Sunday, May 30, 2010

OK... here I've been spending all my time worrying over things like exhaustion and 18-wheelers... and it turns out the scariest thing about my ride is the thought of Carmel back home with a decorating magazine and a credit card!

And if that isn't bad enough, I just realized I'm also going to miss the entire Tour de France this year. I am of course, a big TDF junkie, but I'll be well into my tour de Canada when the TDF boys get going, and they'll finish long before I do. Not only do they ride faster, but they'll do less than half my distance and they don't have to carry all their own gear... how depressing! I'm already looking forward to next year, and spending the TDF on the couch in front of the TV with chips and beer.

Hmmmm... I think I may be going through a minor motivational down swing here... Must... train... harder!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hey folks... Carmel here... Brian's better (and way less crazy) half.

When Brian first mentioned this trip, I worried he'd want me to go with him. I was never more happy than when he said I could stay home in comfort and just help update this blog. I definitely choose blogging over the pain of riding 100 miles a day in the blazing sun or worse, pouring rain and wind, with mosquitoes, blackflies, and roadkill for company... who does that?

All that pain and suffering is right up Brian’s alley though... if it doesn’t hurt it’s not a worthy challenge in his books. Unlike some of us who are happy to sip Chardonnay and relax on the deck for the summer, he likes a project. However, it is kind of exciting to watch his once-in-a-lifetime trip become a reality.

My mother thinks it's crazy. She can’t understand why anyone would want to cycle across the country. Just driving it would be a chore. I worry he’ll be tired and lonely the whole time... but I'm not trying to talk him out of it, because I have my own project ideas... I'm looking forward to some home redecorating without Mr “I-like-the-house-the-way-it-is”getting in the way. Maybe I should really be worried about him riding too fast and cutting into my reno time!

As the start draws closer it’s a little nerve racking for both of us. Brian's dream trip is an adventure, and like the explorers of the past, he'll have nothing to rely on but his own strength and persistence, and who can’t admire that? That being said, I’ll be happily admiring it from the comfort of the sofa at home... and thinking about what colour to paint the bathroom.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I've been getting a lot of questions, so for anyone who might be wondering here's a sampling...

Q: Are you crazy?
A: Probably... but I have a long history of doing daft things, so you can decide where this falls on the crazy scale.

Q: What will you eat while cycling?
A: Mostly energy bars, sport gels, and fruit, but it's not a race, so there's no reason I can't detour for lunch if I see a nice pub now and then... And, no road trip is complete without some McD's stops!

Q: How much does the bike weigh?
A: About 70 lbs fully loaded (tools, clothes, food, water, tent, and other gear). By comparison, it was around 22 lbs in racing configuration without all the baggage.

Q: Why are you going alone?
A: Do you know anyone crazy enough to go with me?

Q: Doesn't your butt get sore?
A: Bike saddles are like shoes... some you barely notice, and others can give you no end of grief. I don't usually have problems, but I'll be spending way more time in the saddle than ever before, so who knows what I'm in for... Usually, other anatomical parts are a bigger problem.

Q: What's the furthest you've ever ridden?
A: I once did a 24hr race where I racked up over 500km, and I sometimes did 200km rides when training for Ironmans, but I've never gone day after day like I'll be doing on this trip. This is new territory for me.

Q: Have you ever seen a good cycling movie?
A: "Breaking Away".

Q: Will you be shaving your legs?
A: Have you seen my legs? I shaved back in my Triathlon days and it cost me a small fortune in razor blades... so, no... not shaving!

Q: What happens if you can't finish?
A: Failure is not an option... I stole that line from the movie “Apollo 13” because I like the attitude.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Welcome everyone... to my Bike Canada blog.

After a year of planning, and tinkering with the bike, the start of my ride is just around the corner... only time for a little more training and some nervous anticipation. For now, here's a little background to set the stage. I fly out to St John's, Nfld on June 19th and my first day of pedaling will be June 22nd after a day to put the bike together, and a couple nights of good east coast music and partying on George Street. I'll need to consume enough beer to ensure I don't feel any pain for at least the first week of riding!

My ride will touch all 10 provinces, starting in Newfoundland, and finishing in Victoria, BC... ocean to ocean. I'll stay in Canada the whole way, which means riding some extra grueling sections, like north of the Great Lakes, the Prairies, and finally the Rocky mountains. The total distance will be 7200+ km, depending on detours for services, camping, or just to go exploring, and I'll be in the saddle 6-10 hours per day. Check out the video (complete with cheesy music) at the end of this post for a short overview of the route... or use the link in the left panel to watch a full screen version on YouTube.

The trip is a birthday present to myself (yes, I am a little twisted) and although I will probably celebrate on the road (in early August), I do expect to finish the ride not too long after, in mid-August. The only "ground" covered off the bike will be courtesy of 5 ferry rides, since my attempts at riding on water have thus far proven very unsatisfying. I'll be riding one of my old triathlon bikes, with converted gearing, cranks, and wheels... and racks added to handle all the baggage. The 2 pics here show the old me in Ironman racing days (no bags), and the new me in touring mode after a recent training ride (baggage galore).

Bicycling across Canada is nothing new. Lots of people have done it, for one reason or another. My reason is simple... just a personal challenge that I have been thinking about, on and off for over 30 years. I figure it was now or never, and a milestone birthday seemed a good excuse. Carmel insists I'm having a mid-life crisis, and I remind her I could have gone for a sports car and a coed (is it too late to change my mind?).

Anyway, since most people who do the trip, go west to east, and in groups or with support, I decided to set my trip apart by going the harder, east to west route (plus I have family out west so it made more sense). I created my own route, and I'm doing it solo and unsupported. Also, due to time commitments, I'll be trying to push the pace for a quicker than typical crossing. I may need more than one type of therapy at the end!

One final note for this intro... These blog updates will actually be a joint effort. Since I will only have a basic cell phone with me, updates will be limited to times when I can get online at internet cafes or public libraries. At other times, I'll phone or text Carmel and she'll post updates for me. This is good news for readers, since Carmel is a journalist by profession, and her posts should make better reading than mine... assuming she can master the blogging interface.

That's it for now... Stay tuned. Cheers.