Tuesday, August 21, 2007


got into St John's
its over
Im running to the airport now. update soon =)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Halifax: 3 bike days from the end, and another week of updates

new photos


Day 61 - August 16
Sorry its been lax. keeping a blog regularly updated with 'worthwhile content' is a commitment.. but I suppose if I dont have time to write now, when will I ever? Today was great, we got up early, I was diagnosed with bronchitis, bought socks for $2 at Winners, then we went down across to Halifax (staying in Dartmouth, other side of the bridge) by ferry. Think Seabus. Walk around hit the Government House (legislature, caucus and cool library) - coffee shops, the buskers festival (average) and up to Dalhousie's soothingly archaic campus. Grabbed a pint of porter, had some manly heart-to-heart, home for 4 10 oz. steaks (that was my portion). Digging through their moving boxes for reading material, I find the Richler I wanted, Harper Lee, and Suzanne's millions of Archie comics (you're doing your PhD in what?). Auntie Siam prepared bowls of fruit for dessert followed by tea and sun chips.. our fam does it up proper.

Day 60 - August 15 (Nova Scotia... recovery of sanity)
Another day of truth. We are destined for Halifax and even I won't be able to stay surly for long (get it? its a pun, the lowest form of humor). Until then, we are still not able to remain in close proximity, civilly, as we both pound out solo sprints to Wood Islands ferries. Easy nothing hills. Waiting for the ferry we kick back, and on the Nova Scotia side Uncle David (whom I haven't seen in donkey's years - thats for you mum) and I approach each other semi-warily before deciding that yes we are each both whom we suspect the other is (wow what a word massacre that was). We stuff our bikes into the Matrix and head to Halifax to see Auntie Siam's new place. Already it feels like the end... tension lifts.

Day 59 - August 14 (reaching PEI)
New province day! These are the best. I'm still super neg recently and G + me = aggravated PMS (probably mostly my fault). So we ride for the most part far apart - still, nice that it's a bit flatter as we head towards Confederation Bridge. We meet the crazy cycling family that Alex told us about, coming the other way. Paul, from Houston (?), BC (near Smithers) is the foul-mouthed jolly dad leading his wife on a tandem, followed by (guessing) 13, 11, and 9 year old girls on fully loaded bikes. They do this every year, take a month off. The parents have obviously been riding their whole lives, who knows how these tough little kids keep up. They go the other way so we reach the gargantuan Confederation Bridge, which rises up in the distance out of the concrete like a mythical beast.

The 13km bridge has only been fully cycled once (illegally, by demonstrators, of course) - we are taken across in trailer truck with another cycling family from Michigan. Upon reaching Borden-Carleton, PEI, we lose 2 hours to the tourist trap. 30km to beautiful Victoria-by-the-sea. Steak wraps and plentiful beers later, we are told about the free showers in the public park (but I of course run out of hot water). I discover the joys of an open jar of 'Map-o-Spread' in my pannier (notice there's not even the word maple)... imagine pure sugar goo saturating all of your belongings. We hole up behind the lighthouse for the wettest night yet, my cough is pretty ridiculous these days (although almost a welcome distraction while I bike). It smells like salt, and clams, and the mosquitos gorge on our flesh.

Day 58 - August 13 (the joy of wet stinky sleep)
We leave the hole named Fredericton, aiming for Moncton - and promptly hit a convenience store from heaven: meet a wonderfully kind owner who supports us with free 4L water and use of his facilities - he has sons who have done triathlons. That helps for morale. We zoom out for 50km on 105, then get back on the T-Can and run into another cyclist. Alex from Montreal, doing the east-west route (first MTL-Victoria - incl. Whistler! - then flew back to Nova Scotia to cycle home). His bike is flimsy in the frame, he says that we're lucky to be on steady Surly Long Hauls. We have an exquisite lemon pie with him, then roll down to King's Landing for some free internet. Winnie, the tourist centre manager there, spoils us with coffee/tea/packs of hot chocolate/soup. Definitely the best ? centre ever. We hit Moncton, dinner at Sobeys and camp out beside a Hyundai dealership (idiotically, right at a highway onramp). I awake to cold, cars and whooping cough, and shout over to G asking if it's time to get up.. but it's only 245am. I suggest maybe we get going.

Day 57 - August 12 ('10x' denotes country road/old highway)
I awake in cold wet fog at 645am, and pissed that G won't stir (the usual) - eat half a jar of fake Nutella in frustration and pass out again. When I awake once again I am hit by the gut shot of regularity, of course with no facilities at hand. They open the shop early for us at 9am, the neighbour Alan showing us the route down 105. Flatter route country road but we only start at 11am. I take off, annoyed, and most of the day we ride solo. Stop at a private campground for lunch and get bad directions to the 102, ending up back on the T-Can highway 2. Hilly into Fredericton, where everything is closed on Sundays at 5pm - except tourist information, where they give you false information and false hope.

We bike around town looking for food and grating on each other until we find Harvey's. Damn good burgers. Cross a bridge leaving Fredericton and into a soccer field - thank God just 3 days left until rest... we're starting to both check out on this trip. Out of food, almost, and hopefully tm find an open store on the empty 105. At least it was good to talk to JD today. We've been doing about 160km/day lately.

Day 56 - August 11
End in sight - Tim Hortons still in French (even in Edmunston, NB). How can these franchises not take debit? Chagrin - boycott!! Walmart lunch in Grand Falls among the rolling Appalachians, which seem to stretch farther than the eye sees. We buy economy: 1.25kg potato salad and promptly overdose. Then make sandwiches with leftovers. More climbing into a spring-fed waterpark in the middle of nowhere mountain. Spring water is so good. There we meet a nice lady who works in some capacity against cancer who provides a donation.

On a passing cyclist's tip, we aside to Florenceville (McCain-town, pop. 900). Hit up Hunter Bros. Farmer's Market which is open late - owner Chip has everything in this tiny shop, from cookies to jam, fruit to homemade caramel corn pops. He regularly lets cyclists like us camp out in the back field, which features a perfectly cold, drinkable/washable pond.

Day 55 - August 10
Awake in St. Jacques, fly through the flats to Kamouraska, a bump in the prairie-like terrain. Low tide means you can walk out across the St. Lawrence to pockets of the little islands - a beached sailboat frustrates the locals. Hilly as hell into Riviere-du-Loup, reminiscient of Hope Slide (but its so long ago who am I kidding). Long gradual inclines but good fast payoffs downhill. The beer after we cross into NB is non-descript but British (redundancy).

Day 54 (leave Quebec City) - August 9
We stuff ourselves, the norm, at the hotel's continental breakfast - a perfect unity of French (pastries) and Anglo (cereal). Hit road at 1015, cycle along the ferry port encicling the old fort wall, a well populated bike path on a sunny but cool day. Across the bridge is the town of Levis (with an accent EH-GOO?) - almost 15km of 'Spanish Banks meets Route Verte' vibe, where it seems no one has to work and everyone is on wheels. By the St. Lawrence, across from the Old City, its easy to see why Quebecers want to keep this for themselves. I am sad when the path ends. We wind our way making good time (considered mid or high 20s kph) to Berthier-sur-mer, then to St. Jean Paul - a 'cultural capital' of Canada.

Along the flat road, carving and arts/crafts shops beckon: but we are told that this route 132 leads to construction (the devil!).. After detouring to La Pocatiere, we meet Sam - a French cyclist who did Tofino-Halifax last year. He suggests we hop back onto the 132. A cute cashier in the supermarket reminds me of a girl I was into (who was into girls herself) - before we are victims of an early sunset. Back on the 132 like idiots we hit the aforementioned construction, and half-lost, set up camp on a patch of grass just feet away from picturesque low tide on the river. Tm into New Brunswick, 'final stretch' mentally and likely some ugly Appalachians to cross.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

on tv and Quebec City

Day 59 - August 8

Coughing spells in the night force me downstairs in our hostel out of consideration for obedmates. Icurl up with the only Anglo novel, which doesnt seem to deserve all of its jacket praise and pass out on the narrow, unfallasleepable bench. Wake early for first breakfast - free- stuf ourselves. The rain pours down again leaving akin to Mtl so we are trapped. We talk to a girl from Jersey but interrupted a friendly yet to the point Parisian. Procrastinate and attempt to arrange for accomodations since the hostel is bookedfor the 2nd night... In any case I truck on through this mediocre novel (Judith Guest?), appalled by the comical dialogue and description, but surprised by the occasional quality line (and eventual development). We walk the streets more, avoiding the tourist trap, and find a cheap little hotel right on the fort wall - perfect.

Day 58 - August 7

In the morning out of desperation and lack of facilities I wipe myself with the beloved Richler. The most beautiful ride yet - Kate txts to say G left his goodie bag. and cheese. Picturesque old villages dot the St. Lawrence and the people are friendly even if we can't communicate. A million cyclists on the sunny road today. get another front flat and start complaining so G buys me a cookie. The amazing ride takes us through the countryside, only getting hilly around Quebec, whre the incline is easily near 20 degrees. We decide to stop short and stay inside the Old City.

Day 57 - August 6

Wake up late for Global TV interview but make it in time (I need very little makeup) - 5 minute bit goes well except I mention the website several times without actually saying what it is. Coffee and goodbyes into a torrential thunderstorm. The floodgates of heaven open upon our heads, but we take solace in the promise that the original Flood was a one time deal. An amazing ride through piles of water and zero, dark visibility. Finally a break for lunch, still ominus but it holds off. I get a front flat. Rt 138 is quaint - all small towns speckling the side roadwith no spaces between. The bike pathsvary b/w painted lines ongravel paths, siewalks, and legitimacy. Trois-Riviers takes us through industrial shipping before dropping us in a pseudo-Yaletown. The most beautiful population per capita I've seen since Europe. We leave and barely make it to Champlain, running out of light. and squatting on a campground.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

lazy in mtl

new photos: http://ubc.facebook.com/album.php?aid=3827&l=96948&id=501511381

we're staying in the gay village (papineau and logan) with my old dj buddy Sean and his gf Kate. nice weather considering its mtl and just relaxing before the final home stretch - also Kate's friend works for Global TV so we're going on the local Morning Show tm at 6:55am to plug the cause. then leave right after for Quebec City.

other than that, not a whole lot new. it's been just over a month since CC left us and its good to know we'll finish the trip on the same schedule that he had - pushing it a bit since I miscalculated the days we will lose biking off the highway to and from Halifax (and was smart enough to eat rancid peanut butter for half a week).

Friday, August 3, 2007


Leaving Ottawa this morning after being laid over for a couple days. It's a nice city to walk around, even go to school in, and we're staying right in the heart of downtown with G's friend Jovana but I have been pretty sick so we lost some time on the schedule. Anyways, nothing we can't fix, and off to Montreal today to stay with Kate and Sean. Have a sweet weekend, we certainly will.

Friday, July 27, 2007

while we're stuck in cochrane

put up by our kind librarian shirley and her husband terry (catching a bus early tm morning to north bay - the only option b/c of no bike shops for ages)

here are some new photos. copy and paste



15 more days pass. 20 days of biking left!

*17:30 EST update* - Penny-wise, dollar-foolish?

Stuck at the library. It was inevitable but G's tire is finally done and no stores for miles around. Closest "big town" of Timmins, pop. 50,000 - has nothing for us. Looking at trying to get one shipped from Thunder Bay. As options go this one's a pickle..It just might be bus time.
July 27 (today!)
Wake up early, prescribed rain. 5am but our loaf of bread is missing. Maybe bears. We wait out a storm for an hour then start off before and as the torrents return. We paddle our way into Tim Horton's hometown as I get another flat (it's now 8-6 for me) - thankfully I limp into the gas station. Right now I'm writing these words in the Cochrane library and we've got a short trip to go after a long lunch in front of the supermarket.

Attention home invaders: Hanging out in front of a supermarket your best option, about 3 or 4 different people approached us to ask if we needed a place to eat, stay or wash up in an hour.

We figured out that the trip could be over by Aug 17 - but there's no ferries that leave so instead it will be St John's on Aug 21, giving me about 12 hrs to ship everything home before jumping on a plane to NYC.// Life is good.

July 28 (yesterday)
Up at 6am, Gerald makes us French toast. Ha. Its funny these two don't miss a beat if they miss an English word. Finally we say goodbye, head past Curt's hometown of Kapuskasing and into Smooth Rock Falls. G + I talk about teachers, basketball, and the apparently dedicated scholarship in law students compared to those in med.... usually we don't talk that much on the ride so time flies and we're in Smooth Rock Falls by 1pm. Pass out and hang around there for a ridiculous 6 hours maybe, the gas attendant who arrived after we did is already off shift. A jumbo poutine later we push 1 more hour to Driftwood. Every day recently we seem to hit 130-150km pretty easily due to early starts.

Day 39 (???) - (more delightful Frenchies)
I realize that my calendar is completely off and I've lost a few days. Beautiful sunrise ride at 6am makes for a complete day by 11am into francophone Hearst (pop. 3,000?) , ON beating the heat. No dehydration here. All signs in French. Bilingualism at its conceived perfection. Poutine and we meet the outgoing Gerald + Julie who offer to put us up in nearby Matise for the night. We meet a creepy but lonely old guy in McDicks, and G asks him for directions to the lake (which we already know).

The old guy offers to show us the way but we politely decline, then he follows us anyway. Lots of kids by the 'beach' across from the airport. Nice though before a bear wanders in and the old guy scrams. In Thunder Bay, the biggest town in Western Ontario, TH donuts are 80 cents but here they are 85. Is the local dependency on frosted pastry that much greater? G spills his Ice frap, and echo of my TB experience. Myths of infinite recurrence..

Late in the day we push the more difficult 50km past Hearst towards Gerard and Julie's place, but get lost on a side road into a huge gravel patch that backtracks as far as the eye can see. Cursing we trudge the 5km hills before the gravel ends and forest swamp begins. My bike flips over a ditch and G finally informs me that we are obviously lost.

We do get there eventually, finding a scenic log cabin spread out over Shallow Lake. Inside our hosts force beers into our hands and engage in some wonderfully friendly conversation. Fed steaks and plenty of wine. An introduction to creme de menthe. This couple (like most people we met on this trip!) is too good to be true. Unfortunately we can't stay an extra day although they're more than game to chat and host the night away... so we put up in their comfy trailer, the best 5hr sleep of my life.

Day 38 (the gauntlet is run)
Sharing a tent makes for hot sweaty nights. We meet Frank again in the morning before pulling away. The 215km stretch of b/w Nipigon and Longlac awaits - we planned to overlap/split it into 2 days with plenty of water. We continue on, looking for the 'gas station' - last stop before nothingness. But it's abandoned. I hook up a trailer hose and drink water til delerium, but 2 hours later low on water again. Just 7L of water for 190km between 2 of us and sweating maybe 1L/hr in sweltering conditions.

All the rivers are red and still - teeming with mosquitoes. Then we hit a 20km stretch of 1-lane gravel construction through the hills. I get rolled off the road by a semi. But the mud stretches are refreshing. Probably the most difficult stretch since BC since we're both dehydrated and desperate. Running out of day, we check one of the highway gravel silos for water. Nope. Then an abandoned campground complete w/ church. Nada. But I see a bridge running over a red river.

After 180km finally we pass a group of buildings, forlorn and isolated - an old cabin retreat. I try out the red mosquito-bed river. Looks horrid, tastes OK. We find a cabin to crash inside and plan a pre-dawn getaway (120km to civilization), and the teabags I find inside a cupboard help mask the river water. How poor Frank will do his planned 215km in one day we don't know.

Day 37 (its hot~)
We come across Frank, an old cyclist from Ottawa pulling a 70lbs trailer. Stop in Beardmore for a Freezie. Pass Frank again. Find a lake for a dip. A fish bites Goran and we try to catch them by ing them with stones. 185km today and my butt is . BUT the 11 highway through north Ontario is much flatter and quieter = faster riding. Camp out behind an old gold mine near Geraldton.

Day 36 - July 22
Wake late and everyone's at church. By the time we're ready they're back and drive us out to Terry Fox Memorial (he stopped his run just outside TB) - taken by cancer at 22 years of age. Last photos and off, but past Dorion it gets stormy and we take shelter underneath a stationed semi-trailer for 3 hrs. I eat raisins and read.

Day 35 - July 21
Get to meet Cheryl + Tim, Matthew's parents - Cut drives us 'downtown' to a couple bike shops for spare tubes (I find out on July 29 they are the wrong ones again, but more $$) and we go to the Dragonboat Festival where the entire town is partying. Back to the house for homemade burgers and Kill Bill 1 + 2.

Day 34
Wake up literally in the bush off a dirt road. Stole G's toque for a pillow so he froze. 42kmt into a little diner in Upsala where I was lectured by the manager in front of several customers for filling up my water. Funny. Go for broke, 130km more to Thunder Bay (pop. a dwindling 110,000) among hills. I keep losing my balance into the gravel. Reach TB tired and meet a kind young father named Amin who tells us about his Osoyoos to Coquitlam ride (a difficult ride that way) - he buys us coffee and donuts. Picked up by G's family friend Janet and entertained by their Pokemon-obsessed grandson Matthew late until Janet's husband Curt arrives home.

Day 33 (back on the road)
27 biking days left. I sleep great in a double bed and we get up early to finish the Nutella sent by SJ. Pack leftover BBQ chicken sandwiches and exchange the Vonnegut for a Richler. Good weather to leave, hoping to do 170 each of the next 2 days. No shoulder though, and now only 2 lane highway. Semis of all kinds dance inappropriately close to us - we pass a Taiwanese guy biking to NYC who speaks no English.

In solitary hills, during mid-30 heat, he wears a FUBU hoodie and fat skater shoes.

Day 32 - July 18 (Ah Kong's Birthday!)
I am embarassed not to remember how old though. There is something about sitting her on an open deck overlooking a breathtaking view, pondering a GQ article on genocide at 830am over my 2nd Keiths - while G makes eggs and hashbrowns. Is this symbolic of everything well intentioned but wrong with the First World? This is too heavy so I skip over the article, the next piece is on a white barber who speciazlies in black hair, suitably trivial.

Barb and Mike come out from Dryden to make us a splendid meal that once again defies the physical boundaries of my stomach.

Day 31 - July 17 (summer vacation)
9am start, a good sign considering a halfday to Dryden to stay with Melissa Hamilton's brother. G's knee is flaring up again. Of course as soon as he stops his tube pops out... it slowly expands, then pops with a that echoes through the hills. His 4th flat, 2nd explosion. I've also ripped the brand new MEC compression sack, our gypsydom is overwhelming.

We pass a 'Cop for Cancer' rider and his infant kid, he's training for the Penticton Ironman - 3.4km swim, 180km cycle, 40km run (marathon). Yeesh.

About 10km after Dryden we find the McCauley cabin, meet Mike and his son AJ on beautiful Thunder Lake. Mike offers to take us waterskiing, like an idiot I accept - forgetting my ly allergy to water. After 5 ridiculous half-drownings I catch on for a pretty sweet ride. Waiting for us in the cabin is a goodie basket from the wondrous SJ and a fully stocked house to supply the Canadian Armed Forces. Chips and Nachos and Spaghetti and Nutella and Butter Tarts, Frozen Lollipops and Pizza for breakfast. My chinup ability is halved.

Day 30 - July 16
Awake in Falcon Lake and friendly church volunteers let us wash up. On the move and into Ontario, where the hills are reminiscent of mini-BC - short quick climbs. Into Kenora, a waterfront town much like Hope - of course I bust another flat waiting for G. That makes 7 for me. Run out of daylight so we stop before Vermilion Bay, I see a bear stumble across the road by our truck stop/diner campout. Lots of potentially fashionable trucker hats at what used to be a hunter/fisher hangout, and brown water.

Day 29
Wake late but in any case G's bike pulls another flat coming out of the garage. I have one of those unpleasant dreams people get when leaving a place they'd like to stay. We finally hit road at 1230 fuelled by peanut butter sandwiches, ten run into an old couple from Victoria (John + Joan) biking to NS. They used to live in Dartmouth, where we'll be staying with my grandaunt.

She's maybe Chinese. What gives people the right to ask perfect strangers their ethnicity? And what they are studying? A joke about English not being practical, how did my parents ever let me study that? He means well and apologizes but I'm not offended (just on principle of PC-ness) until I think about it later. 150km into Falcon Beach (Lake?) - pretty sure this is where that Canadian OC show is located. Serene sandwiches and Slapstick on a pier for me... sweet.

Day 28 - July 14
'Persuaded' by Richard to stay another day in Winnipeg - we do. Take the Jeep out in the rain (good call on a rest day) to the Forks, where Assiniboine and Red Rivers meet. Imagine a poor man's Granville Island. The walkway is flooded and there's a high school benefit concert in the plaza, pretty genuine indie kids. We head north to check out the oldest Anglican church in Canada and Fort St. Garry, complete with 18th century costumed actors in the village. A quick, free (we like this) tour because they're closing. Perogies and roast chicken and strawberries with whip cream are our sendoff dinner.

We pretend to burn some calories around at a school hoop several inches too high - nothing like it to make you feel like a talentless 8 year old again.