Flashing like a Disco

Monday July 31, 2006

Last night while staying in Thunder Bay we had an amazing storm. The lightning and thunder were pretty crazy. The thunder shook the RV, and the lightning would flash like a strobe light for minutes at a time. The storm started around 1am, and was still going strong when we woke up at 5:30. The executive decision was made to sleep in and hope for the best later on in the day. We got on the road at 9am and the clouds were still dark but there was no rain for my ride.

Other than the rain yesterday the ride was uneventful. It was a short day, which is good since it gives me a bit of a rest. Tomorrow is long again, and then two shorter days. It's difficult to make all the days the same because of locations of campsites.

Still no data access on the blackberry. Timothy went into a store in Thunder Bay which normally offers wireless internet access, but they said it didn't work. There is some problem for all of Thunder Bay, or so they said. We're stopping at a Home Hardware in Terrence Bay tomorrow, and they have been gracious enough to let us connect to the internet from their machines. That way, at least we'll get the journals up and send some emails.

Timothy's article in the Toronto Sun regarding the food I'm eatting on the trip has been pushed back until next Wednesday. So look for it then.

Distance today: 105km
Total Distance: 3426km


Eastern Time Zone

Sunday July 30, 2006

We are now in the Eastern Time Zone. Which makes it a little easier for me, since I could never figure out how to change the time on my bike computer, so I had to do mental calculations to figure out what time it was wherever I was.

We made it to Thunder Bay today. Early tomorrow morning I will see the Terry Fox statute, which will be interesting.

Again I had a head wind most of the day, but my route shifted around Thunder Bay, so I was able to ride for a while without major win in my face. Hopefully tomorrow it will start to become a tailwind, since it seems to get pretty hilly after Thunder Bay.

I was in the shower yesterday and looked down at my leg and it's so tanned I barely recognized it. It sounds obvious, but spending eight hours a day in the sun, wearing little more than a shirt and shorts really does give you a 'nice' tan.

There is still no data transfer on the Blackberry, so I can't upload this. Eventually I will, and you'll be able to read it.

Distance today: 130km
Total Distance: 3321km


Blazing Saddle

Saturday July 29, 2006

It was a long day today. 185km, but with a headwind, so it was more time in the saddle than every before. I got on the bike at 6am as usual, and finished approximately 4:30pm. It was a looong day. In fact, on this trip I haven't been able to nap after rides. I guess the energy in my body is still going strong, and so I'm too 'pumped' to sleep. That was not the case today.

In my rush to post yesterday I didn't mention a weird geographical fact. Kenora is in the Canadian Shield, which according to at least two people is the hardest rock in the world. However, once you leave Kenora and go about 60km you leave the Canadian Shield and get into farm land again. It was still hilly, but there were no rocks. A little after Dryden the Canadian Shield appeared again, and I will be in it forever (or so it seems).

Today is Saturday, and there were a lot of traffic. A lot of people who drive on these roads seem to be towing boats. Looking at the map, there are thousands of lakes up here, so I guess living up here means you need a boat. Boats would be good because there is very little to do up here. I don't mean to sound like a city boy, but the towns are small and very far apart. Basically today I rode a long distance and went through two 'major' towns, each having at least 1000 people. Most of the day is just trees and rocks.

It is beautiful. In the Prairies, which everyone said would be dull, you could look at different farms, different farm equipment and the like. Here, there is nothing to look at but trees, the occassional forest that has been burned, and some rocks. It's so bad that you get excited to see what people have spay painted on the rocks.

When I get around Lake Superior apparently it gets better.

Timothy is being featured in the Food Section on Wednesday's Toronto Sun for all the food that is being consumed on this trip. I mention this for two reasons: 1) check out the paper that day and 2) Timothy has been going over what I eat on an average day, how many calories I consume and how many I burn etc. I won't spoil the fun of the article, but let it be said that I am consuming more calories than I burn (we think). The only problem is the software that Timothy is using has options for "very active" and age, weight etc. It doesn't have an option for "rides ten hours on a bike". But, we figured it out, and we figured today I probably burned 8 000 calories, and I ate 8 126 or something like that. So I'm not going to be coming back fat, but I won't be coming back dead either.

Tomorrow we ride 145km, so it's an 'easy' day.

Distance today: 185km
Total Distance: 3191km


Good Day

Friday July 28, 2006

I'm about to be on TV and I don't have much time to write. We are in Dryden and there is access to cell phone voice calls, but not data transfers. So for the next few days I might not be able to get email or to post journals. So, don't call my Mom worried about where I am! I will post it as soon as I can.

Today was fun, it was a good ride, and lots of sun which was fine. We did 150 km and will hit Thunder Bay in 2 days. No fire stories, but I did see some planes that would water bomb the fire wherever it was.

TV is on in four minutes, so I better not write anymore. But notice, I'm now over 3000km!

Distance today: 150km
Total Distance: 3006km


Busy Rest Day

Thursday July 27, 2006

Today was a busy day! Every Thursday Sandy from the Toronto Sun calls to hear of my adventures from the past week, and she publishes it in Friday's paper. So the campsite we are staying at is beautiful, but it's outside cell phone range. So we were in the Kenora by 9am, to ensure we could talk to Sandy. At ten we met Larry and Sylvia, the owners of the Kenora Home Hardware and they took us out on their boat.

We went 45km north of Kenora and went on a thirty minute boat ride to Sylvia's Mom's cottage. Sylvia's Mom, Margo is 78 and still runs a five cottage resort where people come and rent cottages. She's been doing it for forty five years, though this will be her last year. I found it amazing how active she is. In the winter she cross-country skiis every day, and when we got to the cottage she was digging dirty to put in new wooden stairs. We had a very nice lunch and then took the boat out for a little survey of the lakes around there.

We got back into Kenora at 4:30 and had to rush to my Aunt Eleanor's friend Linda's house for supper. She was nice enough to invite Timothy and I over for supper and I had asked if I could use her washing machine, so I got a full stomach and clean clothes! She has a beautiful home overlooking the water. We had a huge dinner which was fantastic, and some rubbarb pie and ice cream for dessert. It was a very nice evening.

Overall it was a wonderful day, and it was nice to be able to see a bit of the country off a highway! Northwestern Ontario is in a dry spell, which is great for me but bad for forest fires. Accordingly, there are no fires of any kind allowed anywhere around here, and there is a lot of talk about where the fires are popping up. Apparently I might be riding close to a fire tomorrow, though it's still a long way from the road, but I might be able to smell the smoke. That shoudl be interesting.

We're approximately 500km from Thunder Bay, which I am going to designate the cerimonial half way point of the trip. I think we'll still be about 200km away from the real half way point, but it will be nice to be able to celebrate half way with the Terry Fox statute. I'm certain that will be an emotional day for me.

First the Sour, now the Sweet

Wednesday July 26, 2006

Two things of note: 1) I'm in Ontario. 2) One month today I'm going to be in Halifax!

Yesterday's ride was awful. Lots of rain, 150km, and a bad mix on my ipod. Today, we had 170+ km to go, and I was worried it was going to rain again. Thankfully when we awoke it was sunny, and it was sunny the entire day. Yesterday I did 155km in 8 hours, and today I did 175km in less than 8 hours. It's much better to ride when it's sunny.

Not much further east from our camp ground last night I started seeing the rocks which announced the Canadian Shield. It also started to get hilly, but it wasn't too bad. We had about 110km to the Ontario border, and the rest getting into Kenora. We stopped at the Ontario sign to take a picture and saw an older couple on a three wheel motorcycle pulling a trailer. When I was in Kenora I saw the same couple, so I must have been riding pretty quickly!

In Kenora was a Home Hardware event. It was great, there were lots of people, the media were there and they had a cake! Anyone who knows me, knows I enjoy refined sugar every once in a while, and boy the cake was good. The only thing better would have been cake with a scoop of ice cream (are you reading this other Home Hardwares? Just kidding).

One of the boys who helped to raise the six thousand dollars from yesterday has a cottage just outside Kenora. So he asked if he could ride with me, and I said no problem. I had done 160km by the time I met him, and he had done zero. So he had a bit of an advantage, but I did everything I could do to make sure that I not only kept up with him, but pushed him to go faster. Of course, I was barely breathing and my heart was pumping like a jackhammer in my chest, but I couldn't show weakness! He was actually a great rider, and I'm sure he kept it slow so that I didn't die trying to keep up.

Tomorrow is a rest day, and the fine folks at Home Hardware invited us for a boat ride so that they can show us the Kenora that the locals know. It should be a great day!

If you notice the distance is 19 km longer than the 175 I've been talking about, it's because I rode to the camp ground we'll be staying at the next two nights. That way when we leave on Friday morning I don't have to backtrack.

Our new friend Andy stopped by our campsite today. He is riding his motorcycle from Calgary back home to Port Perry. He actually did a bicycle trip across the country last yer for his church's 100th anniversary in Canada. He rode with 90+ riders ranging in age from 18 to 73! He showed us pictures, and it's interesting that we have travelled many of the same places. Looking at his pictures I recognized many of the places he went. He also had pictures of places we'll soon be going too.

You can see on good days I write more, on hard days I write less!

Distance today: 194km
Total Distance: 2856km


Last Night in Manitoba

Tuesday July 25, 2006

Tonight is my last night in Manitoba. Tomorrow will be a ride to Kenora, which is just over the Ontario border. As per usual, as soon as I complain about the hot weather, it starts to rain. Today the entire trip was wet, and therefore it wasn't that pleasant. The sun came out after the ride was over, but it has gone back to raining now. Hopefully it will be clear tomorrow.

When we got to Great Woods Park, there was a welcome party for me. At least forty people had come from Winnipeg and beyond to help welcome me to the area. Everyone involved in the party has been touched by Neuroblastoma, and so it was a nice event. I met Matthew and Angela who are both in remission from the disease, as well as their families and friends. Amazingly, Matthew's brother and his friend organized a relay marathon and raised over six thousand dollars! They presented me with a cheque for the James Fund. It's amazing that they were able to raise so much money! I would like to thank everyone who showed up, it is nice to be encouraged along my ride, especially on a day when I rode eight hours in the rain.

I'll be in bed early tonight!

Distance today: 155km
Total Distance: 2681km


"Where is the campground?"

Monday July 24, 2006

We had a little problem finding the camp ground today. Their 1800 number has been turned off and given to a company in Michigan, and the towns people didn't really know where it was. We eventually found it, it meant another 15 or 20km riding, which means less tomorrow.

The one nice thing about this camp ground is that there is a lot of trees! It's like we're staying in a forest. As I get further East, I'm seeing more and more trees. We're only 30km or so away from Winnipeg, so the praries are slowly fading and soon we'll be seeing the Canadian Shield.

My Mom mentioned something yesterday that I didn't realize, as of yesterday I was more than 1/3 done the trip. I'm almost half way done the trip time wise, but distance wise I'm more than a 1/3 done. As you can imagine, this means that the second month of the trip will be longer distances. Tomorrow's ride will not be bad, but the ride into Kenora on Wednesday will be 170+ km.

The weather was hot again today. The ride was fine, but it's much nicer when it's 25c not 35c.

Distance today: 149km
Total Distance: 2526km


Fighting Forest Fires with my Mind

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I forgot to add the distance I rode yesterday, and there were some problems witht he internet connection, so I didn't update. The campground was in a valley, and the cell phone strength in some parts of rural Manitoba doesn't seem too strong. So I had to walk up the hill and hold my laptop in one hand and the blackberry/cell phone in the other to find a connection so that I could upload yesterdays journal entry. Understandably, I didn't want to walk back up the hill to update the distance. But, you'll find it below yesterdays journal entry.

To answer a few email questions that might be of interest to you:

  • I do miss TV, newspapers and always on Internet. I really like to watch one sporting event a year, the Tour De France, and because of this trip I haven't been able too.
  • Saskatchewan doesn't ever change it's clocks. So the time zone thing is difficult. In the summer, going East, Saskatchewan is the same time as Alberta, and you don't change your clocks until you hit Manitoba. In the winter, because Alberta changes it's time, but Saskatchewan doesn't, you adjust your watch when you hit the Sask border.
  • Timothy is willing to write an update on this site as per his experiences so far on this trip. It won't be a daily thing, but he will write something about how has or has not enjoyed the trip so far.
  • Timothy is both a very good cook and a good photographer. The photography you can see on the Photopages, but the cooking isn't visable yet (by the end of the trip I might have a little pot belly as I ride into Halifax).

    Timothy and I were going over each days distance, and I realized I had lost 50km by adding incorrectly to my daily totals. So, it will be added to the grand total today. Therefore, I've actually gone 50km further than I had been claiming.

    Today's ride was 'normal'. The weather was nice and the road was long and flat. The ride was relatively short, so we were finished by 12 today. We're staying at the Minnedosa Campground. They were generous enough to donate the site for the night. What's nice about this park is that it's right on Lake Minnedosa, and there is a beach. I haven't been in the water yet, but it certainly looks inviting.

    The resort is actually near the local ski hill. I rode into the park and honestly didn't see much of a hill. It is Manitoba, so I wasn't expecting a mountain but I can't see much of a hill at all. I guess you have to deal with environment that you have and make the best of it.

    Distance today: 121.5km
    Total Distance: 2377km


    First Night in Manitoba

    Saturday July 22, 2006

    I'm sitting in Manitoba, and boy is it hot. It was 40 celcius during my ride today. So it was a long day today. Manitoba is pretty similar to Saskatchewan, so I've seen a lot of farms. There were also lots of prehistoric looking dragonflies on the ride today. They seemingly sat on the road and would fly up as I rode close. It was interesting.

    We only spend four nights in Manitoba, and then more than twenty in Ontario. I think Ontario will be further proof of how big Canada really is.

    Today's park is at the community swimming pool, so there is a lot of action here. Last night there was a provincial girls softball tournament going on, and it was interesting to watch. I ended up in bed early,

    Today we started going the wrong direction for 16km, so that was a bit of a disappointment, but it's a little surprising it's taken this long for us to be that off on our directions.

    Distance today: 148.5km
    Total Distance: 2205.5km


    Last Night in Saskatchewan

    Friday July 21, 2006

    Tonight is my last night in Saskatchewan. It's been a beautiful province, and the people have been fantastic. The tail winds haven't been too bad either.

    We're about to do another interview on Sun TV, which means we've found a broadband internet connection, this time courtesy of Melville Advance. They interviewed me earlier in the day, and offered us the use of their internet connection to do the webcam report. It also allows me to upload some more photos.

    The last photo in the set is of our neighbours at teh Regina campground. Viola, the Mom, is 93 and lives in Regina, and Lynn, the daughter, now lives in California. They were both very nice and invited us onto their big motorhome and made donations to my ride. I"m not sure why my eyes are so big in the picture but they are.

    A fact I learned today, a three bedroom bunglow house approx 1100 square feet in Melville goes for $65 000.

    Distance today: 143km
    Total Distance: 2057km


    Rest Day

    Thursday July 20, 2006

    Today is a rest day in Regina. I rode 17km from where I stopped last night to the campsite, where I'll be leaving from in the morning. I did a radio interview this morning, which went well. I did my weekly interview with the Toronto Sun's Sandy Naiman which will be published tomorrow.

    I watched some TV in the office area of the campground, and that's about it. It was pretty uneventful. I can mention some things that I've forgotten to mention so far:

    1. I was almost hit by a house riding down the road. It was being transported on a transport truck and I saw it, with time to spare after cresting a hill. The house still had it's christmas lights on it!

    2. I got a bunch of promotional clothing from Trimark Clothing the other day. My friend Will works there and they were nice enough to offer us some clothes and they embossed my logo on them. It looks very nice, and I was glad to get them (more clothes to wear equals less wash to have to do). If you need any promotional clothing or supplies for yourself or business you should check them out, they do good work.

    Distance today: 17km
    Total Distance: 1914km


    Stopping in Regina!

    Wednesday July 19, 2006

    Today we rode into Regina. I will be honest and say before this trip I wasn't one hundred percent sure whether Regina was in Manitoba or in Saskatchewan, but now I know. It's very strange to see a city again. We had a Home Hardware event here, and it was nice. Unfortuantely, because it was a Wednesday, there wasn't as many people there as there could have been if it was a Saturday. Nonetheless, it was a great time and everyone was very nice and generous.

    CTV News in Regina met me on the road and I should be featured on the evening news tonight. Tomorrow morning I'll be on a morning radio show. It's nice that the press are interested and we're able to get the word out. It's amazing what having a great PR person does!

    The wind was at my back again today, which was nice. A man at the Home Hardware was very nice to tell me that the wind also blows just as hard the other way. I told him he was wrong, and the wind would only ever blow at my back. I'm crossing my fingers that this is true.

    A man came to the Home Hardware event who was in his forties (he mentioned it, so I will too) and in 1985 he had a similar cancer to what I had. He lost his leg as well, but he wasn't able to have the operation I had. So he had his leg amputated above the knee, and he doesn't have the movement that I have. So he's on vacation this week, so he decided he'd be on vacation from his leg too. He said he only really uses his leg for work and hunting. It made me think that not only am I lucky to have beaten cancer, but I was also lucky to have the operation that I did. If my leg had been amputated above the knee, I likely wouldn't be able to ride a bike, and if I could, I certainly couldn't make it across the country. Hopefully the money I raise on this trip will make similar breakthroughs for Neuroblastoma.

    On a lighter note, I saw the first TD Bank since Vancouver. I'm sure there was one in Calgary, but it's the first I've seen. I guess the "T" in the name actually refers to where most of the branches are.

    Everything is Saskatchewan is Co-Op. I asked about it today and was told about how the farmers all started co-ops back when there weren't major stores around, and the name has stuck. But, riding on the highway like I do, I've yet to see an Esso oil tanker, but I've seen hundred's of Co-Op ones. At the Home Hardware event we had Co-Op soda (I had black cherry, it was surprisingly tasty). I find it interesting that while you still see the major stores here, and all the major brands, you see regional brands that are extremely successful.

    Tomorrow is a rest day. It's a little strange to me that my 'weekend' is in the middle of the week. It's just a mental thing, but I find it weird that when my watch says Saturday I ride, but when it says Thursday I don't. I use the term 'when my watch says' because we're so out of touch news wise, we don't read the paper, the radio doesn't work in the RV, and so it's hard to know what day it is.

    Distance today: 139km
    Total Distance: 1897km


    Riding Without a Chain

    Tuesday July 18, 2006

    The first half of the ride today I had little energy. I didn't feel bad, but I just wasn't energetic. After breakfast we turned onto the highway that would lead us to Regina (tomorrow we get there) and breakfast started to give me some energy.

    I rode the rest of the way without trouble. I rode without little effort at between 35-45km/h. I was listening to a Lance Armstrong audio book, and riding 'without a chain', meaning with very little effort. I did 60+ km on this highway very quickly but it was only when I stopped to talk to Timothy about where we were staying did I feel the very strong winds on my back. I assumed there must have been winds, but when they are behind you, it's hard to feel them.

    Needless to say, the combination of strong winds and flat roads made for a very enjoyable day. Tonight we are staying at the Craik Regional and District Park. They were very nice to let us stay for free tonight and it's a great park. Lots of trees, parks for the kids (and Timothy) to play on, and a big concreate pond to swim in. Since we finished early today, it will be a nice place to explore.

    At last night's park right when I was getting ready for bed (about 9:15) I saw lots of lightning in the sky and figured we'd have a big storm. It never came though, or at least not over us. I keep hearing about the storms you get in the Prairies, hopefully I'll get to see one at night (but not during my daily ride).

    Distance today: 124km
    Total Distance: 1758km


    The Long and Winding Road

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    I got into the flat part of Saskatchawan today! There were a few hills but over 150km ride, there might have been four. There was likely the same amount of corners in the road. Long flat roads. I had a tail wind, which made the riding better, and the weather was perfect. I can understand why this is called Big Sky country, it's not because the sky is any bigger (I might not have done well in High School Science, but I know that) but because there is nothing around, simply huge fields of wheat, you can see forever. In a town or city you are blocked by houses or buildings or hills. Not out here. It's a little strange, but beautiful.

    The only problem I've had so far is that when you stop riding you are swarmed by flies. They don't seem to bite, but they certainly like to fly around and annoy me. I guess it's a good motivation to keep riding!

    Tonight's camp ground has a pool, so I might have to go for a swim. I'll have to bring my fly swater to ensure that I'm not attacked. If you don't hear from me again, you know what happened. I've seen birds attack in that Hitchcock movie, and sharks attack in Jaws, so why not flies?

    Distance today: 155km
    Total Distance: 1659km


    Wheat Kings

    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    Today wasn't as hot as yesterday. The sky looked ominous most of the trip, so I wore a Gore-tex jacket, which kept me warm.

    We rode into Saskatchewan today. So we're in the third province of an eight province trip. Everyone has told me how flat Saskatchewan is, but so far it's actually been very hilly. Not mountain hilly, but there has been a surprising amount of riding up and down hills.

    Most places I've rode so far have had rumble strips on the side of the road. For those who don't know what they are, rumble strips are little holes every two inches or so on the side of the road. They are used so that if you start to move outside of the road, onto the shoulder for example, they make your car 'rumble' and you know you're too far over. They work great for bicyclists because anyone who is not paying attention and could be drifting onto the shoulder will notice it well before they get too far.

    The problem with them is that they are not always used. Usually around corners, but not on long flats. This means that when I stop paying close attention to the road I usually start to roll over them. If your car, with four tires and suspension, starts to rumble you can guess what it does to a bicycle. Nothing gets hurt but it certainly shakes you up. I must have done that four times today.

    I've made a new page for my journal entries from the first half of July. This way it won't get too long for people, and if they are intersted in reading earlier stuff they can click here, or the big link at the bottom of the page.

    Distance today: 150km
    Total Distance: 1504km





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