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July 26, 2013

Suck It Up Princess!

Suck It Up Princess!

Distance: 131km
Time: 5:52:32

It started tough. Less than 5km into the ride my rear wheel flats. A kilometer later, I realize I didn’t fix it right which makes me have to do it all over again. Then about six kilometers after that a cop pulls up beside me and tells me to get off the Trans-Canada, as through Thunder Bay it is a restricted highway. I begrudgingly do and spend my first hour on the bike dodging cars, stop lights and trying to go in the most direct route.

A little while later after getting directions from a guy on the street I found out I had gone too far and had missed the Terry Fox monument. I had to backtrack. I hate backtracking. Not to mention, I had to go on the restricted highway (it is restricted because it has no shoulders). After all that, I arrived at the Terry Fox monument.

To say I was moved would an understatement. It is something else. I wish every Canadian could visit it. I think it is profound to stand and admire the man, to think of his legacy and to be part of the epic story of Canadians who believed.

The Terry Fox monument, make a point of visiting it if you can.

The Terry Fox monument, make a point of visiting it if you can.

Not far up the highway, another reminder of Terry Fox, the place where the Marathon of Hope ended.


All of this inspired me. How could it not?

However, today was a real hard day in the saddle. I’m usually very quick to shake negative feelings. I try to recognize the wonder of what’s around me. Today, I couldn’t do it. The headwind, the cold, wet temperature, all affected my mood. As I told Laura, “It’s a good thing we don’t have a helicopter, because I would have called asked for you to chopper me out.” to which she replied, “You know for sure, I would have never sent it.”

Needless to say, I got to Nipigon today. It sets me up for a long day into Marathon, where I’m meeting my Mom (it’s her birthplace) and she’ll be seeing it for the first time since she was little kid. I’m looking forward to sharing that with her tomorrow.

It’s time for me to suck it up, recognize that I’ve been given this opportunity to see Canada.

Ride on.

July 26, 2013

Thunder..Na na na na na na na… Thunder Bay!

I had to go and check out Kakabeka Falls.

I had to go and check out Kakabeka Falls.

Distance: 204km
Time: 7:23:14

Leaving English River I had Thunder Bay in my crosshairs. It was a third straight 200+ km day but I had a beautiful tailwind, nice overcast day and very little traffic. I was flying!

To imagine what happened next, you’d think I was making it up. You’d think I studied the quest tale and imagined the archetypes of a journey. You know, the early thirties clad in spandex pushing the pedals as hard as possible (that’s me), the young university grad who just broke up with her boyfriend, the retired Brit who lost his wife five years ago and the mid-twenties drfiter with dreadlocks, sandals and no helmet, one by one each ventured into the tiny Northern Ontario town of Shabaqua on their way east.

At the same time, as I rolled in, the four of us meeting for the first time under the awning of the only gas station for miles. Then not ten minutes later, a total downpour. Each of us safe and dry. One by one we each left and that was that. Each of them had started on the west coast at different times and met in that moment.

As I was the last one to arrive and the last one to leave, I met them all later on the road as I passed them.

To meet others on this journey let me share and learn from their experiences. It also was interesting all the different stories that take people onto the bike and onto the road.

Ride on.

July 24, 2013

Every Road Has a Story


Distance: 205km

Time: 7:29:13

It’s quite something to bike through this rugged landscape. It stretches out and encloses on you. For stretches of time, I’m the only person around. Today, the traffic was light, the road was smooth and the weather begged to be enjoyed.

As alone as I was at times, there are stories being whispered through the lands. The most obvious, the hundreds of inukshuks perched on the rocky outcrops. Each one delicately placed there by someone. Who stops their car in the middle of nowhere to climb a rocky cliff and make a pile of rocks? What story does each inukshuk hold?

After seeing so many and thinking about each story, I decided to add my own story to the highway. I climbed up, not too high, and built my little inukshuk from the rocks I could find. It becomes an anonymous part of the larger story.

My story added to the tale of the road.

My story added to the tale of the road.

The other part of the story of the road is the 15-20 crosses within the 200km I rode today. Each one calls out the story of someone lost. As I pedaled past I couldn’t help but feel the story whispered in the trees. It’s a lonely stretch of road, but these stories keep you company.

Alas, I ride on, reflecting on the stories of the past and imagining all the stories yet to be captured.

I rest tonight in English River, one big push tomorrow to Chippewa Park just outside Thunder Bay. I hope the road, the weather and the riding is as good as today.

Ride on.

July 23, 2013

The Goliath


Distance: 207 km
Time: 8:03:12

When this thing got started, I always told people, “I’m not afraid of the mountains, the prairies or the east coast, what scares me the most, Northern Ontario.” I’ve heard of the bad shoulders to ride on, the tough Canadian shield and of course, the size.

I find myself 4 provinces down and now into Ontario, better known by me as, The Goliath.

The beginning of The Goliath.

The beginning of The Goliath.

As I crossed the border from Manitoba today, the landscape changed dramatically. Gone were the flat forests and fields, instead trees and rocks. Not to mention the presence of mini inukshuks along the road. The landscape suggested I had entered a more rugged land, something unforgiving.

I had been told of the highway of no shoulder. So far, that hasn’t been my experience, but I’ve still got almost 12 days of it, so only time will tell.

I got a chance to ride through the quaint town of Kenora and find myself in the village of Vermilion Bay. Along the way, another flat.

Often when I flat out, it almost seems a mystery what caused it. Not today, the culprit was too slow in leaving the scene of the crime. By the picture below, could you solve the mystery of the flat tire?

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

About 80km away from my destination, I was told there was a woman who was also biking about an hour in front of me. That was enough motivation for me to drop the hammer. I had to chase the breakaway, it had to be done.

With 50km to go, I caught her and rode with her right into Vermilion Bay. I got a chance to meet Karen. From BC she is making her way across the country partly as her form of protest to the Keystone Pipeline. She is most definitely an environmentalist, but also a teacher (who else has the time to do this). We spent our time riding together talking about our experiences biking, our teaching, and writing (she hopes to write an environmentalist book about this trip). It was a smooth ride where the final kilometers just melted away. Another cool interaction with a stranger on the road.

Another adventurer, Karen.

Another adventurer, Karen.

Ride on.

June 11, 2013

What’s Next?

What’s Next?

When I was 12 years old, after having read about John Goddard in Chicken Soup for the Soul, I sat down and wrote a list of 50 Things To Do Before I Die.

In my twelve years of infinite wisdom, I wrote all manner of things. I wrote meet Oprah, visit Australia, and own a pet monkey. Some things stand out as foolish imaginings and some have found themselves festering in the back of my mind.

The idea of biking across Canada has been scrawled in my twelve-year old penmanship on that tattered piece of lined paper for twenty years. As other things have been completed and achieved, that one lies untested.

Until this year.

On July 1st, I start the adventure that stretches out for 7,200 kilometres.

Starting in Vancouver, British Columbia, I ride until my final destination of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

I hope to document my trip here. I’ll blog as often as possible and with as much insight as I can muster.

By all means, ask questions, provide comments, let me know if there are things I can’t miss.

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