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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day fifty-two - Chateauguay QC

After passing under the "Bridge to USA", it was a pretty ride out of Cornwall. First, the bridge:


Then a very pleasant cycling path beside the river, like this:


The path continued about 15 kms and brought me to a satisfactory shoulder beside Hwy 2. It lasted about 30 of the 45 kms to Quebec where, of course, another photograph was required:


About the time I'd packed away the iPhone after taking this shot, I noticed a car backing out of a driveway a couple of houses away. I approached and asked the nice little old lady at the wheel for directions to the nearest Quebec tourist/travel information centre. There had to be one nearby; I'd just entered Quebec on a road parallel to the highway, which was the 401 in Ontario and #20 in Quebec. The nice lady wanted to know where I came from and she was thrilled with the story. She assured me the information centre was nearby but she said I had to get on the highway "for a little way".

So off I went. The #20 was very busy but the shoulder was at least 15 feet wide and I stayed on the right edge of it, a long way from the vehicles. Not far enough for the initially officious representative of the Highways Department. He pulled over ahead of me in his pickup and turned on numerous flashing lights. I told him I didn't want to be there but I was following directions to the travel information centre. He said he had no choice but to call the police and he did. We then waited about 20 minutes, his lights causing trucks and cars to squeeze into the inside lane in a manner that looked a little dangerous to me. Much more dangerous than allowing me to cycle to the next exit which could be seen about half a km down the road. I would have included a photo of the man with the biggest biceps I've ever seen, but the proposal provoked an aggressive "Non, don't ever do that" from him.

The police apparently had more important things to do (shine their cars?) and the fellow finally realized he wasn't going to be able to turn me in. But he insisted on putting my bike in his pickup and driving me down the road, past the next exit to the second one going east. Suddenly he was friendly, giving me directions to where he was certain I should go. He dropped me at a Shell station where I bought a map. I will never know if there is a tourist/travel information centre anywhere in the vicinity. I do know that I then went back to the parallel road on which I'd entered Quebec and cycled west to a spot opposite the place on the freeway where I'd been picked up. Only then did I turn around to continue my journey east. Never let it be said I did not cycle all the way.

The day got better. A few kms from Chateauguay, here was my buddy Murray to transport my panniers:


Murray had just arrived on a red-eye from Vancouver. I'm a lucky old codger. He's going to travel with me the next four days. My bike will be light even if I don't get the usual amount of sleep.

Today: 108 kms. To date: 4,999 kms. Total per km pledges "earned": $5,411.42.

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