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.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

temporary blah thing

ok im po'd because this computer deleted my post

we left thunder bay today (thanks curtis, janet, cheryl and tim) and after a few stayovers (at the mccauleys in dryden where i went waterskiing for the first time courtesy of mike, barbara and aj - also straining my entire lower body) we've now changed our route to highway 11
which connects back in North Bay and we're about 11 days from Ottawa.

this means small towns and boredom for the next 10 days but flatter and easier on the knees.

thank you to everyone who has demonstrated the wonderfully human capacity for generosity and hospitality. also thanks to family and friends who have been supporting us with messages, emails etc. - (that includes CC's family and friends as well)

sometimes its hard to think we're only half done but your support helps us push through these little speed bumps on our journey.
no silly photos this time..

God bless and take care

Saturday, July 14, 2007

our arms are twisted into 1 more day in winnipeg

and some new pics are up here

this morning I weighed in at -10 lbs. but by this evening it was back to normal.. ?
G says he lost 20

Friday, July 13, 2007

About Halfway (still no photos boo the driver is incompatible)

Day 27
I wake early with my contacts and the lights still on. Passed out reading some mindless Kinsella. Will get back into Vonnegut's Slapstick ASAP (what morbidity!) but this is a freebie. Swallowed an inane Michael Jordan book "Rebound" last night - almost as fulfilling as half a bag of potato chips. Its 630am and no one's up yet so I sneak downstairs and stuff myself with cereal like a kid at 11pm on December 24th, conscience hanging over me - dare I finish the Honey Nut Cheerios?

The Stefanyshyns have been so kind as to offer us the use of the Grand Cherokee to check out the city today, although its rainy. I buy my flight home (with a stopover in NYC to see my long lost cousin Victoria) and we will go get our bikes tuned. The Maxine Hong Kingston I found in the bedroom will have to wait... besides I find this immigration/postcolonial identity/biographical displacement genre tiresome nowadays, so no harm.

We'll finish in St. John's on August 20th. Have a good one.

Day 26 (where's the pavement? Winnipeg)
Done the Kundera - what a sublime piece of work that inspires writing. Desecration of beauty and the like. We stop early in Portage for 3 chocolate bars + McDicks (that's my portion). Truck it to all-flat Winnipeg. No shoulder through most of Manitoba makes for a harrowing ride - you remain focused on the edge of the right lane only to get swept onto the gravel shoulder by passing semis or gusts of wind. Brutal roads mean speed bumps molesting us viciously ever 2 meters. Goran was brushed by an RV and knocked (harmlessly, thankfully) into the grass). I've taken to vehemently screaming profanities at both winds and roads, while developing rotator cuff irritation from flipping the bird at every other vehicle that barrels by.

The main street in Winnipeg is Portage Ave - straight and forever. We pick up G's phone (mailed from Brooks, Alta. by a kindly church caretaker) and pass a MEC in the heart of downtown. I get broken tent poles replaced and a compression sack for my comically large sleeping bag. The guy is helpful and directs us to leave through Chinatown.

At 6pm we reach the Stefanyshyn household situated on the NE side, a lush almost-suburb (kind of like Thornhill outside Toronto) - familial sprawling brick houses with impressive backyards. Deanna and Kelly's (whom I went to high school with) parents welcome us with amazing hospitality, and throw massive steaks on the BBQ. Dinner includes corn on the cob rolled in butter, baked potatoes, stirfry vegetables, garlic bread, with apple pie for dessert. I am situated in Kelly's old room, on her official Olympian athlete's comforter (Sydney 2000 - 200m backstroke). Both Richard and Allison were former CIS basketball players and the latter is into online poker craze (who hasn't been?). In short, we've found a welcoming 2nd home for our first rest since Calgary.

Day 25 (losing the plot just a bit)
Late up (as usual) - make good time to Brandon. A man named Borden donates to the cause outside a Timmy Hos. I remember Marilee's (the campground caretaker) story - what is the power of positivity? What is this cult of one? Is it Kundera's kitsch? (I'm reading Unbearable Lightness for the first time) The writings of great authors make these scribblings pale in comparative relevance and I'd much rather discuss them. We aim for Portage but the wind takes it out of us - stop in MacGregor, a difficult 150km. At night I dream of friends and females in my past, in the day I dream of cities in my future.

Why my subconscious reverts to nostalgia I don't know. Lucid dreaming sounds great but what of its seductive illusory promise? I dream of New York. I dream of not slapping and scratching at imaginary bites - which turns the last undamaged skin on my legs and feet into white hives. I dream of believing in my purpose undoubtedly and no longer ever wishing for another story - an ideal life that eludes like that perfect mate built solely in our mind.

G is repeatedly throwing his knife at a tree, and misses the tree completely a few times. I do see it stick once.

Day 24
Good day. Wake late but lots of tail winds - hit and miss rain. Quick trip into Moosomin - banana cream blizzard (it is my goal to have tasted every variety of DQ treat by the end) and we're approached by a woman who tells us her bike was hit by a car outside Winnipeg. She has the nasty bruises to show it. We hit the Manitoba border and take some idiotic photos (I have to sprint to beat the timer, and almost roll my ankle about 3 times, plus landing badly - like a old Toyota commercial gone wrong). Rain chases us into Virden and we find a motel selling our ceremonial beer - the lady there tells us to camp out at the Lions Campground for free, where she is the caretaker. Her mother has fought brain cancer since the lady was 8 years old - every year she goes for the checkup.. so we're talking over 30 years. What amazing things that will is capable of. 2 days from the Peg.

Day 23
Wake late on purpose - its pissing outside. Say goodbye to Frenchies and on the road at 930. Super heavy rainstorm soaks us to the bone plus head winds. Shivering, we pull under a sign at 25k for some soaked cheese sandwiches (its funny the contortions a loaf of bread is capable of when stuffed into a pannier... like edible play-doh.. not that play-doh isn't edible.. I digress). Make it into Indian Head for much needed tea and muffin, blowdrying our gloves and socks (and my wet behind when no one's looking) in the Esso washroom. We book it during a sunny lull but of course I get a flat.

Can't find the hole, so walk to nearby Shell (good luck for once?) and sort it out, then leave to a cloudy afternoon. I entertain myself by replaying every single mix I've ever heard or played in my head.. of course compressed with my attention span that takes less than 2 hours, from the Roots to euphoric trance - to my frustration Billie Jean keeps butting in. sigh. We go slow into head and crosswinds and try to outrun the rain into Grenfell. Unsuccessful, we find a school to crash behind. I need a shtick to kill time, the way G pretends he's a WWII fighter pilot gunning down ze Germans as he swarms by.

Day 22
Short trip to Regina with Guillaume and Aviva, where we decide to take a half-rest-day. I shave. After haggling over the cheapest dirtiest motels and the reasonable (but still for us pricey) accomodations we go for mediocre all-you-can-eat 'Chinese' buffet. Fried chicken is their forte I think. Unknown rolls and dumplings and I eat 3 bowls of ice cream. Regina reminds me of Kelowna - but also a bit of Oxford Street in London (ON) with large, imposing residential lots right on the main road. It isn't a large town though. We kick back and catch the hilarious Kung Fu Hustle.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The last 2 weeks (+ Days 10-13 w/ Collin Cureatz)

Day 21
We start out early, having camped with the Mtl duo - they say they want to take it easy (Van to Mtl) but we have a good pace into tough diagonal headwinds. Sideways drafting. 40km, break. 40km, lunch - saskatoon pie and deep fried cheesecake! (guess who). An easy and for once bearable afternoon, easy cruising the rest into Moose Jaw. A day of about 130km and we celebrate our first and last full day together with an amazing red thai curry pork with veg on rice. Some great conversation and learning about the Quebecois infrastructure. We're all happy about the group dynamic again. Tm we'll cycle to Regina together where they will rest for a day - we intend to truck it. Winnipeg by Thursday (5 days) - Dryden in a week. Cooler weather, it might rain soon, but still gorgeous. Photos coming soon (G's camera has the only ones of us with Collin), take care everyone.

Day 20 (new buddies)
The mac/cheese is surprisingly decent. on the road 730, an hour or two in we're doing great, some tail winds and doing 25kph+ on some flats and gentle rolling inclines. All of a sudden Goran is possessed starts cranking out 35-40kph. My legs can't keep up, its an awesome first. I think he did some X instead of anti-inflams today. We hit Swift Current by noon, 133km in 4.5 hrs (Wow). Meet a friendly young Mtl couple also cycling, Aviva and Guyom (sp? sorry guys) at the Timmy Hos. About our age. They give us some campground advice and we agree to meet them later on in Herbert, 40km away. Its' 39 degrees today ouch. I can't believe these two did the Coquihalla in the rain... sick. Also, if G's speed is a new thing we can make crazy time the next little while.

Day 19
Mass at 9am so we're up at 6am. On the road quickly but fatigue sets in - we stop early at a campground near Maple Creek, having cross the border triumphantly. The bugs here are indefatigable, horseflies tearing off flesh chunks with fearless abandon. We go to a nearby motel in the middle of nowhere for a celebratory beer, see a quartet of cyclists coming the other way avging 170km/day. Watch a horrid movie at the 'bar.' Get a burger and talk to Mom for the first time. At the campground, 3 free showers each, we might be taking advantage. We have no food either so buy cookies and snack bars for $5 a piece in desperation and leave a double mac/cheese sitting overnight for a quick morning exit.

Day 18 (happy July 4!)
After some hilarity and drying out of our things, we go to hilly Medicine Hat (110km) to watch Transformers. Lots of staring at back tires and the road, hay fever that evokes multiple sneezes which threaten to knock me into traffic. G and I go down a crazy hill in the city with an unexpected bend and both almost die in oncoming traffic- our brakes basically don't work. Not the smartest move. Disappointed by the movie and G's lost cell phone we camp out again this time behind a Catholic church.

Day 17 (begin again / waterfights shouldn't be one-sided)
Up at 530 to get the incomparable Alex to the airport, she's made us Nutella / strawberry crepes. We've eaten nonstop in Calgary and been encouraged to as well. We are bailing on the Saskatoon plan and taking 1 to Swift Current, to hopefully stay with Mike Bailey's sister. Not that they haven't done enough but SJ's mom has a family cabin in Dryden, ON - unbelievable how amazing these people are!

A quick but not fun goodbye and we're off at 7am from the city limits (courtesy of a ride from SJ) - make good time before getting destroyed by the heat after a crepe lunch. Finally pull into Brooks, a respectable 170km day and an elderly man named Schmidt donates a couple bucks to the cause. Its nice out so we get permission to camp out on the lawn behind the church. Sunny out so I leave my stuff outside and the tent cover off. We fill water from the sprinklers.

Middle of the night - a blitzkrieg of water storming in my tent. Goddamn sprinklers. Screaming like a little girl I frantically pull the cover over my tent, pelted with hailing water every 5 seconds. We're both set up right on top of the heads almost. Although my tent and I are soaked, I try to sleep. PATPATPATPATPAT
An hour or eons later it stops. In the morning, before we get up. PATPATPATPAT
F*** we're trapped. I tell G to wait it out while I rearrange my wet clothes pillow. A deluge of accumulated water floods into my tent, ripping open the taped-up bear hole in my cover. The night is over.

Day 16
We are going ahead tm with the trip (nobody would have wanted it any other way) so gotta get stuff done. Hang out downtown on 17th Ave - walk the Red Mile, chow down on elk/boar burgers, ice cream, talk to Manny and Arash on the phone. Almost seems normal. Marcelo makes an amazing thai pasta, the exclamation point on a day in which I've visited the greatest used bookstore ever. Watch Beijing Bicycle, a poignant but awkwardly slow and inppropriate considering (even the 2nd time). Good decision there, me.

Day 15
We spend Canada Day kicking around - reading and eating. Already tension is starting to ease a bit. The numbness doesn't feel so numb. Play some ball with the others in a neighbour's driveway helps, and Marcelo's first ever trip to Tim Hortons. Watch a weird NY movie, Love Ludlow. A better day.

Day 14
Some very kind people (Pam and Peter) get us to the police station, where we unfortunately hear about other recent tragedies in the area. We get lunch and a lift to Calgary where the amazing SJ and her mom Melissa and SJ's boyfriend Marcelo take us in with open arms. A ride to the airport for a surprise (not edible this time) - Alex (G's girlfriend) is here! Everyone is considerably happier. We get drunk and pig out.

Day 13 (June 29)
As usual Collin's first up to boil water (for us too just like every day). He doesn't hassle us to wake - just says "you up?" then I "mm" and go back to sleep. Awhile later I hear its 745 or 830 and stumble out. I think he put bananas in his oatmeal.. genius.We roll out late but push hard to Banff. Whenever he stops for water or whatever we keep going - but he tells us to - catches up pretty easily but not so much today, we're cruising at 35kph. Collin's impressed since he actually has to huff and puff for once. He's the safest cyclist though - even coming down from Rogers Pass he was chilling out, just marvelling at our speed, idiotically blazing our way down the mountain.

Looong Safeway stop in Banff. Kids in a candy store, we never learn that its good to eat before doing groceries. We're in there for over half an hour easily. A lunch to feed nations, G's jumbo Irish stew and my jumbo chili and banana and nectarines and chocolate milk and frosted croissant. For once I've got something to offer Collin (who's always sharing his everything from veg to nuts, whatever) and he makes this super chili/cheese/ham sandwich. G passes out on the grass and we relax, Collin goes back to Safeway for more of those dried fruits. I think our gluttony may be contagious.

We laugh at comatose G on the grass and take a couple photos, finally rolling out, prompted by a passerby cyclist asking about winds. H's going from Argentina to Alaska - wow, 2.5 years on the road? He's Dutch maybe. So we leave about 330pm and I lead out for maybe 25 min into tough headwinds (uncommon) feeling like garbage from lunch. He goes by me and I mumble

"Guess that's the wind he was talking about"
"Yeah its almost not worth fighting"

But he does, and he blazes past me. I glance down, then see a bus pull over, hazards blinking. I wonder how I will pass it. He was 200 - 400m ahead, only 30 seconds before I saw him again.

These were his last moments with us.

Day 12
Super climb out of Golden. Huge bridge being built on the new highway about 100 ft above us, a spectacle. Got into Field for late lunch and border clarification before the nauseating anticipation of a horrid climb (according to our map book) to Lake Louise over 30km. I decide to take it easy and kick it in the back w/ G going 8kph. Collin of course zooms ahead out of sight. 16km later we hit the Alta. sign, photos all round (on G's camera). Thought I lost my camera after, mini freakout session. Sick of canned food, maybe KD phase next. We should be finished w/ mountains soon, some coasting hopefully.

Day 11
Woke up early, on the road by 930. Pushed pace since Collin's a cyclist - definitely the toughest day I've started. Even Goran was cruising fast and we did over 20km/hr through the hills. Climbed the 800m to touristy Rogers Pass, after which my legs died. We took a nap and pigged out. Following that - a slick downhill on sketchy shoulder for 20 km hitting speeds of 70kph+ including a scary tunnel/shed with no lights. Danger Zone playing in my head the whole time. Then more ugly climbing. Legs tired and trying not to crash so cursing myself 1) for eating all the chocolate and 2) overexerting - got nothing to prove here!? Today I'm paying for it. At the end we trudge into Golden, 150km in 7hrs. Great stuff. At the campground Collin registers and says he has a surprise for us. Being facetious I ask if its edible, which he affirms. I feel like a douchebag. Turns out to be a bag of marshmallows and a stack of firewood, our first on the trip!

We enjoy the fruits of our day and a couple Sleemans Honey Brown. Crash hard b/c tm is another 800m climb over 88km to Lake Louise. Fight nostalgia, enjoy the now, there's no other obstacles around besides the mental. It's great that Collin's here to push us. I hope G + I make it through the end of this trip together, when we set foot in Alta. I'll know we'll do it.

Day 10
Start off behind town hall in Mara, 21km before Sicamous. Sullen quiet morning as usual w/o showers or water. We do catch the Last Spike spot for lunch, where the CPR was finished in 1885. No shades (broken) so dust is an annoyance, read more of the Hesse... not sure where its trying to go. Made it to Revelstoke and gargantuan food shopping. At the Lamplighter campground in the evening met Collin from just outside Toronto, doing a solo ride cross-country so will ride w/ him for a bit. Share a bottle of Obikwa and food and aside from being a well-mannered guy he seems educated and fit so nice to have another dynamic in the mix. On the rides not much going on in my head - I get upset every time I seem to ditch G on the road because its like a reflection on myself. But I will win the mental battle.

Monday, July 2, 2007

"It's good to set a goal."

You loved chili with a kick,
Nerds and runts and dried apricots.
You tried to teach me how to attack hills by 'resting' on your toes
Letting gravity do all the work.
You loved to appreciate
Sharing anything you had.
You always boiled water for us
Made tea and hot chocolate
Surprised us with marshmallows and firewood.
You said don't worry
It all evens out.
You liked taking photos of other people
Rarely of yourself.
You were intelligent, at ease,
A pleasure to be around
With no end of manners.
You quietly brought out the best in us at a time
We were questioning our own purpose and ability.
You were an example of a beautiful human being,
So beautiful that I feel ashamed to still be here instead.
My last words to you were about the difficult winds
You replied - "Almost not worth fighting" -
While zooming by
Driven by a supernatural motivation
But you did fight and you did win
And that is how you will be remembered.

We ride for you.

RIP Collin Cureatz
May (?) 1984 - June 29 2007

Sunday, July 1, 2007

hey. calgary, day 14.

we are here. resting a bit - for reasons I can't get into right now its been the toughest two days of our lives, but thankfully we are at the wonderful SJ's house now.. Alex flew in to surprise G tonight which really put a positive spin on things. I'll also catch up with the last week soon (here probably until the 3rd at least)

I uploaded photos from my camera here (in reverse chronological order)

Happy Canada Day and tell your family and friends how much you love them.
Be safe everyone =)

Monday, June 25, 2007

quickie - day 8/9

Woke up in Osoyoos yesterday and made a beelien for Penticton, my old stomping grounds. Real easy ride, its changed a lot in 10 years. Took a photo by my old junior high school, went back to the Wal-Mart (theee hangout)... its pretty funny the looks I get stumbling to checkout with a load of chocolate bars spilling over, plus I'm picking the ones with the most calories (Oh Henry! at a whopping 320 cals and Mr Big at 310 by far the best)

We then went to Kelowna during a rainstorm and hoped Vlada's old friends would come through for us on short/no notice. Finally they got home from a camping trip, and were the most amazing hosts (Bratzo + Antonka). They fed us enough food in 2 meals for 2 weeks, and set us up in their trailer which was luxurious comfy. So me and G had our own beds last night. I've eaten way too much. We're going to Sicamous now just stopping off in Enderby.

ITs funny how little goes through your head on the road, most of the time its the next meal (chocolate bar or can of beans, mabe eggs?) or its the chafing shorts. Today after 2 hrs I realized I had both my top and my shorts on backwards which explains the pain. Trying to get into this Magister Ludi by Herman Hesse.

Calgary in a week or so. Hope the magic knee fairy comes tonight to heal G b/c in a couple days we're doing Revelstoke--Golden--Banff. (the last couple days doing about 130km, we're trying to push for 110+ avg)

Monday Funday!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Day 6-7

Sorry no photos yet, this computer is ghetto and I'm just trying to hammer these out before the time runs out. I ruined the day by burning 12 eggs for breakfast. Said goodbye to the RV camp owner Steve and his wife Dori and climbed a significant amount of hills again, passing several Ironman trainees on the way - before coasting downhill into Osoyoos in the face of wind that threatened to blow us off our bikes at any moment. Staying the night in another RV park, its pretty funny how we're always the only tenters. Osoyoos is beautiful, laid out in the valley and perfect for windsurfing. G went to a doctor who prescribed more of the same meds we already got. Need the rest.

Change of plans. No more #3. We should have always taken the #1. Anyway now we're going up 97 to Penticton then Kelowna, to hit Banff before going thru Calgary. No Cranbrook and no insane 1700m climb Salmo to Creston.

Pics coming soon. We're doing ok just a little burned but we just got a magnetic chess set (Sweeeet) and some really cheap wine (is it illegal to be drunk at 10am?). Have a good week guys.

Day 4-5

Long day, biked from 10 until 730 in the evening. Climbed to the summit of Manning Park, 1342m to camp. More beautiful weather and gorgeous views. 2 flat tire in a row for me within 30 minutes.

Next day made it all the way downhill Manning Park into Princeton, a truly insane downhill bend where we're just ripping past cars and holding on for our lives. The brake wear on my back tire, of course, resulted in another flat just as we got into town. G got a new seat, I got a new tire (this back tube is patched like Frankenstein), then after a long lunch we biked towards Keremeos, stopping in ghost town Hedley for a pint (2 in my case) served by a Briton. 8am to 8pm ride made for some up and down emotions but when we pulled into an RV park in Keremeos, the owner turned out to be Croatian so he hooked us up for free. Great guy.. Its ridiculously windy here.

Day 3

Started the morning off in nowhere on the highway woken up by several strange voices outside our tent. We'd been warned by a reserve patrolman that we were in a high crime zone so... in the middle of the night I heard steps and promptly jumped out of the tent knife and light in hand which was wonderful considering I'm completely blind without contacts. Biked 40 min to Chilliwack to get a new inner tube for G's bike at Ed's. Beautiful ride, gorgeous weather. Made it into Hope where a man passing by struck up a conversation.

He ended up offering to by us dinner, Dick, a high school principal from Nunavut with no shortage of tales about basketball, native kids and life in the North. Great guy, and a wonderful random act of generosity. Did you know starting wages for teachers there is $75,000 (plus $20,000 for living costs)? Maybe I'll go do that.

Day 1-2

So on the first day we leave Jericho at 230 pm and try to illegally walk across the port mann bridge but are busted, so we have to walk backwards on the highway. Then we accidentally circle Coquitlam to waste a good 25km. Then I get my first (of many!) flats. Camp out in Maple Ridge at 88km cycled and dark.

Next day is our first long inclince near Mission and almost die. But, coming straight down for 5-8 minutes is amazing and ripping around bends at 70kph. Our odometers both stop working shortly after. Roll into Agassiz and promptly pop G's tire via overinflation. There's no bike shop here and its late so we set up camp behind an abandoned restaurant (ends up being on a Native Reserve) where we spend the night jumping at shadows in fear of having all our gear stolen.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Eve of

After an injury here and a postponement or three there its 12 hrs to the moment. My bike has gear issues, which I attempted to fix at a shop today with only minimal effectiveness. I took it to another place where a mechanic gave me a free tuneup... 50 feet after leaving the shop my chain started skipping like mad and jumped off the cassette.

Friendliness doesn't equate to competence.I'll get it fixed at the end of tomorrow or Monday in Mission. G's tire valve also broke tonight, which will get replaced in the morning.

At least we're starting the trip off with no delusions of precision. The delayed start time even means there might be time for Goodbye Party part 3 tonight... see how that tequila feels when on the Trans-Canada Highway at 2pm tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


My buddy Goran and I are cycling from Vancouver, BC to St. John's, Nfld leaving June 9th - to fundraise for the Canadian Cancer Society. Check out the website at www.wheeltoheal.com or make a donation here http://www.kintera.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=222680&lis=0&kntae222680=27E2A0F53CE942369A7F0FE22D09A9B9&team=1829098