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: www.justaid.ca. 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 (www.maetaoclinic.com) and the Back Pack Health Worker Team (www.backpackteam.org).

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 info@justaid.ca.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day twelve - Cranbrook

It was drizzling when we set out and it remained that way most of the day, except when it actually rained. It dried up eventually, as we sailed into Cranbrook where we were greeted by Zaw Naing, a man from Burma whom Soe Naing met in Thailand. In fact, Zaw Naing and his wife, Soe Soe, came to Canada on the same plane as Soe Naing's Than Than. Small world. And it was only because of Shauna that we knew Zaw Naing was in Cranbrook. Speaking of small: the Burmese community in Cranbrook consists of Zaw Naing, Soe Soe, their three kids and a total of two others. We are hosted tonight by Zaw Naing and Soe Soe, and we've enjoyed a fabulous Burmese meal which almost wholly compensated for the Canucks' performance.

Misjudgment of the day: we passed a restaurant on the way into Yahk, thinking we'd have breakfast in Yahk itself. But the only restaurant was closed today so we had to backtrack. It is difficult to express how annoying it is to cycle 8 extra kms - kms you didn't have to ride to get to your destination.

Three at a time (the way things always happen my mother said): I do not expect to see another majestic wild creature approach the road as if to cross it right in front of me, and then change its mind and retreat. There was the bear on day three. And today, in short order, there was a deer and then a coyote. We so frightened the deer that it tried to jump a fence too high. Twice it banged its head against the yellow-covered top wire and then was briefly entangled in the fence.

Enough of the preliminaries: this blog is about bike touring characters. We're not yet a fifth of the way into this trek and we've come across several. Doubtless there will be many more, but to give you a flavour, in chronological order:

- we met Carl and Gill in Hope on day two and encountered them several times over the next three days. Middle-aged, loaded down (Gill towing a trailer) and steady. Last seen in Keremeos.

- Nikko was going the other direction as I approached the Allison Pass ascent on day three. A young man from Leeds, heading to Mexico, his website is www.longwaysomewhere.com. We've got to check it out.

- there was the Germanic blond, slightly rotund man, on an overloaded recumbent I talked to at Manning Park, after seeing his bike in front of the supermarket in Hope the evening before and spotting him behind me on the Allison Pass ascent.

- Emmanuel, a young man from Montreal, was going home via the Rogers Pass. On a loaded bike and towing a trailer, he passed me on the Sunday Summit ascent on day four. My bike was light, no panniers, and I couldn't keep up. We had breakfast at the summit: he scraped his peanut butter out of the jar with questionable bread while I munched my trail mix.

- Carmen and Jean-Ann breezed through Princeton late on Day four, while I was assessing my various aches and pains. Young Asian women from Edmonton, they said they were on their way to Halifax. They looked like veterans. Why they were in southern BC en route to Halifax from Edmonton, I failed to ask. Maybe they just liked the mountains. We've not seen any sign of them since and must conclude they're way ahead of us.

- out of the order I promised, we met Michael today. Young and strong, he said his pace was slow today but he had no trouble passing us. He's going north to Fairmont, Golden and the national parks tomorrow so we won't see him again, at least not for a while. He may be the first we've seen who is not over-packed. He is well prepared, with all necessary equipment except a mirror. His website: www.crazymikeonabike.blogspot.com.

- and, finally, there is Matt. We met him approaching the top of the hill before Osoyoos, flying flags like a ship in a foreign port and working hard on a fully loaded bike. If a 37-year old is a lad, he is a strapping lad from down under. A good man, with plans to participate in the "RAGBRAI", a massive bike event sponsored by the Des Moine Register. The acronym is for the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. But the Matt story is really about his approach to touring. As the photo below shows, his bike prevents him from speeding. More precisely, he is slow on the slopes. I passed him going up the Anarchist Hill and we wondered what happened to him when the thunder and lightning descended. I bumped into him in Creston last night and learned he just kept on cycling. While we bailed that day and the next because of the rain, he just kept on keeping on. Slow but relentless. He promised to comment on this blog so we can stay in touch. I sincerely hope he does.


Matt and bike, outside Broasters in Creston

So tonight I'm in the town where I visited my brother Trev and his family while on a visit home after first year law in 1969. Speaking of whom, a big shout out to my family on the Sunshine Coast: JT, Joy, Scott, Darryl, Catherine & Sophia May. 'Thinking of you, Joy.

Today: 105 kms (not including annoying extra and unnecessary kms). To date: 890 kms. Total "earned" pledges @ $0.5825 per km: $518.43 (in addition to donations)

2 comments:

  1. Rod and Soe Naing, thanks for the wave.

    Just so you know, Tereena and I are making a pledge to bring the number up to $0.6125 per kilometer. We'll keep shaking trees here to see if more money falls out.

    Ride Captain's Ride

    Once you out of those Alberta foothills and past the wind around Pincher Creek (windmill city), it should be clear sailing to Fort McLeod. Hopefully that wind will be at your back.

    Mike

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  2. Hey Rodger and Soe Naing, it was great riding with you through the Creston-Cranbrook stretch of Hwy 3. Hope you arrived at your destination safely. Best of luck with the rest of your trip and your fundraising! Keep in touch.

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