Day 30: Mattawa to Pembrooke

Where I'm writing this from: motel in Pembrooke

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 7 to 5
Total time riding: 6 hrs 47 min
Distance: 148.3 km
Ascent: 2929 ft
Descent: 3342 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 4649.5 km
Touring cyclist count: 12
Days to St. John's: less than 20...maybe less than 15??

I'll cut right to the chase today and skip over the details of the hours of on and off rain and headwinds I faced today.

Today will be remembered for one reason: Lino! Lino is the 35 year old Quebec cyclist who I first met this morning, about 40km into my ride, while I was stopped at an RV Park office at the side of the road preparing for the rain that I expected (and was right) to come in a matter of minutes. He rode up to me and said something in French which I did not understand (on a side note, of the 8 French cyclists I met 7 spoke English fluently, which has seriously made me feel inadaquate- I mean it! I want to learn French) and we introduced ourselves and decided to head off together. Lino is the first cyclist to catch me- about time! He left Vancouver on June 4, 3 days after me, though he has only taken one rest day and I have taken 3. So yes, he is, although narrowly, travelling faster than me. After riding (read: trying to keep to his pace) with him for the day I can definitely say that he is a better cyclist than me. He likes to cadence around 15 rpm more than me, making his heart do more of the work than his muscles as he told me. Though even in much lower gears than me he gets the job done let me tell you.

This day is really all about Lino, who turned what would have been one of the gloomiest days of the trip into one of the most enjoyable. We rode about 30 km in the rain before our first stop, at a gas station where we ate. We then took off in dry weather, which quickly turned to rain, and headed for Deep River, some 40 or so km away. I had trouble keeping to his pace, especially because of all the gas in my stomach and so I watched Lino slowly disappear. Not knowing if I would see him again, upon finally making it into Deep River, I saw him walk toward me as I was slowly biking through the town (which is based all along the highway). It turns out he wasn't just stopping to eat, but he was waiting for me! (as he told me with a smile/grin on his face...time is of the essence for the both of us).

With that gesture of support and kindness I quickly ate a sub at Subway and Lino and I headed out. By then I already had plans to stay in Pembrooke, so I had about 50 km left, while Lino, wanting to get as close to Ottawa as possible to arrive early for the Canada Day festivities, wanted to do another 30 to 50 beyond me,

This part of the ride was neat. The rain more or less was gone (I stress more or less) but we did face a strong headwind. It was neat because for the first time in my short cycling career I was drafting- Lino showed me the ropes. Now I know all the hand signs and can more or less draft properly. Lino was leading most of the time, and watching him attack that wind at a fearless 24km/h reinforced the fact that he was a much stronger cyclist than me.

About 15 km to Pembrooke Lino had a change of heart and he decided to come stay in the same motel as me in Pembrooke. I introduced him to my parents and Rob and Sandra and the 4 guys (Rob, my dad, Lino and I) went out for dinner together and had a great time. There Lino elaborated on his 3 previous major cycling tours- the last one being a ride from Miami to Montreal along the coast (which he did in April and May of this year), and the other 2 being in Scotland and Finland.

Tomorrow Lino and I will head for Ottawa around 7, where he is planning a rest day. I hope to make it farther than Ottawa, which is completely reasonable if it wasn't for the continued rain we are expected to get. The question now is not will it rain, but how bad will it be? Lino is finishing his trip in Montreal by the way.

That's it. A great day all in all.

Glad to have met you Lino and am looking forward to tomorrow,

PS. All the blogs should be accessible in the next few days for anyone who may have missed a few of the earlier ones

Day 29: Sudbury to Mattawa

Where I'm writing this from: motel on the Ottawa River with a beautiful view

Today's Numbers
Total time travelling: 7:15 to 5:45
Total time riding: 7 hrs 50 min
Distance: 194.6 kms
Ascent: 2430 ft
Descent: 2908 ft

Trip's Numbers
Distance: 4501.2 km
Total time riding: 224 hrs 48 min
Average speed: 20 km/h
Touring cyclist count: 11
Average daily distance (not including rest days): 173.1 km
Average daily distance (including rest days): 155.2 km
Average daily time riding: 8 hrs 40 min
Longest day by distance: Day 20, Nester Falls ON to Atikokan ON, 247.6 km
Longest day by time riding: Day 16, Brandon MB to Winnipeg MB, 11 hrs 50 min (this was the headwind day where I hitched a 35 km ride)
Shortest day by distance: Day 4, Griffin Lake BC to Rogers Pass BC, 99.2 km
Shortest day by time riding: Day 22, Thunder Bay ON to Nipigon ON, 5 hrs
Most hilly day: Day 23, Nipigon ON to Marathon ON, 5548 ft (funny it's not in the Rockies but remember this one depends on where you start and stop your day, so there is some luck involved)
Least hilly day: actually a dead tie between Day 13 and Day 14, both in Saskatchewan from Moose Jaw to the border, 659 ft (this one has much less luck involved simply because there is no doubt that this part of Saskatchewan is the flatest part of the Prairies- indeed of all of Canada)
Fastest day: Today! 24.7 km/h
Slowest day: Day 5 (also the shortest day by distance, no surprise), 15.2 km/h

Other notes:
Most popular food choices:
- Subway ($5.65 gets you cold cut sub with about as much toppings as you want, or in my case, as my stomach can handle)
- Tim Hortons muffins ($5.20 gets you 6 muffins, which are great for stocking up on for breakfast the next morning if you are leaving early and most places are closed)
- club sandwiches, burgers and fries (at restaurants)
- PowerBars, Vector bars, Nature Valley granola bars, bananas (for food I keep on me)
- ice cream and Snickers bars at gas stations for a quick fix

Interesting wildlife seen:
- 4 bears (all Black bears), all on different occasions (and days), 2 in BC and 2 in Ontario, 1 was crossing the road ahead of me, the others were all at the side of the road
- 1 caribou
- 1 moose
- 1 mountain sheep
- 2 mountain goats (same occasion)

There are a few more trip details for you. I'll have a page dedicated to all my stats and quirky facts when I'm done the trip. Also, I'll upload all my pictures then too. I've taken hundreds so far and have some good ones I'd say.

As for today, well if you read the beginning you know today was my fastest day, meaning my daily average speed was the highest it's been all trip (at 24.7 km/h)- so that says it all; today was very successful.

I managed to beat the rain that hit Sudbury around 8am and held my lead on the eastward moving system for most of the day. It wasn't until 5 km east of North Bay that my luck ran out and I got wet. It only lasted about an hour and I dried quickly because of how blue the skies were past the dark clouds I left behind. Rather than get out my rain gear on on the side of the road, I pulled into a small garage where two young mechanics were working away. I'm getting so used to being out on the road and interacting with people- kind people who are very supportive of what I'm doing- that I've become incredibly comfortable with doing things like this on a whim- riding my bike right into the garage bay door and sort of nonchalantly saying 'hey guys I'm biking across Canada and got caught in the rain, just need to put my rain gear on', for which the typical response is 'sure no problem'. That was the case here. I elaborated a bit more on what I was doing and was entertained by the taunting one guy was giving the other guy. (Guy #1: "I told you you should have put body washers on those bolts". Guy #2: "Shut up, man!".

So today was flat and fast with an hour of rain. It was also the second day with my parents and Rob and Sandra. Today we ate dinner at the motel restaurant, which was fine. The 4 of them have quickly caught on to how big my appetite is on this trip so they all know the pertinent dinnertime questions: what does Chris want for an appetizer, do I have any left over food to give Chris, and what does Chris want for dessert. Meanwhile they might be thinking: this little runt is costing me a fortune! (Rob and Sandra- I joke! Mom and Dad...)

Anyway, the 4 of them did pick a great motel to stay at tonight. It's right on the water (Ottawa River) and it's just a very scenic and cozy place. We got some great pictures by the water at sunset.

Tomorrow looks like more rain. I'd like to be on the road at 6 tomorrow, weather permitting, but writing this gigantic blog has kept me up quite late (all on my BlackBerry...!)

Time to sign off. Oh yeah, it looks like we'll be going through Ottawa on Canada Day. Funny how that worked out.


Day 28: Rest Day #3 in Sudbury

Well thanks to the kind gentleman working behind the desk at this motel (and he's only filling in for the owner for 2 days), I've been able to accomplish many of my errands from the comfort of the motel and so have not had to travel around Sudbury in the rain.

I started off by doing all my laundry in the basement of this place where they clean the linens and towels. That was huge because I don't know what I would have done otherwise. I probably would have had to have a super long shower with some soap I would have got at the nearest Shoppers.

Next I talked him into using the computer (for which I have been on for over an hour) right behind the front desk. Here I was able to send some emails (including the next 2 pictures of my message), write the last two blogs, transfer pictures from my camera to my portable disk drive, among other things. I'm very lucky to have gotten the help from this man. It's not 12 noon yet and already I'm nearly done everything. This brings back the meaning of rest in rest day because I should most of the remainder of the day to simply rest. There is a Subway (no surprise!) and a Tim Horton's (from which I also have had a great deal of muffins from over the course of my trip) nearby, so I can wander to those two places when I feel hungry.

My parents and two of their friends (Rob and Sandra) made it to the motel around 2pm. They rode through hours of rain riding from Mississauga to Sudbury via HWY 69 and so were happy to change some clothes, check in their rooms (at the lovely Canadiana Motel) and relax for a while.

Rob and Sandra and my parents will be accompying me for the next week (probably until Friday) on their motorcylces, staying in the same places as me at night. This means I a) get company from some familiar faces for the next 5 days and b) can have a little more extravagant meals for dinner since they are (thanks mom and dad and Rob and Sandra) footing the bill and my fundraised money is not. Tonight I had my first steak of the trip. Subway is good, but steaks are better.

The 5 of us also had a memorable trip on the taxi ride home from dinner, where we were graced by the chaotic driving habits of a taxi-driver who was more than happy to voluntarily share a few of the stories she has accumulated from driving a taxi in Sudbury. Luckily, despite a cell phone call and the worst city roads I have seen yet, our driver didn't kill us and we made back in one piece.

Rain appears to be the story for the next few days in Ontario. If the forecasts are right, I (and my parents and Rob and Sandra) are in for a few wet days ahead, but that could just as well not happen. If my luck so far has anything to do with it, maybe I can avoid the showers. I haven't had a full day of rain yet, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed tonight.

My next stop is Mattawa, about a 200km ride from Sudbury.

I'm Looking forward to Quebec and the maritimes. Being on the latter half of the trip, I'm beginning to picture myself riding into St. John's. What a feeling that will be.

Thanks for reading and your continued interest in my little adventure across Canada,

Day 27: Blind River to Sudbury

Where I'm writing this from: the front desk computer of the motel I'm staying at (this is the computer behind the desk- they're letting me use it)

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 9-7:30
Total time riding: 7hrs 25 min
Distance: 164.2 (anything less than 175 feels like nothing now!)
Ascent: 1749 ft
Descent: 1784 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 4306.6 km
Subway sandwich count: lots + 1

I started the day with another sub from Subway and then made for Sudbury, where I would take my third rest day and my fifth picture of Chris' Message at the giant nickel.

Today was fairly uneventful. The weather was very nice. Any day without rain or a strong head wind is a good day of weather in my books. To think that I haven't got a full day of rain yet is pretty incredible. The wind has also been pleasant since those 3 long days in the Prairies heading into Winnipeg. This has really raised my expectations about my daily mileage and speed. When you get a string of days of good weather, 20km/h- a more than satisfactory speed in rain or wind- is now no good. Instead I'm looking to do something in the 22-25km/h range on good weather days.

Speaking of weather, Sudbury is going to be hit with rain for the next 2 days. This might mean beginning Monday in the rain.


Day 26: Batchawana Bay to Blind River

Where I'm writing this from: motel in Blind River

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 8:20 to 7:45
Total time riding: 9 hrs
Distance: 209.4 km
Ascent: 2562 ft
Descent: 2687 ft

Trip's Numbers
Distance: 4142.4 km

If you compare these numbers to yesterday's you can get an idea of how influential even the slightest of winds and hills can be. Both days I biked for 9 hrs but today I travelled about 35 kms further. I didn't have a tailwind all day- the wind was actually blowing all over the place today- but overall it was much friendlier today.

So tonight I'm in Blind River, the first place other than Calgary that I have been to before. Yes, when I was 8 I played in a hockey tournament here and I have always remembered this place- well at least its name. I actually visited the hockey rink when I got here (Blind River is a town of 3400 so there is definitely only one rink- "just turn left at the only set of lights and you'll see it" were the directions I got when I asked).

I also got in another paper today (my third one). This one was the Sault Star, whose office, much to my liking, turned out to be very close to the WalMart I was in today buying some small things (including my fourth spray bottle of sunscreen). The reporter who was assigned to me turned out to be a 2nd year Westen student who was working at the Sault Star as a summer job.

Anyway, with that done I had about 130 km to Blind River and it was fairly uneventful. Traffic came to a stop about 8 km away from Blind River because of a tractor trailer that went into the guardrail. I'm mentioning this only because it's the first crash I've seen yet. Not bad.

Tomorrow I have a relatively easy 165 km to Sudbury where, to facilitate the meeting of my parents, I will take rest day #3. My clothes could use a proper wash, my hair could use a cut, I need to go through some mail from home, I need to pick up a spare tube, my bike chain and drive unit could use a clean- so it should be productive rest day (or errand day). My legs are doing absolutely fine, as is my overall health, so in that regard a rest day is not all that necessary at this point.

Thanks for reading. St. John's in no time!


Day 25: Wawa to Batchawana Bay

Where I'm writing this from: lodge in beautiful Batchawana Bay

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 9:20 to 8:30
Total time riding: 9 hrs
Distance: 173.6 kms
Ascent: 3855 ft
Descent: 4520 ft

Trip Numbers:
Distance: 3933 km (4000 mark tomorrow)

I woke up today feeling very tired and while lying in bed contemplated taking the day off. I eventually decided against it and seeing as it was around 9 o'clock I knew I couldn't make it to Sault Ste. Marie but I thought I would just go as far as I could. With that decision made I left my room, ate at Subway, and was off.

Today was very scenic. Lake superior has been nothing but gorgeous. It reminds me very much of the Rockies. I stopped for lunch around the 100 km mark and upon asking around, found a place to stay here in Batchawana Bay.

Things flattened out nicely over the last 40 km. I arrived at the waterfront lodge I was staying at and was met by a friendly owner who gave me the room for half price and also offered to give me a free breakfast tomorrow. He said he wished he could do more but that right now he gets at least one cyclist a week riding across the country for some sort of cause. Michael Jackson also died today.


Day 24: Marathon to Wawa

Where I'm writing this from: motel room in Wawa

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 9:15 to 7:30
Total time riding: 8 hrs 20 min
Distance: 187.4 kms
Ascent: 2970 ft
Descent: 3431 ft

Trip Numbers:
Distance: 3759.4 kms
Touring cyclist count: 10

Today was more or less smooth sailing. I rode through some early morning fog and was in White River not before long for lunch.

On my way there I met 2 different groups of cyclists, each in pairs. The first were two young guys, around my age, that started in Halifax on May 22. They were raising money for the Ronald McDonald House and went about it all in the same way I did; they created their own charity called Crossing Canada for Kids ( and have raised around 10,000 dollars so far with more to come from sponsors when they finish. It was neat to meet two guys doing nearly the same thing as me. I took a picture with them (as I have done with all the touring cyclists I've met) and rode on.

Not long after that, I met another pair of east to wast riders (Quebec to Vancouver). Luckily they spoke English fluently and we were able to talk about our trips thus far and what lies ahead- the latter being particularly useful because of our opposite directions. They were also young- 22-26 I would guess.

As you've read lots by now, I really enjoy meeting cyclists. There is an unspoken comraderie and respect we each have for eachother and it's a great way to compare experiences and trip notes.

After eating in White River, which is dead smack in the middle of Marathon and Wawa, I caught a nice tail wind for 2 hours out of the 4 I had left. Boy are tailwinds fun. It had me in such a good mood.
Not too much to say after that. I ran into some more heavy fog into Wawa. Also, the forecast for tomorrow is not looking good. I'm hoping to do about 230 km tomorrow to Sault St. Marie and rain won't help...

Having fun and taking lots of pictures to share with you all when I'm done,

Day 23: Nipigon to Marathon

Where I'm writing this from: the cafe of the motel across the street from my motel

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 7:45 - 9:30
Total time riding: 9hrs 30min
Distance: 185.9 km
Ascent: 5548 ft (500 ft more than my previous high)
Descent: 6226 ft (1000ft more than my previous high)

Trip Numbers:
Cumulative distance: 3572.0 km
Touring cyclist count: 8
Subway sandwich count: very high!!

I'm writing this on the morning of day 24, so I have to be quick because today I have to make 180km to Wawa. Today (yesterday) I woke up and rode through about 20km of heavy fog- the heaviest I have ever seen. I put both front and rear lights on my bike and was took extra care when cars and trucks passed me. I soon passed the fog and had some long hills to climb. As you can see by the numbers today, today involved the most climbing I have done yet. Reflecting on this fact, I think I must be in better shape/more used to the mileage now because although today felt long and I climbed more than 500ft over my previous high in the mountains in BC, I was not totally overwhelmed by all this climbing at all. I just kept pushing forward, not completely aware of all the climbing I was doing.

The obvious thing to be said about the north shore of Superior is that it is very beautiful. I got some great views of the lake from atop all the hills I climbed. Another thing I noticed was how extremely cold the air was coming off the lake. When I was further inland, surrounded by trees say, it was just plain hot, then I would head toward the shore and the trees would end and I would be forced to put on a long sleeve jersey- it was that cold.

I also met two groups of cyclists today- both going west. The first were two 19 year old Quebec guys. They started from Quebec and were biking to Vancouver. They were camping the entire way and like me made Subway their preferred choice of food. Infact that was where we met, we were both pulling into a Subway to eat around 4pm in Terrace Bay. They had the same panniers as me- Arkel Panniers (made in Sherbrooke, Quebec, so I'm sure it was a natural choice for them) and I gave them some advice on different route options they had from here to Vancouver. In particular I told them to stay off HWY 1 from Winnipeg to Regina. They were a little under prepared in general, telling me they had next to no rain gear with them. They also spoke of a French guy who was biking into Terrace Bay and who I should meet on my way to Marathon. We talked about this over lunch at Subway naturally, and may I say I've never seen someone ask for more toppings on their sub than those two!

It took about 20km for me to meet the French guy they talked about. He was a bit of a character and cracked me up quite a bit. Anyway, he's from France and told me he biked 650km from his hometown to Paris, then took a flight to Montreal and is headed for Vancouver and then LA. He had a lot of gear- the most I have seen anyone one person have yet- and did camping. I took a picture with him (as I did with the Quebec guys) and he gave me his email so I could send it to him. The bugs were really having their way with us where we stopped to talk so we both parted our seperate ways.

I hit another really thick patch of fog the last 30 km into Marathon. It's funny how one minute it was warm and sunny and the next I had my rain jacket on because of how wet the air was. I consider myself lucky that I didn't get any rain today, which I especially feared on the final stretch into Marathon.

I also had the first motel manager tell me I can't bring my bike into the room- so I went across the street and stayed at a different place.


Day 22: Thunder Bay to Nipigon

Where I'm writing this from: Husky restaurant across the street from my motel

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 8:30 to 5:15
Total time riding: 5 hrs
Distance: 107.1 km
Ascent: 1602 ft
Descent: 1799 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Cumulative distance: 3386.1 kms

Today was cut short by rain. I woke up to dark skies, rode 110 km and will go to bed tonight to dark skies.

About 10 km into my ride today, I made it to the Terry Fox memorial statue, which is just off the highway and elevated to give a nice view of Lake Superior and the not too distant Thunder Bay area. There is also a building at the memorial site, to accomodate tourists. I asked the attendant there how many people visit the site each day and she said on a good day in the summer they can get 700 people there. Wow! I took some great pictures by the statue and continued onwards, wondering how long it would take for the rain to start.

It took about half an hour. The spitting turned to an outright downpour and I was stuck in it for at least half an hour. I was looking for the first roof to take shelter and found one in a hostel called the Thunder Bay International Hostel. When I opened the door to the office (aka the kitchen) I was greeted by a kind older lady who immediately got to helping me dry off. She also made some breakfast for me. I spent about an hour there eating and drying off while the rain died down and the sun made some appearances.

Next I stopped at a small and cozy restaurant not far from the hostel. There I met a man who was having coffee. He was very knowledgable about the north shore of Lake Superior. He gave me a warning of some serious hills I will ride up tomorrow. As it turned out, he was also a writer for the Lake Superior News, a publication serving the towns along the north shore of Superior. He asked if he could do a story on me. He grabbed his camera from his car and I gave him some details about bikeformike. It's funny how some things work out.

Anyway, after that I was content to end my day in Nipigon because of the skies that were continuing to darken. I was in good shape until about the last 10km when I knew the rain was coming soon. I was right. After feeling a few big drops on my arms, the skies set a heavy rain down on me. It was pouring and I was caught with no rain gear on and only 10km from Nipigon! Ah! I was lucky though, because I saw an open garage at a house not 50 meters from when I first got wet. An open garage means people are home. I biked nearly right into the garage after seeing someone in the front window of the house and me motioning to them I was going to the garage. A man and his son came out to see me and were happy to help. He was a trucker and knew the roads around Superior well. He also elaborated on some of the hills I will be up against tomorrow. He was a very friendly man. He also had a sister who owned a motel in Nipigon, not a 10 minute bike ride from his house. He said she could help me...and she did! She gave me a discount and here I am, staying at the motel owned by the sister of the man whose garage I took shelter from the rain.

Well, tomorrow will be hard. I hope it doesn't rain. Otherwise those hills are going to feel extra long. Okay my fingers are started to go numb, compliments of this BlackBerry, so that means you'll hear from me tomorrow.


Day 21: Atikokan to Thunder Bay

Where I'm writing this from: hotel lobby in Thunder Bay

Today's Numbers
total time travelling: 9 to 10
total time riding: 10 hrs 30 min
distance: 196.8 km
ascent: 2928 ft
descent: 4027

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 3279.0 km

Well I made it; I got to Thunder Bay in 3 days from Kenora, keeping to my original plan. Today the heat was intense- the humidity I should say. I also made horrible mistake by eating way too much at a gas station (one of probably 2 or 3 I saw all day). I wasn't eating junk food- they had some canned goods I put in the microwave and other grocery type items. But boy oh boy, I felt horrible for at least a good hour and a half after that. Lesson learned. The food and humidty made me so tired I tried knocking on a few cottage doors- to no avail- to ask the owner if I could lie down for a while. I wanted to sleep very badly. I also haven't had a really long sleep (7 hours or more) since my rest day.

My stomach slowly got better and I began to slowly lessen the 100km I had from the lunch stop to Thunder Bay. I faced a slight headwind all day but thank goodness it wasn't too bad.

As I was finally closing in on Thunder Bay (which for the last 20km was pleasantly almost all long down hill, I had a really close and shocking encounter with a german sheppard. There I was going about 30km/h on a slightly down grade when out of nowhere (I didn't hear a thing before this) there is a german sheppard barking and keeping pace with me- his mouth about 4 feet away from my right leg. Yikes!! I immediately looked up to see if there was any on coming traffic and after seeing none swerved away from this crazy canine and into the left lane. Luckily the dog decided that was enough and ended his pursuit.

That's about it. I'm proud to have made it to Thunder Bay today, after making up considerable ground from the short day I had from Kenora to Nestor Falls. I'm actually writing this the morning of day 22 and I need to get going to try and beat the rain they are calling for here.

So it took me 3 weeks- 19 days of riding- to get from Vancouver to Thunder Bay. Cool.

Thanks for reading.


Day 20: Nestor Falls to Atikokan

Where I'm writing this from: motel lobby in Atikokan

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 8:45 - 9:15
Total time diding: 10 hrs 30 min
Distance: 247.6 (longest so far)
Ascent: 3331 ft (looks a little familiar to the mountain days doesn't it?)
Descent: 3473 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 3082.2 km
Touring cyclist count: 7 (saw a pair today, read below)

It's late and I'm pretty beat, but here's the recap of a very productive day of cycling.

My first day with a tailwind!! Finally I had some westerly winds today, reminding me of why I chose to ride west to east. The wind came from the north west for much of the day and was the only reason why I was able to make it to Atikokan today. This puts me back on schedule to be in Thunder Bay tomorrow. I've got a 210 km trip tomorrow, and if the wind is on my side again, this won't be a problem.

So finally I had my first easy day of riding, where looking at the speedometer puts a smile on your face instead of making you angry. My average speed today was 23.5km/h and this was lowered from about 25km/h thanks to an empty stomach and fatigue (mainly the stomach tough) for the last 40km.

Today I also caught up to a pair of trans-Canada cyclists. They were both recently (I'm guessing) retired professors, one in economics, the other I'm not sure. Guess what- they were riding the exact same bike as me! Hah, we all thought that was pretty neat. We took a picture, as usual, and talked about our trips so far. Turns out they started about 2 and half weeks ago from Vancouver and do about 150km a day. Being on such a similar timeline to myself, they also faced the nasty 3 days of southeastern winds coming into Winnipeg, so we talked about that too. They were, as you could imagine, perfect gentlemen. They camp most nights and as a result had quite a bit more gear than me. I told them about how I sent my camp gear home on the second night and they laughed. They also told me how they had lunch with the Sears riders in St. Claude, on that unforgettable long trek into Winnipeg in the wind. After a good 15 minute talk, we took off again and that was that.

When I finally reached Atikokan and chose a motel to stay at, I was disappointed to hear that the restaurant just closed and that there was next to nothing open for food. Being extremely hungry, the lady behind the desk made me to turkey sandwiches from the restaurant (no not for free, but still!).

That's about it. It's 11pm now and I've got a 210 day tomorrow. Looking forward to Thunder Bay and taking a picture beside the Terry Fox statue (not exactly sure where it is, might be on the highway into Thunder Bay from the east, but I'll find out).


Day 19: Kenora to Nestor Falls

Where I'm writing this from: friendly little motel in Nestor Falls

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 8:30 - 5:00
Total time riding: 6hrs 15 min
Distance: 121.3km
Ascent: 2532 ft (hills!!)
Descent: 2777 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 2834.6 km (3k tomorrow)

Today was the first complete day in Ontario and like I was told it would be, it was hilly and humid. I woke up to a dark sky and a forecast calling for thunderstorms in the area. Things were a-okay for about 2 and half hours of riding until the crack of some loud thunder brought down some heavy rain. It poured for about 45 minutes but to be honest, I didn't mind it. It wasn't like the rain I experience just outside of Calgary, where it was so cold the rain just froze you up. Because of today's heat the rain didn't bother me too much. I was also lucky because I was close to Sioux Narrows, a small community that would have a roof for me, so I wasn't too worried about being in the rain for a extended period of time.

After changing socks and getting out of my wet jacket etc. I wanted to hit the road again, knowing I still had a good 100km to get to my destination where HWY 71 turns eastward. As I pulled out of the gas station where I dried myself, guess what- it started raining. This caught me off guard because the skies looked fairly bright. So I biked to the nearest restaurant and sat for lunch. Though the first down pour didn't lower my spirits too much, this one did. I was now considering staying in Sioux Narrows and making today's ride a measly 75 km. I sat eating my club sandwich (#9?) and watched the rain hit the lake outside.

When I left though, the hard rain had once again turned into a drizzle and soon the sun was shining. This gave me some hope. I pulled over and tried the GPS tracker on my BlackBerry- the thing that hasn't worked since Medicine Hat- and it worked too! Boy I was happy. So with that, I made for Nestor Falls, about 40 km away.

The sky was still not completely convincing of holding off rain so I pedalled with some with urgency. The humidty was intense. The entire day was spent going up and down hills, and on some of the extended hills when I'm going to slow to be cooled by any sort of breeze, boy was I HOT.

My schedule had today at about 175km but I fell short. I wasn't up for the extra 50 km today. I have about 450km to Thunder Bay, which is just on the upper threshold of being possible to make it two days. I'm not holding my breath though.

I hope I didn't miss anything else (like the time when I forgot to mention the person I met who was WALKING across Canada.) Ontario so far has been a battle of humidity, bugs and hills and I don't think that will be changing anytime soon.

I did have a look at my live location today on and I zoomed out quite a bit to see all of Canada to get a nice visual reminder of how far I've come. And I must say, I'm doing pretty well! I've cleared 4 provinces!

Tomorrow will be a long day if all goes well. It's supposed to be hot, but no rain I think.


Day 18: Winnipeg to Kenora

Where I'm writing this from: motel in Kenora

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 7:30 to 10 (second longest day, next to the crazy day 17)
Total time riding: 10hrs 30 min
Distance: 214.8
Ascent: 1471 ft
Descent: 1376 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Cumulative distance: 2713.3 km

Well today was long and it's 11:30 now, so this will be quick.

Before I forget, I forgot to mention this on the super long day I had on day 17, but on that day- the day into Winnipeg- I met a retired man in his sixties WALKING across Canada. I have pictures I swear! He was a really nice guy and seemed completely normal to me. He started in February. He made his own rig. It was pretty incredible. He does about 30km a day. It will take him well over a year to finish, and he says he is in no rush. I tried to get an idea if he was a rich eccentric type, but it appeared not. I think he was a blue collared worker, he's married, and he told me it was always something he wanted to do. How about that, eh? He was a very friendly man.

As for today, it was a successful one. I left Manitoba and entered Ontario. I was 'welcomed' into my home province with about 25km of heavy road construction. I would estimate having travelled in at least 150km of construction thus far. It's all part of the deal when you sign up to bike across Canada.

The wind was finally friendly today. There was about an hour of some gusts from the south east that made Kenora look out of reach, but they didn't last long and I was able to make it.

I also got my first flat today, about 10km from stopping! Ouch! I don't think it was a puncture, I think it was the valve ripping off the tube.

Today was the first of a 4 day trip to Thunder Bay. Tomorrow I'm heading down hwy 17 and hope to stay somewhere along the Canada-U.S. border.


Day 17: Rest Day #2 in Winnipeg

Today I rested in Winnipeg after a long trek through the Prairies where I battled winds for the latter half and less than stellar scenery the entire way.

Having some time to reflect on the trip thus far, here are some of my thoughts.

The first 8 days through the Rockies were easier than the next 8 days through the Prairies. This would have been the other way around if it wasn't for the winds I faced head on the last 3 and a half days.

My body is doing extremely well. Aside from my left big toe feeling numb for a lot of day, I have no major health problems. The edges of my ears are pretty beat up from the sun, as are my lips. I've gone through almost two spray cans of SPF 50/60 sunblock and just bought my third bottle moments ago. Also, my bum is holding out quite nicely. I think it's getting used to things now.

I've also been pretty lucky to avoid full days of rain. Tomorrow though, may put an end to that.

The people I've met along way so far have been incredible. Also, I want to thank everyone who is following my progress and reading my daily blogs. Though I sometimes would rather not write them at the end of a long day, it is fun to know that people are following me.

That's about it. I'm about 1/3 through my trip and am looking forward to the challenges Ontario will throw at me.

Time to get my laundry and then back to my room for some down time before bed.

Thanks for reading,

Day 16: Brandon to Winnipeg

Where I'm writing this from: hotel lobby in downtown Winnipeg

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 7:45 - 11:30 (by far the longest day so far)
Total time riding: 11 hrs 50 min (almost 12 hrs sitting on my bike pedalling...)
Distance: 211.2 km
Asent: 1666 ft
Descent: 1805 ft
# of times I yelled outloud at the wind today: many

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 2498.4km (about 1/3 of the way to St. John's!!)
Touring cyclist count: 6
(I'm a little tired of club sandwiches and generally won't be eating at too many restaurants anymore. Subway is my preferred meal. It's quicker, cheaper, and available more often.)

One preliminary: I think I have resolved the problem with my BlackBerry and updating this journal, so I should be able to continue with the daily updates without delay now. The live location tool still won't work. I don't know if there is a problem or if it's just my location. I'll keep looking for solutions.

Well to get right to it, today was insane. Yesterday I wrote about how there is always something to write about, no matter what, and today was no exception. This was by far the most challenging day yet. And not to sound like a broken record, but I owe these lovely 12hrs of riding today to the wind.

I began a little later than I would have liked (because I was up so late wrestling with that silly laptop last night) and headed down to HWY 2, where I would spend the rest of the day on, riding into Winnipeg. Getting to HWY 2, via HWY 10 (which was the road I turned around on yesterday) was not so easy. The clouds were dark, it began to spit (thus forcing me to pullover and put on some rain gear) and there was about 5 km of construction I had to endure. (I did know about the construction from yesterday from people I spoke with). Anyway, eventually I made it to HWY 2, a quiet 2 lane highway that is in reasonably good shape. It too does not have a paved shoulder (Manitoba is not big on paved shoulders people told me), but riding on its road is really no bibig deal because there is so little traffic.

When I stopped to check my phone after getting on HWY 2, I found out, via a voicemail from Damian Brown, that I just missed one of the three groups of the Sears National Ride, (the Sears National ride is a 12 day relay style coast to coast ride to fight childhood cancer, visit, who were about 20 km ahead of me on HWY 2, also heading to Winnipeg. If it wasn't for that construction, I probably would have seen them. I know a few of the Sears organizers, and they have been really helpful with helping me plan my ride, in particular my route. The plan from the outset had been for me and the Sears riders to meet up somewhere along the way and take some photos together. Today, as it turned out, would be that day.

This also reminds me, when I left the hotel this morning, I saw one of the Sears support vechicles in the parking lot. This caught me completely off guard, and I left a note on the windshield that I would be heading along HWY 2 to Winnipeg today.

So there I was on HWY 2, heading east to Winnipeg, some 200km away. The wind was back to it's usual business, blowing from the south east as it had been for the past 2 days. A couple hours later that same van that I saw in the hotel parking lot pulled up beside me and after pulling over, I took some photos with a few of the support volunteers. Two of them were national riders from last year's trip I believe. That would turn out to be the only photos I would get with the Sears people, but at least we got something. It's not easy to coordinate stuff like this and I'm glad I met at least some of them.

The rest of the day was spent simply battling the winds, at times going about 14 km/h for periods of 30 or 45 minutes when I was a little frustrated, and other times going about 18/19 km/h when I was a little more motivated and when the wind died down a bit (which never lasted long).

Around 5pm, I was in St. Claude, some 100 kms from Winnipeg. There was a motel there, and I had to decide between staying there or trying to reach Winnipeg. I had already decided tomorrow would be a rest day (a much deserved one because of the wind I fought for the last 3 days) and ideally I wanted to reach Winnipeg tonight and take a full rest day tomorrow. So I called a hotel in Winnipeg and told them I would be there tonight. Doing the math meant that I would be riding til about midnight, at best. This would mean a few hours of darkness, something I want to avoid and never intend to ride in unless absolutely necessary. Well, I can't say riding in darkness tonight was absolutely necessary, but I was faced with a bit of a unique circumstance because of the rest day I wanted tomorrow and the fact that I had already battled so hard with the wind- in short, I was very set on making it to Winnipeg tonight. So that's where I went. And I made it...with some help.

For one, the winds died down for about an hour, and for the first time since early this morning, I was able to sustain a 20km/h pace. It felt great and reassued me that I made a good decision in trying to reach Winnipeg. But my luck would end and the winds picked back up. Around 10:00, when the darkness began, I realized after all I didn't want to ride for 2 more hours. So I looked for a pickup truck to flag down and ask for about a 35km ride to the outskirts of Winnipeg, where I could finish the day the way it started, on my bike, riding the last 15km or so through rural Winnipeg and into the downtown core. And that's exactly what happened.

A pickup truck with two bicycles in the back going west actually turned around when they saw me and guess what...they were Sears ride along riders!! (These are not the national Sears riders going across the country, but instead some interested cyclists who joined the national riders for a portion of the day, something the Sears people call 'ride along riders'). So there I was, getting a lift with these ride along riders. I talked about how crazy I was to try and make Winnipeg tonight and they dropped me off exactly where I wanted, giving me a safe and well lit ride into Winnipeg- about a 15-20km ride.

So when I say I biked 211.2km today, I really did. The 35 km ride I got (that's how much it was) is not included in that. But yes, I have received a legitimate ride today (remember I sort of 'made up' for the last ride I got) but what can I do?? Not much, really. In 15 days of biking, I've biked 2498.4km and have gotten a ride for 35km. Not bad if you ask me!


Day 15: Moosomin to Brandon

Where I'm writing this from: (originally from) hotel lobby laptop in Brandon, edited in Winnipeg

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 5:30 - 5:15
Total time riding: 8hrs 30 min
Distance: 152.9km
Ascent: 879 ft
Descent: 1058 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 2287.2 km
Club sandwich count: 8
Touring cyclist count: 6

Well this is the third entry I'm writing tonight on this tiny latop in the hotel lobby on a chair that is about 5 inches too short, so my arms are killing me. It's also getting late here, and I still need to eat, but I know many of you check this daily (and am very thankful for that) so I will write this one tonight. Here goes:

(Before that though, you can read the day 13 post to read about why I am not always able to update my position or write a journal entry every day.)

The main thing that comes to mind when thinking about today is the fact that no matter how your day starts, or how you thought it might unfold, there is always some suprise, something either pleasant or not, but always something you weren't counting on. It's kind of a nice little pattern I'm noticing, because it can turn what may start out to seem like just another regular day of cycling, making it from point A to B, (I say regular day, even though I've hardly had many regular days) into something a little more exciting, a little more memorable.

Today again I battled the wind. This wasn't unexpected, but what was was the fact the shoulder on the TC 1 dissapeared into a gravel nightmare about 30 km east of Brandon! To be prefectly fair though, I was told tostay off this road- though I was never explicitly told that it had no paved shoulder- so this wasn't completely out of the blue.

So, after leaving early (as you can see above) and making some great progress in the morning hours, the wind picked up (bigtime!) and again I was left to settle for another slow and unambitious day. When the shoulder disappeared, I was pretty mad (remember, this is all happening with a relentless wind almost blowing me over- who said the Prairies are easy?) and being forced to ride on the edge of the right lane, I had to carefully eye each car/truck in my mirror to make sure they were moving to the left lane when approaching. When I got into Brandon, I asked around and found out that this gravel shoulder continues for much of the way into Winnipeg and hence I know fully understood the reason I was told to stay away off the TC 1 into Winnipeg. (Well, there's no better experience than first-hand experience I say).

So there I was in Brandon, knowing I had to get back down to my original route, along highway 2. And what good fortune I had, because there is a highway that runs right through Brandon that could take me down to HWY 2. (My hotel is actually right off this road.) I considered staying in Brandon for the night, but eventually decided upon trying to head to a small town on HWY 2, some 75km of cycling away. So I started down HWY 10, which is the highway that will take me to HWY 2, which I will then take into Winnipeg, when after about 20 minutes of going 12km/h, I made the one of the best decisions on the trip so far, I turned around! (and immediately was doing 33km/h with the same effort- an example for the non-cyclist of what winds can do).

So, once again, here I am. Each morning you have a plan, a rough blueprint of what you'd like to do that day, and each day you watch yourself slowly get away from the plan, because of things out of your control. This definitely keeps you on your toes and makes writing these journals easy because there is always so much to talk about.

A final note for today: one thing I've not really given enough attention to in these journal entries are the incredibly kind and supportive people I meet, in all sorts of places, each and every day.

Today it was the husband and wife who worked at a wealth management firm that I walked into asking for guidance on the state of the TC 1 shoulder into Winnipeg. They offered some great help and told me they would pass around the bikeformike website to the entire firm. They also offered me a place to stay that night, should I decide to stay in Brandon. Next, it was the couple I met at McDonalds (after deciding to attempt the 75km trip out of Brandon tonight, I needed a quick bite), across the street from this firm I just left. Here, outside the store a gentleman came up to me and told me he worked at a bike shop and asked if I needed any help with my bike or what not. I told him I was fine thanks, and that I was biking across Canada. He, his lovely wife (they were about 35 years old I would guess) and I ate together for the next half an hour and they gave me $10 to pay for (more than) my lunch. Among other things, we talked about the wind in the Prairies, something he told me every cyclist there has to fight constantly. It may not sound like much, and it would take a lot more words to really paint the picture, but the point I'm trying to make is that I've been so pleasantly surprised by the many different people I have met and the support and interest they've taken in what I'm doing. For one final bit of proof of this for today: right after I turned around on HWY 10 and decided to stay the night in Brandon, a road cyclist caught up to me and we talked for the next 10 km back to my eventual hotel. He gave me some local directions to a grocery store and wished me the best of luck. Yet another example of the kindess I am inadvertently receiving.


Day 14: Glenavon to Moosomin

Where I'm writing this from: hotel, watching game 5 of the NBA finals

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 8 to 5:30 (a short day!)
Total time riding: 7 hrs 35 min
Distance: 141.6 km
Ascent: 659 ft
Descent: 857 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 2134.3 km (hit the 2K mark today!)
Club sandwich count: 8
Touring cyclist count: 6

Today reminded me just how devestating the wind can be when cycling. I woke up and looked out the window to see some trees blowing semi-hard from a wind that looked to be coming from the south. I was right. I faced a strong wind from the south/southeast all day, and since I was riding right into it, this meant some frustration and a much slower day than normal.

Today I also made the first major change to my original route. As a result of me being fed up with the roughness of HWY 48 (which I rode on for about half of yesterday too) I decided to head north up to the TC 1 and try my luck there. I was advised by the gentleman who helped plan my route to stay off the the TC 1 from Regina to Winnipeg because it's dangerous, but I desperately needed a break from the incredibly quiet and rough road of HWY 48, so I took a 25 km gravel road up to the TC 1. The gravel road was taken with consideration to the wind; I had a tail wind while on this gravel road and so I was actually able to maintain a 25km/h pace. That's quite something considering my fastest daily average speed thus far has been 23.2km/h.

So after wrestling with the gravel for about an hour (it wasn't fun, but I kept a good pace- and saw many snakes on the road too) I was back on old faithful, TC 1. There, the shoulder was wide and in good shape and the traffic was extremely light. (Maybe it being Sunday affected the truck traffic.)

The rest of the day was spent battling the wind, which really eats away at your patience and morale after a while. I originally wanted to do about 200 kms today and be well into Manitoba, but thought better of making it a long day and took refuge here, stopping my day a little early. It is nice stopping early this like because it gives me a chance to get an early start tomorrow, which I plan on doing. Let's hope for no head winds tomorrow.

I also met and took a picture with an extremely kind and helpful guy at a laundromat. That's it for today. I hope I get a good sleep tonight; I need it.


Day 13: Moose Jaw to Glenavon

Where I'm writing this from: my room, which is above the only bar & grill in Glenavon

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 7:30 to 8:45
Total time riding: 10 hrs 0 min
Distance: 196.2 km
Ascent: 659 ft
Descent: 620 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 1992.7 km
Club Sandwich count: 7
Touring cyclist count: 6

Weather wise, today was identical to the last two days, only a little hotter. The sun was really beaming down on me today, especially on my poor legs. I must have sprayed suncreen on them about 4 times. Because of all that sunscreen on my legs, when the sun started to set and more bugs came out, my legs (and especially the hair on them) seemed to catch all these tiny tiny flying critters by the hundreds. Ditto for my arms, only not as bad. These last few days have brought a new meaning to the word 'scrub' as it applies to showering.

Anyway, to recap the day, here goes. I left Moose Jaw and made for Regina. The two are about 65km apart via HWY 1. Here, I saw many cyclists. I suppose, especially it being Saturday, that this is a common thing for road cyclists to do for a little weekend pedalling.

When I got into Regina I visited the Saskatchewan legislative buildings (after also visiting the Goverment House of Saskatchewan, which I thought were the parliament buildings but I was wrong) and had my picture taken (including pic #3 of my 'message') taken by the mother of a family from Vancouver that were seeing Canada by car. As are about 99.9% of people I've met so far and spoken with, they were all very interested and supportive of my trip.

I then headed out of Regina, along HWY 1, where I said goodbye to HWY 1 when I left it and headed south east along HWY 48. I took 48 all the way to Glenavon, which is a tiny town of a few hundred people tops, I would guess. (I don't expect anyone reading this to have ever heard of Glenavon or some of the other small towns I mention.) I was planning on staying in Kipling, which is another 45km from here, but that would have meant riding for another 1.5 hrs, well past sunset. This could have been done, seeing as I encountered about 1 car every 15 minutes from 7pm onwards, but alas, I wasn't up for the extra mileage. When I hit Glenavon I asked someone sitting on their porch if there was a place to stay in this town and the lady told me the owner of the bar rents out rooms upstairs.

So here I am. I spoke with 3 kids, born and raised in Glenavon they told me, as I was lugging my bike into the bar. (They offered to help me). Here I got a taste of what teenagers do in a small town. (It involved an old beat up pickup truck from the 80's and beer- that was my impression- though I don't mean to sound judgemental.)

Stopping in small towns like this and talking with some of the residents and local business owners is one of the best parts of the trip. You learn quite a bit, and see a whole new way of life when talking to folks in a town with say, 5 streets.

One last thing: as you probably have noticed, I haven't updated my live position since Medicine Hat- this is because I can't! The GPS application on my BlackBerry is a no-go in a lot of places, I'm finding out. I'll keep trying and hope to get an update in soon. My journal entries (which are sometimes also not able to be sent from my phone for the same reason) can give you my position as you well know.

Thanks for reading,

Day 12: Swift Current to Moose Jaw

Where I'm writing this from: a hotel lobby computer in Moose Jaw

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 8- 5:30
Total time riding: 8hrs 0 mins
Distance: 171.7
Ascent: 746 ft
Descent: 1385 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Cumulative distance: 1796.5 km
Club sandwhich count: 7
Touring cyclist count: 6

After eating about 5 times what the average person eats at a continential breakfast, I made for Moose Jaw. The skies were dark and omnious and I was really worried about rain. There are few places to stop on my route, this I knew, and so rain, especially in cold weather, could have been bad. Either way I had to get going, and so around 8am, I made for Moose Jaw.

The skies cleared up nearly immediately me leaving Moose Jaw and things were shaping up for a day of weather like yesterday. That turned out to be true. Today was a beautiful sunny day on the Prairies.

The sea of dead prairie mouse finally slowed down around the 50km mark today and eventually almost completed died out. This meant no more dodging those little guys!

Two things stood out today amidst the flatness of the Prairies (which were at times not all that flat today- there were a lot of rolling hills). Firstly, was my experience with a touring bus (a coach bus) full of German tourists. This happened in a town called Chaplin, where I decided to visit to go to the washroom and buy some food. A woman began speaking to me in one of the tourist buildings I was in and she explained how she was taking a tour of Canada with a bunch of her German comrades. She asked if I would meet them (they were all sitting at some nearby picnic tables having lunch) and I said I would and asked her if her tour could spare any food for me. We then both walked back to the picnic area and she spoke in German to them (none of them spoke a word of English) and then I heard her say the word sandwich (in a German sort of way) whereupon all the tourists started laughing and then immediately came upon to me handing me all sorts of food. By the time it was over I had 2 apples, a banana, 5 German 'pepperoni' sticks (some sort of schnitzel or something or other), a muffin and some bread. What was also cute was the way they were trying to pronounce "Bike for Mike", which they saw written on a small sign on the back of my bike. They were all very generous and 3 people each gave me $5. So that was my experience with the German tour bus!

Later on in the day, around the 130km mark, I came across the cyclist going to Montreal (who I have written about before). Now I finally know his name: Randall Anderson. He left Swift Current around 6:45am he said, and I left around 8am. I was at a slighlty quicker pace than him and he stopped for longer periods of time than I did, hence I caught up. Seeing as we were only about 40km away from Moose Jaw, which was both our destination for the night, I decided to bike with him. I learned a lot more about him and his family and life and he was a great person to listen to. We also had a hilarious moment by a barnyard full of cows, where we took some pictures alongside the fence and a row of interested and perplexed (and often peeing, as it turned out) cows.

Randall and I both rode into Moose Jaw, where he was meeting a friend to drive him up to Saskatoon for a couple days off to be spent with his friend. Good luck with the rest of your ride to Montreal!

Alright, I am going to watch the remainder of game 7. Go Detroit!


Day 11: Medicine Hat to Swift Current

Where I'm writing this from: a hotel lobby computer in Swift Current

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 8- 7:45
Total time riding: 9hrs 40 mins
Distance: 225.2
Ascent: 1736 ft
Descent: 1792 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Cumulative distance: 1624.8 km
Club sandwhich count: 7
Touring cyclist count: 6

Today was an utter bore, BUT the weather was absolutely perfect. This was definitely the best weather I have had yet and I wonder if I'll another see another day like this. It was sunny all day, with a few lonely clouds in the sky and the temperature (which I couldn't measure because my BlackBerry had no service for most of the day) was the perfect cycling temperature. The wind was also nearly non existent, with what little breeze I could feel coming from the south.

Boy the Prairies are flat. There is nothing more to say than that really. Flat flat flat. The same, the same, the same. I miss the mountains a lot. The old saying seems to apply here: you don't know what you got 'til it's gone.

I did run into two cyclists, both of whom I have written about before, also leaving Medicine Hat this morning. First I saw Tom, who was the fellow who had the 9 flats I told you all about. It was great to see him again and hear that he has solved his tire problems. I also received an email from his wife a few days ago after he must have relayed the website to her. What a charming couple they are! Tom and I chatted about the dullness of our new scenery, which we both have to put up with for at least a few more days and then said our goodbyes. I doubt I'll see him again, but I will definitely keep in touch with him this summer.

Next, I saw the fellow who was biking to Montreal about 50km from where I saw Tom. He was off on the side of the road and I didn't stop; there wasn't much more to say.

Aside from that, one slightly weird comment I can make pertain to the number of dead praire mouse I saw on the road. I estimate the number today to be at least 300. I suppose dodging those little critters helped break up the monotony of the scenery.

That's about it. Moose Jaw tomorrow, where I hope to catch all of game 7.


Day 10: Bassano to Medicine Hat

Where I'm writing this from: a hotel lobby computer in Medicine Hat

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 9-7 (I slept in!)
Total time riding: 7hrs 20 mins
Distance: 156.3
Ascent: 791 (the Prairies you see..)
Descent: 963

Trip's Numbers:
Cumulative distance: 1399.6km
Club sandwhich count: 7
Touring cyclist count: 6 (6 different groups, that is)

Well I've started another count up top because I saw 3 more groups of touring cyclists today. The first were two people with only rear panniers, like me, heading west. We waved and gave eachother the thumbs up. The second, was a fellow named Ben, who was quite something. He was hitching a trailer and travelling at a much slower pace than me. He was raising money to help build an orphange in Thailand. He was an extremely easy going guy and told me the funny story of how he bought the bike he was riding the day he started the trip, and how the salesman who sold him the bike said he would donate $250 bucks if he made it to Regina. Ben left May 19 from Vancouver and was headed to St. John's. Again, he was another cyclist who was completely new to well...everything related to biking and bike touring. I sounded like a pro talking to him! But hey, he made it some 1200km already and I wish him the best. He wanted me to email the picture I took of us. His camera broke he said, along with a bunch of other stuff- but he wasn't bothered by it. Get this too- he weighed 312 lbs and he started out weighing 356lbs! How about that? I told him I weighed 140 and we both laughed (I probably actually weigh like 135 now). He said his gear weighed about that and I didn't doubt it.

The next cyclist I met, also going east, was a middle aged man who was biking from Vancouver to Montreal. He was using front and rear panniers. He also left June 1st from Vancouver he told me and was headed for Medicine Hat tonight and Swift Current tomorrow (also like me). I told him about the website and what I was doing and he said he would check it out. I gave him some pointers on fixing his sore butt and he appreciated it.

Aside from the two cyclists I met, today was pretty dull. The flatness, which I am starting (and trying my best) to get used to, is pretty hard on the mind after a while. There is nothing to look at and think about (looking at cows gets boring fast) and so I resorted to my iPod to help me out. I was warned of the complete lack of scenery after leaving Calgary and now it is here. I have at least another 5 or 6 days of this. Oh well, I can always think about the progress each pedal stroke makes, and how I am that much closer to St. John's!

One other thing: adding to the already extremely positive memory I have of Bassano, I ate for free at a great breakfast at "Nana's Cafe" in Bassano, which is in the same building as the hotel, after the owner/cook (Nana!) heard about what I was doing. Thanks Bassano!

Saskatchewan tomorrow! Province #3!


Day 9: (almost) Calgary to Bassano

Where I'm writing this from: a (lovely and free!) hotel in Bassano

Today's Numbers:
Total time traveling: 7 to 8
Total time riding: 9hrs 50 mins
Distance: 202.9 kms
Ascent: 2574 ft
Descent: 3793 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Cumulative distance: 1243.3 kms
Club sandwich count: 7 (I should almost start a Subway count now)

Will write this one tomorrow, it's 11:40 now!

Okay, here it is:

Today started the same way day 7 ended- in the rain. I was driven back to where I was picked up only to meet the wet weather again. It was warmer though and the rain wasn't quite as heavy as it was previously. The wetness continued for about an hour when it warmed up as I moved into Calgary. I tried to get some Press from the Calgary Herald, but it didn't pan out. I think that if the security guards of the Herald were also the editors I would have been golden; the securtiy guards were pretty interested.

Today marked the official leaving of the mountains and the start of the Prairies. It's funny how quickly the flatness starts east of Calgary. In only a few kilometers it was completely flat. I made it to Strathmore where I stopped for lunch and then met the second group of cyclists also heading east. There were two of them, a father and son from Brazil who started from Victoria on May 12 (taking a much slower pace than myself) and were likewise headed to St. John's. They were raising money for a Hospital in Brazil. I took a picture with them and shared a nice conversation with them discussing our trips so far. We also exchanged websites of both our charities/trips. Theirs is Meeting cyclists along the way is one of the best parts of the trip. After wishing them the best, I continued to Gleichen where, because of how small the town is, I had to knock on someone's door to ask them if there are hotels in Bassano- the town I was looking to stay that night- some 45 kms from Gleichen. I think I hit a bit of luck knocking on this door, because I was greeted in with a warm welcome from an older couple who said they saw me on the highway. The woman told me there are hotels in Bassano and with that (and a glass of ice water she gave me), I was off.

Bassano is where the really fun was! I arrived when it was getting dark and rode past two softball games. I immediately got the impression that this town was friendly and welcoming, much like I have with all the small towns I have been in so far, but this impression was even stronger.

I pulled up to an old 3 story hotel, that looks like something out of a movie from the 60's. When I was told it would be $60 for the night, I asked the lady if she could do any better because I was biking solo across Canada for cancer. Like a lot of hotel owners react when I tell them this, she asked if I had any documentation (something I don't get offended about because it is a reasonable thing to ask for) and I told her about the website, if she has access to the web. She went into the office and came back and said she could have me stay for free, that that would be her contribution to the charity. Another example of the generosity I encounter daily! The room was very clean and modern for the hotel having a questionable look to it from the road.

After finding my room, I headed across the street (I was staying on the 'downtown' street, which again is so small, quiet and friendly looking it makes you smile) to Harry's Restaurant to watch the last 10 minutes of game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (which Pittsburgh would win, forcing a game 7 in Detriot on Friday which I should be able to see all of in Moose Jaw) and to eat. The food was great and I went back to my hotel to shower and get things prepared for tomorrow.

All in all, a really good day- probably #2 so far next to the Rogers Pass to Lake Louise day.


Day 8: Rest Day #1 in Calgary

Ahh, my first rest day. I accomplished everything I wanted to and even had time!

The major things I got done were the following:

1. Laundry. I normally wash my day's worth of clothing that night in the shower of wherever I'm staying but today I got to actually wash everything properly.

2. Visited a bike shop. I picked up a spare tube (because of the one I wrecked in the airport in Vancouver). I also had my chain, cassette and front gears all cleaned. As well I cleaned my bike and adjusted the brakes.

3. Transferred pictures from camera to USB key. I have some great pictures to share with you all later.

4. Updated (via an email to man behind, Brandon, the webmaster) the first two pictures of "Chris' Message".

5. Didn't bike all day, thus giving my bum and legs a break.

6. Had some Cheerios! I can't remember the last time I went 7 days without them.

Overall I am extremely happy with how the trip has unfolded so far. I will miss the beauty of the mountains but am looking forward to a flatter and hopefully faster ride through the Prairies. Let's hope the weather is a little more predictable too.

1050 kms down, 6500 to go!


Day 7: Lake Louise to (almost) Calgary

Where I'm writing this from: a house of one of my mom's friends who lives just west of Calgary

Today's Numbers:
Time spent traveling: 8-6
Time spent riding: 6 hrs 30 min
Distance: 133.1 km
Ascent: 2175 ft
Descent: 3462 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Cumulative distance: 1040.4 km
Club sandwich count: 7

Today was rough. The weather is insane at this elevation. It was snowing when I left Lake Louise and continued to for about half an hour. The roads soon got wet and so did I. The sun made some appearances here and there, which helped warm me up, and soon I was in Banff, which is about 55km away from Lake Louise. I ate at a Subway and then made my way for Calgary. Little did I know I wouldn't make it.

The weather seems to turn on a dime up here. Leaving Banff things didn't look good. The sky completely darkened and the wind was howling. I feared rain and said to myself if it rains I am going back to Banff to stay the night. I couldn't ride in that. Luckily, the rain held off and the sun soon came out again. I was following the 1A highway into Calgary, which is a quiet 2 lane highway that is fraught with bumps and potholes. Things weren't too bad for a while, mainly because I was enjoying a mostly downhill ride, but alas the weather decided to change again. This time proved to be the last straw.

The skies darkened, the temperature dropped and the rain/hail started. I was in trouble. My waterproof gloves weren't working and I was getting pretty cold. I was about 45km to my destination, this house I am writing from, when I was forced to phone the owners of the house, my mom's friend and her husband, and ask for a ride. I was so cold I couldn't ride anymore, instead resorting to standing by the side of the road, numb and shivering, trying my best to sit tight and wait.

So day 7 ends with me hitching a ride. I was very disappointed this happened because I wanted the entire ride to be done without any assistance like this and so to keep the promise I made to myself and the integrity of the trip intact, I will start, Tuesday morning- the day after my rest day- from the spot where I was picked up, some 45 km west of Calgary.

I've heard many stories, firsthand, from cyclists who have encountered similar situations to the one I just described and so I consider what happened almost inevitable, especially on a trip of this length, covering such a vast geography like Canada's. Cycling is extremely dependent on the weather, and when it changes suddenly or is considerably different from seasonal expectations, one can get into trouble fast, with little to do about it but find shelter and wait it out. For me, there was no shelter within 10km, and 10km was too far to ride.

I will write a little something for tomorrow, on my first rest day.

Until then,

Day 6: Rogers Pass to Lake Louise

Where I'm writing this from: lobby of a lodge in Lake Louise

Today's Numbers
Total time traveling: 6:45 to 9:30
Total time riding: 9hrs 40 min
Distance: 161.7km
Ascent: 4992 ft
Descent: 5098 ft

Trip's Numbers
Distance: 907.2km
Club sandwich count: 7

Wow, what a day. Where do I start with this one? I have too many things to say and the lobby closes in 10 minutes!

As you can see from the numbers today, today was nothing but up and down all day. I left Rogers Pass and enjoyed a nice decline for about 15km but the fun ended shortly when the climbing began again. I was headed for Golden for lunch and made it there with no problems. It was cold all day, being overcast, and I used most of my cold weather gear which worked nicely.

I better just get to the good part now, and that was the incredible sights I had while climbing up to Banff National Park, which is 1000 ft HIGHER than Rogers Pass (so forget what I said yesterday about Rogers Pass.) You'll have to see some of the pictures I took. I will post at least a few when I hit Calgary tomorrow where I am staying with someone I know. I will also post the first two pictures of "Chris' Message" in which the second picture was taken today, some 5000ft above the sea.

The highest elevation I reached today was 5300 ft and it was spectacular. I could almost touch the clouds. And the water flowing through Yoho and Banff- the color! It is this murky but amazing glacier turquoise. Incredible!!

Today was no doubt the most difficult and testing day. I was biking late, with no sun and it was bitter cold. I was lucky to make it to this lodge. My hands were numb and my body was cold.

The decision to not stay in a town called Fields, which is 25 km before Lake Louise, and instead head for Lake Louise tonight was overall a good one. That was where the climb started and where the sights began. It will give me 25km less to bike tomorrow.

Overall, this was an incredible day. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster, from being cold, tired, wet (it rained) to having the sun come out around 8pm when I was some 5000 ft above the sea. My gosh, what a day. I'm glad it's over though, I need some rest.


Day 5: Griffin Lake to Rogers Pass

Where I'm writing this from: a lodge on Rogers Pass

Today's Numbers
Total time travelling: 8:45 to 6:30
Total time riding: 6hrs 30 min
Distance: 99.18km
Ascent: 3487ft
Descent: 1527ft

Trip's Numbers
Distance: 745.5km
Club sandwhich count: 7

Well the main story today is I reached the summit of Rogers Pass, the highest point that can be reached by car in the Rockies (I believe). It was actually not too bad compared to the two other major climbs because it wasn't too aggresive and the sun was behind clouds for most of the day. The hardest part was that I was hungry. I've stocked up again on food since reaching the summit and this will be important for the 80km I have until I reach Golden tomorrow- the next major community after Rogers Pass.

Today I also met the first cyclist going east. He was a 50-60 year old riding a bike with disk brakes and carrying a trailer. He started from Vancouver Island on May 30 and is riding to Toronto. He was a very kind and cheerful man despite...get this...having experienced 9 flats already!!! I don't know if he was doing something wrong or not but that is tough. He said he had to hitch a ride more than once because of running out of tubes and patches. I offered him one of mine but he said he has some more now. We kept chatting about our experiences so far and what lies ahead when he told me he too has already sent home about 10lbs of stuff not entirely necessary. I laughed and told him I did the same! He was really a very pleasant man who I got the impression was new to bike touring just like me. Hearing about all his flat trouble and seeing some brutal cuts of his lower legs from them put things into perspective for me. Things have been going pretty well for me. I'm through 5 days now and my body or bike hasn't let me down yet. Let's hope that doesn't change.

I also was forced to use some of my rain gear today as right near the summit the sky was pretty dark (but extemely clear everywher else) and it rained.

Overall, today was short and sweet. I wish that man, Tom, a safe and flat free ride the rest of the way. (I forgot to mention he handed me $20 when I told him what I was doing). I hope I run into some more cyclists like him to chat and laugh with.

Lake Louise tomorrow and Calgary after that.


Day 4: Kelowna to Griffin Lake

Where I'm writing this from: a B&B 25km west of Revelstoke

Today's Numbers
Time spent traveling: 7:30am to 8:30pm
Time spent riding: 9hrs 50min
Distance: 181.6km
Ascent: 3948 ft
Descent: 3994 ft

Trip's Numbers
Distance: 646.4 km
# of club sandwiches eaten: 6

As you can tell from the ascent number above, there was a lot of climbing today. The bulk of the climbing was done early on, between Kelowna and Vernon. I faced my second major climb of the trip, next to the mountain I climbed just outside of Hope on day 2. Today's climb was similar. It totaled about 5km (I'm talking about one continuous climb here) with a grade of about 8.5%, so it was a little shorter and a little steeper than the Hope-Princeton one. I had to take a few breaks on this one (the other one I actually did nonstop) mainly because of the heat, which has been the real story so far. Today was an absolute scorcher. It was about 30 all day without a cloud in the sky to provide any shade.

Anyway, when the climb finally ended I was provided with some spectacular scenery. It's really too hard to describe on my BlackBerry and I feel like I won't do the place justice at all, but it really was amazing. In particular, atop this peaceful place was a community called Predator Ridge, which was straight out of a movie, I swear. The main attraction appeared to be golf and it looked like everyone who lived there drove either a Lexus or a BMW. It was quite something.

After Predator Ridge, I descended rather quickly into Vernon where I sought out the newspaper, the Morning Star, for them to write a quick story about what I'm doing. They did. I would go a google search in the next few days to see it.

I left Vernon with the idea of reaching Malakwa, a really small (as I later found out) community some 20 km north of Sicamous. When I reached Sicamous I talked with some locals and heard of a hotel 25km past Malakwa, so I thought I would aim for that since I was feeling okay (an extremely sore bum not withstanding). Before I reached that place though, I came across a B&B I thought I would check out. After a little convincing that I really was biking across Canada for cancer they let me stay for free! Excellent! So here I am, lying on the bed of this extremely clean and cozy B&B in the middle of the mountains. This also means I get to sleep in tomorrow and enjoy their breakfast. Rogers Pass is around 100-130 km away from here so I should be fine.

Thanks for reading,

Day 3: Princeton to Kelowna

Where I'm writing this from: lying on my bed in a motel in Kelowna

Today's Numbers:
Time traveling: 6 to 6
Time riding: 9hrs 10 min (this is time spent where I'm actually in the saddle and pedaling. No wonder I can't even sit down on this bed.)
Distance: 176.2 km
Average Speed: 19.3
Ascent: 3191 ft
Descent: 4379 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Cumulative distance: 464.8
Club sandwich count: 5

Today was a long day. I kept a better pace today because of the many descents. Today was also the first day without my camping gear and front panniers which I had sent home the night before. Out of Princeton it was downhill. I ate breakfast in Hedley, an old mining community and talked with a few of the locals who were nice. When I got to Keremeos, I bought a few oranges and some Gatorade. I couldn't finish the third orange so I gave it to a hitchhiker who was around my age who was sitting at the picnic table next to me.

Next stop was Penticton, where I ate lunch at a Tim Horton's. I still had about 70 kms til Kelowna. By this time I had the 0kanagan Lake to my right. It was a very pretty sight.

When I got to Kelowna, I made immediately for the ABC country restaurant where I used the voucher I received on day 1. I then needed to find cheap accommodations, which I eventually found on my third try. I spent the next hour or so tending to the various pains on my body, the details of which I will spare you.


Day 2: Hope to Princeton

Where I'm writing this from: the motel lobby computer of the Sandman Inn

Today's Numbers:
Total time traveling: 6pm to 5:30pm
Time riding: 8hrs 25 min
Distance: 135.1 km
Average Speed: 15.91 km/h
Ascent: 4567 ft
Descent: 676 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Cumulative distance: 288.6 km
# of club sandwiches eaten: 3

This day can be summed up by two words: hot & hilly. And by hilly I mean mountainy of course. I started out at 6am again, which seems like a good start time and something I will try to maintain whenever possible, and was immediately faced like a grueling 6km climb. It had a 7% grade, which means that for every 100 meters I travel on the road -ie. my distance- I ascend vertically 7meters, ie. 7% of 100. Again with the 80 lbs of bike+gear, this means I am pushing my lowest gear, am sitting in the saddle, and have a speed of about 7.5km/h. Well when that was over, I reached the Hope Slide Viewpoint. I can't remember all the details (I took a picture of the sign though, which I can hopefully read) but some 50 years ago there was a big land slide- rock slide you might say- and it completely covered part of the old highway. So workers built a new segment of road farther away from the mountain side where that happened. What's neat is that you can see all the rock that slide off- it's all still there. Now it's a 'Viewpoint' for people to see. I took some pictures of it.

About 15 minutes later I reached a little chalet village called Sunshine Valley. The 'town hall', you might say, wasn't opened so I knocked on the house next to it, and asked where I could buy food. The lady, a writer about 30 years ago, said she could give me some. So I scored granola bars, 4 yogurts, an apple and some carrots. Feeling a little refreshed after 45 minutes of climbing, I continued onward. So to, as it turned out, did the climbing.

I reached Manning Park Resort around lunchtime and had lunch in a nice restaurent and tallied up club sandwhich #2. I was about half way to Princeton. I haven't mentioned the most important thing yet: the scenery. Simply stunning. Beautiful mountains in every direction as far as the eye can see. Many fresh springs coming down from the mountains and into fast moving rivers below. It is awesome.

I faced another big climb, though not nearly as long as the first one, but perhaps a little steeper. When I made it to the top of this, aside from the various curse words I was uttering because of all the slow and tiring climbing, I knocked on the door of an RV sitting at the summit- called Sunday Summit I believe. He was in the 'Check Brakes' stops the highway has for heavy trucks who may want to check there brakes before going down. That gives you an idea of long and steep these roads are. Anyway, I needed something cold to drink (it's amazing how fast ice cold water turns into 80 degree crap!). He had some cold cranberry juice that I devoured. He was a pretty laid back guy, the kind you might expect driving an RV (aside from the older retired type).

So down the hill I went and not before long (and a few more climbs- there are always climbs) I was in Princeton.

By the way, the temperature all day was about 30 degrees.

At the motel I chose, I asked the wife of the owner, who I got talking too quite quickly, if she could send some things home for me in the mail. I couldn't do this myself because the Post Office closed at 5. I've made some rather major changes to the gear I am carrying and it probably has a lot to do with all the hills I've been climbing, but I do think this is a very smart thing to do. I was thinking I may do this before the trip started and I was right. I'm sending home the camping gear. This includes the tent, sleeping bag and pad and towel as well as a few other items not related to camping which I can do without. As a result, I no longer need my front panniers. So I'm riding with rear panniers only now. I thinking I've taken off about 10lbs doing this, maybe a little more.

That's it for now. It's 10pm and I definitely need some sleep. A little ice on the knees then it's lights out for me. Tomorrow I'm told is not nearly as hilly. We'll see.


Day 1: Vancouver to Hope

Where I'm writing this from: a park bench in the middle of Hope

Today's Numbers:
Total time traveling: 6pm to 5pm
Time riding: 8:25hrs
Distance: 153.5km
Average speed: 18.22km/h

Today went well for day 1. It's definitely nice to have this one under the belt. I started from Stanley park and got a morning jogger, a lady named Jocelyn, to take some photos of me at the water. I made my way out of metro Vancouver with relative ease and had lunch at an ABC Country Restaurant where the owner really took to my biking and generously let me eat for free. He also went out of his way to give me a free dinner voucher for the ABC franchise in Kelowna. What a nice man he was! I left there and headed for Hope. I faced a nasty headwind for about 45 minutes which took my speed down to around 13km/h. Headwinds like that make cycling with 80lbs worth of gear extremely hard. Having your speedometer read 13km/h is pretty demoralizing. I guess I'll have to get used to it. Anyway, the wind went away when I began riding closer to the moutains. The trees on either side of me also helped create a wind shield.

I reached Hope around 5. Hope is surrounded by mountains and has a population of 7000 (says the owner of the motel I am staying at).

Well I'm getting really thirsty sitting here writing this. Back to my room for some water then off to Dairy Queen for something before I lie down, fall asleep and do it all again tomorrow.


Ps. I'll be writing most of these from my blackberry so don't mind the typos.