearly at the Saskatchewan border?) That means you'll likely be finished earlier than planned? If so Trevor (your boss!!) wants to know if you'll be coming back to work early!!! Just kiddin'. Everyone should have a boss who will approve the time off to pursue your dream. A shout out to T at Manulife. (yeah T)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day Twenty-Eight: Portage La Prairie, Manitoba: Windy day, but sunny, not uncomfortable, fewer and fewer trees, and more and more wind. Strangely painful on the hamstrings (after hours in the same gear on a relatively flat hwy) am realizing this could be a problem. Have to make the effort to stand up, change gears, and mix it up just to give the legs a break.
Manitoba hwys are the worse yet, kms with no shoulders. Its a high to be finally on the prairies but a rude awakening to find out there is NOTHING between towns, no little motels like in Eastern Canada. Will have to plan more carefully where to stop at days end.
216 kms- 10 hrs 31 minutes - 4,580 kms Total (28 days)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday July 19-B hits Winnipeg around 2pm. Its exciting because it feels like passing an emotional barrier, that somehow hitting Winnipeg means its all easy from here.

No more bugs, tents, empty motels and snack food for dinner. The only thing he'll miss about crossing northern Ontario is the spectacular scenery, and the girls softball team he watched the World Cup game with one night. He was so starved for company he didn't mind them talking over the game and all the random unprompted giggling.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

C: As for how the rest of us are spending the summer, Leslie is keeping us mesmerized with her incredible baked treats. (Chocolate cupckaes anyone?) I'll bet B could eat ten right about now!! Leo ate 7! (Is that even possible for a grown up?)
And just so you don't get a swollen head, the grrls could cycle across Canada too if they felt like it. But they decided not to this year..they'll run around instead.

Day Twenty-Seven: Manitoba! (Just barely!) The good news -he's at the border. The bad news-Falcon Lake isn't a town and there's no room at the inn! It turns out its a provincial park and home to one large resort (that is fully booked with vacationing families). But it does have a snack shop, so B loads up and heads back up to the hwy in search of other digs. Sadly at 8 pm, he rides over a shard of glass on the way out, and flattens his front tire. Now it's late, getting dark, Winnipeg is way too far so it seems like another night in the woods.

A late night update: As luck would have it 15 km out of Falcon Lake along the hwy he stumbles across a little motel..The town? No name-no restaurant-no bar. A rustic resort (?) (C: For future reference -no place without food or a bar is a RESORT?!). Mosquito swapping is a sport-ie constant- (another reason it's not a resort!).

Ever heard of: crazyguyonabike? He's a celebrity cyclist of sorts (blogger) -quit his job 4 years ago and spends ALL his time cycling-from the tip of South America (some buses & boats) but mostly leg power. He's on his way home to Victoria, it will take him two months more he says. (Unlike B 's planned 2 1/2 week deadline). Jeff Kruys-he worked with computers digitizing maps. (C: Hey Jeff don't be giving B any wild and crazy ideas-he's bad enough!)

PS -Yes saddle sores (well one big one) is now an irritant. So a planned stop at a pharmacy asap.

224 kms- 10 hrs 18 minutes-4,364 kms Total

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day Twenty-Six: Heading for an early stop in Dryden. It's a cool day, perfect for cycling, but his legs are flat. A week ago he would have been flying on a day like today, but he has no zip.
Likely lack of carbos, the food (including highway stop shops) has been iffy lately, but that shouldn't be an issue in Dryden. All the more reason to stop early, (if you call 165 km in 7 hrs early?), but even if he adds another hour he gains nothing since Winnipeg is still two days away no matter how you divide the distance.

In TO the running gang is BBQing at Jeff's tonight to celebrate Michael and Via's pending new addition. B might be finished and back before the baby arrives- He can celebrate then! Maybe a joint "arrival" party!

171 kms- 8 hrs 3 minutes - 4,140 kms Total
Day Twenty-Five: Hunkered down in English River. (Which it turns out is not really a town), just a stopping point for hunters to refuel and buy supplies. Luckily there was a hostel of sorts, and B spend the night there with a couple of other cyclists. There was no restaurant but he paid the owner to make him a sandwich.

Not ideal, but after a day of brutal winds and 3 hours of rain, he wasn't about to complain or camp out. And since it rained all night, it was soooo much better than the tent option. Besides motels the great wide north is also lacking in pasta or anything besides meat. A vegetarian would starve. It's all burgers or steak. He admits - not to hunting-but to foraging (eating wild strawberries growing near the hwy). Irresistible.
164 kms -9 hrs 1 minute-3,969 kms Total

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day Twenty-Four: Thunder Bay and counting. Or rather ranting! B is having a melt down because at Thunder Bay cyclists are forced off the TC, to detour through town BUT there are no subsequent signs telling you where down town is! So for the last 30 km, you have to guess where to turn. And to add insult to a poorly marked route, you can't see the Terry Fox memorial unless you are on the TC (in a car!). Its discrimination against cyclists! He's only gone 100 kms by noon today, and is in a bad mood because 26 kms (not 11 as advertised) was intensely under construction and a rock n'rattle fest of barely moving.

He was happy to meet Helen and Jody, a couple of young Brits in Canada on a one year visa, cycling from Toronto to Vancouver to find work at Whistler and other ski resorts in the winter.

PS Meanwhile back home on Marlow we are enjoying a sunny day on the deck and neighors wish B well on his hair brained scheme. Even Cooper (the dog) is confused, why go that far from home? Even a pooch knows better.
Day: Twenty Four: Nipigon: C: B is tired & hungry (only had bar snacks last night cause no options for restaurants-Can you cross the country on beer & wings?). But he still rides 193 kms. so I refuse to be sympathetic. The eating dilemma is a real dilemma! There are almost no restaurants and now even the bars and motels don't serve decent meals. Last night he had to resort to a sub, chips and coke from the corner store.

He is however having happy childish flashbacks as the trains chug by tooting, (yes dear, the conductor is tooting at you), He'll easily make Thunder Bay tomorrow even though there is 11 km of stripped off hwy-no pavement-to navigate first. (I suggest walking the bike?) It'll be rattle ,rattle, bump for an hour at a snails pace, but after that it should be an easy day. Only 800 kms to Winnipeg, and it's all the back-half from there.

193 kms-9 hrs-16 minutes-3,658 Total

C: Okay - Only B would fall in love with a yellow brick road sign. Has anyone under 50 even seen The Wizard of Oz? B's a classic (old) movie fanatic: The Thin Man ? Anyone? Exactly you've never heard of it or William Powell. My first question when he finds a fabulous movie to watch: Is it in colour? At least the sign is. He's also crossed Eley Road, and a few other memorable signs.

C: Leeton B (B's podmate at wk) sends his best. He's a competitive martial arts guru, (why are all B's freinds so competitive)? He cycles too, not across the country at the moment but since it seems all the guys B is meeting on the road are "retired", I suspect its part of a future plan.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

C: Wed July 14 -23 days of riding and B hits half way 3,500kms. (Two days east of Thunder Bay). If I don't watch out he'll get to Victoria before I do! (Flying out Aug 1). But apparently its a terrible day, windy again and hilly as only northern Ontario can be.

The highs and lows: Yesterday B tells me he's getting stronger every day and might try to set a record for an unassisted ride. (After two 200 km plus days of riding he's flying). But today he's changed his mind, his legs are like mush and he can't get a rhythm going. He's itchy, lethargic, mentally lazy, (He's tired! Big mystery! Hey it happens! (not that often to B) but sometimes you just need a day off and a juicy steak! Am I right?)
So its been a landmark but kind of crappy day (his words not mine) albeit with spectacular scenery. Northern Ontario is stunning, one picture opportunity after another.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another big day... 195k in 8 hrs 57 mins... but it seemed "easy" after the last couple of days. Get this... the marathon runner, on a marathon bike ride has arrived in the town of Marathon... and the only room available is a smoking room!!!

Anyway, it's one of those rare times I've found a computer where the USB port isn't disabled, so I can update some pics. I especially like the one with the road they named in my honour... sadly it was going the wrong way, so I had to bypass it and stay on the TransCanada.

I met yet another cyclist going the other way and actually got a pic with me in it... Lake Superior in the background.

And I just had to take the depressing pic with all the kms to various points... I think they must be measured as the crow flies... but it still makes the point... it's a long way to go!

Despite the long days (what else do I have to do though?)... the legs are good and seem to get stronger as I go.

Thought for the day... You know those highway signs that indicate a passing lane ahead... the ones we love as drivers, so we can finally pass the donkey in front of us? Well, I've come to dread the sight of them as a cyclist because they mean only one thing... another sick hill to climb... and there are a lot of those signs in northern Ontario!!!

Totals to date... 3,465km in 170hrs and 36 mins of pedaling.

By the way... if anyone is interested, I went through the home of Winnie the Pooh today... White River... If you don't know the story, google it... and appropriately, I even saw a bear by the road today... he didn't seem interested in me though... I guess there's not enough meat left on these bones!

Monday, July 12, 2010

C: Do I feel lazy and guilty! I sit on the back deck drinking lemonade (yes -really) madly reading the fabulous third book in the best selling Swedish series: the Girl Who Kicked a Hornets Nest. If you haven't read it (or seen the first movie The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), its gripping. The only exercize I got today was furiously turning the pages. How can he ignore the pain, cycling uphill is sooooo painful, I haven't done it for years and I can still remember the screaming legs while I'm being dropped in seconds (left abandoned on a hwy in the middle of nowhere). The real reason I like running, you can't get lost 5 hours from home! (Although I did get lost once running in a storm in TO-I flagged a taxi home). I don't think I ever told Brian, he wouldn't approve.
Day 21: Against all odds he reaches Wawa after a marathon day.
11 and a half hours of monstrous hills, brutally slow at 20 km per hour, at once point pedalling constantly for 15 minutes up a hill. That particular hill was a drain at 9 km per hour, in and out of the saddle.

He had planned to tent it in the park, (for the first time), but it just didn't seem a good idea at the time. The woods were so dense he couldn't find a place to pull off until he hit the campground at the end of the park, and then it was only another 30 km to Wawa.
( a measly 30 kms?) The ride was only 20 kms longer than yesterday but took 3 hours longer.

He met Bob & Dale (not Doug) two fellow cyclists who'd met on the hwy and teamed up. One was going from Vancouver to Toronto, the other from Fernie, B.C. to Ottawa. Both 50 plus. (Who knew X-country cycling was so popular?)

He finished exhausted but sounding surprizingly chipper, and amazed at his output.
(me too!) His legs are NOT sore, but he's starving. Is it possible? he's getting stronger every day and is slightly nervous it can't last.

235 kms- 11 hrs 39 minutes-3,270 total (2 more good days might be half the distance he's not competitive).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

C: B will stay north on Hwy 17 (TC) heading to Wawa, but it is 230 kms and might not be doable in a day. So unless there's a motel in Montreal River (are any of these tiny places actually towns?), he may finally be forced to camp out, (there's a provincial park that might do). The next 5 day stretch to Thunder Bay looks bleak as far as motels or even cell phone use is concerned. He might get lucky like I was once while reporting in Nfld, we paid a local $100 to crash in his basement. (We -being the cameraman Eddie and myself). As for food? There are garage station mini-marts, I guess we'll find out what else. He's down to 153 lbs and the concensus among friends is he's too thin already! PS he objects to my earlier post saying he used his "granny gear". Apparently he does NOT have a granny gear (and if he did he wouldn't use it! sorrrrry!!). His lowest gear is 34/27 (whatever that means). He's been on the bike a total of 150 hours. (and has lost his sense of humour. oops did I say that).

Day Twenty: Spent the night in Massey, and it turned out to be a great day for riding. Hot but not humid or windy, and for once a great stretch of hwy uninterupted by road work.

Also a perk, the bike was still clean and I didn't have to spent the usual 2 hrs going over it. So far bugs are not a problem, hope that continues. What I could really use is a couple more "buffs", (the multi-purpose tube-scarf runners use to cover their faces in winter). It is promoted as having 12 different uses, wraps the neck, head, face, hairband depending on how you adjust it. I can add a 13th, I need one to stuff under each leg of my shorts to drap over my knees and keep the sun getting an incredible suntan(burn?).

I passed (yes passed- do you know how slow horses are?) a Mennonite family in a cart along the highway to the delight of the kids who cheered "the race". I thought they looked pretty cool too. Made it to Sault Ste. Marie in a relatively pain free day.

208 kms-8hrs 50 minutes-3,035 kms total. (in another 3 days I'll be at half the total distance about 3,500kms).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A beatiful day for a ride... sunny and the humidity is finally gone. I also past a major psychological barrier today by crossing Manitoulin Island and climbing up onto the Canadian shield to hit the TransCanada at Espanola. I'm finally in Northern Ontario and headed west on the TransCanada, north of the great lakes... the next big leg of my journey... and I feel like I've broken the bonds of eastern Canada and southern Ontario.

Tonight I'm staying in Massey after a slightly shorter than normal day (due to the ferry crossing), but did put in 146k for a total to date of 2,824k.

I also became an honourary member of some Long Island, NY motorcycle club, when we all lined up together for the ferry. I joked about hanging with the cool gang even without a motor and then we traded stories about our respective travels. The 2-wheel thing seems be a strange bond... I always get waves and friendly toots from bikers that pass me. I'm off to find myself a steak and a beer now...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day Eighteen: Left Collingwood early (in the rain) but it cleared by noon. Planning to catch the 7 am ferry tomorrow morning (no reservation needed), for the 2 hr crossing. Today was slightly cooler than yesterdays 30 plus sweltering heat, so it was easier going, but it was a challenge because of the road repair. For one bone shattering stretch it was almost like walking the bike through a gravel pit.

Met a stranger on the hwy, a woman mid-forties (retired teacher) who was cycling across Canada too.....only she was doing it leisurely. C: Still a feat! B: She cycled from Vancouver to Winnipeg last year, and this year flew to Winnipeg and is cycling to St. John's. Good thing she's retired though cause she started June 12 and has only done 1,500 kms (the tourist bike tour). C: snob!

Several close calls on the road as cars speed two abreast to pass each other heading right at me. Am I invisible? On more than one occasion I was shocked when I looked up to see them bearing down on me. $%$# scary! I don't think they concider a bike -a vehicle. I've been cut so close its
chilling. C: Well it helps you stay cool then! As Larry & Dave P tell me when I'm running -head up-head up! B: Finish in Tobermory. Beautiful, scenic, romantic. (ooh forget it..focus, focus)
176 kms-8 hrs 50 minutes-2,678 kms total
C: Beautiful huh? Almost makes you wanna
get the bike out. I think it's Confederation Bridge P.E.I. B left a whack of photos, so I can load them. He thought he'd be able to update more photos himself on the road, but it hasn't been as easy as he thought to find internet cafes, or motels with wi-fi. I guess not every where is as connected at TO. Strangely he says there are lots of telephone booths (common in small places) that you almost never see anymore in the city.
Day Seventeen C: He is too skinny! (L is right!)At 6-4 and 160 lbs or there'bouts B's lost ten pounds in two weeks. What a painful diet! I'd rather eat grapefruit all day or anything else! It's too hard to eat during the day, and at night he's too tired. Plus by the time he cleans the bike and washes his clothes, the local restaurants (when there are any) are closed.