Friday, October 01, 2004

Almost there

Seems like I've been biking against the wind and rain alone forever. Since Cornerbrook, I've noticed the true Newfie spirit, a deep kindness and an unintelligible speech, you're either refered to as 'boy' or 'my lover' wich I had to hear a few times to believe. I'm so close, the fact that I'm 200km from the end of my journey is the only thing that's keeping me on track. If I didn't have to be in st.johns for my flight home I'd probably just give up right now. That's silly though, I've traveled 7750km to get here and to give up now with so little distance left to cover is ridiculous. I've been traveling at a much slower pace that usual, to avoid hanging out in st.johns for more than a couple days and wasting all my money away. The road through Newfoundland has been good so far, the pavement anyways, I always have a shoulder and the pavement is smooth. The hills and weather however seem to have ganged up against me for my last push. The hills seem to be piled one after another to the horizon and the wind seems to be blowing cold rain most of the time. I'm almost there though, the rugged beauty of the land and the kindness of the folk here have pulled my through.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Newfoundland!

woo hoo!! I've finally made it out to the last province of this ride. Right now I'm relaxing with my friend Pete, who I met in Canmore when I first arrived there. His place in Cornerbrook was very, very welcome, it's been a long 3 days from Port au basques. When I arrived at the ferry terminal in Nova Scotia I jumped onto the first ferry, which happened to leave at 11:59pm and arrive at 6am, great! Except for the fact that the seats on the ferry, although reclining and soft, seemed to have been designed specifically to be as uncomfortable as humanly possible. I spent a day "resting" trying to sleep through the daylight with trucks and cars passing 20ft away. Needless to say, even though I wasn't riding my bike it wasn't the most relaxing time off I could have imagined. In retrospect I wish I had ridden that day because now, hurricane Ivan is blowing with incredibly strong north and north east winds the forecasts have said 60-80km per hour with gusts to 130kph. Yesterday was without a doubt the hardest day of riding of the entire trip. I knew it was going to be good first thing in the morning, it was cold, and wet, everything I had was wet, both of my shoes were full of water and my gear must have weighed 10lbs more because it was all soaked. The wind blew incessantly into my face all day long, I had to pedal in my lowest gear almost the whole way, even downhill where the wind would stop me in my tracks if I didn't pedal. Combining the winds with rain and cold made the day truly horrible, the whole way I doubted if I would even be able to ride the 100km I needed to reach Cornerbrook. In the end I did make it and I'm so grateful to the Thurlow family for letting me stay under their roof while the weather blows over.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

the east

Where do I even begin. I'm sitting right now in the library of north sydney, nova scotia waiting for the ferry to leave, it's 7:30 pm now and after having riden a full day, I'm not looking too forward to waiting till midnight for this boat, but that's the way it is I guess. The last days of riding have ben a blur, two days from montreal to quebec city. I satyed with my aunt in Beauport for two days visiting, and gathering contacts for places to stop along the way east. Four days later I found myself in dalhousie, new brunswick. The riding had been fast until now, I had a tailwind that blew me all the way from montreal. After a day off in dalhousie waiting for the remenants of hurricane francis to disperse I headed of again. Now the riding changed, I faced allot of hills (small, but frequent) and a pretty good headwind. fun fun fun, I'm missing chloe more and more every day, it's been hard keping my motivation up. There are other things too, I've been hit by at least twice as many bugs, and the dogs seem to like me ( I think chloe kept them at bay somehow, these are the first to bother me on the whole trip) They'll chase me the whole lengh of their yards, sometimes more.

all that said I'm having a great time, I can't wait to get to newfoundland and see this newfie granite I keep hearing about!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Changes in the trip : Chloe

We haven't writen for a while and the status of our bike trip has changed. I had to make the dessision to stop biking. I started getting light headed/dizzy about a week before we met up to bike with Chirs's parents. Our planned stay in Toronto for 2 weeks turned into a month because i was still not feeling any better and i started getting headachs. So we decided to to take the train to Montreal to see my freinds Jamie and Dave, and Chris's Aunt Anne and Uncle Don and I really wanted to see Montreal. Then I took a flight back to Edmonton form there.

Chris decided to keep biking from Montreal. He has been pulling off some 185km days (wow). When I talked to him 2 days ago he was in Dalhousie, which is on the Quebec/New Brunswick bourder looking out to the Ocean. He said it was very windy because of how exposed it is there, he was also getting rained on fairly heavily form the tail end of huricane Frances. I hope he gets some dryer days to come.

I'm relaxing at my moms. I have been seeing my doctor here, and am basicly waiting for more tests to get done. He dosen't know whats going on with out more tests and it takes a month or more to get an apointment for some of this stuff. It just fristrating having to wait.
Chris fly's to Edmonton the begining of October and we will head back to Canmore shortly after. I'm looing forward to being back in Canmore, I'm dreaming of mountains.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Thunder Bay to Hanmer : Chloe

10 days straight of riding, one bear, 2 moose and of course bugs, bugs and more bugs, thick traffic with no shoulders on the road and we are out of Northern Ontario!  It really wasn't that bad.

We are now in Hanmer which is about 20 km north of Sudbury taking a much needed rest at my Aunt Leone and Uncle Berns home.  We have been hanging out by there pool in there beautiful oasis of a back yard, drinking beer and trying to figure out what to eat next, we have about 6 choices of meals we could eat for dinner tonight, which sure beats the boiled vegetables and pasta we eat every night.   We have also got to watch a bit of la tour de France, I think the appeal to us, is that its nice to watch someone else work hard biking.

We went from Thunder Bay to about 20 km past Nipigon, where we ducked off the road to camp for the night .  It was about 9pm and we were both reading when Chris herd heavy breathing outside the tent and sat up, I herd a crunch sound like something had stepped in moss.  So Chris, the brave one out of us poked his head out of the tent and saw a little black bear 2 meters from the tent and coming closer.  He yelled and then clapped his hands which scared the bear off.  We got out of the tent and took the air horn off my bike just in case the bear came back, but luckily we did not have a return visitor. 

We biked through the Lake superior National park which was very hilly, but also very beautiful.  We saw some of the nicest scenery around this area.  Just after we left the Park we camped in Batchawana Bay at a camp ground where we made friends with the owner "Dan"  and his girlfriend Ellen.  We stayed up to 1 am talking with them about the local area, and basically the out doors: from ice climbing to canoeing to caving and exploring old mines.  They even gave us beer!  It was so refreshing to talk with them, they just seem to have a special spark for life inside of them that spreads when you spend time with them.

Since we went through Sault Ste Marie the road hasn't been so good.  It is narrow and full of big trucks and lots of traffic with no shoulders.  We have 1 more day of riding on it once we leave Hanmer and then we turn off and follow Manatoulin Island and the Bruce peninsula down to highway 10.  The traffic should then lighten up a fair bit. 

It feels good to have made this much progress through Ontario,  the province isn't quite as threatening as it once was.


Monday, July 12, 2004

Thunder bay

It's taken a little bit to get back into the swing of things. We had an incredible break with the Deans in Kenora, we were treated to good food, a bed, and the chance to paddle for 4 days on beautiful Dryberry lake. The paddling was the nicest treat, we had gotten used to "camping" next to the highway and in R.V. parks and the quiet and solitude we experienced were priceless. After spending a week off our bikes we both knew it was time to start riding again if we wanted to make it to the east coast with any time to spare. We decided to travel Highway 11 south from Kenora towards the US border then across to Thunder bay, it turned out to be theright choice! The traffic was so light it didn't matter if the shoulder was a mess, we just rode on the road. Our first day was a downer for me, shield country is beautiful, but hilly and unrelentingly buggy. If we want to stop we have to find just the right spot so the bugs are "less" bad and when we ride our speed yo-yos constantly between 40kph and 5kph as we weave our way through the shield. Luckily for my moral as soon as we left Kenora we started meeting more and more bicycle tourists like ourselves. We shared camping on our first night with another couple biking across Canada who had traveled more or less the exact route we took! It was great to be able to exchange stories with other bikers, it seems we camped in allot of the same places as well. Our last day on the road before Thunder bay we met 2 more parties of bikers, two men finishing their tour in Thunder bay and two more, a father son team, on their way to the east coast as well. They were moving fast! Averaging over 150km a day, impressive! We're taking two days here and then we'll be off around lake Superior. We've been told that our next leg is the sketchiest of the whole trip, the road along the lake is apparently very windy with little to no shoulder. It should only be for a couple days before we're back on safe roads again!
chris.

Northern Ontario: the land of Trees,Moose, Mosquito's, and lots of bugs that want to eat me: Chloe

My shiner is gone and there is not much trace of my accident left, although I now ride over railway crossing with a bit of apprehension, tightly gripping the handle bars.

We are definitely in bug country. We had a couple of bad nights where the mosquito's were really pesky but the worst was when we camped at Falcon lake which is on the Manitoba/ Ontario border. We pulled into the camp site hot and sweaty after riding a 140 km day to be welcomed by hundreds of swarming mosquito's. We had to take turns cooking. One of us would sit in the tent while the other watched dinner then we would switch off. That was so unpleasant, but luckily they haven't been that bad since, we eat dinner in the tent most nights, but my idea of being eaten alive by mosquito's has a whole new meaning. I have also had the chance to experience black flies, they don't touch Chris but they eat me alive. I have to say that I personally think the black flies are the worst bugs we've encountered, they seem a little smarter than mosquito's, they go straight for my neck and behind my ears, and they leave the itchyest bites.

This is my first time in shield country. I like all of the rock and trees, it is so different from the rest of Canada. When we went canoeing near Kenora we camped on a big clean rock slab the jutted out into the lake. It was definitely one of the nicest places I have ever gotten camp.

We have started running into other bike tourists now that there is a choice of 2 highways. We have been playing leap frog with another couple (Joanne and Dave) since we left Kenora. Its been so nice to talk to someone who knows what you've gone through to come this far.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Ontario ... the Big One Baby!

Accidents do happen they say, and the odds were against us riding our bikes all day, everyday, for a month on end. After spending our rest day in Souris Manitoba, we took off eager to ride 100 kilometers or more. 10 kilometers out of town we crossed a set of railway tracks that angled across the highway at about a 45 degree angle. I watched from behind as Chloes front tire was caught in the second track and her bike was thrown over onto its side. We were doing about 20-25 kph, in her own words "it happened so fast I was more surprised than anything", she landed on her left side and bounced, first hitting her helmet, then her cheek. As soon as she stopped, she jumped up and ran off the highway, at least I knew she wasn't too badly injured! Chloe got away with a black eye and some bruises. Seems like it didn't affect her riding performance though! Afterwards we rode 110km, 100km, 150km and 90km over 4 days to reach Kenora, Ontario the home base of our friend Jeremy Dean in Canmore.
Our ride over the last stint has been fast, the wind was with us everyday but the first. When we passed through St. Claude, Manitoba, we were spared having to camp next to the high school safe-grad by an incredibly kind couple of bicycle tourist sympathizers who put us up in a bed and fed us breakfast before we left for Winnipeg. We got on the road so early that day that we arrived in Winnipeg around noon that day. We had enough time to go into the city, hit MEC and get the goodies we wanted and walk around enough to get the gist of Winnipeg, nice city! We left the next morning and biked 150 kms to Falcon lake, the beginning of the Canadian Shield!! It's so exciting to have some new terrain, it's not flat anymore, and there are trees! Fabulous trees! Ones that grow in a forest, not in a perfect horeshoe around the farm house. There's granite about as well, piles of it, everywhere, all around us and for the next little while I'm sure .... It's all very exciting. Right now we're about to celebrate Canada day in Kenora and head out on a four day canoe trip tomorrow morning! Wish us clear skies and waters!

chris.