posted by alex on Aug 6

The 30th ended up being an eventful day. Leaving Deep River we rode on towards Renfrew after having breakfast at the Metcalfe’s. We had to get off the highway at Pembroke when Theo’s shifter cable snapped. Turns out the problem was a little more costly than a 3$ shifter cable. He ended up spending 140$ on a new shifter since one of his had become defective. Thankfully, the bike shop in Pembroke, Yantha Cycles, had the exact shifter in stock. The owner of the shop actually installed his brother’s shifter onto Theo’s bike and on we went. That night we camped about 13 km west of Renfrew at a KOA campground. I had such a weird feeling putting up the tent for the last time. The whole routine of setting up camp was one of the things I disliked the most about the whole trip. Given the fatigue and the mosquitoes I would often feel like just crawling into the tent and sleeping, but I would never do it. Forget the dishes or the cooking of a hot meal, my body would just tell me to sleep. That night I enjoyed my last camping experience (for now 🙂 ) with Theo and Caro topped off with a reading of Mr. Armstrong’s book. I got up extra early the next morning around 6 making sure to set my alarm on my cell phone the night before. That’s something I hadn’t done the whole trip! Waking up to a cloudy sky I gave ourselves a 50/50 chance of riding in rain that day. We got back on highway 17 and took it all the way to Arnprior. Once in Arnprior I had my usual double breakfast with coffee at a diner. We also opted to take the back roads after Arnprior. We went through Galetta, Carp, Kanata and we eventually connected on the Ottawa river bike path that took us all the way to my home in Orleans. About 10 clicks before Carp the skies opened up but only for about 20 minutes. Just enough for me to put on my sweat fest rain suit realizing that the rain had already stopped. When the clouds parted and the rain ceased we were treated to a beautiful landscape of sunflower fields and winding roads reminiscent of the French countryside. I’ve ridden around Carp before but this time it was definitely different. It was strange going up the same hills and knowing the names of the roads. Something had changed though. The hills were not as challenging, either because of the endurance I’d built up or the adrenaline of the last ride flowing in my body.

We were actually an hour ahead of schedule for the arrival so we hung around in a park before the last kilometer. The welcoming party was out in full force waiting for me on the side of the road with signs in hand. I had been thinking about that moment for at least a month now at it could not have been better.  Well.. except for the traffic lights that forced us to stop at the intersection that was only 150 metres from the finish line. Green light! Cameras in hand, we rolled in to meet the welcoming party. I was a nervous wreck, shaking and hugging my family. Out comes the champagne, fantastic!

posted by gavin on Jul 29

Alex is in Deep River, ON tonight, staying over at Ray and Claire’s house (Ray and Claire are a couple that Theo and Caro met while camping in BC a few weeks ago). It’s a rustic house right on the Ottawa River surrounded by wild flowers. They swam a bit in the river (it’s cleaner there than in Ottawa, Alex assures me!) and did some shopping in Deep River. The bike’s still holding up despite the tires being a bit worn out, and his knee was a lot better today, he’s feeling no pain even though there were more hills today than there have been in the past few days.

He’s pretty confident that he’ll be arriving in Orleans by 5pm on the 31st, so be prepared! He can’t wait to see everyone.

posted by gavin on Jul 28

I got an update from Alex earlier but haven’t been able to post until now because I’m travelling on the west coast this week. He’s was in Bonfield, ON today, near the site of the first spike of the transcontinental railway. Last night he slept well at a campground in North Bay, but he’s a bit discouraged because his knee is sore, and he wore out the bearings of his crank, and his tires are worn out. The weather has been pretty good and he’s almost home, though, so things aren’t all bad 🙂

posted by alex on Jul 27

I slept awful last night. It the middle of the night there were a few men talking near our tent at around 1 am. It kept me up for about 2 hours. Today’s ride is going well so far. I am now in Sturgeon Falls at the info centre, we should be able to make it to North Bay in a few hours. We hit a bit of rain and I had to deal with water splashing  onto my face compliments of Theo’s rear wheel. In Sudbury Theo picked up a copy of Lance Armstrong’s autobiography and we’ve been taking turns reading it aloud to each other since we all want in. It’s a great book and it looks like we will finish it by the time I get to Ottawa haha.

ETA for Ottawa (Orleans where I left from) is still the 31st of July around 5pm. Less than 400km to go!

posted by gavin on Jul 26

Alex is camping at a rest stop near Coniston, ON, tonight, about 10 kilometers east of Sudbury. They biked through Sudbury and noticed that it’s a very industrialized city, with very little greenspace or parks.

Their plan is to try and make it to North Bay by tomorrow, about 110 kilometers away.

posted by alex on Jul 26

Arriving in Sault Ste. Marie marked our arrival back into society. No more filtering water or camping in remote logging roads for us! The weather has been more favorable for the past 3 days. We are now in Espanola staying with some family of mine. I had a great time here. Mrs Ingram took us out for some Chinese food in town and we all got our full. This morning she made a big old breakfast for us 🙂

I have mixed emotions about being in the home stretch of the journey. I have met great people along the way and seen wonderful places but home is home and I can’t wait to see everyone back in Ottawa. Ottawa or bust! Thank you to the Leblanc family for letting us stay at their place. I slept like a baby last night even though there were thunder storms out there. We should be able to make it past Sudbury today if everything goes well.

posted by gavin on Jul 24

Alex had a late start today, but they eventually made it to Francine’s house in Dean Lake by 6pm. They were thankful for the tailwind, flat terrain, and sunny weather. They were motivated after having watched the Tour de France yesterday night on TV.

They had a nice dinner tonight and were thankful for that. They plan to make it to Espanola, ON by tomorrow – about 574 kilometers from Orleans.

posted by gavin on Jul 24

Got a call and some text messages from Alex yesterday, he was in Sault Ste. Marie, still with Theo and Caro. He’s back in cell phone range and should remain so for the rest of the trip, so the updates should return to being a be a bit more frequent.

They stayed in a motel in Sault Ste. Marie last night after visiting a bike shop in town. Next stop is somewhere near Iron Bridge, ON and Dean Lake, ON where I think the plan is to spend some time visiting with Denyse’s family (I might be misremembering some of this, I didn’t write it down when Alex told me over the phone).

posted by gavin on Jul 21

Just got an update from Alex. He’s currently camping at Lake Superior provincial park, still with Theo and Caro. Cell phone coverage has been non-existent, so he hasn’t been able to send updates (the public library in Wawa was one option for internet access but it was a bit of a detour so he didn’t stop over).

They’ve mostly been camping along the sides of the highway 17. The roads are in good condition with wide shoulders. There are more stretches of road without civilization in this part of the country, which makes planning for food and water a bit more important. The highway still has signs for upcoming restaurants that have since gone out of business, which can make things a bit trickier! Luckily Theo and Caro have a water filter which helps a lot.

The heat and humidity have been a bit unpleasant lately, but he says that the mosquitoes and flies are the worst part – his legs are full of bug bites.

He says that the new bike wheel he got in Calgary is working great. He broke his chain once and got a few flat tires, but otherwise the bike’s holding up fine.

He’s about 200 kilometers from Sault Ste Marie now, and about 1000 kilometers away from Orleans, so he’s definitely on the home stretch!

posted by alex on Jul 16

I’ve been riding steadily with Theo and Caro for a few days now. We’ve encountered lots of rain and thunderstorms not to mention loads of mosquitoes and black flies. We are all tired of being rained on. I am very glad to have met them, it makes it easier to set up camp and make food. We’ve all donated way to much blood in the forest! Last night we had supper and East Side Mario’s. We must have eaten 6 bowls of salad not to mention a dozen loaves of bread! Thank god for unlimited salad. It looks like I’ll be traveling with the two of them until Ottawa. We ended up staying in the residence dorm at Lakehead University. The rooms are cheap at around 30$ a night (which we split 3 ways by being sneaky!) This morning was spent mostly fixing the bike. I replaced my chain 3 days ago when it split apart and I had to do lots of tuning here and there on Carmen. You guys wouldn’t believe the amount of mosquitoes around here. There isn’t much between Fort Frances and Thunderbay so we have to free camp at rest stops or on the side of the road. I am glad I brought a water jug along to bring potable water. Civilization is scarce around here. My cellphone doesn’t work either. It had something to do with the Thunderbay phone company that has a monopoly around here and not allowing roaming for Virgin Mobile customers. It looks like I won’t be able to make posts until I hit Sault Ste. Marie. In Atikokan I met George who I crossed paths with in PEI. He was riding west with a German couple. The pictures of me with the bandana needs some explaining. We always put on our full rain gear before camping since the bugs are so bad. For some reason they really like getting into our eyes, hence the sun glasses. Two nights ago they got into the tent and I woke up at 2am with a swollen face. The tent walls are becoming quite dirty and it looks like a real massacre took place in there, haha.  Anyways, enjoy the pics!

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