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 20, 2011

Day forty-five - Paris ON

From London to Paris by bicycle in an afternoon. I was so enthralled by this line, which is accurate, that I had to begin with it. But it is not the important content of this installment.

For reasons unknown to me, I am blessed with some wonderful, interesting and talented friends. I am more than touched by the willingness of Julie and Bernie to drive all the way from Kingsville to London for a short but intensely sweet visit over breakfast at Mai’s. Both of them celebrated achievers in my field of work: academics, practitioners, teachers, published authors and, above all, excellent friends. Hope could not come with Julie and Bernie but we did get to see several great photos of all three “girls”, two of them now young women and each of them stunning.

Mai must be mentioned here as well. Her story, which is also the story of her sister My with whom we stayed in Winnipeg, is extraordinary. And she is a marvelous hostess. She helped us yesterday afternoon to find a local bike shop to get some ideas about our route to Toronto and looked after our every need. Thank you so much Mai.

To top it off, Bernie paid us the ultimate compliment. He joined the ride and set the pace from London to Ingersoll. Bernie thus became the fifth additional Just Rider and his style was instructive. We salute you, Bernie, for honouring our ride with your participation. Serious thanks.


Here they are: Bernie, Julie and Mai.


The whole gang this morning.


Mahn Kyaw Swe, on the left, is a leader of the Karen community in London. The two gents on the other side of Soe Naing are recent Karen refugees whom he helped today by translating for them while they took a driver’s test.


Today’s team: Bernie, the codger and Soe Naing.

Our stop in London might be called a cycloholic’s day off. We did not ride for nearly 24 hours, but our break was from midday to midday; we did not deprive ourselves of a ride each day.

At noon today, after an unfortunately short meeting with Mahn Kyaw Swe and his friends, we set out from Mai’s in the direction of Woodstock. Now there’s another name that resonates with those of us of a certain age, but couldn't think of a credible way to incorporate it into a line about London to Paris. Bernie got us going so well that, even when Julie showed up in their van at Ingersoll to trade our panniers and gear for her man and his bike, we felt we could make more kms than Woodstock. It was hot but the wind was blowing from the west and, once we got past a few reasonably steep hills around Woodstock, we sailed into Paris in no time.

Trev, you were on my mind while I was cycling through and driving around London yesterday. Everywhere I looked, I thought you probably dropped a fare off around here somewhere during your cabbie phase. Thanks for your encouraging words and sorry about the early phone call this morning – sorry only that I woke up Joy instead of you!

Today: 78 kms. To date: 4,317 kms. Total per km pledges “earned”: $4,673.15.

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