It will be a long ride.

Rod Germaine
On the steps of his law school in Halifax (Nick Pearce photo, courtesy of Dalhousie University)

The Codger has done it. His crazy journey ended on August 7.

This is the blog of Rod Germaine’s bicycle ride across the continent in 2011. Accompanied by his good friend, Soe Naing, Rodger the Codger left North Vancouver on June 2nd. He did not stop until he got to Halifax where he attended his class reunion. It was the 40th anniversary reunion of the Dalhousie Law School class of ‘71.

Among other things, the ride was a fundraiser for the Just Aid Foundation: The total raised was close to $35,000. Germaine is genuinely grateful to all who donated so generously.

It is worth mentioning that none of the donated funds were used to pay expenses. Germaine paid for the ride with his own money. And the long succession of cheap motels and mostly mediocre meals cost some real money. He did not keep track but a member of his family did; the cumulative total was well over $8,000. Soe Naing was more frugal but he also spent a few thousand dollars of his own money by the time they got to Toronto. Covering the costs out of their pockets was consistent with the policy and practice of the Just Aid Foundation. It is maintained by volunteers; expenses are limited to accounting fees, a modest honourarium for the bookkeeper and the charges imposed by online service providers and credit card companies. Subject to these unavoidable costs, all funds raised by the Foundation are used to support the Mae Tao Clinic ( and the Back Pack Health Worker Team (

Germaine extends his thanks for all the support he received from friends and family, from new friends he made along the way, and from Burma activists in many towns he visited. Four individuals deserve very special thanks:

  -Soe Naing, without whose company and assistance he may not have made it to Toronto;
  -Bob Blair who cheered the team, carried the gear and guided the ride through Southern Alberta;
  -Murray Clemens, whose company and assistance through the Province of Quebec must have cost him a small fortune but was immensely appreciated because it was especially timely and great fun; and
  -last but most certainly not least, his angel Adeline, who transported his gear up the first big hills on the Hope Princeton so he could cycle on a light bike, and who worried constantly but patiently tolerated and even supported a project she considered completely crazy.

The daily blogs follow in reverse chronological order. The blog on the top was posted only recently and it is the last. Earlier blogs are accessible by clicking on “Older Posts” at the bottom of this page. You can contact Germaine at

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day sixteen - Taber AB

The Weather Channel at 6:45 am: today's POP for Lethbridge is 40% in the morning and 70% in the afternoon. Wrong, on both counts, thankfully. But there was no reason to doubt the forecast when we pulled out of Fort Macleod. The rain had just ceased and the sky was heavy with grey clouds.

Fort Macleod was good to us for two reasons. First, Ken Patel, the proprietor of the Fort Motel. He discounted his rate very substantially when he heard of our mission, and then he donated $10! Second, Kyaw Zaw Htun, who once belonged to the same student organization as Soe Naing. He is a good friend of Zaw Naing, our cordial host in Cranbrook, and when Zaw Naing called him about our trek, his calls and texts to us did not stop until we told him where we were. He drove down to visit us from his home in Lethbridge where he has been employed at Lethbridge College for 14 years. He explained that it is a cultural thing: we're in his neighbourhood so he wants to look after us in every possible way. Nice. The first way was to load most of our stuff in his car and transport it back to Lethbridge where we could pick it up after breakfast.

We detected the first rays of sunshine about an hour out of Fort Macleod. The wind was right and we were in Lethbridge by 9:30. But we paused at the intersection with Highway 23, which heads north. I was here with Adeline three years ago, when we went up #23 to find the field where my old papa rode in the saddle bronc contest at the Carmangay Stampede in 1917, a moment captured by the photograph which has hung in my home all my life. (Note to self: recover the blow-up from Enderby one of these days). In any event, this is as far from the coast as I've ever been by road; from here to Southern Ontario is all new to me.

The first rays of sunshine on the road to Lethbridge

After buying our breakfast, Kyaw Zaw Htun gave us a tour of Lethbridge. Very attractive. But the highlight for me was the family home - sadly now for sale - of my old friend Bob Blair, the multi-talented gentleman from Edmonton. As it happens, Bob had an arbitration in Calgary today and will join us tonight. Bob will be the star tomorrow.

Kyaw Zaw Htun, proudly by his car in front of his house

The afternoon ride to Taber was not quite so effortless. The wind or the road or both turned somehow. Instead of a tailwind, we had a crosswind and, at times, an unpleasant headwind. We arrived mid-afternoon, just ahead of Kway Zaw Htun who insisted on transporting our gear this further leg. And then, knowing we'll be assisted by Bob tomorrow, he demanded that if we have any trouble at all after we leave Medicine Hat, we only have to call him. What a guy; in our experience he's the best thing Lethbridge has going for it.

Serious thanks to Eric & Nancy, Marianne and Martin for the boost to the pledge rate.

Today: 102 kms. To date: 1,247 kms. Total "earned" pledges at $0.6825 per km: $851.08.

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