Day 46: Clarenville to St. John's

Where I'm writing this from: at home! I'm in Mississauga writing this second to last blog and already missing not being out on the road with just my bike and gear.

Today's Numbers:
Total Time Travelling: 6:30 to 5
Total Time Riding: 8 hrs 40 min
Distance: 189.9 km
Ascent: 6083 ft (very hilly for my last day!)
Descent: 6663 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance travelled on my trusty Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30: 7486 kms or 4651.58 miles
Provinces visited: 10!
Memorable moments: lots!
Kind people I met: too many to count- several per day.
Honks, waves and thumbs up I received from motorists: at least 10 a day!

Today, by way of the bicycle touring gods giving me a memorable final day, had a little bit of everything. I had cold weather requiring a toque, wind jacket and leg warmers. I had warm weather where I peeled everything off and was down to the bare minimum. I had a strong headwind and a strong tail wind. I had 6 Tim Hortons chocolate chip muffins and an extra large coffee. I had help and support from complete strangers. About the only trip staple I didn't have was a Subway sandwich. But what I had most of all was fun. What a final day this was.

The day started early, with me waking up around 4:30. This would be the last morning routine I would complete. The rountine ended with me in a Tim Hortons, sipping on a coffee, eating some muffins, and reflecting on what has been an experience of a lifetime. Then time came for me to hit the road and reach my last destination of the trip: St. John's.

The hills began almost immediately as did a change in the weather for the worse. The clouds thickened and blackened and it got very cold. Next to the coldness I experienced in the Rockies and especially coming into Calgary, this was the coldest temperature. I was forced to put on my cycling tuke, wear 3 layers of upper body clothes, including my rain jacket to fight the wind and put on my booties (covers for my shoes) and leg warmers. What I feared most was rain! What a problem that would have been. I was a little stunned at thinking this would be how my final day would end. Would I have this weather all day? Would I arrive and be forced to take my final pictures with all this clothing on? I hoped not. My hopes came true soon enough.

After riding through this cold and omnious weather, which also included a headwind coming from the south, the skies began to clear up and soon my cold weather clothing came off. This change in weather- the ending of a dark and scary sky to a beautiful bright blue one- was something I have grown used to. Unfortunately I don't have the virtue of knowing when skies like this will clear, or if they will clear up at all, but looking back on my trip I can say how surprised I was to have seen so many sudden changes in weather. That is one thing bicycle touring does to you: makes you completely aware of the weather and its many changes throughout the day.

So with a promising sky and a headwind I continued on to St. John's with growing excitement. I used the washroom in a gas station for the last time- another regular act on my trip- and waited for the road to turn northeastward where the tailwind would turn to a headwind. This is another common thing for me to be thinking about in advance- the direction the road ahead will take and how the wind will play out when going in that direction.

When I made the final change in direction, from southeast to northeast, some 40kms away from St. John's, I reflected on how lucky I was to receive such a strong tailwind during the final leg of my ride. This tailwind amplified my excitement to make it to St. John's around 5pm, which was what I had told all of you BikeforMike followers yesterday was my final ETA. What a feeling it was to maintain a 35km/h speed as I rode into St. John's. The scenery had also changed as a result from the area being more populated. For one thing there were farms, which meant less trees and more open views of the beautiful island.

I was more or less on time to make it my final destination- somewhere along the coast for pictures (I didn't yet know exactly where). I contemplated biking to the The Telegram offices- the St. John's paper- but decided against it because it was now just past 5, the offices put me out of the way by about 5 km (and they were up a hill, the offices being fairly far from the coast) and I had all day tomorrow to contact them. So now my plans were clear: find a spot for pictures and call it a trip.

About 5 minutes away from the eventual location of the final pictures, I was met with my first act of kindness in St. John's by a lady who let me use her bathroom. I wanted to be as comfortable as possible for these final photos- the most important photos of the trip- and being past most of the stores from the downtown, I asked a lady reading a book on her porch. Not to dwell on this too much but it is just another example of the many kind people I met each and everyday.

With that, I kept following this one road, which looked to be the closest road to the water around the St. John's area that appeared to have an open view of the ocean. I should say it took a little time to decide on this road to follow down to the water. I must have forgot Newfoundland is called 'The Rock' for a reason. One consequence of this fact is that the coast is also rocky- in short, there are no beaches or anything of the sort which would make taking pictures at a no brainer. In fact much of the St. John's coast is very hilly: not only is the coast all rock, but it's rock 20, 50, 100 ft above sea level followed by a cliff like drop to the water. This was a bit of a problem, but I did have this one road on my GPS that looked from a distance like it would take me down to the water and not up a hill like I just described. Let me tell you right now: this road led me to the greatest and most pleasant surprise of all: the village of Quidi Vidi. This village had the most breathtaking view of the ocean you can imagine.

Being so lucky with finding this location, I feel I must describe exactly how I found it and who I met there. Here's how it went down:

I kept following this lone road, which like I said, on my GPS seemed to be a good idea for how close it got to the ocean. When the main road leading to the village ended, I made a few turns here and there and then saw it: an incredible spot for the final pictures. There was a small bay which the village of Quidi Vidi is built around and the bay opened up to the ocean with 2 incredible rocky slopes leading up to hills on either side- so the village is right down by the water and is surrounded by hills all around it. Quidi Vidi is a slice of paradise.

So after seeing the spot where I knew my pictures must be taken, the answer was: can I get there? I came to a house with three people chatting outside. Two of them, as it turned out, were about to leave, leaving the owner of the house, Ron, for me to talk to. I explained to Ron just how important this moment was to me; that 45 days ago I was in Vancouver and that by myself I pedalled across the country to raise money for cancer in memory of my friend. Ron, quickly understanding the significance of what I said, had no problem helping me for the next hour. With our agreement made, I pointed to the rock that stuck out from the bay and asked: "can we get there"? He smiled and said, "Oh yes, that is where we are going, follow me."

With that, Ron and I carried my gear through some rocky terrain and within 15 minutes we were ready to begin with the pictures. So there I was: I stumbled across the most breathtaking view I've ever seen completely by accident and had a gentleman there to take pictures for as long as I needed. Both are examples of the major theme of the ride: pleasant surprises.

Ron owned a house right on the bay, not 50 meters from where the photos were taken. He owned a water bottling company in Montreal that sends a ship up to Greenland, captures ice from icebergs and melts it into a fancy bottle and sells it to fancy hotels, as he told me. I told him he has the most amazing location for a house I have ever seen, and he, rightfully agreeing and proud of his incredible house, just smiled. He also claimed his house was the most easterly house in all of Canada.

So my incredible trip ends with incredible fashion. I gave my thanks to Ron and holding the camera with the most important and beautiful pictures I've taken in my life, made for the final hotel of my trip. There I was met by a kind lady who gave me my final discount, a generous one, on my room for two nights. Another act of kindness in a trip filled with so many.

But there is one more event that took place before my final day was over, and I must describe it here, for it was quite something too.

I was sitting at dinner by myself in a small restuarant overlooking the St. John's narrows when I heard two ladies at the table next to me mention how a rower, attempting to break the world record for a solo west to east crossing of the Atlantic, left Newfoundland within the last week. I, having heard about this from Ron when he was describing some of the interesting people he meets from having a house in such a location, turned around to the ladies and said I heard about him too. After telling them what I had just accomplished, they invited me over to their table to eat with them. It didn't take long for the incredible coincidence, if you want to call it that, to be established. These two ladies, Gerri Allen and Claire Devlin, were both elementary school principals in Mississauga. That was only the beginning. Being principals, they were interested in knowing the last name of Mike, who I had told them about. I told them it was Webster. It appeared they didn't know him until one of the ladies asked me who his parents were. I said Tom and Marnie and immediately they put both of their arms in the air and said "Marnie Webster!". They quickly explained to me, that one of their close close friends knew Marnie Webster very well and that Marnie would often talk with this lady, Roxana, about Michael's illness. This was a very touching moment for us all- how fate brought 3 people from Mississauga together in St. John's, whose common bond was Michael. In the few moments of silence that followed this, as we all tried to understand how an incredible coincidence like this could happen, one lady's emotions were so strong she had to dry the tears coming down her face. It was quite something, I must say.

And so my trip ends not with Ron and the most beautiful ocean view I've ever seen but in a restuarant with two principals from Mississauga, who payed for my dinner and told me how special I was all dinner long.

Who knew my trip would end like this.


An incredible moment...

I did it. 7486 kms in 46 days. $26,000 for SickKids. All for Mike, Tom, Marnie and Nicole.

Proof that with the right motivation, anything is possible.


Day 45: Gander to Clarenville

Where I'm writing this from: the second last motel of the trip

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 9:15 to 5
Total time riding: 6 hrs 27 min
Distance: 143.5 kms
Ascent: 4319 ft
Descent: 4606 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance covered: 7296.2 kms
Distance remaining: 200 km

Well I'm glad I didn't attempt the Grand Falls to Clarenville trip in one day because today was very hilly. The 80 kms I spent in Terra Nova national park was marked by a constant up and down road. Having ridden over 7000 kms now, hills, like the long ones today, are not as taxing and frustrating on me as they once were. That's not to say I'm rocketing up them (though I definitely am hitting them a little harder) but just that I am handling them a lot better than before. I almost enjoy them quite frankly- they keep your mind focused on getting to the top- and you feel good when you get there.

Anyway, other than that, today was much more of the barren Newfoundland I have come to know. Sure I was in a national park for half the day, but the other half was pretty bare too, yet again. I haven't looked into tomorrow's ride yet, but I imagine the first 100 kms will be the same story.

To comment on almost being done, here goes. My mood the last few days has been a sombre one. Of course I am excited too, to reach St. John's and complete my journey across Canada will be a great moment of joy, but I am reluctant to have it end. This fantasy of a life I have been living the last 45 days, and even going back to the incredible fundraiser held in May- to think that the conclusion to all of it will happen tomorrow, well it's a little hard to accept. Maybe a horrible headwind all day tomorrow will help me want it to end!

But it all seriousness, what an incredible trip this has been. Because BikeforMike is not about me but about a group of people coming together for the Websters, if you would like to share the final moment of the trip with me, the moment I reach the shores of St. John's and hoist my bike above my head, I will send out a short message to this blog at that time. Together we can share the pride in raising over $25,000 for SickKids in memory of Michael. I should be there around 5.

Until then,


Day 44: Grand Falls to Gander

Where I'm writing this from: motel in Gander

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 9 to 6
Total time riding: 7 hrs
Distance: 98 + 74.1
Ascent: 3925 ft
Descent: 4041 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 7152.7 ft
Distance to St. John's: 340km

Today was unique. I didn't come through on my 4 am wake up call and so was put in a position to reconsider the schedule for the remaining days. I was slated for a tough 240 km to Clarenville today, and the lack of accomodations prior to Clarenville meant that that was really my only option if I wanted to do a long day. The consequence of this was that I would have been out late (given the wind conditions I knew about) and I wouldn't do that, not this time. So I eventually decided on these plans. I would bike the 98 kms to Gander and end my day there. That would add another day to the trip. I would also bike 70 kms on a highway that runs north out of Gander to the coast, to make up (as best as I could at this point) for the distance I did not bike from both rides I got here in Newfoundland. This would also give me something to do for the afternoon and help correct my overall coast to coast mileage to what it should be without any rides. So that's what I decided to do and that's what I did.

This morning threatened rain again, so much so that I started the day with my plastic bags and booties already on my feet. I put these on outside and made my final adjustments to my bike and clothing outside the Tim Horton's where I had just ate and two tables of men having coffee seemed to take quite and interest in me as they eyed my every move. After 44 days of being the main attraction for wandering eyes in just about every place I go, I didn't feel uncomfortable at all. It was just the start of another morning of getting ready. How I will soon miss these days.

The rain that I feared, didn't happen and about half way through my 100km the skies opened up. It was very humid again today, but I'll take hot and humid over rain, generally speaking. (Ask me if I would take an all out downpour with a tailwind or sunny and 20 degrees with a headwind, and you will find out how much I hate headwinds.)

The Trans Canada was again perfect today, as it has been since setting foot on this giant rock. Once again I say, this is best maintained highway I've encountered, by far (I don't think I've had to avoid a pothole in 3 days). If only a few more people lived here, NFLD would be great ride.

So once again I say 2 more days to go. Thanks again to everyone who has sent me an email of support during the trip.

A reminder to everyone that I will write one final Blog to be posted within a few days of my finish and will upload the hundreds of pictures (with captions) I have.

Cheers from Newfoundland,

Day 43: Deer Lake to Grand Falls-Windsor

Where I'm writing this: motel in Grand Falls

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 6 to 4:30
Total time riding: 7 hrs 52 min
Distance: 165.3 km
Ascent: 2396 ft
Descent: 2207 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 6980.6 km
Distance remaining: 430 km

Two more days to go!!

Okay that is me being positive tonight, because today was anthing but enjoyable. I don't mean for you to read my belly-aching but this is a journal and I want to keep a truthful and accurate record of each day. So here goes.

I knew today would be extremely desolate, so with that in mind and knowing I had 240km scheduled for tomorrow, I was on the road at 6 am this morning with the goal of arriving early and getting lots of sleep. Boy was I right about today being barren. This was by far the worst day for it. I didn't see a building for 90 kms and when I finally did it was actually good news- it was a diner where I ate (by myself of course). It being so desolate wasn't much of an issue for the first half of the ride- the ride until the diner- because I was prepared for it and was okay for food and water.

The only good news of the day was something that was made obvious during the first half of today: it was flat. The mountains, though not entirely gone, didn't interfere with the road.

The crappy part of the first half was the on again off again rain. The humidity forced me to take off my rain gear during the dry periods, so I was caught in a on again off again rain gear limbo in the middle of nowhere. You can see this wasn't a great start. But it was flat and the wind was okay.

After lunch, I faced a down right nasty (30 km/h) dead on headwind as I headed directly south for about 70 km. The rain was continuing to come and go. These were definitely the stongest winds of the trip. I was in okay spirits at this point though because I had lots of time before it would be dark. Then it started pouring. This was a full 10/10 down pour. With the rain hitting me directly in the face and it also running down from my head, it felt like I was drowning everytime I accidentally inahled through my nose.

I lasted about a good hour under these conditions, before succumbing to the 'okay, enough is enough, I have two days left and will settle for a ride in a pickup' decision. If I had of been just about anywhere else on my trip, I could have just taken shelter and waited it out, but that was not option here. The first pickup that drove up stopped, and I was greeted by a kind couple from St. Anthony's. I leave it to you to google where St. Anthony's is in NFLD- it's in quite the spot. The ride was 45 km, by the way. Cheater you say! 6980 kms in 43 days I say!

Anyway, there is my day for you. I also had some serious butt issues today. The one pair of non bin shorts I have have been given me grief lately (the two bibs shorts are much better). Tomorrow the forecast is rain and wind from the south. This could be bad news for my hopes to do 240 km tomorrow to Clarenville.

Alarm is set for 4 am. Will try my best tomorrow. Could use Lino to draft behind!!

Chris the hitchhiker

Day 42: Robinsons to Deer Lake

Where I'm writing this from: a computer (not on a dial-up connection though) at a B&B in Deer Lake

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 10-6:30 (slept in and enjoyed it!)
Total time riding: 6hrs 17min
Distance: 161.8 km (had to stop here because there isn't anything in the 20-60km range away from here)
Ascent: 4611 ft (quite hilly here on the west coast of NFLD)
Descent: 5040 ft

Trip Numbers:
Distance covered: 6815.3 km
Distance remaining: 640 km
Days remaining: 3 (should be okay with 210, 240,190)

Today was extremely pleasant. The tailwind I had ALL day helped me through the intense heat and moderate hills. Finally I think the headwind/tailwind difference is narrowing. Tomorrow morning I should have another tailwind and things are supposed to flatten out too. I came across two touring cyclists today and one of them shouted across the road to me, "enjoy the tailwind." Let me say, I had no problem doing that today.

The scenery today was spectacular. Wow, Newfoundland is quite beautiful. I'm glad I decided to do the 900km that came with taking the Port-Aux-Basques ferry as opposed to the 100km that comes with the Argentia ferry. The mountains are incredible, especially the ones (Marble Mountain) I went through as I left Corner Brook. That was probably the the nicest valley of mountains I've been through. Wait 'til you see the pictures...

Another pleasant surprise about NFLD has been the roads. They are THE BEST I've been on- a 12/10, an A+++. I was quick to ask the police officer who picked me up last night if it was like this until St. John's and she said yes. That is incredible news.

Tonight I'm staying at a B&B I phoned after I was told both motels here in town are full. This turned out to be a stroke of good luck because the motel would have been around $100 and I'm staying here, in someone's home more or less, for $45. I also get a computer to use, and got some chili and toast tonight too. The people of Newfoundland have been extremely kind so far.

To think I am so close to putting my feet and bike into the shores of St. John's seems to have hit me these past few mornings, when during breakfast a profound sense of pride, joy and gratitude has hit me. I am looking forward to tomorrow morning (which I plan to start very early) where I will start my day at the one Tim Hortons here in town and have some time to again reflect on how close I am and how far I have come and think about all the people I hope to have inspired and touched in some way.

I don't know what the final 10kms will feel like, but I am looking forward to them.


Day 41: North Sydney to Robinsons

Where I'm writing this from: motel 110km from Port-aux-Basques

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 10 - 10 (including ferry to NFLD)
Total time riding: 3hrs 34 min
Distance: 88 km

Trip's Numbers:
Distance biked: 6653.5 km
Distance remaining: roughly 810km
Estimated arrival: (this may change daily, for several reasons): most likely July 16, maybe July 15

Well, I must be on the west coast of Newfoundland because I'm on a dial-up internet connection! Yes, I know you all remember those funny sounds the modem makes back in the early to mid 90's- well I heard those tonight! Haha, anyway the kind lady at this motel let me use her office computer, but after loading the necessary pages to get to writing this blog, I wasn't sure which method was faster: my Blackberry or this dial-up connection.

On to more serious matters, today I took the ferry from North Sydney to Port-aux-Basques. While waiting to board the ferry (which was more than an hour behind schedule) I met up with the only other cyclist also boarding the ferry. He started in Vancouver and made it to Winnipeg before taking a bus to North Sydney. He said he had some bad knee problems. He also said he saw me somewhere near Winnipeg, when I was eating somewhere. He remembered the BikeforMike sign I have on my bike, so he must have not been mistaken. That made me wonder what he had been up to the recently since he took a bus to North Sydney from Winnipeg. I didn't ask. He was a nice guy and we talked for a while on the ferry, took some pictures together, and biked for a few kilometres together in NFLD.

This morning at the Tim Hortons beside the ferry docks, I met Todd and Mary Ann Mason, who are old high school friends of my parents, I believe. What a small world it is we both thought. Todd and at least one of his sons was at the fundraiser in May and so they both knew all about BikeforMike. They graciously bought me my usual Tim Hortons morning fix: 6 muffins (I don't eat ALL six for breakfast people!) and a coffee (I usual get 2 bagels too, but not today). Mary Anne (I don't know if I'm spelling this correctly- sorry Mary Anne) also bought a $10 Tim Hortons card for me- how very nice of them! Thanks to the Masons again.

We sat and ate breakfast together and later met up on the ferry. What a coincidence to meet them.

As for the post ferry part of the day, my oh my, Newfoundland is going to be something, and not necessarily in a good way. Now I can see the truth behind the 3 adjectives someone used to describe the ride into St. John's from Port-aux-Basques. They were: barren, desolate, nothing- and it's accurate. For a cyclist who does no camping, this is a major problem.

Today the problem is more attributed to the tarty ferry (and what's more, the fact that I missed the ferry the night before) but even still, today I experienced the 'desolateness' of Newfoundland. About 40 km into my ride today, I found out from a gas station clerk that the next motel was 70km away. I decided to make for there, fearing I would be out late, but wanting to make up any ground that I could. This is reminiscent of the "I must make it to Winnipeg, at all costs" decision I made back on that fated day (where I hitched a 35km ride because of the night/head wind). Well today I got a 20-25km ride, from- of all people- a SUV RCMP vehicle! What great fortune I had in waving down (while I was biking) this truck, which turned out to be such a vehicle. The officer was a generous and thoughtful lady who was more than happy to help. She also appeared to be very eager to make a donation online when she got home! There were many reasons why I opted for a ride, with only 20 km or so left. Bugs (LOTS and LOTS of bugs) and it getting cold and well...the darkness! are the main three reasons. The office also told me that the moose could even be a problem for me. At night they are a real problem she said.

I've also found out the barren-desolate-nothingness of NFLD continues for quite a bit. Tomorrow I may have to end my day in Deer Lake (I haven't checked the distance yet but I think it's between 130-150km) because after Deer Lake, there is no motel off the highway for something like 100km. This I found out from the motel owner here, after she did some searching/thinking.

Boy oh boy, this isn't too fun right now. I much prefer having ample opportunites to stop where I want and not have the availibility of motels dictate my schedule. Oh well. It's not a race, I know. I'll be done soon enough.

Thanks for reading,

Day 40: Pictou to North Sydney

Where I'm writing this from: docks of ferry to NFLD

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 8:30 to 9
Total time riding: 10 hrs 39 min
Distance: 271.0 km
Ascent: 6815 ft
Descent: 7123 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 6565.5 km
Distance remaining: 900 km
Date I hope to arrive in St. John's: July 15

I biked a tailwind aided 271 kms today, at an average speed of 25.4 km/h. Today was my longest day and day of most climbing. I wanted to catch the ferry tonight, but found out in the morning that there was no space whatsoever. Still, I wanted to make it to the ferry in one day in hopes that I may be able to talk my way on board somehow.

I succeeded in biking the 271 km in good time but failed to get on the ferry. I was disappointed to not get on the ferry, but I was able to get on one the next morning. I lose a good half day of riding, which means I will have to pick up the slack to make NFLD in 5 days.

The ride today was very pleasant, perhaps a top 3 day. The beautiful tailwind raised my spirits and the road through Nova Scotia was spectular. Highway 104 and 105 are two of the best quality roads of the trip. NS goes down as having the best roads to ride on.

I met another cyclist during the last 10 kms. This guy, unlike me, was a real cyclist. He had his carbon fibre bike, and carbon fibre legs, I joked too. His name is Danny Hebert. He's 19 and used to road race for Specialized. He's competing in the Canada Games in mid August of this year in PEI. He rode with me to the ferry teminal.

That's about it. I think I will be riding with lots of excitement and joy during these final 5 days because I know I'm almost there. 7500km in 45 days- that's what it should be.


Day 39: Borden-Carelton to Pictou

Where I'm writing this from: the motel clerks laptop (thanks Britany)

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 10:30-8
Total time riding: 4 hrs 55min
Distance: 116.1km
Ascent: ??
Descent: ??

Trip Numbers:
Distance: 6294.5 km
Province count: 9 out of 10
Days to St. John's: 6 (this is very likely, making the trip 45 days long)

Through PEI and into Nova Scotia, that is what happened today. Not without a few stories though.

I started the latest I've ever started, at 10:30. This is from an extra long day yesterday- the day I showed Lino who's boss and biked 269 km (I wish you were still with me, Lino, we had a good time, eh?) Because of that extra long day, and the effect it had on me this morning, I considered ending my day in Charlottetown, 50 km away, and taking the rest of the day off- a half day of rest, if you will. I thought about it for a good 10 minutes and decided not to. It made more sense to bike all of PEI and finish in Nova Scotia, so that's what I did. The rest gained from taking the rest of the day off in Charlottetown wouldn't have made up for the fact that I would lose a good 70km.

Now that I'm in Pictou, let me tell you I am glad I decided not to take the half rest day. I'm about 260km away from North Sydney, where the ferry is to NFLD. Are you with me, here? I'm going to attempt to get to the ferry tomorrow. I've looked into the ferry schedule, and it is perfect. A ferry leaves at midnight. If I don't make it, then I add a whole day on to my trip, because I would have to wait until the morning to board the ferry and then get to NFLD well into that day and not be able to make it to Cornerbrook that night. So the plan is 1 day in Nova Scotia and 5 days in NFLD- that is, 5 days of biking in NFLD with a 6 and possibly 7th day for some final relfections as well as a flight.

It's quite exciting to be this close. St. John's will be something.

As for today, it was great. 5km into my ride, my rear tire completely blew out. I ran over a 1/2 inch thick bolt that was broken at its threaded end (making that end very sharp) and the bolt ripped right through my tire, making a 1.5cm rip in the side of the tire and also ripping the tube. This was no biggie really. I wasn't mad because it was beautiful out (PEI is incredible!) and my day had only just begun. (A flat at the end of the day, which happened once while on the trip, is a horrible experience.)

With that fixed, I headed for Charlottetown. It was a hilly ride, as was the second half of my PEI ride, but it was very beautiful. The roads were in bad shape too, but it didn't seem to both me too much. My agreeable state of mind probably came from the fact that I knew today was going to be a short day, so I was in no hurry. (Tomorrow I will be in a huge hurry and the hills I know I will be facing will make it very challenging..but I will try my best.)

Once in Charlottetown, I met with a reported from the Charlottetown Guardian and took picture #7 of my message.

The best part of the ride came on the ferry ride from PEI to Nova Scotia. There, taking in the beautiful and calming scenes of the water and sunset, a gentleman struck up a conversation with me because of my cycling gear. His name was Jeff and along with his wife Lucy and their 4 children, they were in Nova Scotia (and PEI) visiting family. Jeff was a great guy. He and I talked about a lot of things. I could tell he was a well respected man, a great family man, a real gentleman. It seems as if the most interesting and polite man on the boat happened to talk to me. How lucky I was. We talked on the roof deck of the ferry for nearly the whole ride. Thanks, Jeff.

After the ferry, I decided to end my day with a short 7km ride to Pictou. I'm staying in a cabin right near the highway. By some marvelous coincidence there happens to be a Tim Hortons and a Subway right by. I also made a stop at the Sobey's too, where I grabbed 4 bananas and 4 oranges. The kind young lady at this motel let me use her laptop to see the NFLD ferry schedules, write this blog, and email Brandon picture #7. I'm also keeping her from leaving her work (she finished at 10 and it's 10:30 now) and so I must stop! She is too kind to tell me she has to go.

Tomorrow may be long, hard, awful, fun, tough, scenic, hot or hilly. I will find out soon enough!

Also, thanks to everyone for all the emails I got today. There are great to read. Pictures soon.

From Nova Scotia,

Day 38: Bathurst to Borden-Carleton

Where I'm writing this from: picnic table outside Tim Hortons

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 6:10 to 9:30
Total time riding: 11 hrs 40 min
Distance: 268.7 km (a personal record)
Ascent: 3319 ft
Descent: 3790 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 6178.4 km
Days until St. John's: 7???

Well, I made it. I took the shuttle service late last night and I am in PEI. Then I found the closest motel and after some food, fell fast asleep.

268.7 kms, not bad. It's not over 300, which I what I wanted to do at least once this trip, but it isn't too shabby either.

Today I will ride through PEI and leave it via the ferry at the south end. I will also see about contacting the Charlottletown newspaper.

Getting closer to St. John's,


Day 37: Matapedia to Bathurst

Where I'm writing this from: lovely house that I'm staying at in Bathurst

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 9:30 to 8:00 (lost an hour from time change)
Total time riding: 6 hrs 48 min
Distance: 140.6 km
Ascent: ?? (not working)
Descent: ?? (not working)

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 5909.7 km
Subway count: my best guess would be around 30 subs. That's 360 inches. I order nothing but cold cut combos with sometimes a slight variation in vegetables to mix things up.
Tim Hortons muffin count: another estimate would put this around 60. I find the chocolate chip ones to be very addictive. Fruit explosions come in second, and blueberry in third. I tried a Raspberry one today (first time I've seen them) but it doesn't make the top 3. I also have 2 blueberry bagels each 'Tim Hortons morning'.

Another memorable day in an unforgettable trip all thanks to a kind young lady (she looks 22 but she's only 18) who works the front desk of the Atlantic Host motel. Thanks Stephanie! More on this later.

Today many things happened. For one, the sky was blue. Yes, after a week of nothing but overcast and rain, the skies cleared up when I reached Dalhouise and I actually saw the sun, put sunscreen on, had icecream and didn't have to worry about when it was going to rain next! Tomorrow looks good too. There's also supposed be a slight wind from the north tomorrow which is fantastic! Perhaps tomorrow I show Lino who's boss and bike over 260?? I'l need some help from the wind because my mental strength is a little low right now.

The only bad part of today was the strong headwind I had for 80% of the day. Sigh...these headwinds I tell you. The whole idea of riding west to east to catch tailwinds is completely shot in my books. I've probably had a lot of bad luck, but still. The only 2 (2 out of 37, people!!!) days where I had a legitimate tailwind for at least a few hours were the days I biked over 240 km. No coincidence there. Oh well, I'm not going to set a world record (though the thought of trying later in life has now crossed my mind a few times this trip...then again a lot of things cross ones mind when you are sitting on a bike for 9 hrs a day) and I wasn't intending to anyway.

So I'm out of the Appalachians and along the coast of NB. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow and getting into PEI. NFLD soon too!

Anyway for the best part of today, here it is. I arrive at a nice motel right next to a Tim Hortons (that's why I picked the motel) and find out they are all booked. The charming girl behind the desk (who for 18 years old is doing an absolutely incredible job) is nice enough to phone a few places for me to find a room. She told me not to hold my breathe because the town is really busy, for whatever reason, she says. So there we are, she on the phone (alternating between speaking French and English, depending on who she called) and me leaning over the desk, hoping she can find something, and something close. The best she could do was something 15 km back the way I came. That wasn't so good. So I had to use plan B, which I quickly devised while she was on the phone: ask if I could stay at her place. Now me being 22 and thinking she is around that she, I didn't know how she could react, but she went for it. She said her mom has a 4 bedroom place and did something like this before, so she phoned her mom and the rest is history.

It's people like Stephanie and her mom (whose name escapes me ...sorry Stephanie's mom!) who really make your day. Sometimes it does get a little dull and so receiving such gratitude from someone else feels especially nice. Here's one last example of the kindness I have come across. At the time when I was told there were no rooms available, the same was happening for another woman. She, seeing my bike and me in my cycling gear, wished me luck in finding a place and left the lobby to find a place for herself. After I work out the deal with the amazing-spectacular-charming Stephanie and am on my way to her house (not far at all) a lady honks at me and gestures to me to pull into the driveway ahead. I do, not knowing what she wants, and it turns out to be the lady I just mentioned. She wanted to make sure I found a place and told me she would have drove me somewhere if need be. How about that? I only exchanged a few sentences with her, she had no idea I was doing what I was for charity, and here she is, going out of her way for me. Canadians, you make me proud to be one!

Alright that's about it for tonight. This blog I consider to be a little longer than normal, and since I'm writing it on my phone, this means tomorrow I can slack off a bit and you can't complain! Tomorrow I'm also planning to be a long day, but only if I can get up early. When you're biking across Canada getting up at 5am (which is what time I TRY to get up nearly everyday) it's not so easy.

Anyway, so long for now. Hopefully tomorrow is at least a 220km day.

Also, one last thanks to Stephanie and her mom (who will be reading this tomorrow, I'm sure) for doing what you did. And thanks to everyone else who has sent an email of support while I've been biking. If anyone wants to do that, send one to They get sent to my phone, so I can read them throughout the day. I enjoy getting emails like them so if you want to, go right ahead.

Thanks for reading,

Day 36: Rimouski to Matapedia

Where I'm writing this from: lovely little motel restaurant crowded with salmon fisherman

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 10:10 to 8:30
Total time riding: 8 hrs 36 min
Distance: 181.1 kms
Ascent: 2549 ft
Descent: ???

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 5769.1 kms
Vicious dogs that chased after me of the road: 2

Ahh, what a journey this has been. The best part of doing this for the first time is that when you enter a new region you don't really know what to expect. Sure you could google the trip to death and see a lot of pictures of the roads and geography you'll be going through, but it's more exciting not to! Today I was met by many pleasant surprises.

When I broke from the St. Lawrence and made for New Brunswick (I'm right at the border tonight) I enjoyed some amazing BC-like scenery. I knew of these mountains, but not that they would be this great! I rode beside a river (with lots of fishermen in it) through the valley of these mountains and with the weather finally cooperating (no rain or fear of it, only a small headwind) it made for some great riding. About 80 kms was spent in the valley. I ended this ride by making it to my destination, Matapedia. I picked this spot when I saw a distance sign that said it was 92 km away. That seemed reasonable all things considered. Normally seeing a number as high as 92 would mean that either the town is pretty big or there just aren't any other towns before that. With Matapedia it was the latter. This, again, I knew by looking at my GPS, but I sure thought I would be bigger than 500 people! (500 was what the motel clerk told me- Quebec doesn't list populations on town signs.)
I've grown into the habit of a sitting down for 20 minutes or so in the morning at a Tim Hortons for a coffee and breakfast, something which is very relaxing when you know you will be biking the rest of the day, and was hoping to do that tomorrow, but that can't happen now. I'll have to eat at the restaurant tomorrow, which is fine, it's just more expensive. The restaurant opens at 7 tomorrow so hopefully I can make it there for then. Lately I've been growing more tired all the time. I'm debating taking one last rest day. We'll see. Anyway, you know that great feeling you get when you're really still tired and you decide to sleep in? Well after biking 5800 kms in 38 days that feeling gets multiplied by about 100.

Today I also experienced the strongest headwind yet. It was a NE one and lasted the entire 35 km I had left along the St. Lawrence. After being on the road for this many days and experiencing so much I wasn't bothered at all by this (not like the Winnipeg headwind when I wanted to smash my bike!). I had my iPod going, was riding along the St. Lawrence through these great little towns and am under 2 weeks from finishing my trip across Canada. Things could be worse I told myself.

Lastly, just want to say hi and thanks to Jan Minac, whose email delighted me when I got into my room tonight. Jan is a math professor at Western and I was lucky to have him for 2 classes in my final year. He is also one of the greatest men I have ever met. Your support means a lot Jan. Thanks again.

New Brunswick tomorrow!!


Day 35: Montmagny to Rimouski

Where I'm writing this from: hotel in Rimouski

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 7:50 to 8
Total time riding: 9 hrs 20 min
Distance: 241.2 kms
Ascent: 2400 ft
Descent: 2593 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 5588 kms
Subway count: lots + 28 inches more today (12, 12, 6)

Finally, a strong and sustained tailwind. It only took 35 days. My average speed over the first 6 hours of riding was over 28 km/h. Rain and a slight headwind slowed me down for the last 3 hours, but I still managed to make it to Rimouski, making today the second longest day, by distance, of the trip.

Really not too much to say other than that. I am really enjoying Quebec. It is my favorite province along with BC. Riding through all these small town (and the ocassional large ones) is a lot of fun.

It's twelve now and I need sleep. I wish I could write more but I have to make sacrifices because I'm doing this alone and only have so much time.

I hope the rain stops after tomorrow. I'm dying to see my shadow again (no sun for the last 2 days) and maybe even wash my bike.

Yours for about 2 more weeks,

Day 34: Neuville to Montmagny

Where I'm writing this from: motel in Montmagny

Today's SMALL Numbers:
Total time travelling: 8:30 to 4:30
Total time riding: 5 hrs 5 min
Distance: 95.5 km
Ascent: 1705 ft
Descent: 1584 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 5346.8 km
Subway count: another 2 addiction is slowly growing. I wonder how I'll be able to cope with the withdrawal when I'm done.

Well for starters, I had an amazing breakfast this morning that I wished wouldn't end. With that I hit the road, again with skies that I knew would certainly bring rain. I made it to Quebec City not before long. From the start of the ride today I had decided I would take it easy, that speed and distance wouldn't be as important as they usual are.

Not before long I was in Quebec City. What a place! On my way in I stopped at Laval University and rode around the campus. I was headed towards the Mountain Equipment Co-op to buy some rain pants- the same pair Lino had. Given that there are still 2 weeks and I am still in never ending rain (5 out of the last 6 days have had rain) I decided to go for it. The MEC was past the bridge crossing the river, so I decided not to double back and instead take a short 10 min ferry ride to the south side.

At MEC I spoke with a young boy there with his family whose dad encouraged him to put his English to use and ask me about my trip across Canada. He did a great job and was very charming. He asked me what date I left Vancouver, when did I arrive in Quebec, where my trip would finish and how many kilometres I have made so far.

After leaving MEC and biking slowly throughout Quebec City to take it all in and then taking the ferry, I was on the Route Verte again, HWY 132, which I will take all the way up the St. Lawrence before I break off and head for New Brunswick. The road started off in horrible shape and I wondered how long it would last. Luckily it didn't last long. Then the rain picked up (it was spitting nearly all day) and my newly acquired rain pants were put to work. If there's one positive thing I can think of from having all this rain recently, and the fact that I've had way more head winds than no winds and tail winds combined, it's the difficulty factor. This trip has been marked by its fair share of bad weather, as you've read throughout my travels for the most part, and so I least I got to experience a little of everything- that my trip was definitely not easier than average.

Tomorrow I hope to be up and at 'em early and make some good headway. I am anticipating more rain tomorrow as well as some not so flat terrain.

Getting closer to the end! I'm both excited and a little sad by that fact!


Day 33: Charlemagne to Neuville

Where Im writing this from: a spectacular and amazing and incredible and epic Bed and Breakfast in Neuville (25 km SW of Quebec City)

(no apostrophes for this blog; Im on a french computer and keyboard is set up for accents..but a french keyboard is way better than a BlackBerry!)

Todays Numbers:
total time travelling: 8 - 8:30
total time riding: 9hrs 40 min
distance: 215.5 km
ascent: 889 ft
descent: 847

Trips Numbers:
distance: 5251.3 km
touring cyclist count: 11+2

Wow, what an ending to a long day. Here is the long and short of today.

I woke up to see a light drizzle outside. I wasnt surprised; this was the 4th day in a row of rain and I still am likely to have 2 more. This hotel (a small 2 floor hotel) had a continental breakfast, something I havent had in a while, so I ate there. Much to my liking their muffins were individually packaged- perfect for a traveller like me- so I quietly took 3 back to my room to eat throughout the day.

I took HWY 138, an absolutely marvelous road than runs along the north side of the St. Lawrence. There are two things I will remember about this road: flat and scenic. What a great ride I had today on this road. It was the first long stretch of road with houses along it the entire way. In between the small towns, where the stores and side roads and more houses were, there were houses there too. It was a nice change from how its been nearly everywhere else- towns with next to no cilivized life in between.

Quebec has been an absolute pleasure so far. Ive enjoyed working around the language barrier and continue to be intrigued by the people here. Ive got down the Subway order in french pretty solidly. Ou est la motel was another I managed to conjur up tonight too. Not sure if I should be using la or le or another word there- I am sure, though, that grade nine french was the lowest mark I got in high school! Actually, I dont want to sound insensitive here because if one thing is for sure its that, after spending only 1.5 days in Quebec, I completely love it and also really want to learn French. I do mean it though- Quebec, although its still early (although I think the later I wait the more I will like it) ranks number 1 on the favorite provinces list. And to think Im going to spend another 2-3 days along the St. Lawrence (soon to be the south side, once I cross the river at Quebec City)- well, I am happy about that.

I passed through many small towns along 138 today. They are all so very old! Some go back to the 1680s. They also all have one very large church. I decided to make a bit a theme of it and take a picture of each one (with my bike in the picture of course).

As for the weather today- much of the same, rain and an easterly wind. I probably rode through a good 3 hours of rain today, though because it was at worst only a light shower, it didnt bother me too much at all.

Ah...I can hardly keep my eyes open! These blogs and my long days only give me about 6 hours of sleep a night. Okay, so Ill get to the good part about today now.

So it was about 7:30 at night, and I was just pulling into Donnacona, which by all accounts of the map on my GPS, looked like a pretty decety sized town, especially relative to all the towns I have beem through toady (all of whom had at least 1 motel). Well dont you know, Donnacona doesnt have a place to stay. At least thats what two people at Subway told me. My GPS also told me this before, but in semi small towns like Donnacona, it can be unreliable in this regard, it not knowing that certain motels exist. So I eventually find out there is a hotel about 14km away in Neuville. Neuville is the next town east along 138, so it wasnt the end of the world. My socks and shoes were finally soaked (the product of 2 hours of rain I had just endured) and it was beginning to get dark (and a little cool) and I had already done 200km, so you can see the small urgency of my situation.

I get into Neuville and cant find this hotel. I ask a lady, who spoke english well (thank goodness) and she told me its just 1km east of where I am. This puts it on the eastern edge of Neuville, not the best luck I am thinking to myself, but nonetheless there is a hotel for me. Well there was a hotel there, a nice one too, but there wasnt a room for me. Completely full.

My options are: keep going east, to the next town about 18 km away and grab the motel there, or, go back the 1km I just came and try a Bed and Breakfast the lady who I spoke with earlier told me about also. I decide to go to the B&B. It was just a regular looking house, with a tiny sign that said B&B, etc. I get off my bike, and see the most promising sign in the whole world: cyclists welcome! (in french). Wow, I was about to jump out of my shoes with glee. So here I am, in the basement of this beautiful house, where a family of at least one boy, about 8 years old, and his parents live. The mother didnt speak much english, but we both managed. I also pointed my way into doing all my laundry! (I say pointed because when she showed me the kitchen area, I saw the washer and dryer and sort of pointed to it and asked her if I could use it.)

Anyway, maybe the end of the night doesnt sound all that exciting, but its just another page out of the You Just Dont Know How Your Day Is Going to Unfold book.

Two more things:
- I met a very pleasant couple today from Wisconsin who where doing some bike touring and want to give a shout out to them, should they read the blog, which I told them about of course.
- Lino, who we all now know and love, did 254 km yesterday to complete his Vancouver to Montreal trip. Way to go Lino, my man! Now Lino officially has the longest day between the two of us. I will see if I can change that...

Good night from this wonderful B&B, in which I am about to use the first B right now. The second B will come at 7am tomorrow (I put in a special request to bump up the usual 8 or 9 oclock breakfast).

Thanks for reading,

Day 32: Ottawa to Charlemagne

Where I'm writing this from: the Hotel Charlemagne

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 7:40 to 8
Total time riding: 9 hrs on the dot
Distance: 200.2 km (believe this is my 7th day being over 200)
Ascent: 1865 ft
Descent: 1957 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 5035.8 kms
Subway sandwich count: very high and going up almost daily
Days remaining: around 12-14 I hope

-click the link below corresponding to the desired month

Bonjour, Quebec! Here are a few things I've noticed about being in Quebec for the first time:
- the girls are pretty
- city roads are in rough shape
- police officers appear to park their cruisers in their driveway at night
- kids (13+ I think...) are allowed to drive scooters on city roads (this one I knew before coming here. I saw a lot of kids driving today. Boy that would have been fun to do with my friends when I was a kid.
- a 12 inch cold cut Subway sub costs 55 more cents than anywhere else I've eaten over the past 32 days

So I'm in Quebec, where I'll be for another 4 days or so. For the first time in my life I get to feel what it's like to not speak the dominant language of the region I'm in. This language barrier should only become more pronounced as I enter into rural Quebec in the upcoming days. It's interesting because where I am right now most people speak some English so the game becomes trying to figure out how much. It took a few attempts to tell the Subway worker I wanted a cold cut combo sub. I couldn't find the cold cuts to point to so eventually I did the smart thing and just read it off the menu above. Note taken. I do enjoy trying to really make the words sound French when I read them outloud to someone, but my vocabularly on it's own isn't great (but it's not horrible).

Aside from entering Quebec being the big story today, I also parted ways with my parents and Rob and Sandra. The 5 of us ate lunch in Hawkesbury (a lovely place) and then went our seperate ways. (They had a club sandwich waiting for me as I was across the street getting my hair cut!) For me it was across a bridge not 2KM away and into Quebec and for them it was off to Gatineau. Their company was a great change of pace for me and I value it a lot. Thanks mom and dad and Rob and Sandra for the company and for feeding me like you did.

The last thing worth mentioning is the fact that I rode through a brutal headwind for all but the last few hours today and for the first time on the trip I performed well in it and didn't let it get to me. Thinking back to those days in the Prairies I can see a major difference in my level of fitness (not surprising) and my mental toughness. I think the latter has to do with riding Lino the previous 2 days. He never got too upset over the wind or the rain and I really admired that. Lino's attitude in this regard is really necessary for a touring cyclist. This is another valuable lesson learned.


Day 31: Pembroke to Ottawa

Where I'm writing this from: motel on the eastern edge of Ottawa

Today's Numbers:
Total time travelling: 7:15 to 7
Total time riding: 7 hrs 45 min
Distance: 186.1 kms
Ascent: 2013 ft
Descent: 2217 ft

Trip's Numbers:
Distance: 4835.6 kms

Ahhh how these blogs keep me up when I want to sleep! I really should have bought a small portable keyboard for this BlackBerry. They were around $100 and I didn't want to spend that. Anyway, without further delay...

Today Lino and I fought rain for 2 hours and a REALLY strong and persistent headwind all day. Of course when I day WE fought winds, I mean he fought them for about 80% of the time and I fought them the remaining 20%; that would be the rough split for drafting that we did.

We left Pembroke and made for Ottawa, where I was planning on riding past (after stopping at Parliament Hill for pictures with Lino) and where he was stopping. We did so via local highways that ran in between HWY 17 and Ottawa River. Doing so was my suggestion- Lino would have taken 17- and let me say what a nice route it was. Next to no traffic, next to no hills, and decent quality of pavement. The only negative was the weather- rainy with a strong headwind- fun stuff. I would have been doomed in these conditions if it wasn't for the presence of some extra testosterone in Lino. He attacked those winds and I admired his courage and talent greatly. What a great guy he was. Like I told him today on Parliament Hill, he made what would have been 2 horrible days into 2 of the best yet.

The winds we faced today were very strong, almost akin to the winds on that unforgettable trek into Winnipeg, but boy did Lino's presence help. We average 24km/h today!! This is one of my fastest days yet. No doubt my average speed today would have been around 20km/h if I wasn't riding with Lino.

So Lino and I made the 160km trip to Ottawa and arrived there around 3. We said our goodbyes and I was headed for Hawkesbury, another 100km away. The only reason why I was attempted this ambitious 260km day was because after changing from a southeast heading to a northeast heading, the headwind changed to a tailwind and so 100km was well within reach. Definitely.

So I left and was in good shape for the first 20km. Then my luck ran out. When I say down to eat my sandwich and Tim Hortons, it started pouring. The skies to the northeast were scary looking. I say at the Tims for probably about an hour before deciding it would be ridiculous to try and get anywhere in that sky given the time of day and the fact that I already fought winds for 6 hours. So I was forced to back track a little and find a motel in eastern Ottawa. What a shame though. I was so pumped after seeing what Lino did with that wind and was looking forward to a 260 km day. Oh well.

The last thing I want to say is what I saw on the Weather Network a few minutes ago. It was on mute and I looked up to a map of Canada showing the rain forecast for tomorrow. There was a gigantic blue blob on eastern Ontario and Quebec, exactly where I am. The kicker is that, as I'm watching this I notice the days changing in the top right corner. It starts with Thursday then the big blue blob moves a little east and the day changes to Friday. This repeats until Sunday. What the heck is that!!!

Two things I will need to endure these days ahead: the attitude Lino has toward rain and headwinds (I should know because both days we rode together we had both) and a pair of rain pants from MEC that Lino has. Too bad the MEC in Ottawa was closed today. Lino and I rode right by it.

Oh yeah. How about arriving in Ottawa on Canada Day?

Good night!