Thursday, July 31, 2008

Two sleepy days on Prince Edrward Island

We are close to the end, and our bodies and minds can sense it. As we near the last few days of the trip, the exhaustion from the long trip is catching up with us. Now on Prince Edward Island with a bit of time on our hands, we decided to make the most of our time and spend as much as we could here. We decided to not take a rest day on our way from Metis to the ferry, and instead took two slow, short, and easy days across the Island.

The first day was a 60km trip to Charlottetown. It absolutely poured on us as we came into town, where we met Pat's Mum and Dad for lunch. While we were there, CBC Radio came and interviewed us, and funnily enough Pat saw Mike's family taking a horsedrawn carriage ride right past where we were eating! They were taking some time to see the city before continuing on their way around the Maritimes. We later found a hotel room, and everyone stayed around before we went out to dinner to see the sights. It's a beautiful little city, and with the trip nearing an end, it was nice to have time to enjoy it and take it in.

With only a short trip down to the ferry, we took the morning to sleep in before heading off today. We had a place to stay right near the Woodlands ferry with Darla Thompson and John Rousseau. They stayed in the Eastern Townships with my grandparents about a month ago, and they were returning the favour to us. The location was perfect for us, and they were gracious hosts at their beautiful property. They fed us well while John told us stories about his masonry business, an absolute passion for him. While we were there, we also took the opportunity to decide who was going to get what gear to take home. we had an NHL-style draft, with 10 packages up for grabs. Funnily enough, nobody really wanted to take the trailers which carry it all, but everyone went home with some good loot, and it avoids our having to divide it up in St. John's last minute! The Island has been absolutely beautiful to bike across. The rolling landscape is complete with farming fields, and views of the water. Most distinct are the potato crops, with the red earth that they are planted in.

Tomorrow, we'll take the ferry off of the Island onto Nova Scotia, our ninth province of the trip, heading towards Antigonish. And the countdown continues...



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Spanning the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island

All our family is slowly making their way to St. John's.

We met up with Pat's parents in the morning for breakfast, and soon after Bob, Polly, and Mary McDonald drove by us on the road. They drove from Ontario and will tour the Maritimes before crossing to Newfoundland.

We wanted to get to PEI today, and it made for a long 135km day. The scenery along the small highway we took for the last 20km was absolutely beautiful, and we could just make out the Island across the water, a pencil-thin line on the horizon. As we moved South, the Confederation Bridge slowly came into view, and it is very impressive. It was completed in 1997, and spans 13km from NB to PEI. It is even slightly curved to force drivers to pay attention to the road. Unfortunately, no pedestrian or bicycle traffic is alowed on the bridge, so we took the shuttle which runs back and forth.

Once on the other side, we found a campground quickly, and set up before the rain hit. The McDonalds met up with us, taking us out for a seafood dinner in Summerside. Tomorrow, we'll continue to Charlottetown to have lunch with Pat's parents. One week to go!

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Monday, July 28, 2008

A visit from Pat's parents on our way to Rexton

It's been a while since we last had to wake up and take down camp in the rain, and this morning was brutal. We got up to rainy weather, a road under construction, and wind in our faces coming out of the rest area where we made our home. It was slow enough that we only made it 25km by lunchtime in Miramichi, where we settled down at Boston Pizza to use up the last of our free individual pizzas. Delicious.

The conditions weren't showing any signs of improving weather, and we weren't too sure what lay ahead, so once we crossed the bridge we picked up food for our next two meals to carry with us. Ironically, the rain died down soon after, the sun came out, and the wind improved, so we made quick time the rest of the way to Rexton, where we found a site and set up camp.

As we got there, Pat got in touch with his parents. They arrived in Halifax a few days ago, and have been driving around the Maritimes in a Ford Mustang rental car. They came and found us at our campground, and it was nice to see them, as Pat has not seen them since the third day of the trip. They took us out to dinner at their motel, and we'll have breakfast with them tomorrow before heading out, at Eastern Canada's version of their Vancouver Starbucks: Tim Horton's. Good thing we got all that food in Miramichi, eh?

Tomorrow, we'll cross over the Confederation Bridge to camp out just on the other side. On to PEI as the count goes on.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Leading the parade through Bathurst on our way down the coast

A few people in Bathurst might now about the ride now.

After covering 50km to get there for lunch, we ran into a parade that was running along the main drag through town, also our route out.

We had options. There were a number of streets available to take around it to get on our way. There was also the option of just joining the parade itself and acting like we were a part of it. We went for the latter.

We bypassed the lineup of vehicles that were actually part of the parade, slowly pedaling while waving to the crowd and smiling for the cameras. Eventually we got to the front, passing a few firetrucks and a cop car or two, and were leading things along. People who were waiting for the parade in behind us saw us first, and clapped and cheered us on. It was a pretty funny experience.

The winds have been fighting us all the way South, and today was no different. Complicating things was the fact that there was essentially nothing to be found between Bathurst and Miramichi, a full 80km apart along a deserted highway. Worse, there was a repaving project on the road making riding a nuisance, and with the hour getting late, the outlook was bleak. Luckily for us, a rest area opened up, with a gas station across the road. We've set up camp and will stay the night.

The countdown continues as we continue down the coast towards the Confederation Bridge to take us across to PEI.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

The countdown begins in New Brunswick

We're in the final countdown to St. John's, and now that we are in the Maritimes in New Brunswick, it is hitting us that we are very close to the end.

At our campsite last night and this morning, we waged a serious battle with the local blackflies. They were by far the worst we've had to date, just swarming every part of our body, worst when we were standing still trying to actually do something. They definitely won the fight, and we got out of there as quickly as possible this morning to avoid them.

There was little between Sainte-Florence and Matapedia, so we made it through in solid time. The ride was absolutely beautiful, following several of the regions rivers through the valley, surrounded by pine forest. We weren't quite ready for lunch when we arrived, so we pushed on across the border to Campbellton. It was quite a feeling to be in the Maritimes, and thankfully they had a great sign for us to get a picture with!

There's not much along the East coast of NB, and we went a long distance without seeing any grocery stores or restaurants. Worse, we had lost an hour coming into the province, so it was getting late to find something. Signs to one campsite were completely false, but regardless we didn't have any food, and after 120km of riding, all we knew about was Pizza Delight in tiny Jacquet River 10km away, which somehow came up in searches. We figured we had no choice but to go there, so we ordered 4 of their biggest pizzas for takeout, and figured we'd find somewhere to camp once we got there.

We lucked out big time. Not only was the pizza delicious, but there was a campground right next to it. It was right on a beach, and with clear skies the sunset was amazing. We took the pizza with some beers down to the water, had a swim with LOADS of jellyfish (Jon got stung), and had rock skipping, rock throwing, and caber toss competions. The caber toss was the most exciting, and everyone was able to get the first, lighter log to 12 o'clock. The second log, taller and heavier, posed a greater challenge. Contestant after contestant tried and failed, until Jon stepped up to the plate for his third attempt, throwing it up in Herculean fashion to get it to land at the 12 o'clock position. We even had a crowd, as a couple had just ridden over along the sand in their ATV. With the competition settled, we headed back up to set up camp, with two full pizzas left for tomorrow. They were huge, so we'll definitely have enough for breakfast, possibly even lunch!

With the trip nearing an end, I've decided to run the battery on our GPS locator down, and have it tracking us all the time through the day. If you click on the "current location" link on the homepage, you can see where we are throughout the day, and follow us all the way to the finish line until August 5th. It is a cool extra feature for you who follow us along.

Moreover, we sit about $11,000 short of our fundraising goal to date. Please help us out be telling anyone you haven't already about the ride to help us make it before we're done! Every little bit helps.

With that out of the way, the countdown is on to St. John's.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Up and down and into the wind along the Matapedia to Sainte-Florence

After getting an incredible welcome into Metis, we were treated to an equally impressive sendoff this morning.

A crowd of 100+ people had gathered for our 9am departure, and cheered us on as we wheeled our bikes onto the Beach road outside my house. Lots of cameras took pictures while I went to find my 90-year-old grandmother, who was waiting in the middle of the street with her scooter donning a helmet to lead us out, with the firetruck trailing us. Kids, parents, and grandparents alike dusted off their bikes to ride East out of town with us to the highway, before the following crowd stayed behind as we rode off.

Turning onto highway 297 after Baie-des-Sables, we ran into steep hill after steep hill as we climbed up to the Matapedia highway (also the 132). Once there, the road flattens out as it runs along the river valley, Southeast towards New Brunswick.

In Amqui, we were met by their fire chief who trailed us out of town until the far side of Lac-au-Saumon. There he switched off with one of his colleagues to take us to Sainte-Florence. We didn't know the area very well, so we were lucky that he asked us where we had planned to stay for the night. We hadn't gotten that far ahead in the plans, so he warned us that there was essentially nothing between Sainte-Florence and Matapedia, another 50km away, which would make for a long day. Thankfully, he led us to a municipal campground where we could get set up. Another big thanks to the region's firefighters, who have been very supportive of us and extremely cooperative.

Once in, it was Jon's turn to make dinner, the last meal of the competition. He went for a fettucine carbonara of his own creation, with baguette on the side. It was good, but it was now up to the judges to decide. Each person ranked the other meals 1-4, with a reverse points system to make a score. We must have saved the best for last, because Jon came out on top, followed closely by myself, then Pat, Brian, and Mike respectively. We'll have to find some kind of prize for Jon, but until then, he gets bragging rights as MMR's Iron Chef.

Tomorrow we'll cross into New Brunswick as we make our way along the coast.
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Thursday, July 24, 2008

A second homecoming in Metis-sur-Mer

One of my absolute favourite places in the world is my Martin family's summer home on the St. Lawrence in Metis-sur-Mer.

It's hard to describe, but families from all over Canada and even overseas take time every year to make the pilgrimage back for a weekend, a week, or a month or two to see friends that they only see there and have known all of their lives. Life is slow, limited to golf and tennis on the country course and courts, walking along the beach, and plenty of cocktail parties and bonfires in the evenings. It's akin to Never-Never Land from Peter Pan, because nobody in Metis ever grows old, returning to a perpetual childhood state whenever they come down for their summer holidays. It is a very special place indeed.

Yesterday, we left Trois-Pistoles with more of the same brutal winds we'd seen the previous two days. At the very least it was sunny, and we rode hard throughout the morning as we enjoyed the pleasant scenery along the shores of the St. Lawrence, much more beautiful in the sunlight than under the gloom of the previous days.

We made it to Rimouski for lunch, more than halfway for the day, and were met by my cousin Ted Savage who drove out to find us. He is part of Metis' volunteer fire squad and had recruited the neighbouring fire halls to help escort us from Pointe-au-Pere (just East of Rimouski) into Metis, about 50km of our day. It was pretty cool having them for such a long time, and along the highway people turned to watch and cheer us on. Once we hit the Metis Gardens, we were to switch escorts to the Metis team, and continue into town with them for the last 10km. Friend Peter Swinkels drove Ted's Mercedes convertible for my Mum, who videotaped us the whole way in. (A girl on her way home from work at the Gardens joined us randomly, and even made fun of us because she was faster than we were.)

What was waiting for us when we arrived was a most amazing scene, something I've never seen before in my 23 years of going down there, and totally blew me away.

As we came into town, the church bells started ringing announcing our arrival onto the main road through the village; my Uncle Kerry was ringing the Presbyterian bells himself. People were on their steps clapping and cheering, and as we made our way along and came up the hill to Town Hall, a crowd of 200+ people had gathered to greet us outside, almost everyone who is down here for the summer right now. It was extremely moving for me, because I knew almost everyone, and Metis, as I said, is an incredibly special place for my family and I. To be welcomed like that was truly amazing.

My cousin Ted had set up speakers and a microphone, and did all the announcements before motioning me to the front. I said some words of appreciation to the mass who had gathered, introducing the other guys to them and thanking everyone for coming out and giving us their support. We stayed briefly for a meet and greet (Mike and Pat recruited some of the kids to bike out with us), before a final escort through the rest of town and back home for some showers and some well-deserved rest after three hard days.

Today was a day of doing absolutely nothing. The most exercise any of us got was Pat, Brian, and I going out to play a few holes of golf with my Mum in a cart before going back home for dinner. After some spaghetti and an incredible dessert (ask Brian yourself), we got down to business, breaking out the shaving cream and the moustache dye. Our legs are smooth once more, and we are all sporting dark brown moustaches; hopefully people won't be too afraid of us as we near the finish line, and will still be willing to say hello.

Tomorrow we head off towards New Brunswick, hopefully with an escort of children with their bikes. Thanks to everyone for making the welcome in what it was, particularly to my fantastic cousin Ted for his help and to the Mont-Joli and Metis firefighters for their time.
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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Another tiring day to Trois-Pistoles

The wind didn't let up for us today, and was blowing harder than yesterday as we moved down the St. Lawrence.

We had to draft pretty consistently throughout the day to save as much energy as possible. Brian and I, not carrying trailers, rotated the duty of cutting the wind at the front, while the three guys with trailers rotated behind us to get a draft. We've been using the dropdown handlebars pretty frequently, as they allow us to get lower, more out of the wind. The difference is a few kilometres an hour faster, anything to move quicker.

It's a beautiful place even without any sun, riding past fields of all sorts, canola being the most striking crop with it's neon-like yellow colour. On one break, it literally looked like there were waves in the fields, an effect of the winds we encountered. When it's blowing in your face and cold, anything is entertainment.

One funny story: leaving this morning, Pat went into a pharmacy to pick up a few things. Nobody spoke a lick of English and must have wondered what he was doing in there, asking for the following items:

Vaseline, men's Nair (we "need" to shave our legs again), hand sanitizer, and moustache dye (or as Pat asked, "du produit de colorissant pour le moustache"). Absolutely ridiculous. We wonder what people think of us when they see us.

We pushed on today despite the weather, and made it another 115km to Trois-Pistoles. Unfortunately, it's gotten pretty cold, and is now raining on us. Mike upped the ante with dinner tonight, making chicken Caesar salad, complete with impressive homemade garlic bread, and extra spicy Clamato juice to drink. Drawback? Longest preparation time thus far, especially since he had to buy chicken thighs and cut them up to stay on budget. Jon will be last up, having the benefit of seeing all of us go before him before making his meal. Pressure's on.
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Fighting wind and cold to La Pocatiere

After last night's fun, we got a bit of a late start today, and didn't exactly wake up to a pleasant day. The wind was blowing hard in our faces, and it looked like it could start pouring down at any time (thankfully it didn't!).

Once again, we passed cyclist after cyclist today. We've seen more cyclists in the last few days than the entire trip combined, without question. Seeing them coming the other way was tough, because they were just flying as opposed to us, heads down, grinding out whatever we could. We still moved well, but the work was draining. You just had to get into a good frame of mind and keep on going.

Same as the North shore, we are passing through one small town after another. Towns where we could actually get groceries were hard to come by, and eventually near the end of the day we got to La Pocatiere, big for these parts (meaning it's got an IGA and a Metro). We got food, but it was getting late, dark, and cold with the fog coming off the river looking more and more like oncoming rain, so we headed off to see what we could find at the local CEGEP. We couldn't camp on the nearby grounds, but thankfully Pat noticed someone in an office for the residence, and we were able to get one of their apartments!

We're now set up here, and thankfully so. We had a kitchen and showers, got to do some laundry (which had been getting a bit fragrant...), and tonight was Brian's night on dinner! He made chicken nuggets with corn on the cob, baguette, and a "5-pack" of beer. Three down, two to go, so we'll have to see what Mike and Jon come up with before the voting takes place, and the champion crowned.
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More stories of quebec city...

Some stories keith forgot to mention yesterday, in the excitement of quebec city:

After we had been relaxing by the river, trying to figure out a place to stay, we split up for a bit. Jon, pat and I biked west along the water for a ways, in search for a bike shop, while keith and mike biked to the chateau frontenac to find a bank. Jon, pat and I were to meet mike and keith infront of le chateau after we were finished shopping. If anyone is from quebec city, or know the area, you are well aware of the winding, steep street of cote de la montagne. Naturally, we had to try to bike up it, with our panniers, trailers, and the hundreds of tourists wandering the streets. Our best guess is that it is a 20 % grade, or higher, our steepest yet. About halfway up, a lady on the side of the road yelled something at us, and started clapping her hands! Soon after everyone on the side of the street had stopped shopping, and was cheering us up the grueling hill! The three of us couldn't help but smile as we powered up that hill!

Story numero 2:
Once at the top, we were looking for mike and keiffer. We found them resting beside the tourist information center infront of the chateau frontenac. Just as I was about to turn off the street and onto the sidewalk, a police officer on a motorcycle (sirens blaring, and lights flashing) stopped dead infront of me, inches from my front tire, and put his hand up for me to "ARRET"! Another cop drove by, and did the same down the street. Seconds later, a convoy of cars drove past: two police cars, followed by a maroon car. It was about this time that we saw hundreds and hundreds of people rushing the streets, chasing after this maroon car. Jon's bike and trailer got mildly trampled as people rushed past him! Then it hit us...Paul McCartney was driving right infront of us! I whipped out my camera and started recording, as he hung out the window waving at the people of quebec city! He passed feet infront of us, as he was escorted down the streets od quebec city! It was pretty sweet to have been in the right spot, at the right time, to get a glimpse of PM, the day he was to perform his live show! We might not have seen him on stage at the concert (thanks to the thousands of hardcore fans blocking our view) but we were within feet of him, as he drove past the chateau. Watch for that video to be posted!

I think that about does it!
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Celebrating Quebec's 400th anniversary with Sir Paul

Quebec City is in the midst of celebrating its 400th anniversary, and we rolled into town at exactly the right time to take it all in. Sir Paul McCartney of Beatles fame was scheduled to play a concert on the Plains of Abraham as part of the year-long festivities, and everyone was invited.

The only problem? Finding a place to stay.

We got into town around noon after a short ride from our campsite West of the city, and headed straight for the area right around the water. The city is absolutely stunning, rich with history, and abound with friendly and relaxed people. A lot of people approached us randomly, asking if we were staying for the night, and telling us how once-in-a-lifetime this opportunity was. After making some calls, we couldn't find anything in town, so we resigned ourselves to continuing across the water on the ferry, and continuing along.

While we were shopping for groceries just across the water, Brian found a campsite that was closeby. We would be able to get a taxi back to the ferry across to Quebec to watch the show, or at least try. After all, it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

While we were on our way there, my Mum found us along the road, and followed us in. She's heading out to our place in Metis, anticipating our arrival. She gave us some money to help with cab and ferry expenses, and we headed out shortly after dinner.

The city was alive as people walked in the streets and hundreds of thousands were all around the Plaines d'Abraham to watch Paul's show. We couldn't even get close to the stage, and walked all around only getting views of several screens that had been set up around the area. He played hits from the Beatles and Wings, charming the crowd. We walked on, around, and through old battle structures that have been standing for hundreds of years as we walked around, the city is absolutely beautiful. We wanted to get a jump on the crowd leaving, so we took off to the ferry a bit before the show ended to miss the rush. What a way to be a part of Quebec's festivities!

Tomorrow we'll continue along the south shore of the St. Lawrence as we make our way to my family's place in Metis.
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cyclists, poutine, and thunderstorms on our way to Quebec City

The Route Verte is apparently pretty popular.

We have seen cyclist after cyclist along the way and they seem to be all over the place. The highway's great for it and B+B's and campgrounds are abound with "Bienvenue cyclistes!" messages on their signs ("Welcome cyclists!" en anglais).

We go through through small towns very frequently, and other than some business owners, very few people speak any English at all. The three cyclists we met yesterday have been having trouble, but we've been getting by with my French when we need to. It came in handy today at lunch, when we decided to stop at one of the many "casse-croutes" along the highway for some burgers and poutine, as the owners barely spoke a word of English. It was absolutely delicious and supremely greasy, and some of the guys needed a bit of a nap afterwards before getting going again.

We've started a dinner competition that we have not told you about yet, Pat's brainchild a little while ago. Each of us makes a dinner on a $40 budget, buying the groceries and cooking ourselves. Whoever's dinner is judged to be the best by their peers will win. Before tonight, Pat was the first to cook in Arnprior, making his "welfare salad," which consists of a bag of Doritos into which you throw lettuce, taco beef, cheese, peppers, and onions, topped with Catalina salad dressing. You eat it straight out of the bag, and the beauty of it is that you only have one dish to clean and it's quick to make. Tonight I stepped up to the plate and made "Kmart cheese steaks," for which I cut up stew steak, and added sauteed onions, mushrooms, and peppers, shredded cheese, and bbq sauce, on fresh baguette. It was pretty good, with the drawback that it took a long time to make. The other three need to make theirs before the trip is over, and we'll see who comes out on top in the end. Lots of bragging rights (and we're pretty sure Brian is just going to buy $40 worth of cookies and ice cream and plop it on the table as his entry...we'll see).

Unfortunately, it started to pour down on us during dinner, and the ground around the tents is completely soaked. We're about 20-30km short of Quebec City, so we'll at least pass through, although we're mulling over whether or not to stay for the outdoor Paul McCartney concert tomorrow night, but we'll make that decision tomorrow.
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Friday, July 18, 2008

On the Route Verte to Trois-Rivieres

After a late arrival home from dinner last night, I don't think any of us got much sleep before the morning's wakeup. We were supposed to be at Martin Swiss Cycle at 8am to be escorted out, but we were a bit late, and the thunder and rain coming from outside wasn't making things easier.

Thankfully, we weren't so late that we missed the "departure committee" that had assembled to see us off. There were 30+ people who had come out to see us go, many friends and family of mine. I had a tough time keeping it together, touched by everyone's effort to make it out despite rainy, stormy weather this morning. My cousin Andrew led us out, and two other Specialized employees came with us along with three others. The Specialized crew led us downtown before they had to go off to work, but Ron Perowne and Rick Hart followed us all the way to the bridge off the island to Repentigny before turning around. Ron's been taking lots of video of us while we've been in town, and at times had to work to catch up to us, one hand on the camera getting shots, one hand steadying his bike, while trying to make sure he didn't run into anything!

Luckily for us, Quebec boasts the top-rated network of cycle routes in the world, the Route Verte. We are following it along the North shore of the St. Lawrence along highway 138 through Trois-Rivieres and Quebec City right now. It's got very little traffic, and we often had a generous shoulder to boot. The weather was rainy for the most part, but it cleared up at the end, and we met a number of other cyclists along the way who were also travelling the Route. Before arriving at our campground just West of Trois-Rivieres, we met three cyclists who have been going across together, two from Regina and one from London who joined up in Ottawa. Something else that we have met so many people from London making the journey!

The rain returned as we went to bed, now pouring down on us with thunder cracking loudly on the river. Tomorrow we'll go through Trois-Rivieres first thing on the ride, before heading towards Quebec City.
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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Out of Ontario, into Quebec, and two great days in Montreal

This last stretch in Southern Ontario has been filled with rest days, as the London crew were able to spend time with their friends and family along the way. Why else would we all have added 1-2 weeks to the trip to make the effort? Going through your hometown - and in Mike's case, his cottage as well - is a comforting feeling, indeed, and for those three it was special to have that opportunity.

Our two days in Montreal was my turn to get greeted by the friends and family who have been so supportive of us along the way, and it has to be one of the greatest feelings of my life.

We had a long ride into the city, but we were helped with strong winds at our backs. We were on the road early and made few stops along the way - we didn't want to overstay our welcome on the lawn that was our home the previous night. Crossing into Quebec along one of the smaller highways, I think I was the only one who knew we had crossed the border for several kilometres. There was no sign indicating the change along the highway, so unfortunately we weren't able to get our usual picture at the welcome sign. I guess we'll have to find something else along the way so that we have a full set at the end of the trip. The cultural change became more pronounced as we heard more French being spoken around us, but thankfully Pat and I have been practising the last few weeks, so we were ready. 

Getting onto the island itself posed a challenge, as there was construction on the bridge and quite a lot of traffic trying to get across. We had to be careful as we took up the entire lane, holding up the cars behind us as we crossed over. Needless to say, they were none pleased, and one in particular had some choice words for us on the other side. Mike gave him as good as he tried to give us, and we brushed it off before continuing on to our stop at Specialized Canada's headquarters in St-Anne de Bellevue. We were greeted by my cousin Andrew McGregor, who has been instrumental in getting us supplied with gear for the ride. We got a tour before CTV showed up to get some footage. When all was done, my aunt Susan came to pick up our gear, and Andrew suited up to lead us the rest of the way into Westmount. He must have forgotten that we had already gone 115km that day, and with 40km to go he flew ahead, pulling us all the way for a beautiful ride along Lakeshore Boulevard and the Lachine Canal.

What was waiting for us when we got to the limits of Westmount was unbelievably special for me. Friends and nearly all of my family, about 25 people in total, had gathered to cheer us as we came in. I would be lying if I said I didn't get emotional, and the only one missing was waiting at 24 Windsor for her son to ride in along the street. She didn't want to wait at the Home Depot with everyone else to see him ride in.

She wanted to see him ride home.

I am extremely fortunate to have the family that I do, and literally all of my family in Montreal was out for dinner when we got in. Roast lamb was on the plate and the fridge was stocked for us when we arrived, and we talked with everyone about the trip to date. When it started to wind down, it was time for the boys to head out, and we went to meet some great friends of mine on St. Laurent before getting some of Quebec's trademark poutine and calling it a night.

The next morning was a little tough as we got up for some radio spots at CJAD, MIX 96, and CHOM, before heading back to bed once they were over. When we got up, it was time for the block party that my family had organised to celebrate our arrival, and what an event it was.

Nearly 200 people gathered, Global did a live broadcast (I couldn't get over how cool that was), and CTV came for some more footage. We all had an interview with the Montreal Gazette, and some Concordia Journalism students even came out to do a mini-documentary! I barely ate as I talked with as many people as I could who had come out to show support for what we're doing, and congratulate us on our achievements to date. It was amazing seeing everyone, and it is something I will never forget. Thanks to my parents, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins who did all the work to make it a success. I am very lucky to have them in my life.

We got more sleep after another night out on the town, before getting some massages at Club Mansfield and a complimentary lunch at the Bistro on Greene. The owner of the restaurant even gave us the privilege of signing the guestbook, which is filled with names of actors, athletes, etc. who have dined their over the years. My sister treated us to ice cream before we took care of errands, and then it was off to the Hillside Tennis Club, where my parents treated us to their Surf and Turf dinner night. We wore our red jerseys, and people cheered us as we came in, which was unexpected! They had agreed to let us come in casual attire, as none of us are carrying any nice clothes with us in the panniers, and I didn't have enough to go around!

Tomorrow, we'll leave from Martin Swiss Cycle at 8am, and we should have a good number of people riding with us (at least for a little while). Andrew will lead the way out of town, as we continue to travel along the North shore of the St. Lawrence towards Trois-Rivieres and Quebec City, before crossing over to the South shore, making our way to my family's place in Metis Beach.

Thanks to everyone who made our stay in Montreal so special. I will never forget it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A trying day through Ottawa

The park in Arnprior served us well, and we had no problems to report with anyone kicking us out of there. However, we did have to get the tents packed up a bit prematurely, as they were cutting the grass, and starting near our area, so we had to get out of there. No problems there either, and we headed out of town.

We got a bit stuck on the highway 17, adjacent to the larger and busier 417, coming to what was essentially a dead end. We had no choice but to pass the gear over a chicken wire fence, and cross the highway to the other side. Thankfully there was relatively little traffic and a u-turn spot as well, so we got across safely to a much wider shoulder as we went into Ottawa. When it got busier around Kanata, we got off to take a bike route into the city to the Ottawa River Pathway.

The bike route was absolutely great, as we had no traffic to deal with, and it passed by all of the government buildings along the way, and they are quite a sight. At the War Museum, my uncle John McKinnon, aunt Odile, and cousin Mathieu came out to greet us with lunch. After a brief storm passed over, we were able to eat in comfort, and they had even managed to get CTV out to film us! They got a lot of shots for our spot on the 6 o'clock news. Once we got back on the road, we took some pictures with the Parliament Building, and headed out of town.

We had trouble figuring a way out, and it caused some frustration. Once we got some dinner at a Tim Horton's in Rockland, it was getting late and a bit dark, so we went in to knock on a door to ask if we could stay in an adjacent field. It wasn't theirs, but they allowed us to stay on their lawn, so that's where we are! The mother, Tammy, was very nice about it, and we really appreciate her letting us stay there.

Tomorrow we're heading into Montreal!
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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Finished with the hilly highways (for now) in Arnprior

We got some rain last night, and waking up this morning, Brian and Jon had a bit of a surprise. Their tent was sitting right beside an enormous puddle, the water had soaked through the groundsheet and the bottom of their tent, and Brian's clothes were damp with moisture. Nothing much they were able to do except pack it up and wait for an opportunity to dry it.

After yesterday, we were left with little water, and had to take our first opportunity to fill up. We found a hotel caled the Swiss Inn in Denbigh that let us fill up our water sacks, but it was cloudy. We showed it to the owner, but it was all she had and had been serving it all morning, so we didn't get much sympathy. Not our first choice, but we took what was available until we could find better.

At lunch, we were able to kill two birds with one stone. We found a rest stop near a river to get a swim, the sun came out allowing us to dry everything out, and a nearby gas station had some clearer water for us to drink. Didn't taste great, but at least it was an improvement...

Coming out of Kennisis Lake, the road has been quite hilly and we've been slow going through it. We did hit some milestones today, however, as Brian, Jon, and Mike all cracked 80km/hr on the second of two consecutive downhills (Mike once again holds the record just above 82km/hr). The ups and downs finally disappeared as we hit Renfrew and were back on the Transcanada, much flatter and faster for us. Too bad it was near the end of our day, but we still flew to Arnprior, where we turned off to look for a spot to pitch a tent.

We had a few options around the Madawaska River, which cuts through the city. An old woman whom Jon, Pat, and Mike met near one of the churches walked them past a cemetery (they were a bit weirded out by that) to a park that sat along the river, and we have set up camp there. There were some trees in which we could somewhat hide the tents, and tables for us to eat on, and as long as nobody comes in the middle of the night to kick us out, we'll be fine. Unfortunately, the water is no good for us to swim in, and the bugs were absolutely brutal as we set up the tents just after dark. We had to kill a whole bunch of them once were inside, as they just swarmed trying to get in!

Tomorrow we'll pass through Ottawa along the Ottawa River Parkway, stopping for a picnic lunch at the War Museum before leaving. Hopefully, along the relatively flat terrain from here to Montreal, we can make good time.
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I forgot to mention...

All 5 blizzards at DQ were courtesy of Jon-boys Tante Ingrid, Uncle Dave, Abby and Hannah!
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An addition to yesterdays blog

We also went to Dairy Queen in Bancroft, and it was delicious!

That's all for now!
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From a cottage to sleeping on a random property

Due to a lack of cell phone reception, you will get this on a delay.


You may remember that the road coming into Mike's cottage was absolutely miserable. It was a bad road with ridiculously steep inclines, and we didn't really feel like backtracking along it for 20km to get on our way. Thankfully, Bob and Polly were able to get a trailer to haul the bikes and gear out to the junction where we came in. Except for Mike's brother Jeff, who's gone for the weekend, the whole McDonald family was there to see us off as we left Kennisis Lake this morning. We had a great stay with them, and their hospitality was much appreciated.

There wasn't much sun, but it was really humid all day, and for the most part we had the wind in our face along the hilly terrain. Once we were past Bancroft, we were on the lookout for a campground, but nothing was coming up on Google or the GPS, and we weren't passing anything along the highway. It was going to come down to either a really long day, or finding another random place to stay. We saw a property that was perfect: nice lawn, a picnic table, even a pond where we might have been able to have a swim. Pat and I went up to knock on the door, but unfortunately nobody was around but the dog, so we had to keep going.

Luckily, only a little ways down, we found what appeared to be an abandoned, for-sale farm warehouse property. We figured it was our best bet, so we set up the tents, and ate dinner on a picnic table that we found lying around. We were a bit worried when the owners came up to us on an ATV, but they did not seem the least bit concerned that we were there. It even turned out that they owned the property whose door we had tried earlier! Bad timing for us.

The bugs here are absolutely brutal, so we have retreated to the tents early. Tomorrow we'll continue on our way East as we head towards Montreal over the next few days.
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Friday, July 11, 2008

Steep hills to Kennisis Lake; waking, tubing, and barging on our days off

It's been a few days since the Kennisis-bound crew checked in. We've been having an absolutely incredible time up at Mike's cottage, with little to no cell reception and a dialup connection that sometimes makes email tough. It's a pretty nice part of the country, so we've been taking our time to enjoy it.

The ride from Balsam Lake Provincial Park was relatively short, and Pat, Mike, and I took our time, especially in the afternoon. After lunch, we passed by the Kawartha Dairy ice cream shop, a favourite in the area, so we had to stop for a cone. They must have had 50+ flavours, all of it delicious. We knew we were getting our gear picked up by Mike's mother and sister, and we were really looking forward to riding without the panniers and the trailer. It made quite a difference without the extra weight, and we made good time the rest of the way to Mike's cottage on Kennisis Lake.

There were some absolutely wickedly steep hills along a bad stretch of road for the final leg of the ride. Just before we got there, though, we had one downhill on which Mike and Pat both broke our previously highest recorded speed. Mike cracked 76km/hr, and Pat hit 74km/hr; without the gear it didn't seem nearly as fast as it would have. Some of the inclines afterwards were just terrible, definitely the steepest we've seen, hard even without the extra weight.

Our prize was certainly waiting at the end. Mike's cottage sits right on Kennisis Lake, complete with a boat and wakeboarding and tubing gear. We did nothing but sit out on the water both days we spent here, and could not have been happier. We went out in the boat on the first day, where Mike flung me around on the tube, while he and Pat did anything but rest their legs on the wakeboard, as it's a pretty heavy workout. We got a tour of the lake and once we got back, we broke out the inflatables and sat out in the sun before it went behind the trees.

Today was more of the same, and we enjoyed an incredible steak dinner in the evening. Brian and Jon had arrived from Bracebridge earlier in the day, and Bob McDonald had come up for the weekend, so there were lots of people around. A friend of Brian's showed up as well. There has been lots of Kawartha Dairy ice cream as well! Who knows how many tubs we went through while we were here.

Tomorrow we'll start heading East again, making our way to Montreal over the next four days.
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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Getting to and resting at camp big canoe

Jon and I got up at our usual time on the morning of the 9th, to get an early start to camp and begin our day off! We jumped in the black river as a wake up, packed up the tent and tarp, and were out of there in record time (it helped that the bugs were bad too!)!
The bike ride was a short 60 km to camp, but it was muggy, and threatening with rain almost all day! But we got there for a lunch of submarine sandwiches! Its always a funny feeling when you come back to a camp that you've worked at for a number of years, but have been away from for a while. As usual, both jon and I were welcomed qwith open arms by everyone!
After lunch, we helped Gordo (a good friend of mine since grade 3) spray a wasps nest, then jon and I joined right in on some extreme kayaking daily rotations with doug. Dinner came around quickly, and we were eating more food before we knew it. For the rest of the night, we hung out with Gordo and Maddie until we were too tired to keep our eyes open.

July 10 - our rest day here at camp.
We couldn't have timed our stay here any better! Today was the last day of session 1 for the campers, so there was a lot of fun things planned! It started with polar bear swim in the morning to wake up, followed by lake swim after b reakfast. Each session the campers have the opportunity to swim across Hart lake or to party on the bea9h. We experienced both, as I was in a canoe escorting two campers across the lake, while jon played volleyball and body painting on the beach.
After lunch, we helped Sean out with a few odd jobs, the took a nice nap before we met up with Lauren, yet another friend of ours working in Gravenhurst as a lifeguard this summer. Gordo, Jon, Maddie, Lauren and I all enjoyed a banquet dinner of turkey, just like we were all together back in Hamilton. After dinner, we had a camp-wide campfire, where "p- p- p- peanut buttered" to keep the bugs off of us! We hung out in a tent full of staff for the rest of the night, and listened to the soothing noise of the rain falling on the canvas tent-cabins.
Tomorrow we'll be up and out of camp soon after breakfast, to meet up with the other boys again, near Haliburton.
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A scorcher to Balsam Lake Provincial Park

As Brian said, we're split up as we head North of the GTA, so here was the day for Pat, Mike, and I.

Getting up at Peter's place in Pickering, he treated us to some eggs and toast, while we watched coverage of the Tour de France. It is absolutely amazing watching the Tour cyclists, and this trip definitely gives us an appreciation for what they're doing, even if they are averaging double our speed if not more on their 200km+ days...insane. They absolutely fly!

Today was probably the hottest day we have seen so far. When we looked outside, the air had the consistency of pea soup (GTA weather for you...), and we were sweating bullets as we left the city. A consequence of the muggy weather, there were thunderstorms forecast and we headed right into one. We could see the dark clouds in the distance, and were hoping it would blow over before we got there, but all of a sudden lightning bolts were getting close, so we headed for shelter at a nearby house. Luckily someone was there, and we got inside just as the rain started to pour and the wind to blow. The couple was really nice to us as we watched the storm pass over, lightning coming down all around close to the house.

We headed back out into the heat, so hot that Pat and Mike eventually went shirtless at the end. We were hoping to leave a short day to Mike's cottage tomorrow, but despite some strong tailwinds, the break for the rain slowed us down and we "only" made it 115km to Balsam Lake Provincial Park. After a long day in the heat, it was nice to get in a quick swim before settling down to dinner.

Tomorrow we'll get to Mike's cottage, where we will be able to take two days off before meeting up with Jon and Brian and continuing East.
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I also wanted to say thanks to everyone in hamilton who came out to see us! It was sweet to see everyone again, so thanks! We'll definately do it again once we're done, so keept mid august clear in your schedules!
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Brian and jonno relaxing at black river campground!

while we're split up, I'll try and maintain the blog that keith usually does, despite my lack of irish proverbs...

Last night, after we split up, jon and I biked to a mark beaumont's house, a friend of ours from mcmaster, who also saw us off in tofino! He had offered us eats and a bed, so we had to take him up on that! It was a late dinner, but mark and katie (also a good friend from mac) waited until we got there and we enjoyed steaks on their patio, surrounded by tiki torches. As we were eating, we were joined my john magee, and d-fox (yet again, more good friends from mac), and we caught up over some beverages.
Jon and I had to call it an early night, as we were still pretty tired from hamilton.

This morning, mark threw on the apron, and made us some sweet egg mcmuffins, before we all grabbed our bikes and headed north. John, mark, and darren biked with us to the city limits of scarborough, in the already scorching and muggy s. Ontario weather! It was wicked to have an escort of friends! Thanks a lot guys!
Jon and I were drenched in sweat by the time we stopped for lunch at 1pm (in sunderland I think...). We ate at a bar and grill, anf found shelter just in time, before a big but b reif thunderstorm hit! Lots of lightning, and strong winds. It passed quickly, and we biked in the now cooler weather. We turned north on hwy 169 to gravenhurst, and found a nice campsite on the Black River. The owners of the campsite were very nice, giving us the best site in the park and a donation for the ride! Our campsite is on our own personal island, surrounded by the black river (which was awesome to swim in after a hot day like today). We had the usual canned salt for dinner, and now we'll catch up on some much needed reading and sleep, before heading to camp big canoe (a camp I worked at for a number of years), in bracebridge tomorrow for lunch, and a day off.
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Monday, July 7, 2008

Trekking through Toronto along Lakeshore

Being in Brian and Jon's university town, we stayed up a bit later than usual, and got a pretty late morning start out of the Hammer. We were all pretty tired, but a good breakfast at Tim Horton's got the day started off right before we set out into a baking Southern Ontario sun.

We knew the GTA spread far and wide, but we really got to see how much it sprawls out as we biked today. All the way from Hamilton, we passed through suburb after suburb as we travelled along Lakeshore road. Absolutely stunning properties lined the streets as we rode through Burlington and Oakville, before finally hitting Mississauga, downtown, etc on our way to Pickering. When we weren't on Lakeshore road, we travelled along the the Waterfront Trail, a bike route that started in Hamilton and went all the way through the GTA along Lake Ontario. It was really beautiful, and while it slowed us down and added some distance, it was quite a relief from the alternative of having to ride along the city streets in traffic (which we still had to do once in a while, but that's life). On the way in Mississauga, we had an enjoyable, albeit late, lunch with Jon's aunt and uncle at a great Greek restaurant. It was tasty fuel for the rest of the way, and nice for Jon to be able to meet up with them.

After riding through downtown and past the famous CN tower along the shores, we met up with Pat's friend Brian from his hometown of North Delta. He goes to Ryerson University in Toronto, and thought it would be fun to ride to Pickering with us. It is always nice to have a bit of company, and it also gives the people who ride with us an opportunity to get a taste of what we do every day. Those who go home sore after riding a fraction of what we do then have some idea of what we go through!

We had a few options for accomodations, and as a result we split up the group. Brian and Jon went to visit their friend Mark Beaumont in Scarborough, who was in Tofino for the takeoff. Mike, Pat, and I continued to Pickering to stay with my cousin Peter Dalglish. It works well, because we will be splitting up as we go North out of the city. Brian and Jon will head to Brian's camp in Bracebridge, while the other three of us will head directly to Mike's cottage on Kennissis Lake, where we will meet up in the end.

Peter was amazing to the three of us who stayed with him, and his brother, son, niece, and daughter all joined us throughout the night. We swam in his pool, relaxed in his hot tub, and enjoyed a delicious chicken and pasta meal. He'll also be cooking up a hearty breakfast before we head out tomorrow morning. A nice way to end off our stay with him and his family!
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A hot one to Hamilton

Every 'real' cyclist we pass seems to have shaved legs and arms, or so it seems. In an attempt to look more like 'real' cyclists ourselves, we picked up some hair removal cream, and took all the hair off our legs the night before leaving London. This is 22-23 years of growth for us, so we didn't quite get it all, and had to go in afterwards with a razor to finish the job. It's a pretty weird feeling having bare legs, and all the women poked fun at us, especially Jon because he cut himself!

It was a really hot day going to Hamilton. The police and firefighters escorted us out to Thamesford, where we met some of Mike's family along the road before continuing on. Being slower than the other guys, I sometimes get a head start on the road after our breaks, and did the same after one in Paris. It didn't work out so well, as I missed a turn to a different highway, and Mike and Jon had to come and find me in Brantford several kilometres down. Luckily it wasn't too bad of a detour, and we ended up meeting Brian and Pat in Hamilton. We were staying at Brian and Jon's old house on Thorndale Crescent, and several of their friends who were in the city came out to welcome them in. We all went out to dinner at Boston Pizza before coming back to their place.

We'll get a late start Monday going to Toronto. We'll be riding through the GTA most of the day along the No. 2 highway, which turns into Lakeshore road, so it could be really nice going along Lake Ontario.
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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Video at London Free Press Website

You can find the Moving Muscles Ride video is the list under "Local News".

A special homecoming day in London

There's always something special about coming home.

Family. Friends. Love. Laughter. A comforting feeling that this is exactly where you should be at this exact point in time, no excuses needed. It's where you belong.

This is a homecoming for Mike, Jon, and Brian, and their families have done an absolutely superlative job in making sure that the time we have spent here today was special, worthy of their respective sons returning amidst a long, rewarding, and enriching journey across our country.

And how special it has been.

The mothers - Elenor Taves, Polly McDonald, and Joan Hutton - organised an incredible barbeque lunch for us in Springbank Park, London's equivalent to Stanley Park in Vancouver, or Central Park in New York City. They got the local A&P grocery store to donate all the food, and went to the extent of setting up balloons and tablecloths on the picnic tables, having two incredible cakes made (one with a map of Canada with our route to date, one with the logo and our names written in script above), and having the firefighters once again come out with a truck to put on display. Donald Taves had his high quality SLR digital camera out to capture the moment, while Bob McDonald worked a bit of everything including the grill with his son Jeff. Matt Taves played some frisbee with the kids while Mary and Brad McDonald helped the mothers with the finer details. Everything was thought of and taken care of, giving the five of us the chance to talk to the people who had come out for the event, and the London natives in particular the chance to reconnect with their friends and family who had come from all over to share the occasion.

We were extremely fortunate to have some incredible weather for the lunch. It was hot but dry, without a cloud in the sky, and the park was absolutely stunning. There must have been 200 people who came by throughout the day, and we got to meet a lot of people who have donated to the cause and have been following us along every step of the way. Judy from the London MDC Chapter came along with some of their other members, and helped take in donations and give out receipts for those who donated. We stood out in the crowd with our matching light-blue jerseys, and thankfully our names are on the left sleeve so people knew who was who!

What was most satisfying was seeing the enjoyment that Mike, Jon, and Brian got out of being home. It really showed in the smiles on their faces when we got into town, with the escorts yesterday and the turnout to the barbeque today, having their family and friends come out and celebrate our achievements to date, and those to come. Jon made a great speech thanking everyone for coming out and for all the support that everyone has shown us, and we even got a gift from MDC to take home with us! It was an MDC coffee mug (they must know something) with a miniature Canadian flag each, better quality than the paper ones we picked up in Sauble Beach! It was a much appreciated gesture on their part.
So after a barbeque like that, how do you up the ante? With full-body massages courtesy of the Taves family after lunch is how. They were our first ones of the trip, and really helped relax our bodies (especially the legs). A big thanks also needs to go out to Gary Good, the family friend who rode in with Jon and Mike on Thursday. Not only did he take all of our bikes into the shop for tune-ups AND pick them up, but he covered the cost for it all, even two new racks that Mike and I needed, having broken both of ours on the same weld in the days before we came into town. It was totally unexpected, but he told Jon this was how he wanted to contribute in helping us make it across Canada. Thanks Gary!

All five of us are truly lucky to have had the London families treat us so well, and we are extremely thankful for the care they took to make the day a special one. It's going to be tough to leave tomorrow morning, especially for Mike, Brian, and Jon, and why wouldn't it be? It's always tough leaving home, especially when you get the welcome that we did.

Tomorrow will be another homecoming of sorts for Jon and Brian, as we head to Hamilton to their former haunts on Thorndale where they lived while attending McMaster University. Once again, we will be escorted out of town by the London firefighters, whom we cannot thank enough for their time and effort!
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London Free Press Article

Escorted into London by their finest

After Mike and Jon came into London on Thursday, yesterday was Brian, Pat, and I's turn to make the 120km ride into the city. We didn't quite have the strong tailwinds that they had coming from Dungannon, but it was blowing in the right direction and we made good time into London.

Yesterday was probably our best reception for one of our arrivals to date. Once we had hit the city limits at Sunningdale and Wonderland, we were met by several media: A-Channel, Rogers, the London Free Press, and BX93 and Q97.5 summer cruisers all came out to interview us. We were then paraded through town with a police car running with his lights in front of us and a brand new firetruck running in behind us while photographers and camera crews took shots as we rode. People were looking at us and honking their horns; it was a pretty great entrance! It was an especially nice homecoming for Brian, Mike, and Jon into their hometown.

The family friend who rode in with Mike and Jon, Gary Good, was very kind to take all of our bikes into Champion Cycles so that we can get a tuneup. Our drivetrains have gotten really grimy, so they'll be working hard to take that off the cassette and the chain - they've already gotten some practise on Jon and Mike's, so they should know what to expect for us other three! Apparently it took quite a while for them to clean off the first two on Thursday, but they looked brand new, so they did a good job.

Once the fanfare was over, we relaxed by Jon's pool (where, in fact, another reporter came to talk to us), and enjoyed a nice dinner before heading out to downtown London. Today we have a barbeque planned in Springbank Park from 11-1, organised by the London riders' families. After we're done there, we're booked in for full-body massages, and we laughed when we found out all the masseuses will be females. Luck of the draw I guess, but there will probably also be some pain involved when they try and loosen up our quads...
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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Two into London, three rest in Dungannon

As we near London with two rest days to use, we all had the option of staying out in Dungannon today before biking into London and using another rest day on Saturday, or heading into London today and taking two straight rest days. Wanting to spend an extra day in London with friends and family, Jon and Mike biked in today. Here's Jon's recap of the ride:

"Today, Mike and I got up early to ride to London while Keith, Brian and Pat slept in to enjoy their day off in Dungannon. Mike and I were joined for the ride by Gary Good, a good friend of mine, who was driven up to Brian's parents place by my dad this morning. With a solid tailwind and Gary drafting for us the entire way, we made great time and managed to average over 30 km/hr for the 120 km ride. Upon arrival in London, we quickly got our few chores out of the way and Gary helped us out a bunch by setting us up with bike tune-ups at Champion Bicycles in London. Then Mike and I took the rest of the day off to relax and hang out with friends and family."

Pat, Brian, and I were pretty jealous when we heard about how fast they went, but we should have good winds tomorrow when we head into town ourselves to meet up with the other two.

On our day off, the three of us slept in late, and Rudy made us a delicious brunch as we had coffee and relaxed. That was the theme for the day, as we grabbed a beer and sat outside in the sun all afternoon. The view from the house was incredible, Lake Huron and wind turbines clearly visible on the horizon from the hill it sits on. After a rib dinner, Brian and I headed out for a drive around the beachfront in Goderich as the sun set, getting some great pictures of the water and the fields.

Tomorrow, we'll bike into London, escorted by firefighter trucks, and will be met by the BX93 summer cruisers and a reporter from the London Free Press as we near the intersection of Wonderland and Sunningdale. Brian will also do a phone interview with CJBK before we leave in the morning, so listen for him around 7:20am or so. Mike and Jon will get driven out to meet us, so that we can all come into the city with our escort. Should be fun, and hopefully we'll turn a lot of heads!
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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A blustery day to Dungannon

Jon's former camp, Silver Lake, was kind enough to let us tent on their grounds yesterday evening, and gave us breakfast this morning. Jon was Mr. Popular, having worked there as a counselor for several years after being a camper. He had trained some of their current staff, so it was fun for him to get a chance to stop by for the night and see everyone again. We certainly appreciated the hospitality!

Getting on the road, we were met head on by a strong headwind as we left Sauble Beach. It's a great area for cottages, as they line the highway along the beach. The wind was our worst since the day we left Brandon and only made it 60km to Carberry, except today we had to make it just over 110km to Dungannon, where Brian's mother Joan and stepfather Rudy have just built a beautiful new home. Rudy designed the entire thing himself, and did all the contracting, a dream for Pat.

The wind took a lot out of us, so we took some extended breaks to regain some energy and strength throughout the day. About 25km out of Dungannon, we were met by Joan, Rudy, and Brian's grandparents from Guelph. They had originally planned on having dinner with us, but because of the winds, we were going to get in too late for them to drive back. They brought us water, watermelon, and delicious chocolate chip cookies to fuel us the rest of the way before heading out.

Once in Dungannon, Rudy made us some great steak. While we ate, a reporter from the Goderich newspaper came by to interview us and snap a few photos. With little light outside, we had to do with the garage, but we were pretty amazed that he drove out to meet us at 9pm.

Tomorrow, Jon and Mike will bike into London to spend an extra day with their families, while Pat and I will stay out in Dungannon with Brian, hoping for some good weather to relax on the beach in Goderich. We will then head into London Friday to meet up with the other two.
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A Happy Canada Day in Sauble Beach

For our Canada Day out of Tobermory, we made sure to wear our red jerseys as we rode along. When we were in Tofino, we had some dollar store Canadian flags which we somehow misplaced, and they would have been perfect for the ride. We were still wearing the right colour as we rode down along the coast of Lake Huron to beautiful Sauble Beach.

We're heading more South now, so we've been battling winds more often. The ride was not a long one, and we made it with plenty of time to relax. The first order of business was changing to go for a swim in the Lake. The Great Lakes are so big they look like oceans from the beach, but the fresh water is a nice change and Lake Huron is much warmer than Superior.

Sauble was packed with people from all over the place, getting some sun and relaxing. We hung around for quite a while enjoying everything, picked up some mini Canadian flags, and watched the Canada Day fireworks.

Thanks to Jon, we were able to stay a night at his camp nearby. Today, we will head to Brian's Mum's place near Goderich.
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