Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 40, July 29, Sudbury Ont. to North Bay Ont.

You always seem to wake early when you haven’t paid for where you're staying. As were leaving a large crew of grounds people arrived to mow and whip the grass. We were on the road by 9:00am.

We experienced construction early in the ride. I dropped one of my water bottles, which I couldn’t stop and retrieve. When you’re on a bike, you have to move fast through construction sites. Vanessa had an experience with an individual who thought she should go faster. He was much more creative in his language than I give him justice here.

There was a very narrow to non-existent shoulder for most of the ride. We decided to eat 45k into the ride at little restaurant at the side of the road. I had my usual, and we were off by 1:00pm. We didn’t stop again for a rest until we were 25k out of North Bay. We had a mild headwind to contend with for most of the day. However, we still averaged a respectable 26km/h for the 115k ride.

North Bay is a larger city than we expected at 55,000 people. Riding through the city was interesting. We racked the bikes at the Ottawa turn off, which is close to Don Cherry’s restaurant. After we set up our tent, we went to the beach for a fantastic swim in Lake Nippissing. We still haven’t been able to convince Allan to go for a swim.

Day 39, July 28, Spragge Ont. to Sudbury Ont.

We were all woken early to seagulls eating rice left out. I didn’t know seagulls could make so much noise. Almost all the rice in the bag had been eaten. Reminded me of the dog/wolf eating the spaghetti in Upsala.

The roads seem to be getting worse. They remind us of Manitoba. We were concerned about the roads in Northern Ontario, but they seem to be worse east of Sault Ste. Marie. The traffic had been picking up considerably as well. On the bright side, hills are few and far between.

Huge smoke stacks greeted us, as we got closer to Sudbury. We didn’t have to ride through Sudbury, as highway 17 stayed north. The ride today was fairly easy, although a bit long. We rode 150k. Our plan was 130k, but we couldn’t find a campsite, so we just continued riding. We decided to camp at a tourist information center, again. It actually isn’t that bad, except for being a bit exposed. Vanessa and Brett decided to sleep in the van. Vanessa isn’t a big fan of bears. As long as I can out run Allan, I think I’ll be fine.

Day 38, July 27, 50k out Sault Ste. Marie Ont. to Spragge, Ont.

We drove out to where we left off the day before. We were greeted with an excellent tailwind as we began to bike. Our average speed for the first hour was 37km/h. We decided to ride for 70k straight before our first break. It was fairly easy to do.

We arrived at another KOA after 4 hours of riding. A very short ride. We completed 128k in 4 hours, for an average of 32km/h. Everything was pretty much perfect with this ride, except for a minor fall Vanessa had as we turned into the campsite. KOA campsites have been the nicest campsites to stay at throughout the trip.
I was finally able to wash my sleeping bag that had become disgusting. My tent seems to leak, but not as bad as Allan’s. He has had no luck with tents this trip.

Day 37, July 26, Sault Ste. Marie Ont.-Rest Day

We left the amazing KOA and headed for the last remaining Husky Truck Stop Restaurant on the trip for breakfast. I had eggs as usual, which is usually preceded by a drawn out explanation on why I need the grill cleaned before they cook my food. As we were leaving the restaurant, Vanessa received a phone call from the hospital in Marathon. We needed to go to the hospital in Sault so she could get new meds. Somehow Vanessa and Brett both have what they call the “Super Bug.”

We didn’t get out of the city until late, so we decided to take half a day off. We only rode 50k out of Sault Ste. Marie, and racked the bikes to find a campsite. We unpacked, spoke to neighbor that was two bricks short, and went to a movie. The Dark Night was a fantastic movie. As we drove back from the movie, we saw a vehicle that had crashed into a large power line. Our campsite was without power for the night. Not a big deal when you live in a tent.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Day 36, July 25, Montreal River Ont. to Sault Ste Marie

It was raining when we woke up this morning. It’s always fun packing a tent when it’s raining. It had quit by the time we took off.

About 10k into the ride, it began to rain lightly. We put on our rain jackets and continued on. We stopped at another park to hangout about 40k into the ride. It was a nice break. It was hardly raining at this point.

For the next 80k, it rained, rained and rained. Coupled with the most intense hill since BC, made for an interesting ride. I’m currently drenched, sitting in a laundry room washing my clothes.

I was feeling flat most of the day. I’m going to eat more rice tonight and tomorrow morning in hopes the extra carbs will boost my energy levels. It's going to be interesting cooking with it pouring outside. I may pay Allan to do it.

We’re staying at probably the nicest campsite we’ve stayed at during the trip-KOA. It has everything, including a Wii. If we weren’t going to bed ASAP, it would be a great place to hang out at.

Day 35, July 24th, Wawa Ont. to Montreal River Ont.

We took off at around 11am today. We decided to have coffee and Tim’s in Wawa before we left. We also took photos by a giant goose statue. Very exciting.

After an hour of riding, we stopped at a provincial park to hang out on the beach. The scenery was surreal, and the sun was hot. I have nice sunburn on my chest to remind me of it. We stayed there for about an hour before taking off.

The hills were back today with a vengeance. Reminded me of BC. It was perfect biking weather, so it wasn’t bad. We didn’t see any signs for Montreal River during the ride. Made us a bit nervous, but we did eventually come across it on the highway. We found a decent campsite on the road. It had a great view of Lake Superior that we all enjoyed. I wish I could have videotaped the sunset. My camera didn’t do it justice.

Day 34, July 23th, White River Ont. to Wawa Ont.

We had to wake up early this morning considering we were camped at a tourist information building. Aussie Rob had told us of a bear he saw earlier down the road. The next thing we know the bear was in the garbage 50 meters away. Then an OPP officer stopped in front of the garbage, pulled out a rifle and shot the bear. Allen gave me the same look as he did in Christina Lake, the “did that just happen” look. It’s ironic that the bear was shot behind a Winnie the Pooh statue. The same picture from my previous blog post.

We decided to catch up on our blogs at a restaurant with wireless Internet, and didn’t get out of town until noon. Aussie Rob took off around 8:30am. It was a nice warm day today. There were plenty of hills, but we averaged 25km/h for the entire ride. I was definitely keeping an eye out for bears today. I only saw one adolescent bear in the ditch. I went from 30km/h to 40km/h in a matter of seconds. You never know where the mother may be.

We found a nice campsite right before Wawa. We didn’t meet up with Aussie Rob again, who probably spent the night somewhere in town.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 33, July 22, Marathon Ont. to White River Ont.

We all agreed to sleep in until 10:00am this morning. Great sleep. The campsite was a kind of a dive, and was 15 minutes out of Marathon. We drove into town to get Vanessa her prescription, and to have lunch. We didn’t get on the road until 1:00pm.

The highway was pretty bad for the first 20k. Construction again. It was like riding on rumble strips for the entire distance. Jpan sent me a link to an article about the effects of cycling on males that I opened in this morning. I wont go into details. It was perfect timing. Thanks for the motivation J!

We arrived in White River around 7:00pm. There wasn’t any campsite for 20 miles in either direction, so we pitched our tents in front of the tourist information building. It just so happens that the Aussie we lost before Thunder Bay was thinking the same thing. We ended up camping with him again. It looked like a Hoovervill-4 tents and a camp stove.

Day 32, July 21st, Terrace Bay Ont. to Marathon Ont.

Today was the second shortest day of the trip. You’d almost think we’d planned it that way with the hills we encountered. It felt like we were back in BC at times. The only difference was the hills only lasted a 1 or 2k, not 20. Again, the views were spectacular. Every time we rode down a hill, we had Lake Superior to the right. It was difficult to take pictures because of how overcast it was today.

Brett was having difficulty with his knee today. We have been worried about what these hills would do to his knee since Dryden. I rode ahead most of the day. I didn’t see the bear that was killed on the road. Brett and Vanessa were visibly disturbed when they caught up to me.

I rode ahead into Marathon and waited for a while before Vanessa caught up. I saw Brett’s bike racked on the van. He wasn’t too upset. I think he knew this was a possibility for this leg of the trip.

We all decided to go to the hospital to get some things checked out. We arrive in these communities too late to go into walk-in clinics. It was a funny site to see us all waiting in the hospital. We didn’t get out of there until 11:30pm. Allan had set our tents up at the campsite, which was greatly appreciated. We were all pretty tired. The hills today took a lot out of us.

We only rode around 78k today. Tomorrow is another light day in terms of distance at 96k. Although in terms of hills, we’re not completely sure. Every local has a different opinion on what to expect.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day 31, July 20th, Nipigon Ont. to Terrace Bay Ont.

We woke up around 9:00am this morning, and decided to have breakfast at the Husky Truck Stop just down the road. It took us well over an hour to get our food, so we didn’t get on the road until noon. It was another overcast day. We had Lake Superior on our left for portions of the ride. Just like the scenery in BC, it was great motivation.

We experienced some hills today. They are definitely getting bigger and longer. Being that it was only a 100k-day, they were fairly manageable.

We stopped and had some food in Schreiber, 15k from Terrace Bay. After dinner we rode into the campsite around 8:00pm.

Day 30, July 19th, Thunder Bay Ont. to Nipigon Ont.

We woke up at 7:00am this morning. We had breakfast with the Kennedy’s, which was great. A welcomed change from cold rice and noodles I usually have in the morning. It took us awhile to reorganize the van, so we didn’t get on the road until 10:00am. Thanks again to Bruce, Tracy, Irene and Philip for making our stay more than pleasant.

Today was a short ride. It was only around a 100k. About 40k into the ride, we decided to stop at Canada’s longest suspension bridge. It cost us $18.00 to cross it. I expected a bit more, but it was a nice break.

Since it quit raining a few days ago, it has been overcast most days. This makes for the best riding. Not too hot or cool. Although today we experienced a great deal of construction that brought with it some terrible roads. We were riding on gravel for a while. I was surprised none of us had a flat tire during or after.

We arrived at the campsite around 7:30pm. We met up with a guy from Quebec that we met riding up Anarchist Mountain in BC. He’s about 60-65 years old. He hadn’t taken a break for the entire trip. I hope that I’m able to do this trip when I reach that age. Tomorrow is another easy ride in terms of distance. However, the hills have been getting steeper and longer.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day 29, July 18, Rest Day in Thunder Bay

We woke up around 10:00am, and had coffee with the Kennedy’s. We then went for lunch with my second cousin Philip. I had a 5-egg omelet. Bruce was going to take us in his boat on Lake Superior, but it looked like it was going to rain. He also lined us up with another boat at a lake an half hour away if we wanted. It was probably a good thing we didn’t take too much leisure time considering how long it took us at the bike store to get our bikes fixed and tuned. Our bikes definitely needed the work. Bruce new the owner of the bike shop, so our bikes were worked on the same day we brought them in. After everything was said and done, we spent $550.00 combined at the bike store.

For dinner we had a fantastic meal prepared by Tracy. We were definitely spoiled. I was also able to look at photos of my Grandpa that Irene had in her suite in the basement. We stayed up late again chatting and playing Halo.

Day 28, July 17, Upsala Ont. to Thunder Bay Ont.

I was woken by heavy breathing outside my tent 3 times last night. I looked out my screen the first time and didn’t see anything and fell asleep. The second time the breathing was followed by heavy crunching. The third time I saw a white and gray dog outside my tent eating a large amount of uncooked spaghetti. I wasn’t completely sure if it was a dog or not being that it was dark, coupled with being blind without my contacts. The Aussie thought it was Allan at first, but then was convinced it was a wolf. I didn’t believe him, probably because of his accent, but I didn’t venture of my tent to check.

Allan and I saw a dirty mutt in the campsite in the morning. It looked like the animal I saw during the night. We didn’t tell the Aussie. The dog must have eaten a half a kilo of uncooked spaghetti noodles.

It was a fairly long day in comparison to the last couple, so we took off early. About 20k in we stopped at a gas station to grab some fuel, and chocolate bars for myself. The Aussie was there having a pop, and he continued to ride with us for the next 80 or so km. Brett and Vanessa were riding slow to help Brett’s knee, so I rode ahead with the him for most of the day. BC Guy eventually caught up with us.

We split with the Aussie and BC Guy 40k outside of Thunderbay. We took an alternative root that would have less traffic. It did end up having less traffic, but a tone of construction.

We arrived in Thunderbay around 7:00pm. We lost an hour today because of the time change. We found a nice campsite to stay in, but we didn’t stay there after I phoned some relatives of mine that I had never met.

Since we were taking a rest day, I thought a coffee with my Dad’s Aunt and his cousin’s family would be a good idea. When I phoned them, they offered to have us stay with them in a trailer in their backyard. A nice bed and a clean shower would be a nice change, so we gratefully accepted.

We hadn’t met before, and I didn’t know what to expect, but all four of us were greeted like family. We stayed up until 1:00am chatting about family, curling, the trip, etc. It was a fantastic night, considering all I new about the family was through a brief conversation with my Dad, and what I found through Google. Thanks Bruce, Tracy, Irene and Philip, for hospitality. I felt a little guilty because I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to repay it.

Day 27, July 16, Ignace Ont. to Upsala Ont.

We didn’t get up until late today. We didn’t know if we were going to take a rest day or not. Brett broke a couple spokes on his back tire yesterday, and we thought we might have to head back to Dryden to a repair shop. The Aussie we met was able to give Brett a hand, and we were able to ride to Upsala.

The campsite we were at was impressive considering the size of the town. The owners were great to talk to. It was interesting to here about the economy of Northern Ontario, or the lack there of. The softwood lumber issue between Canada and the U.S has really hit them hard.

We met up with another lady who was riding her bike around Ontario for Cancer. It was interesting as well as motivating to chat with her for a while.
t was a good ride today. A couple hills, but they were manageable. We arrived in Upsala around 9pm, and got a campsite just inside the village. The guy we met in Dryden, who we’ve affectionately nicknamed “BC Guy,” met us there. The Aussie also met us there. We decided to all share a campsite. The Aussie was hilarious. We chatted for a while, played frisbee, and made fun of Allan. A good night.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 26, July 15, Dryden Ont. to Ignace Ont.

Today was a short day, so we didn’t leave Dryden until 11:00am. We stopped at a gas station to stock up on chocolate bars and Doritos.

Rain hit us as soon as we got on the road. It only lasted about an hour before we saw blue sky. A benefit of rain is that you don’t have to deal with the horse flies. There was a fair bit of construction on the road today. Being on a bike, you can usually just go ahead.

The ride was pretty uneventful. Brett broke two spokes on the cartridge side of his back rim, but made it into town. As we rode into town we met up with an Aussy who was making the same trip. He was trying to lose weight before his wedding. We also met up with the guy from Dryden. He decided to stay with us for the night.

We only rode a little over a 100k today. It was a nice break. We are now a day ahead of schedule. Tomorrow is only a 100k-day, again. There are such few town around here, you either ride 200K+, or split it in two.

Day 25, July 14, Kenora Ont. to Dryden Ont.

We didn’t get out of Kenora until late morning. Luckily there was a Canadian Tire just down the road. I needed a new rain jacket. A McDonald’s was just across the street, so we ate there for breakfast/lunch.

It wasn’t very long before I needed my rain jacket. A large storm over took us. It rained for a couple hours, but it wasn’t too cold. Vanessa and I decided to have a coffee at a mom and pop shop on the side of the road. The coffee was fantastic. Brett was riding slower today because he wasn’t feeling well. He decided not to stop and continue on.

We made it into Dryden fairly late, around 9:00pm. We talked to another biker on the side of the road who was making the same trip as we made it to town. A pulp and paper mill was the first thing we saw and smelt as we rode in.

The highways have been improving. Everyone warned us about the roads in Northern Ontario, but aside from the copious amount of semi-trucks, they’ve been okay. No comparison to Manitoba. We only rode 130k today. There wasn’t a flat stretch of road on the entire leg. It was all hills the entire way. It was a good ride, however.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Day 24,July 13, Richer to Kenora

It was bright and sunny day in the morning. We decided to sleep in and do laundry, so we didn’t get out of the campsite until around noon.

The wind was coming from the north, so it wasn’t in our favor today, but not against. It was warm, and that’s what seemed to be important. The shoulders, what shoulders we had, were rough this section of the road. There also seemed to be ridiculous amount of horse flies. They were pinging of our sunglasses.

We reached Falcon Lake around 3:30pm and had lunch. The scenery was definitely changing by this point. It felt like we were back in B.C. We were off again by 5:00pm.

We arrived in Kenora by 10:30pm. The campsite stayed open until we arrived. The ride into Kenora was fantastic. The city is breathtaking. I hope to come back here and spend sometime in the future.

Day 23, July 12, Portage la Prairie to Richer

There was another storm last night. I didn’t think my tent would make it at times. The day began well. The tailwind was around 40km/h for the first 20k or so. Then it began to rain, rain, and rain. I remember thinking, “ don’t get a flat,” so of course I did. I was going pretty fast when I hit some raised pavement.

It took me awhile, but I managed to get it in. After about 500 meters, I had another flat. I realized I had punctured my tire. It took me about a half hour to change the tire and the tube. Trying to change a tube and a tire when it’s raining in 40km/h wind is not easy or fun. Especially when the driver has a religious radio station on. I don’t think he knew.

Brett’s parents followed Vanessa and Brett on the highway as I changed my tire. I eventually met up with them on at a gas station where we had lunch. Vanessa friend, a recent U of L graduate, joined us for lunch.

We decided to continue on despite the weather. We took a southern highway to bypass Winnipeg. We passed a semi that had crashed on a bridge 10 minutes before we got there. As we went to see if we could do anything, two min-vans rubbernecking began playing bumper cars.

My rain jacket seemed to have blown away during the windstorm at the last campsite. The poncho I bought at the gas station tore in the wind within 20 minutes. I was completely drenched. I did pushups on my handlebars to keep warm. On the bright side, the wind was with us 80% of the time.

We eventually made it to a campsite, which had a hot tube and showers. Brett and Vanessa went to the hospital to see what was with a sore Brett had. It was a 140k day.

Day 22, July 11, Virden to Portage la Prairie

We woke around 6:30am. I didn’t really get a good night sleep. My tent blow over numerous times during the night. We probably should have slept inside. Allan’s tent looked like one of those kids’ pools you’d buy at Wal-Mart. There was about an inch of water in it. We had coffee with Kathy, showered, and said our good-byes.

We drove back to Virden to continue riding. Today was the first day that Brett rode with us since Anarchist Mountain in B.C. It was great to see him ride again. After about 20k the shoulder ended. This is where the bikers were killed 3 weeks before, so we had Allan very close in the Van. We had to ride in the left lane. We were later pulled over by the RCMP. I guess we needed a permit to have a slow moving vehicle on the highway. Anne phoned the RCMP before we left, and they weren’t aware of any permit needed. The guy was pretty good about it and just told us to keep in single file.

About half way to Portage, we were greeted by Brett’s parents on the highway. They drove all the way Provost to see us. They followed us the remainder of the way, which ended up being quite awhile.

As we pulled into the campsite, 15k beyond Portage, it began to lightly rain. Brett’s parents took us for a fantastic meal back in Portage at Boston Pizza. Thanks Ruth and Richard!

Today ended up being a +200k day. It really didn’t feel like it though. The tailwind was around 30km/h during the entire ride.

Day 21, July 10, Moosomin to Virden

I woke up a couple of times during the night swatting mosquitoes. Somehow the passenger side door opened while I was sleeping-creepy.

The headwind was strong today. It felt like we were back in Lethbridge riding to Monarch and back. We were only going between 12-18km/h. Our goal was to ride to Brandon, but the headwind was too strong. We decided to rack our bikes and drive to Brandon to have dinner at Tastee’s Ice Cream and Grill. Also, I needed a new tent.

Bob Cooney hooked us up with the owner of Tastee’s, Kathy Crossin. She made us a fantastic meal on the house. She offered to have us pitch our tents in her backyard of her house in Shilo. We gratefully accepted.

Allan and Vanessa are staying in the house because of a severe thunderstorm warning. I want to test out the new tent, so I’m staying outside. We ended up talking to Kathy until 1:00am about pretty much anything. She was incredibly accommodating, and made us feel right at home. Thanks Kathy!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 20, July 9, White City to Moosomin

We woke up somewhat early today, but it took us awhile to get on the road. Allan was dropped off on the highway by the campsite where we picked him up. We didn’t have the tailwind today that we’ve had for the past few, but the important thing is we didn’t have a head wind. The weather in Saskatchewan has been really mild. Rarely pushing the upper 20 degrees.

Around 90k into the ride, we saw a 50’s nostalgia restaurant on the highway. We later found out that it doubled as a Coca-Cola Museum. We had dinner there for an hour or so. We chatted the owner up for awhile before we left. We’ll try and stop by there again when we’re Alberta bound.

Saskatchewan has been fantastic so far. Nice people, decent scenery, and most importantly: no mountains. Although, one thing that we see a lot of on the highway is road kill. Mostly gofers. Every couple minutes you have to dodge one.

Our goal today was Whitewood, but we decided to go further to Moosomin. It was our first 200k day today. It was perfect weather to do it. I was feeling pretty worn out by the end of it.

We found a decent campsite just off the highway. There are tones of mosquitoes. My tent pole snapped, so I’ll be sleeping in the van tonight.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day 19, July 8, Moose Jaw to White City (10k outside of Regina)

We woke up at 6:30am today. It was a cool morning, and had rained during the night. I did my laundry in the shower before I went to bed, and set it out to dry. It was drenched when I woke. There must have been some exercises for railway workers by the camp we were at because there were around 75 guys in overalls about 50 meters from our tents in the morning.

We rode 15k out of Moose Jaw and then packed our bikes and headed to where they film Corner Gas. I don’t think I’ve sat through one show, but Vanessa is a huge fan. There wasn’t much to see, and it definitely was in the middle of no-where. It was worth the trip though-a nice break.

We began to ride again around 11:00am. We had that fantastic tale wind again. My GPS stopped working, so I don’t know what my average speed was. It was probably around 30-35km/h. Vanessa got a flat on the highway, and I didn’t realize until I was significantly ahead of her and the van. Another road biker passed me while I waited and told me they were changing a flat 10k back. We ended up talking about the U of L for about 10 minutes. He had been there for a visit last February.

We made it into Regina at about 2:30pm. We stopped for food at an A&W. Brett told us that he might be catching a bus back to Lethbridge because his knee wasn’t getting any better. After some convincing from Vanessa, he decided to wait until Winnipeg to see if it improves.

We dropped Allan off at his Grandparents house for the night. I guess he hasn’t seen them for 6 years. He’ll meet up with us in the morning. We made it to this nice campsite outside of Regina by White City. I just had two campers come by and chat with me for 20 minutes about U of L and pretty much everything. I went to shake their hands, and they both gave me a hug. Very nice people. Made my night.

So after I was finished writing my last post at the coffee shop in Moose Jaw, I went to buy one last Pepsi before we left. The girl at the till told me not to worry about it! That’s twice so far on the trip. Now it happened again today, twice. The cashier at A&W told me not to worry about paying for a coffee, and they girls at the campsite just gave me two free stamps to mail some postcards. Both times I pulled out money to pay for them. I looked in the mirror, and I didn’t have chain grease on my face like I did in Cranbrook. I’m thinking that I should have started trading a red paper clip at the beginning of the trip. I might have had a motor home by now.

Our distance today was only 100k. We’re heading to Whitewood tomorrow. If we have the same tail wind, it’ll be an easy ride.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 18, July 7, Herbert to Moose Jaw

We woke up at 6:30am today to a great breakfast prepared by Anne. We ate and said our goodbyes, and were on the road at Herbert by 8:30am. We had another tailwind today. It was great. It was easy to sustain 35km/h.

The weather was hit and miss today. Within a span of 20 minutes, I put on and took off my rain jacket twice. You were either cold, or extremely hot under your rain jacket. However, the tailwind for most of the day more than made up for it.

At one point we noticed that Brett and Allan weren’t behind us. After about an hour they caught up to tell us the van had a flat. We rode the next 24k into Moose Jaw where we tried to find a tire store with a tire we needed. After the 3rd tire shop we visited, we were able to get one. It cost us around $200.00. Enterprise will reimburse us-hopefully.

We rode 120k today. It was an easy ride. We’re hoping to ride beyond Regina tomorrow, but we’re not too sure yet. We’re going to the town where they shoot Corner Gas.

Day 17, July 6th, Gull Lake to Herbert

We deliberately slept in today. It felt great. We didn’t get out onto the highway until 11:00am. Who ever said the Saskatchewan is flat, didn’t ride their bikes across it. It is continuous hills. Although, considerably easier to climb in comparison to B.C.

As we were riding into Swift Current, another biker rode beside me. He was also riding his bike across Canada for a hospital in Toronto. The only difference between our two tours was that he started in Vancouver, and was riding 380k a day! He was planning on being done at the end of the month. I still don’t know if he was in the Sasky sun too long, or if he was serious. He did ride in the right hand lane and not the shoulder! Speaking of shoulders, and the lack there of in Saskatchewan. It’s nice to have van behind us during these stretches.

We went through Swift Current because we were ahead of schedule. We rode another 40k to Herbert. We experienced a significant headwind for this section. At times, we were only going 18-20km/h. Felt like we were riding to Monarch again. We then put our bikes on the rack at Herbert, and headed to Maureen Schwartz’s mom’s house to spend the night. Thanks for setting us up Maureen! We went and had dinner and Smitty’s, where we tried to convince our server to go to the U of L. We gave him a U of L pin and our contact info. We were definitely spoiled again tonight with our accommodations. We each have our own bed and a shower. Thanks Anne!

We only rode about 110k today. It was a nice distance from the last couple days. Tomorrow is Moose Jaw.

Day 16, July 5th, Medicine Hat to Gull Lake

We woke up to a wonderful breakfast prepared by Brett’s Grandma, Margaret. We went back to the teepee around 9am, and then began the journey into Saskatchewan. I didn’t eat much for carbohydrates the night before, and I definitely felt it in the morning.

Although tired, we had a fantastic headwind. We were averaging 35km/h for most of the trip. Our destination for today was Maple Creek, but we decided to continue on further to take advantage of the wind.

Since we took the tandem bike off the back of the van, we’ve been getting a tone of honks and waves from passing vehicles. A simple honk or wave is a huge motivational boost after a 100k.

We arrived in Gull Lake around 7:00pm, and set up camp in the Village’s campsite. A small and simple campsite, but it had free showers, which is always a plus. We rode a 160k today. The women that ran the campsite was very personable, and sat and chatted with us for a while. She currently has two grandkids at the U of L.

Day 15, July 4th, Lethbridge to Medicine Hat

Adam Vossepoel, Brodie Pattenden, and Chris Courtney joined us for this leg of the journey. Adam and Chris both want to do this next year for the University, so it was good experience for them; or that’s at least what I told them. The owners of Alpinland lent their personal bikes to Adam and Brodie for the trip. These weren’t the cheapest bikes to borrow, and it saved them a great deal of time and money in not having to find other road bikes. A shout-out to Alpinland! Brett had a Doctor’s appointment at 2pm, so he stayed behind and caught up with us later in Medicine Hat.

We began biking around 8:15am from the west side of Lethbridge. It took us awhile to get out of Lethbridge. Whoop-up was a breeze after BC. As we got out of Lethbridge, there was a not so friendly storm behind us. We were able to sustain 40km/h for around 15k with a substantial tailwind from this storm. As we turned onto highway 3, the storm caught up to us, and it began to rain fairly heavy. It didn’t let up until we hit Taber, where we decided to take a break at McDonald’s. Having Craig and Todd from CRDC filming on the highway gave us motivation as we biked through the rain. Thanks guys!

Around 100k into the ride, Adam and Brodie were getting pretty tired. Completely understandable for people who don’t regularly bike and just rode a 100k. We stopped for a break and refueled on energy gels, drinks, food, and ibuprofen. We were all good for the remainder of the trip. Chris on the other hand looked as if he had road BC with us. You could tell he worked at Alpinland.

Around Burdett, we saw this Armored Personal Carrier on the road by a John Deere dealership. The owner let us get on to take a picture. He then showed us his personal collection of army vehicles in the back. It was a pretty cool break from the highway.

We all stopped for photos and high-fives at 160k. It was the first “century” Adam, Chris and Brodie had rode (100miles). In the end, it was 180k to the teepee in Medicine Hat from Lethbridge. Google was off again. Sorry Brodie!

We had dinner at the Medicine Hat buffet. Allan’s dad had our meals covered. Adam, Chris and Brodie then headed back to Lethbridge, while Alan and I went to Brett’s Grandma’s house. It was quite a treat to stay at her place. We each had our own bed. Definitely spoiled. Thanks Margaret!

Thanks again to Brodie, Chris and Adam for joining us on this part of the trip. It was a nice change. Although, I think Adam thought all the honks on the road were attributed to his bike shorts.

Day 14, July 3rd, Rest Day in Lethbridge

Nothing really exciting happened today. We spent most of the day prepping for the remainder of the trip. I went and bought extra tires, tubes, and energy gels at AlpinLand.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Day 13, Rest Day in Lethbridge

I slept in until 9am today. Felt great. We went to the University around 11:30am for the BBQ they had to greet us into Lethbridge. I didn’t expect to see so many people out. There were around 50 people outside U-hall clapping as we rode our bikes down the hill. As we walked into the atrium there were a couple hundred members of the University community gathered. Bill and I said a few words to the group of people, and then we ate and spoke to all those that came out. Seeing so many people out made the 1200km journey so far worth it, and will make the remaining 6200km that much easier.

We decided to take another rest day tomorrow to give Vanessa sometime to heal. We’ll head to Medicine on Friday morning. I ended up just hanging out on campus for a good part of the day catching up on what’s going on, and what’s flooded. Brett is making arrangements to see various professionals about his knee while in Lethbridge. We’re still hoping he can join us from Regina onward. Fingers crossed!
I forgot to mention in my last posts, but our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two bikers that were killed on the Trans-Canada Highway last week-a very sobering reality. We’ve taken steps to limit our risks when we reach this stretch of highway in a couple weeks.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Day 12, July 1, Sparwood to Lethbridge

Day 12, July 1, Sparwood to Lethbridge

We got up at 5:30am today so that we could get into Lethbridge at a reasonable time. It was raining when for the first 15kms or so, but not too hard. We met up Vanessa’s Dad 50k into the leg. He’s competed twice in Iron Man Canada, and once in the U.S. I wasn’t looking forward to the pace he would set for the next 150k, although we only ended up staying around 23km/h.

We thought we’d have a tailwind coming out of the Mountains, but we didn’t. We had a substantial headwind from Cowley to Fort MacLeod. I was in need of some serious energy from Pincher to Fort MacLeod. This felt like the longest part of the ride.

We stopped for an hour in Fort MacLeod at the A&W for some food. I can’t eat there, so I ate at the gas station next door. It was nice to eat a Reese Peanut Butter Cup that wasn’t melted.

It started to rain in Fort MacLeod and didn’t stop until we hit Lethbridge. This was the first substantial rain we’ve had on a trip. Passing trucks and campers would throw rain and sand in your face. My bike and helmet are caked. We were lucky though; we missed the flash flood that happened in Lethbridge.
It is going to be nice to sleep indoors tonight. Today was our longest ride at 178k-my second century. Tomorrow we will attend a BBQ arranged at the University. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone.