Almost Half Way

Tomorrow we will come close to the half way point in our journey across the continent. I need to say “come close” because calculating the actual distance to the end, Halifax, is not a very accurate science. 

According to the bike odometer we have covered 3497 kilometers. This distance includes every turnoff, every side trip, and every time we stand by the side of the road accidentally rocking the little magnet back and forth across the sensor. J keeps track of our distance as well, using a GPS based program, and usually has about 1.5% less distance than the odometer. I like to go with the greater accomplishment.

According to Google Maps, we have 3700 km left to ride for a total trip of about 7200 km. Of course, Google Maps doesn’t take our side trips into account either, so we will likely actually go a little further than that. 

None the less, tomorrow, the distance already ridden should pretty well equal the distance calculated ahead of us. 

Things we learned in the first half:

1. We aren’t as keen to camp as we thought we might be. J tells people we are just too old and too rich to camp. Some of the motels we have stayed in have been like camping. But, we continue to pull the camping gear behind us as insurance for the day when there are no other options.

2. Fixing tires is part of the deal. We are putting a lot of pressure on our rear tire resulting in more flats than expected. We fixed number eight today. The new tire we put on the back in Prince George, 2200 km ago, has threads showing through the rubber. We are diverting off of our original route, into Grand Forks, North Dakota, so we can get to a good bike shop.

 

Love these Continental Gatorskins that go back on with no tools.

 
3. In general, other vehicles are very polite to us with waves and toots of encouragement every day. We do get a few angry hornblowers, but they must have something else going on in their lives that they can’t see the joy in what we are doing.

4. Canada is a big country. There is room for lots more people here. It’s not just big cities attracting immigrants. As I write this, in the little village of Cartwright, Manitoba, a place that defines “middle of nowhere” the voices coming from the kitchen are speaking in a language that comes from somewhere in Eastern Europe. According to the lady at the coffee shop, this area has become a destination for immigrants from all over the world (I’m not sure she was happy about it).

5. We’ve learned a new rhythm for life which has us almost forgetting the old one. I had a job interview, via Skype, last night and had a really hard time getting my head in the space it needed to be in.

6. Even with the new rhythm, we are missing things at home. A loved one is ill, and we would like to be there for her, even though there is nothing we can do. Celebrations are happening that we cannot be part of. We are missing our place and the comfort we have there, but missing is part of the journey too.

Tomorrow we will cross into the U.S. as we approach the half way mark. We will emerge into Canada, again, at Sault Ste Marie in about two weeks.

We’re on a Youtube Video

Back in the spring, a friend heard about our biking adventures and suggested we should be part of a video series the local health unit was doing on active living. We agreed, and, what seemed like a very long time later were contacted to do an interview.

At the time, we just happened to be on a three day ride that covered theater in two nearby (100km away) towns. The video is taken on the afternoon of the 2nd day.

The other cyclists are our regular Friday morning cycling group. We meet with them year round for coffee and when the weather is favourable we ride together too.

So far, it doesn’t appear that our video is going viral.

2014 Cycling Summary

The tamdem along the Natchez Trace Parkway

The tamdem along the Natchez Trace Parkway

This morning it is snowing. It looks like the cycling season is likely over for 2014. This year the lion’s share of the season has been on the tandem. J and I had a good start with the trip on the Natchez Trace Parkway followed by a three day trip in Ontario. It seemed that every other opportunity to cycle involved the two of us out together. A good thing really…..

So here is the final tally (unless we happen to get some more days over 10 degrees C when it is not raining)

  • Tandem: 2166 km
  • Road Bike:287 km
  • Touring Bike: 168 km
  • Total: 2621 km

Its a bit of a surprise that we were significantly higher than last year with all of the extra kilometers (and more) on the tandem. The touring bike got more use this year as well, but we still question the practicality of keeping the matched Opus Legattos.

 

A Short Cycling Break

Last week we took a short break that combined cycling, theater, and food, all things we enjoy. We returned yesterday afternoon after three days of nearly perfect conditions, virtually no wind, absolutely on rain, and temperatures in the high 20’s, hot, but not uncomfortably so.

The Oxford Inn in Stratford. Charming

The Oxford Inn in Stratford. Charming

Our journey took us 90 km, from home to Stratford the first day, to the Oxford Inn B&B and a wonderful evening at the Stratford Festival Theatre with friends. The friends met us at the Parlour Gastro Pub and then provided transportation for us to and from the production of Crazy for You. I’d never been to a play in Stratford and it was certainly a wonderful experience. We’ll need to try some real Shakespeare at some point.

Getting ready to leave after a stop in a St Marys park

Getting ready to leave after a stop in a St Marys park

The next morning it was up and on to Grand Bend via the village of St Marys. Fueled by Grant’s wonderful B&B breakfast we made the entire 92 km trip to Grand Bend with no lunch. We stopped at the grocery store in Grand Bend to pick up some food which became something of a lupper. We had intended to go out for supper, but the pool and comfy deck chairs at the Grand Hideaway B&B held us until it was time to get in the taxi to go to the Huron Country Playhouse for an opening night production of Les Miserables.download We where held through the night with Haagen-Daz ice cream.

Day three started with filling up on an even larger breakfast than the morning before, served by B&B host  Peter, a professional chef. 90 km later we were home, but not before stopping for more food at Bartliff’s Bakery in Clinton (you just can’t bike past Bartliff’s)

We mostly stayed on what should have been quiet country roads for this trip,  without any serious incidents. Grand Bend itself was a nightmare with one yelling motorist and a couple of near misses. East/west roads in southern Huron County were very busy on our Saturday trip home and motorists seemed to have little time or space for our bike. We were pushed off the road twice, once by an oncoming car passing two slower vehicles. The gravel on the shoulder was very loose, bringing us to a full stop, but without damage or injury. There was a close call with a pick-up truck in Clinton, which, on sober reflection, may have been my fault.

Apart from those small annoyances, we had a great few days away. Sun, wind, humming wheels on the road and great company. What could be better?

First Ride of 2014

Finally, today was the day. The first bike ride of the season. We are a little picky about the first day. The temperature needs to be above 10 degrees Celsius, it can’t be raining, and it shouldn’t be too windy.

BkkLcoYCcAAuC8MToday it did make it to 10 degrees, but with the breeze, which was not strong enough to keep us home, they say it felt like 8 degrees. It was dry though, but, with the snow banks slowly melting the shoulders of the road were pretty soft. We dressed for the weather, lots of layers and made the initial ride on our touring bikes.

I don’t think we have ever had such big snowbanks on day one.

The ride felt good. We’re looking forward to lots more.

Bike. Camp. Cook. our First Adventure in CrowdFunding

It was with great excitement that we received a package from Vermont this week. Just feeling it we knew it was a book, and getting new books here is nothing out of the ordinary, but this one was something new, something special.

A couple of months ago, one of my Twitter contacts promoted an effort by a young woman to fund a cycle tourist’s cookbook. She was using Kickstarter, a crowdfunding site, to fund her idea. Since we are long distance cycle tourists, and she did such a great job of her promotional video, we bought into the plan. It wasn’t really a huge risk, twenty five dollars for any kind of book, delivered to the door could be a good deal.

downloadOpening our package, we were amazed. Tara Alan’s Bike.Camp.Cook. was a wonderful surprise. Two hundred and seventy five pages of wonderful pictures, stories, hints, tips everyday wisdom, and of course, recipes. The book is more than just a recipe book though, its an inspiration to ride and explore. The descriptions of cooking out of a pannier bag are simple and straight forward, wrapped up with lots of practical advice.

I can’t find the book listed on Amazon, which is a pity, but, if you are interested in a copy you can order directly from the authour at http://www.bikecampcook..com.

In the meantime, we are enjoying the book and planning our next adventure, looking forward to the amazing meals we are going to have on the way.

 

The Annual Cycling Summary

The Cycling season is definitely over. Outside, there is over a foot of snow, and the chance of another ride this year seems pretty remote. The road bike is now attached to the trainer in the basement.

The Santa in Ireland

The Santa in Ireland

This year the new tandem got the most use with the majority of those kilometers done on the narrow roads of western Ireland. Somehow,  for the rest of the spring, summer and early fall, we had a hard time finding the opportunities to get out on long rides. There were lots of short ones, but they really don’t add up quickly.

The final tally then:

Santa Tandem: 1670km

Canondale R600: 568km

Opus Legato: 48km (all while camping)

Total: 2286km, just slightly less than last year.