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

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day twenty-six - Portage la Prairie

Last night: the bright lights of Brandon will have to wait for our next visit, if there is one. Without a local guide, we had neither the energy nor the inclination to explore.

Today: enough of the Weather Channel morning fix! What a misallocation of resources it is. Its forecasts are utterly hopeless. Can we remember a single day the forecast was accurate? No. Instead of tuning in as part of our morning preparations, we could be doing something productive. Like watching cartoons.

This morning the weather channel forecast rain in the morning. Nope.

It forecast warm temperatures. Nope.

Most propitiously, it forecast northwest winds. Just what we needed for a reasonably long haul. And, for twenty minutes or so, that is what we got. Long enough to convince us that we'd have an easy ride to Portage la Prairie.

Then it turned into a north wind and, if anything, northeast wind. And it blew strong all day, mostly across our course but, when the road turned northeast, right into our faces. Not a gut-buster headwind most of the time but always a hindrance, a severe annoyance. We went from doing 30 kms/hr or more with a modicum of effort, to maintaining a 20km/hr pace with hard work and sometimes struggling to do more than 15 km/hr.

So it turned into a hard day. Five hours and forty minutes on the pedals to cover only 119 kms. But we made it and Soe Naing has booked a flight home tomorrow to celebrate his anniversary with Than Than and Juno. We have to get him to the Winnipeg airport by 1:30 at the latest. Subject to the winds, it shouldn't be a problem. Winnipeg is only 75 kms away.

Back to today's ride, there were two stretches without a paved shoulder. One was 12 or 14 kms long in the middle of the day, and the second a shorter distance as we approached Portage. Yoohoo Manitoba! Yoohoo Stephen! The signs say this is the Trans Canada Highway, for heaven's sake.

Light traffic on the first stretch allowed us to ride on the asphalt until we saw something coming. Heavy traffic on the second precluded any such approach. So we cycled in the gravel, with a grumble for each pedal stroke. What a pain.

The usual configuration for a five-minute break. We had a lot of them today.

Because I managed to misread the map, we passed up our only option for a cooked breakfast near Carberry. Then we had to take refuge in the village of Sydney a few kms later when the sky looked especially ominous. We found the Sydney General Store, which pretty much constitutes the village. No food was being served, but there was a room with a few tables where the local seniors, mostly men, gather for coffee. We've seen this type of social event in nearly every restaurant where we've had breakfast. A lot of men of a certain age sitting around enjoying coffee and a few laughs with their mates. Invariably, they've been curious and friendly. Today's group was especially interested and charming. 'Wish I'd taken a photo.

Today: 119 kms. To date: 2,323 kms. Total "earned" pledges @ $1.0825/km: $2,514.65.

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