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Category Archives: Biking

Bicycle Trek for Life and Breath 2008One of the most frequent questions asked of me on my bike trip last summer was whether or not I was raising money for a charity. If you have already asked me this question, then you know that I did the trip was entirely for myself; I wanted to see Canada. Other than the Tour du Canada participants, people who bike across Canada like me, without raising money for charity, are possibly in the minority. I encountered several cyclists raising money en route and many more while doing my preliminary research and preparation. I don’t mean to say that is a bad thing though; Collecting for charity is a worthwhile reason to bike across the country, but I didn’t need or want an extra reason. But now my next trip, albeit a short trip, is going to be for charity.

Just down the street from my apartment is the BC Lung Association and for the last two weeks I have been walking by their large billboard advertising the Bicycle Trek for Life and Breath. It is a two-day, 200km bike trip through the South Fraser Valley to raise money for the BC Lung Association. Walking past this billboard daily got me thinking that it would be something that I could help raise money for and enjoy doing at the same time. So I signed up to participate. This annual event raised $369,000 last year and $4,470,000 towards lung health research over the last 24 years and I’m now going to do my part to increase that number.

To participate, I must raise a minimum of $425 in donations but have set it as my personal goal to raise at least $1000. Both myself and the BC Lung Association will appreciate any donation you can make. And remember, your donation will be tax-deductible next year. To donate, I can accept most forms of payment if you contact me directly, or you can donate and check progress towards my goal conveniently online.

Today is going to be my last day because I am within striking distance of St. John’s. Both of riding and of this blog. I got on the road earlier than I have been lately just so I could finish even sooner. Unfortunatelly it is still windy but the road does eventually curve to the north east so that the wind becomes a tailwind.

A fast tailwind would seem like a great way to finish the ride but fate didn’t allow it to be. After 3 months of riding, my lack of major bike problems has caught up with me. My gamble a week ago of not replacing my rear wheel in Corner Brook was almost, but not quite, successful. With about 50km to go I heard another spoke break. I didn’t notice any increase in the warping of my tire and just put some tape on the spoke to hold it in place. But another 30km later and things suddenly became even worse. The crack worsened causing a spoke to come seperated from the rim and the tire was now warped enough that it rubbed against the fender each time around. I wasn’t about to let this stop me so close to the finish so I kept going at a limping pace compared to what I should have been doing. The bike was wobbling all over the place now. Once I got within the city limits and took an exit into the edge of town I decided my mission was accomplished.

The university library which I needed to get to for internet access was still almost 10km away so I called a cab. I would have rather made it all the way to the harbour but I accepted the fact that my bike was almost unrideable and I was technically in St. John’s so calling the cab was no longer cheating myself. After checking my e-mail I was able to get the phone number of the person with whom I would stay for the next four days. It turned out to actually be quite close to the university so I tried riding that final bit but my bike wouldn’t have it. Another spoke or two probably broke and they started getting tangled and twisted all over the place so I decided it would be easier to walk the rest of the way.

I’m done! Over 9000km (counting the earlier stage starting from Victoria) and nearly 400 hours of biking spread over 3 months and I have successfully biked across Canada. I’ve seen every province (some more than others), met lots of great people, gone through dozens of national parks and historic sites, camped in the middle of nowhere, swam in 3 of the 5 great lakes, and so much more. For the next 4 days I will now relax in St. John’s, walk around the city, and maybe rent a car to visit some things further away like Cape Spear, the easternmost point in North America (I would have biked there tomorrow if the wheel hadn’t given up on me).

Distance 107.13km
Time 4:41:57
Average Speed 22.79km/h
Max Speed 60.78km/h
Odometer 8836km

Another morning no different than most others except for it getting extremely windy once I got onto the road. The wind kept up for the entire day and really slowed me down. I can’t even remember when the last time I had to ride in wind this strong. I went into Clarenville to try to find internet so I could check my e-mail to get in touch with someone to stay with in St. John’s. Unfortunately, being a holiday, the public library wasn’t open and the one internet cafe wasn’t open yet.

The rest of the day just seemed really long because of the wind. Fortunately, just before the road went up a really large hill I took an exit to head towards Bellevue and the wind was now at my back. It was also quite nice to find that the campground was significantly outside of Bellevue and I got to stop earlier than expected. I talked with one of the park employees as he came by the site to pickup the garbage and drop off some firewood. The firepit was still smouldering from a previous occupant and simply adding wood on top of it eventually got it going and I had a campfire for a couple hours until the wood ran out.

Distance 96.59km
Time 4:49:12
Average Speed 20.02km/h
Max Speed 45.10km/h
Odometer 8729km

Before going to the dining room for breakfast I lazily packed and watched TV. My tent which I hung in the shower had dried out but some of my clothes were still damp. Luckilly while eating breakfast the rain stopped and clouds cleared up so I didn’t have to wear my cold weather clothes today. I would even go so far as saying it was a beautiful day out. The huge change from yesterday put me in the right mood for riding and I was going quite fast for a while.

There were some nice scenic areas along the way today. This included the rest area where I ate lunch overlooking the town of Gambo as well as Terra Nova National Park. The park, like many other national parks, had some steep hills. It is almost as if that is one of the deciding factors in making an area a national park. As I arrived at the campground I noticed road signs showing that the distance to St. John’s should be under 200km now. I knew this was going to be the case but it really shows me that I’m almost done.

Distance 133.09km
Time 5:08:02
Average Speed 25.92km/h
Max Speed 55.40km/h
Odometer 8632km

This morning it started raining at about 7:00. And it never stopped. I tried waiting it out but that obviously didn’t work so I got going a little late. I had to stop in town to get some groceries to last the final few days. I talked briefly with a couple guys with very strong newfie accents who recognized me as a cyclist just because I was dripping wet plus had rain pants and shoe covers on walking around the store. After leaving the store the rain lightened up briefly but got back to pouring again soon.

Because of the rain I pretty much never stopped for breaks. It just isn’t worth it if I have to stand in the rain. The only real break I took was underneath an overpass where I was able to get off the road and eat lunch. There was nowhere to sit so I just stood next to my bike and used one of my panniers as a table. Once I finished eating I got right back on the bike instead of staying around like I do most days. I had to get moving in order to stay warm.

About 30 minutes outside of Gander a guy in a pickup pulled a series of u-turns to pull up alongside me and offer me a ride. He probably thought I was crazy when I turned him down because I doubt he could have heard my explanation over the sound of the rain and his truck. I didn’t want to spoil this trip by taking a ride when I didn’t need to. Besides, I probably couldn’t have gotten any wetter if I jumped in a pool. My fingers are already completely pruned up as if I had been sitting in a tub all morning. The rain has also caused the leather in my gloves to turn to mush around the seams and start to come apart.

In Gander I checked into an inn which I had looked up in the morning in case the rain didn’t stop so I could get warm and dry. If the sun had come out I might have gone further to get to a campground. I was quite lucky and there was one room still available at the inn. It had two single beds but they were nice enough to charge me the price for a single person in a room with only a single bed. I probably would have been willing to pay the higher price just to avoid having to go back out into the rain. I cooked for myself in my room using my campstove (probably not allowed but I did it anyways) and watched TV all evening. The weather network informed me that I had just biked though a heavy rainfall warning for up to 50mm of rain that would continue until the early morning tomorrow.

Distance 105.89km
Time 4:50:32
Average Speed 21.87km/h
Max Speed 45.15km/h
Odometer 8499km

Last night there was rain but it stopped by morning although the weather still consisted of low clouds and mist. Mist is almost as bad as rain because over time I still get damp. And it isn’t avoidable because putting on my raingear to keep the mist off is offset by the fact that sweat will buildup inside the raingear getting me damp at about the same rate. I stopped at a small roadside restaurant for a second breakfast as well as to dry off and warm up after only an hour. The mist was mostly gone by the time I got back on the road.

I stopped for another break only an hour later because I was feeling sluggish but after that was moving pretty well. I had a few more brief stops but for the most part just kept riding to my destination. Along the way I turned down one campground I saw that had an indoor pool because I felt I hadn’t gone far enough yet. Another one which was about where I expected to stop was no longer actually a campground and I had to go about 10km further to the edge of the city. The campground was on a lake and despite the cold there were actually people out waterskiing.

Distance 135.16km
Time 5:41:39
Average Speed 23.73km/h
Max Speed 48.48km/h
Odometer 8393km

Today the weather was pretty dull and gloomy. The fact that I had put my sunglasses on for some reason made it seem even worse until I thought about it and took them off. The road is quite flat today and I went the whole 50km to Deer Lake without a break. I’ve been tending to do these long stretches without a break more and more often lately.

In Deer Lake I found a park with a gazeebo which I had my lunch under. This was quite fortunate because it immediately started to rain. The rain didn’t last long and the roads were already drying by the time I was back on the road.

From Deer Lake I had the option of turning 50km in the wrong direction to visit Gros Morne National Park (which several people suggested I do) but decided against it because it would add an extra day of riding to my already long trip. It would also involve lots of hills and rain (because that is the direction the rain clouds were heading) so it probably wouldn’t have been worth it. Instead I continued along the empty highway in the right direction.

Distance 128.79km
Time 5:02:01
Average Speed 25.58km/h
Max Speed 53.71km/h
Odometer 8258km