Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 40 — Tuesday, July 29

Sudbury to North Bay
Because we weren’t exactly in a campground and had no showers to enjoy, we ended up getting a fairly decent start. We stopped at a town called Verner and had some lunch. Most people in the restaurant were speaking French. We were only about 100 km west of the Quebec/Ontario border. After getting the grumpiest waitress on the planet, we kept rolling.

We made it to North Bay and after dealing with some serious traffic (Vanessa and Kelly were still on the bikes), we made it to campground. We were advised by the campground manager to check out the beach, so after setting up our tents, that’s wh
at we did. We got to North Bay at a decent enough time to enjoy it.

We played some serious Frisbee in the water and soaked up some sun. The beach was pretty nice. I could see myself spending more time here. The lake was called Lake Nipissing. It was massive. The weather was perfect. I took some photos and my camera’s memory card had become full for the first time. I fit about 900 photos and videos on there. Not bad at all.

We then went down to an internet café where we had pretzels, coffee, and smoothies. Apparently North Bay is the smoothie capital of something (Ontario? The world, maybe? I can’t recall). I worked on a website (rentlethbridge.com) while everyone else did their blogs. I know I’ll have some time to work on my blogs in the van tomorrow so I wasn’t too worried.

Vanessa, Allan, and I were going to go see another movie (Step Brothers) but it was cheap night and it was already sold out. Instead we enjoyed ourselves at Shoppers Drug Mart where I bought something for my cold.

Day 39 — Monday, July 28

Spragge to Sudbury
Again, I wasn’t feeling very well today, so I tried to get some sleep in the van but it’s not exactly the smoothest ride when one tire is on the shoulder of the road and the other is on gravel.

Vanessa bought a small box of fresh blueberries for the cool price of $20. They were pretty good. We ended up sleeping at a tourist information stop after cleaning the van out a bit. I discovered the iced tea I had placed on the roof about a kilometre ago. I’m glad it didn’t fly off in traffic. On the whole, a pretty uneventful day for Allan and I. We didn’t really see any of Sudbury as we went around it.

My knees still hurt, particularly when I walk down slopes or up stairs. On a flat surface the pain isn't really there.

Day 38 — Sunday, July 27

East of Sault Ste. Marie to Spragge
I tried to get some sleep in the van today as I wasn’t feeling very well. I think I’m slowly getting a cold or something.

We drove back to the drop-off point and the cyclists kept going. We pulled into a campground at a town called Spragge. Just as we were pulling in, Vanessa got a flat tire and lost her balance and wiped out. Jeepers! She was only going about 5 km/hr but that still smarts. She hurt her hand but her shoulder looked like it got the worst of it. Surprisingly she got back up without a problem. Her shoes clip into her pedals so it’s not always easy to get out of them in time.

We met some folks from Edmonton and we saw another group of people from Grande Prairie. I did some pushups then went in the pool for a bit. We then did laundry while enjoying the slowest internet on earth, and then hit the hay.

Day 37 — Saturday, July 26

Sault Ste. Marie to 50 km East of Sault Ste. Marie
I started the day off by going for a swim in the campground pool. It was nice. I did some pushups, then had a shower. My knees still hurt. Sometimes it hurts to walk. After giving my legs 4 or 5 days off entirely, I’ll probably start some light stretching soon.

We ate and Vanessa checked her voicemail. The hospital in Marathon left a message saying she had a different virus than what they thought she had. I wondered if the medication that I bought last night was the right stuff for me now.

So Vanessa and I went back to the hospital and it turns out the antibiotics I bought last night were useless. The virus we had were resistant to regular antibiotics, meaning that we had a “super bug”. Just great. The doctor we had today worked in the United States and said it was more common down there. He recognized it right away and prescribed some antibiotics where the main ingredient was sulfate, rather than penicillin or other types.

Vanessa and Kelly agreed today would be a light day since we had extra time in our schedule. They rode for a couple hours then we drove back into “The SOO”. Allan suggested going to see the new Batman movie, which we did. It was pretty good and I recommend it to anyone. My super bug enjoyed it too. The theatre was right by the river, so we saw the big bridge lit up at night. The bridge connects Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

We stayed at another, less expensive campground just outside of the city.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day 36 — Friday, July 25

Montreal River Harbour to Sault Ste. Marie
I woke up to the sound of pouring rain. I had wanted to get up to see the sunrise on the lake, but that wasn’t going to happen. It would’ve been awesome, but maybe another day I’ll get up that early. Or another year

When the rain stopped I got up to the sight of Allan dragging his yellow foamy and sleeping bag around the campground looking for the laundry room. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen that I’d have about 35 cents, which is a lot right now. It seems every time it rains, the rain finds a way into Allan’s tent. Either the top of his tent falls apart or the seams leak. I picture a little cloud right over Allan’s tent just pouring all night long, just like in Charlie Brown or Garfield comics. With the odd lightning bolt zapping Allan on the top of his bald head just for good measures.

It rained a fair bit today and at times I was glad I wasn’t riding. Vanessa and Kelly only stopped a couple times the entire 110 km ride which made things go by a lot quicker.

We pulled into a campsite in Sault Ste. Marie that cost $45 (thumbs up!) and I went to the hospital again. Another one of those weird sores came back near my shoulder. Apparently they’re just from sweating and chaffing. Guess I won’t have to worry about that anymore now that I’m not riding. Not only that, I’ve got some antibiotics for the next two weeks.

Day 35 — Thursday, July 24

Wawa to Montreal River Harbour
We went into Wawa and hit Tim Horton’s again to get some brunch. After taking some photos with a giant goose, we went on our way. I had bought some calamine lotion, which really showed those mosquito bites who was boss. I generally don’t get very itchy from mosquito bites but this time it was virtually unbearable for some reason. I had about a dozen bites pe
r limb.

It was a pretty scenic trip today. Lake Superior was to our right nearly the entire day. We stopped on a couple of occasions to take pictures. We were in a provincial park today, which was pretty nice.

We stopped at a beach and we (basically just myself) went for a swim. It was pretty cold at first and no one else wanted to jump in. Afterwards, Allan and I played a game of “see who can hit that log sticking out of the water with a rock”. It went into overtime where I pulled out the win. Allan practiced up for the next game while Vanessa, Kelly, and I layed on the beach in the sun.

We had a true feast tonight. Kraft Dinner, complete with hot dogs and ketchup. Kelly, Allan and I watched the sunset and then skipped some rocks on the lake. Before we hit the hay we all looked up at the stars where Kelly said with authority “There’s no way it’s going to rain tonight”.

Day 34 — Wednesday, July 23

White River to Wawa
I woke up to Rob the Aussie and Allan discussing a bear that was apparently nearby. Within 10 minutes a police officer (or conservation officer) pulled up and shot it. Not sure if they killed it or just stunned it. If a bear had to be shot, the home of Winnie the Pooh would be the place to do it. No more than 100 metres from the Winnie the Pooh statue we camped near.

I decided now would be an okay time to get out of bed.

We went and had breakfast at a restaurant that had internet. Each of us had our laptops open on the table with barely any room to put the food. I think we were more interested in the internet than the food, which actually was pretty good.

We went on our way and stopped at a lake where none of us wanted to jump in. Mainly because of the various creatures we saw swimming inside. It was a scenic lake, much like the hundreds we've passed by.

We found a campsite a few kilometres before Wawa so we pulled in and set up camp. They had a pool, but it was locked by the time I decided I wanted to go for a swim. Instead I did some push-ups, had a shower, went to Tim Horton’s (for possibly the first time on the trip), and then hit the hay.

Allan had shaved his head again this evening. Midway through his efforts, he was sporting a sweet Mohawk. About an hour later I went in the vacant washroom to find his razor (still plugged in) with his hair all over the floor and counter top. At some point in the next 12 hours he completed shaving his head and cleaned up his hair. The next morning, the razor was replaced with Allan’s rice cooker going full blast in the bathroom.

Day 33 — Tuesday, July 22

Marathon to White River
I’m back in the van after a two week hiatus. Listening to tunes and doing next to nothing for about 7 hours straight. The cyclists made good time today, as I wasn’t slowing them down with my injury.

We stayed just out front of a visitor centre in White River. We found internet not too far away and we had some pizza for supper. White River is apparently where Winnie the Pooh all started. I had no idea. Apparently it’s not unusual for bears to come into town.

Rob the Aussie camped near us tonight. I fell asleep as soon as I went to bed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 32 — Monday, July 21

Terrace Bay to West of Marathon — 78 km
This was one of our shortest days of the entire trip, which incidentally was the worst. Things started off okay as we took a short drive from the campground to check out some falls that weren’t too bad. We then headed on our way and immediately realized we had a headwind. Again.

My knee was hurting more today. My left one in particular. It worsened to the point that I had to put my brace back on. I didn’t wear my brace for the last couple days as it felt the same without it. I’m not even
sure if it does much, but it made me feel good. But before long, I had to take a couple longer breaks to stretch out. My knee cap was killing me. We kept moving though.

Within five minutes of one of our stops, we saw a baby bear crossing the road right in front of Vanessa and I. It was awesome. I pointed it out to Vanessa, and as I was about to take a picture of it, a half-ton truck drove by and hit it. It happened no more than 15 feet in front of us. We couldn’t believe it. We slowed down, and as much as we wanted to help the little guy, it didn’t look good, and there’s little doubt it’s mother wasn’t far away. Unfortunately there wasn’t much we could do.

We met up with Kelly about 30 minutes later and told him what happened. My knee was still hurting but it wasn’t too much further into Marathon. We were about 20 km away. No problem. I could still cycle.

I was riding up one of dozens of hills and I noticed a billboard midway up. I started reading it and halfway through it felt like my kneecap exploded. “AHHHH!” There was EXTREME pain at the front and back of my left knee. I had to stop and I nearly fell over. Luckily there was a fence to keep me from falling down off the edge of the road.

I couldn’t believe the pain. It felt like a needle was pushed right through my knee cap and out the other side. It was definitely worse than in B.C. I sat on the fence and knew I was done. I am done. I couldn’t bend my leg or extend it. After icing it for a few minutes, Vanessa wrapped it and I climbed in the van.

A few days ago when I felt some pain I told Vanessa “It hurts, but I don’t know when to stop. I can’t stop.” Today, my knee made that decision for me. I was put out of my misery. It wasn’t as difficult to accept this time as it was in B.C. because riding was no longer enjoyable.

Kelly was ahead of us so Vanessa rode ahead and met him at a gas station, where Allan and I followed. We ate a truck stop and had an extremely overpriced meal and then took off for the hospital. Kelly wanted to get something on his neck looked at and we convinced Vanessa to get some sort of mysterious ailment checked out.

So there we were, all three of us in the waiting room at the hospital in Marathon. After doing some minor surgery on Vanesssa, the doctor saw me. I was not expecting good news. I still couldn’t extend it, let alone put weight on it.

I gave him the low-down on what had been going on the last couple months and he did some tests and examined my knee. He was certain there was no structural damage to the knee and no reason why I couldn't be back to 100% one day. I was in a lot of pain, but so relieved. As expected, he said I couldn’t continue riding for a while, and I agreed.

He said that if he knew of a way to take the pain away, he wouldn’t do it because chances are I’d get back on the bike and end up doing something more permanent to it. Today was Day 1 of rehabilitating my knee for when I complete my ride across Canada. Whenever that will be.

While we were in the waiting room, Allan was driving out to a campsite for us. He found one and set up our tents for everyone. Sweet! It turns out that Allan nearly hit a bear himself while driving out there. It about 11 p.m. at this time, and midnight by the time we got out of the hospital. We were there for about three hours.

We went to Mac’s and bought some snacks and then headed for the campground where we stayed in site #13.

Day 31 — Sunday, July 20

Nipigon to Terrace Bay — 107.9 km
We woke up at a decent time (8:30 a.m.), packed up, and headed for a truck stop for some brunch at about 10 a.m.. After having some sub-par service, we finally got out of there at about noon. We were aiming for a town called Terrace Bay today. Not a big deal as it was just over 100 km away.

My right knee was hurting the most, but towards the end of the day it was my left knee giving me grief. We climbed some big hills. Somewhat similar to the Rockies, but only 1/20 the length. Similar grade though. I felt fine going up the hills.

Highlight of the day must've been while eating lunch at a restaurant in a town called Schreiber. There was a mosquito flying near Allan's head so he slapped it against his head, which killed it, and then it toppled down right into his soup. What a treat.

Just before we ate, we met a couple who had relatives in Lethbridge. Then later on at the campsite a woman said she had a daughter going to U of L.

Ever since hurting my leg in B.C. I don’t pedal down the hills as that would require getting into harder gears and pushing harder because of the higher speed. Regardless, I still pass Kelly and Vanessa without pedaling down the hills. It doesn’t help the Kelly likes to brake down the hills and Vanessa is considerably lighter than I am. I’m like the big kid at the waterslides who has to wait an extra few seconds to go down, otherwise the little kids get smoked in the back and their parents go ballistic.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day 30 — Saturday, July 19

Thunder Bay to Nipigon — 98.5 km
We had a great start to the morning as we had a big breakfast (thanks to Tracey, Bruce, and Irene) at about 8 a.m. We said our goodbyes and we took off for the east end of Thunder Bay to get dropped off at the point we left off at a couple days earlier.

I stretched a fair bit and my knees felt okay. They could’ve been better though. We stopped to take some pictures near a hostel and a guy came out of the bushes (literally) and he knew exactly where Lethbridge was. It turned out he ran the hostel and had wanted to start one in Lethbridge. Crazy. Naturally we had our picture taken with him too.

We got on the main highway eventually and the shoulder was sub-par. We ended up going through some construction which was kind of scary. It was all gravel and about two km long. Motorists were led through the construction by a pilot vehicle but because we were slower, we were left in the dust (quite literally) and before we could get out, another stream of vehicles was headed our way from the other end of the construction. Perfect.

Vanessa dropped her camera sometime while this was happening so she had to stop to pick it up. Luckily none of us got a flat tire from riding on the gravel. That would’ve been bad.

The road was not too bad after the construction. We heard there was a suspension bridge somewhere along the way that we could check out. So we did that. We each spent $18 to experience a hike that made my knee ache, and a two minute walk across two suspension bridges. What a deal. It was not terribly exciting. None of us thought so. I can think of about 400 other things I wish I had spent my $18 on. Like food and shelter for the night, for instance.

We finally pulled into Nipigon and claimed a campsite. It was a decent place. We ended up staying up until about midnight waiting for our laundry to finish. My knees were still aching when I went to bed.

Day 29 — Friday, July 18

Rest Day in Thunder Bay
We went to a few stores today including the bike shop, Future Shop, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and “Beer Store”.

We picked up our bikes at about supper time and I had to get a new cassette (sprocket/gears) for the rear wheel. I also had all my spokes replaced. The bill was just over $300. Not very sweet. I have to check my bank account soon to make sure I still have enough cash to get through this trip. One plus was I did get some new red handlebar tape to replace the other stuff that had become unraveled. Looks good, I think. It matches the sunburn on the back of my shoulders quite nicely.

We had a huge, awesome supper back at Bruce/Tracey’s house then we finished off the night by playing Halo 3 on XBox. My night was now complete. I should be able to survive the next few weeks without Halo. Maybe.

Day 28 — Thursday, July 17

Upsala to Thunder Bay — 143.8 km
Crossed into the Eastern Time Zone in mid-morning, just west of a town called Raith. Kelly rode with the Australian guy who is pretty quick for having to tow a trailer behind him. Meanwhile, Vanessa and I rode at about 20 km/hr as I was still nursing my knee, which has decided to act up whenever it feels like it.

I had to stretch frequently. Basically every 5 to 10 km. It really dragged down the day for Vanessa and I, but it was necessary. Otherwise, I couldn’t continue. The pain was throbbing in both knees.

After a few steep hills to climb, we rolled into Thunder Bay. As you can see in the photo, I was pumped. Parti
cularly because I had rode my bike backwards the entire way there. We decided to take a route that would keep us north of the city, and would end at the Terry Fox Lookout. After biking around looking for the site, we decided to rack the bikes on the van and drive to it. Turned out we had to take the freeway anyway and bikes weren’t allowed on it.

It was such an interesting feeling when we walked towards the statue of Terry Fox. In my opinion, he’s one of the greatest Canadian heroes. I would say he’s the greatest, but I have to consider war veterans and what they did for this country. I would say that he is an inspiration to everyone who’s ever heard about him. It’s remarkable what he did . . . on one leg . . . with cancer.

From the statue we could see a fair bit of Thunder Bay, along with the Sleeping Giant, which is some land that resembles a giant lying on its back. The population of Thunder Bay is about 110,000 to 120,000 and is fairly spread out. It is actually quite a nice city. I’m glad we’re going to take a rest day here tomorrow.

Kelly phoned his dad’s cousin (who had sort of lost touch for the last 20 years or so) and his family invited us to stay with them for the next two nights. What a treat that was. We hung out with Bruce Kennedy, his wife Tracey, their son Phil, and Bruce’s mother, Irene. We had a fair bit of stories to share, and so did they as it turns out they had once been world champions in curling. Who knew? Bruce also won the Labatt Briar. Pretty sweet!

Day 27 — Wednesday, July 16

Ignace to Upsala — 108.8 km
We all slept in a bit this morning because of the rest day. But, hold on. This Australian guy who we had met the night before (and is also biking across Canada) came over to our campsite and showed us how to temporarily fix my spokes. Sweet! We didn’t have to use a rest day in the middle of nowhere and try to hunt for a bike shop in a surrounding town.

We decided to instead use our rest day in Thunder Bay, where there would be plenty more to do, and Kelly actually had some relatives there we could visit with.

Despite being only 108.8 km it was a long day. We went through a fair bit of construction and rolling hills. My knees started to ache big time. I can barely stand it. We got into town fairly late. The Australian guy and the guy from British Columbia camped at the same site as us.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 26 — Tuesday, July 15

Dryden to Ignace — 110 km
I felt considerably better this morning. Still very sore, but my extreme headache was starting to go away. I think the antibiotics are slowly starting to kick in.

Once again it rained today, but very briefly. Just enough to get us wet. Perfect. I was having issues again with both of my knees. Rarely both knees at the same time. It just seemed to be one or the other. Stretching seemed to help for a while.

We stopped for a bite to eat on the side of the road and then took off. Kelly got a flat tire so Vanessa and I slowly continued on. Not long after, I discovered I had a broken spoke. It actually turned out I had two broken spokes and my bike was just good enough to ride into Ignace, which was our stop for tonight.

I tried to put new spokes in myself but I had to remove the gears from the rear tire, which required a special tool. Of course I don’t have it so we’ll have to go back to Dryden or Kenora tomorrow to get it fixed. Tomorrow will be a much needed rest day for everyone. It’ll be nice. Photo above shows the two bad spokes with yellow tape.

We went to a Chinese restaurant for supper where I re-learned that I was born in the year of the Boar, or the Dog, depending on if you’re going by western years or Chinese years. I ate some hot sauce for the first time in a while, mainly because we decided tomorrow would be a rest day, which meant I could eat virtually anything tonight.

We met up with Devin again and he is actually staying at the same campsite as us. Chances are he’ll be long gone before we even wake up tomorrow morning. He’s not quite as slow as us.

Day 25 — Monday, July 14

Kenora to Dryden — 135.6 km
I was so hot when I woke up. I didn’t feel good this morning either. I ate some random things and we took off. We had to stop at a Canadian Tire so Kelly could get a new rain jacket. While he did that, Kelly, Vanessa, and I went to Mcdonalds where we feasted on burgers filled with energy and other things that make your bones stronger and your waist smaller.

This was a long day. It seemed like it was taking forever. My knees started to hurt a bit. My left one would ache a bit and then my right one, for some reason. I guess riding over 500 km in the last three days doesn’t help.

The roads were quite hilly. No mountains though. I don’t know what people were talking about when they said “oh the terrain by Kenora is worse than the Rockies”. Either they had neither been to both, or they were drunk at the time. This was pretty easy compared to the Rockies. It took forever, but it was not difficult. Compared to the Prairies, it was challenging though. I guess.

It started to pour (yet again) and it was coming down very hard. It was slow going but we kept trekking on. It has been raining a lot lately. With all the twists and turns in the road, it was hard to notice the tailwind behind us, which was also pushing this storm over us.

I was lagging behind Kelly and Vanessa for most of the day so when they stopped for a coffee I decided to keep going. I did the last 70 km solo and pulled into Dryden. About 50 metres short of where I wanted to stop, because my knee started hurting. So I decided to stop and wait for them there. Another cyclist appeared and was coming down the hill. It turned out to be Devin from Hazelton, B.C. who is biking for a youth group he belongs to. What an awesome idea. We chatted for a while and then chatted some more when Kelly and Vanessa arrived. Photo above is looking at Dryden from where I stopped. The large buildings straight ahead are part of a pulp mill which I suspect is the driving force behind the city of about 8,000 people.

We racked the bikes and went back to a campground to set up camp. Vanessa and I went into town and bought a little food. We went to Mcdonalds again and I had the exact same meal I had this morning. I could feel my body thanking me. Thanking me with punches to the inside of my stomach, that is.

Day 24 — Sunday, July 13

Richer to Kenora — 158.8 km
I woke up feeling like garbage. It was hot outside and I was sweating just from this weird virus. I didn’t feel good.

We’re really good at leaving late in the day. Today we left at 12:30 p.m. and were aiming for Kenora. After about 10 km of decent highway, we hit probably the worst highway I’ve ever rode on. It was ridiculous. Not only were the shoulders terrible, the lanes themselves were in rough shape and we could hear the cars hitting bump after bump.

The bugs were also terrible. They kept attacking us — so as we’re trying to navigate around holes in the road, we’re trying to swat horseflies off our arms and keep them from flying around our faces. One eventually found its way into Vanessa’s shirt, which naturally made her brake hard, fall on the rough shoulder, get ran over by Kelly, and then get the fly out. The fly was likely oblivious to what had just happened and it probably just flew onto the next cyclist that went by. What geniuses flies are. We now make a point of punching all flies in the face when they come near us.

We stopped at a provincial park and ate at a town called Falcon Lake. I slammed some sort of Reuben sandwich, which consisted of a pile of cheese, some other sort of goop, and some sort of meat substance. It was actually really good.

We enter Ontario and stop at the big sign welcoming us. Awesome! We take some photos and then continue on. Man, the roads became so much better. They're like we're back in Alberta now. Perfect!

Slowly, but surely, we make it to Kenora where we find a very nice campground. Just riding into Kenora at night was cool. It looked so nice with the water and the lights at night. I bet I could spend a few days in Kenora without running out of things to do.

We check our schedule to see what the next town was and we discover that we were actually just planning to stop at Fulcan Lake and Kenora was our stop for tomorrow. Sweet! We were actually two days behind at this point, but now we were just one day behind. But, we were also planning to have a rest day in Kenora. We decided to keep moving on. So now we were back on schedule.

The alumni people asked if we could take another rest day prior to Ottawa, so we can afford to have a rest day still. Which we’ll certainly use someday soon.

Day 23 — Saturday, July 12

Portage la Prairie to Richer — 145.8 km
We heard the wind all night long so when we woke up we were praying it was blowing in our favor. We couldn’t tell because we were sheltered by the trees in our campsite. It turned out it was. Whee!

We were to meet my parents at 10 a.m. but there was no word from them where we should meet. I called them and they forgot about the time change. No big deal because that meant we could get going on the road and then meet them down the highway somewhere.

We pulled out onto the highway and without even pedaling we’d hit 20 km/hr. It was pretty nice. We probably averaged about 35 km/hr until we got to a Shell/Flying J truck stop on the outskirts of Winnipeg. By the way, it was raining like crazy. We were soaked, despite the gear we were wearing.

I had an awesome meal (buffet) and dried off (somewhat) with my parents. Kelly and Allan showed up about 30 minutes after us because Kelly got a flat tire, turned out. He said changing it in the pouring rain was one of the most uncomfortable experiences on the trip thus far.

After I showed my mom this strange sore I had developing in my armpit, we said our goodbyes. It turned out that I have the same virus that Vanessa did a couple weeks ago and now these strange and very painful sores were appearing. So weird. I got Vanessa to take me to the hospital tonight where I had some minor surgery and got some antibiotics. Man is it painful.

We made our way around Winnipeg and I actually didn’t see any of the city aside from a few subdivisions on the outskirts. If there weren’t signs, you wouldn’t have known you went by Winnipeg. The tailwind was still going strong, as was the wind. Kelly forgot his rain jacket somewhere so he bought a poncho. Within about 20 minutes of wearing it, it had transformed itself into a necktie. It was blown to shreds. I turned around and saw Kelly with this bright yellow thing hanging from his neck. The rest of him was drenched. Money well spent.

We ended up in a tiny town called Richer, Manitoba where we set up camp. The hospital I went to was in a larger town called Steinbach which is off of the TransCanada Highway so we didn’t see it as we were biking. It was about 20 km west of Richer. Much like Vanessa did a couple weeks ago, I started to get flu-like symptoms.

Kelly thought it might be from the hot tub in Osoyoos. He said he had something similar happen to him when he was a teenager. I guess that could explain this.

Day 22 — Friday, July 11

East of Virden to Portage la Prairie — 204.5 km
It turns out that the top of Allan’s tent blew away during the night so everything that he stashed inside when he set up the tent (as he thought he’d be tenting last night) got drenched. We had a good laugh about that. We also had a good laugh when he told us how he slept on the bottom part of a bunk bed and when he woke up the next morning, he forgot where he was sleeping, sat straight up, and smoked his head on the top bunk. The best possible start to any day.

We thanked Cathie for her hospitality, then headed back into Brandon where I was going to get my bike “fitted”, which would hopefully help my knee. We went to the bike shop and after fitting the bike and putting toe clips on my pedals, I noticed a significant improvement. I couldn’t believe it. I’d already decided that today was the day I would try riding, and this was encouraging.

We drove out about 60 km west of Brandon and were dropped off at the exact spot (thanks to our GPS) Vanessa and Kelly left off yesterday. We had a tailwind. Nice!

The riding started off well and felt great into Brandon. Climbing one hill just before Brandon kind of hurt which worried me. I also had my knee wrapped with a brace, so it was snug. We stopped at a gas station to eat and it actually hurt more to walk than it did to bike. In this video I interview the other riders.

video

My parents (Rich and Ruth) were driving down from Provost, Alberta to meet us for supper. I was keeping my eyes open for them. They said they’d just catch up to us. After eating, we took off for Portage la Prairie, which with the tailwind made it a lot more attainable, despite already have done 60 km and starting at about noon.

I think my parents must have went by us while we were eating at the gas station. I phoned them and they were nearly at Winnipeg already! They didn’t see us on the road so they kept heading east. They turned around and met us just west of Portage la Prairie and provided another follow vehicle for us. Awesome!

We finally made it to the campsite which was 10 km further east of Portage la Prairie. We set up camp and all went into town to Boston Pizza where we all had a good time reminiscing about the day and sharing some stories with my parents. It was really nice to see them. We decided that we’d all have breakfast together the next morning too. We headed back to camp while my parents went to a hotel.

Not a bad day. My knee felt great and I got to spend time with my parents. I didn't think I'd be doing my longest ride ever on my first day back but my knee felt surprisingly well.

Day 21 — Thursday, July 10

Moosomin to East of Virden
We got up and uploaded a set of blogs, as we had internet at this campground. Turned out, it would be the last internet we’d have for a while.

We hit the road at about 10 a.m., Vanessa and Kelly being the only riders again, and soon discovered a big headwind. To make matters worse, not long after a town called Virden, Manitoba, the shoulder was completely gravel. We couldn’t believe it. Allan and I followed in the van while the cyclists ride on the right edge of the road. Motorists were very courteous and moved over into the left lane to pass us. Many giving us friendly honks.

Vanessa and Kelly had gone an extra 50 km or so the day earlier, so that helped, but they were unable to make it to Brandon today, which was our goal. We were still 60 km away from Brandon when they decided to pack it in. Not a bad idea considering their average speed was somewhere between 10 and 15 km/hour. Besides, we had supper plans.

We were told by Bob Cooney that he had a friend in Brandon who ran a restaurant and wanted to treat us to supper. Awesome! We walked in and met the owner, Cathie Crossin, and had an amazing meal. This was a little fast food joint (yet, still healthy) that appeared to be quite popular with the locals. Cathie subsequently invited us to pitch our tents at her house in Shilo, about 15 minutes east of Brandon.

We set up our tents and hung out with Cathie in the house while a massive storm developed. It was super windy and Kelly and I were the only ones to sleep outside. I thought my tent was going to get blown across the yard on a number of occasions.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 20 — Wednesday, July 9

White City to Moosomin
We woke up and met Allan on the highway as he was given a ride from Regina this morning. Allan was offered a ride by a passing vehicle, but luckily for us, Allan refused.

Vanessa got yet another flat, which doesn’t make much sense to any of us. She’s getting low on tubes, so in Brandon we’ll have to get her some more. If we find a good bike shop, I’ll also take my bike in so I can get it fitted properly to make it as easy on my muscles as possible. We’ll be in Brandon either tomorrow (Thursday) or Friday.

We stopped in at a 50’s diner on the highway that was pretty cool. It was filled with Coca-Cola products and memorabilia. The food was pretty good too. There was an old limo for sale out from. Man, would that be sweet. Just to drive it around. Not for riding in the back with a chauffeur driving it. I would just like to drive myself around to get groceries or go to the mall. My second choice would be a double-decker bus to just drive around and use as my primary vehicle.

Today was the day I was to get back on the bike. Unfortunately, my knee didn’t think so. So I’m still sidelined.

After eating, I took Vanessa’s bike for a 2 minute ride because I think I need to exercise my knee a little more so it doesn’t seize up. It felt good. No pain. I could still feel the knee, but no sharp pain. I took Vanessa’s bike for another spin about a half hour later and it felt decent then as well. I iced it right after while Allan drove.

The mosquitoes at tonight's campsite were not cool. They were everywhere. According to the AMA Campsite Handbook I have, this campsite was rated as high as the one at Osoyoos, which was the best so far, in my opinion. This one didn't really compare as it was mediocre at best.

Day 19 — Tuesday, July 8

Moose Jaw to White City
I ate a cheese bun this morning and readied myself for another wild day in the van. Allan ended up driving 90% of the day, which included a detour to Rouleau, Saskatchewan, which may be more commonly known as Dog River, which is of course, the setting for the show Corner Gas.

It was pretty good. We could see the gas station and diner from a distance, as well as the elevator with “Dog River” on it. The only building we really got to go in was the “Police Station” as it doubled as a gift shot and café.


Afterwards we went to the gas station/diner and peered through the windows. The security guard/guestbook guy said it was a slow day today. On weekends they generally get about 300 visitors/day.

We kept moving on. We went back to the TransCanada Highway where Vanessa and Kelly picked up where they left off. Not long after, we were navigating around the outskirts of Regina. Also a very nice looking city. I may have been in Regina once before as a kid, but I’m not sure.

Today my knee did not feel better. Ever since changing the flat tire (on the van) it had been hurting more. I was ready to go home to go through rehab, an MRI, and surgery, if necessary. After thinking it over for a few hours this evening, I decided to wait it out until Winnipeg. This is the 14th day without biking. Rest doesn’t seem to be improving it. Stretching seems to aggravate it. Doing the Riverdance makes it ache. I’m not sure what’s going on.

We ended up in a small town named White City. If Saskatchewan is truly going to boom, White City is just a Chestermere waiting to happen, as it’s about 10 minutes outside of Regina. I intend on opening an ihop here one day.

I was going to take a swim in the outdoor pool at the campground but it closed an hour earlier than it said it would. Just my luck.

Vanessa and I played some Frisbee while Kelly updated his blog. Allan was in Regina visiting some family. We did meet some friendly people at the campsite tonight. It was a decent place.

Oh, and we also got a peek at the video made by CRDC (Curriculum Re-Development Centre)
for us cyclists: http://media.uleth.ca/crdc/sea_to_sea/sea_to_sea_web.mov — Check it out! It's pretty sweet!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 18 — Monday, July 7

Herbert to Moose Jaw
We had some breakfast at Anne’s and hopped in the van. We made it to Herbert where we dropped off Vanessa and Kelly so they could pick up right where they left off. They had a serious tailwind this morning. If we had stopped biking in Swift Current last night, it would’ve made for a very long day today. Luckily, Vanessa and Kelly were able to eat into today’s ride yesterday.

I’m looking forward to Regina but at the same time, I’m worried things won’t work out. My leg actually started feeling virtually normal a couple days ago, but I promised myself I wouldn’t start until Regina. I’v
e never looked so forward to Regina before in my life.

I thought since I wasn’t biking that I was done with flat tires. So, of course while driving today, Allan and I got a flat tire in the van (top photo). Rear-passenger tire. I showed Allan how to change it and he’s ready to go if it happens again. The most confusing part was how to get the spare tire off, after finally finding out where it was.

We went into Moose Jaw on the donut and checked out four separate tire shops and one finally had one. It took a good two hours of running around to find it. While our tire was getting changed, we went into Bonanza and had a pile of food, which really hit the spot. Anne Baxter, who handled the risk and liability assessment of our trip, will be happy to know that we hold hands across all streets (photo right).

Moose Jaw (and Swift Current) are surprisingly really attractive little cities. Both have a very happening downtown. Kind of sweet. I never thought I'd say it, but I wouldn't mind spending more time here. Vanessa even commented today how she thought Saskatchewan was her favourite part so far.

It's 7:00 p.m. and we’re currently in a café and for some reason my laptop won’t pick up the internet unless I’m close to the window. Since moving to the window by myself, I’ve been surrounded by upwards of 14 middle-aged women who have gathered here for their regular coffee/gossip/man-hating talk. Right now they're discussing how one made two tea-towels within 20 minutes.

Although the internet here is free, it has never came at such a steep price.

I’m scared.

Day 17 — Sunday, July 6

Gull Lake to Herbert
Once again, we were all ready to go, then Vanessa discovered she magically got a flat tire overnight. I don’t know why that happens sometimes.

We went through Swift Current and beyond, to a little town called Herbert. We were offered a roof over our head by Maureen Schwarz’s mother, Anne, who lived in Swift Current. We put the bikes on the rack and headed back about 50 km into Swift Current. She was very hospitable and we all had a good sleep once again.

We were sure to put in a good word for U of L on at least two occasions — one to our server in Smitty’s that night, and later on at the drug store to a young cashier.

Day 16 — Saturday, July 5

Medicine Hat to Gull Lake
We all woke up after having a pretty good sleep and were ready to go. We were sitting in the van with the doors shut. I was to navigate out of the city but I didn’t have the keys. It turned out no one else did either. After hunting for the keys for a good 15 minutes, it turned out they were in Allan’s jacket pockets.

We made our way to Gull Lake with a stop in Walsh. We had planned to stay in Maple Creek that night but because of a nice tailwind, we didn’t want it to go to waste so we kept going to Gull Lake where we stayed at a campsite for $10 — the cheapest campsite yet.

Vanessa and I wandered around the town and found a Chinese restaurant that was still open. We had a ton of food there.

The mosquitoes were kind of bad back at the campsite but we all passed out early, so no big deal. I had about a million mosquito bites the next day though, which was a real treat. Plenty of time to scratch them while riding in the van.

p.s. My hair makes my body temperature reach extreme levels.

Day 15 — Friday, July 4

Lethbridge to Medicine Hat
Today I woke up pretty early and saw the team off for Medicine Hat. I stayed in Lethbridge as I had another acupuncture appointment (photo right). As well, I had an appointment with my sports physician.

Accupuncture went well, I guess. I think it’s working. We’ll know soon enough. While I was laying on the bed I heard cracks of thunder. I was wondering if the team was getting drenched. I was pretty comfortable where I was at the moment.

Later that afternoon I saw the sports doctor where it was somewhat nervous. I would compare it to checking your final grades on The Bridge. Depending on what the doctor said, I may not be able to continue.

She told me the cortisone appeared to have worked for the inflammation of my IT Band, but she discovered that the pain I now had was caused by a pulled hamstring. The pain was on the outside of the knee where the hamstring connects to the knee. She was not too worried, which calmed me down. She advised icing, stretching, and anti-inflammatory ointment. The inflammation was her main concern. If I could keep that in check, then I need not worry about permanent damage.

I drove to Medicine Hat and met up with the team at the World’s Biggest Tee-Pee. We stayed the night at my Gran’s and had a great meal. I also got to see my sister, Jill, and brother-in-law, Blaine. Including myself, Gran has had three grandchildren go to U of L.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Day 14 — Thursday, July 3

Rest Day in Lethbrige — "ABBApuncture"
Little doing this day. We decided that we could all use a second rest day to heal up. I went to acupuncture for the first time ever. Over the last few weeks I've heard a number of people swear by it. What have I got to lose?
I am optimistic this might just work.

It actually wasn't too bad. Aside from one needle, I didn't feel too much. I left feeling okay. Apparently it can take a few days to notice the wondrous effects acupuncture provides.

I downloaded (legally, of course, on iTunes) some ABBA to my iPod so Allan and I could have some more tunes for the next while. I don't think I'm the only one who listened to hours of ABBA at the hands of their parents on summer vacations.

After watching a movie at the house, we finally packed up the van to leave for tomorrow. I'm ending up in bed at about 2 a.m. and I have another acupuncture appointment tomorrow at 8 a.m. So I've got to get up in a few hours.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Day 13 — Wednesday, July 2

Rest Day in Lethbridge
We were given a real treat today at the University. A free barbecue was held for all staff, faculty, students, friends, and family in the Atrium. It truly was unexpected to see so many people out for the event.

We rode our bikes down the path that we’ve walked so many times. In fact, this path says “No bikes allowed” but we were actually instructed to ride down it this time. I admit, I made sure to take a few seconds to check my brakes prior to riding down it. This is not the time to wipe out. Luckily it was downhill the entire way so no pedaling was necessary.

I saw many familiar faces. Co-workers, professors, friends — that guy I always say “hi” to but don’t know his name. It seemed like so long ago when we left for Victoria, but it was only 2 weeks ago. We had many stories to share and people seemed genuinely interested in them, which was fantastic.

I got to see my cousin, Shade, who’s taking a master’s in Education over the summer. I knew he was in town but didn’t expect him to walk up to me at the barbeque.

I was told there were about 400 people there. Unreal. It was great to see people come out for it. I am dead serious when I say that there was a time already when I wanted to quit (mainly the first summit after Hope, B.C. when I was dehydrated and having bike trouble). Today just reinforced how many people are cheering us on and supporting us as we promote the University from SEA to SEA. How can anyone just quit after seeing this? Good knee or bad knee.

Speaking of which, I’ve had about 7 days off since my last day of cycling. I will likely take another week off and hopefully be ready to go by the time we hit Regina.

I have never tried acupuncture but I’ve had several people tell me good things about it. I am going to get some needles jammed in me tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. I hope something positive can come of it.

Day 12 — Tuesday, July 1 (Canada Day)

Sparwood to Lethbridge
Everyone woke up at about 5 a.m. except for me. I was conked right out. It was 5:45 when I was woken up. It was still raining a bit. We packed up and headed out. We were all hoping it would keep drizzling. We needed a break from the heat.

Vanessa’s dad (photo right) came down from Okotoks and joined us for most of the ride. He left his truck in Fort Macleod and started riding west to join us. He did about 130 km. Not bad at all for someone who doesn’t ride too much anymore. He used to do Ironman competitions, so there wasn’t any question about whether he’d be able to make it. In fact, he is probably much of the reason why Kelly and Vanessa made such good time into Lethbridge.

Allan and I noticed that we didn’t burn as much gas today since we were able to shut it off completely when we were stopped because of the cool weather. We pulled into Lethbridge at about 4 p.m. and were shocked to hear that parts of the city were submerged.

Day 11 — Monday, June 30

Cranbrook to Sparwood
This was yet another warm day. We woke up to take Vanessa to the hospital for minor surgery. It turned out the guy who was to do the surgery didn’t think it was necessary. He thought some rest and antibiotics would be fine. It appears that when doctors tell any of us to rest, we interpret it as “go harder”. Vanessa rode that day and paid for it later, but she’s on the mend now.


Here's a video of a pit-stop from today:

video

We went by Fernie and Allan refilled a water jug for the cyclists. About an hour later we made it to Sparwood where we stayed at another great campsite for only $15.

Kelly ended up taking the van closer to the campground office so he could get internet. Turned out Vanessa and I had our food in the van and couldn’t cook anything until he got back, which was at about 11 p.m. We made some spaghetti and while I was washing a pot, Vanessa dropped my plate of spaghetti on the ground. And when I say “ground”, I really mean “interior of my tent and my clothes”. As a result, we ended up staying up later cleaning clothes. It began to rain for the very first time on the trip. We were nearly out of B.C. without getting a single drop. It was nice.

Day 10 — Sunday, June 29

Creston to Cranbrook
We woke up “early” and were about to hit the road before Kelly discovered his rear wheel wasn’t aligned very well. Kelly tinkered with hit a bit but had no luck. We put our heads together and were able to make it half-decent and good enough to ride. Vanessa made some awesome pancakes on our brand-spankin’ new stove, which really hit the spot. I had some fruit and was charged up. I was now ready for a full day of riding in the van!

It was another hot day and Allan and I felt it in the van — big time. We tried to turn the van off as much as possible but we were sweating inside. We tried to read when we were stopped. I cracked a GMAT study guide. Much like how I will be in the real exam, I was sweating like crazy. I was simulating the exam perfectly.

Nothing too wild to report other than the terrain looked very nice to ride. We went by Moyie Lake after passing over Moyie River approximately a thousand times. According to Vanessa and Kelly, the cool breeze coming off the lake was certainly welcome.

We rolled into Cranbrook and after receiving incorrect directions from two separate people, we ended up about 15 km east of town, rather than at a campsite. Allan and I pulled over and gave Vanessa and Kelly a ride back into town to find the campsite. When Vanessa and Kelly are good like this, Allan and I don’t mind doing things like this for them.

Later that night Vanessa went to the emergency room (not sure if she’ll mention it on her blog or not but chances are if I said anything on mine it wouldn’t be a good idea). Nothing too serious happened. We waited for about 2 hours to see a doctor. At least there was a really hyper kid in the waiting room to keep us entertained during that time. And by “entertained”, I mean “annoyed”.