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.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day forty-one - Saginaw MI

Michigan review #1: when we arrived at Ludington two nights ago, we failed to locate a "Welcome to Michigan" sign for the hitherto mandatory photo. But we're in Michigan, folks, believe me.

Michigan review #2: Our stop last night, Big Rapids, is about 55 miles north of Grand Rapids. As far as the size of rapids is concerned, I know not how "big" relates to "grand". But in terms of population, "grand" is much larger than "big" in Michigan. Big Rapids, however, is the location of Ferris State University. If Big Rapids has nothing else, it is doing alright. The campus is impressive. However, a Google search tells me there is another campus in Grand Rapids. As I've never seen it, I am unable to discuss its size compared to the campus in Big Rapids.

The new time zone makes 7:00 am shortly after dawn. So when we set out at our customary hour this morning, the air was fresh and clean. We wanted to test the shoulders on US Hwy 20 East and, because we'd ridden beyond it yesterday afternoon, we decided to follow some local roads to re-connect. We had a little difficulty finding the roads but the ride was great when we did: very little traffic on rustic but paved roads through some small farms and orchards but mostly just country homes of all descriptions. In the middle of our exploration of this out-of-the-way part of Michigan, we happened on an upscale rural acreage development called "Canadian Lakes". Complete with fishing on lakes and a nearby golf course.


Now these lakes - they are misplaced.

The ride on Hwy 20 was excellent. Just short of optimum, a term I reserve for riding with a following wind. We breezed along and were in Midland, having cycled over 110 kms, by about 2:00 pm. We decided to push it a little. We were assured by a customer in the bike shop where Soe Naing stopped to get his tires pumped that we'd find a motel in Freeland, which made sense because it is indicated on the map with the yellow colour of an urban centre. But the advice was inaccurate; it was out by 15 or 20 kms. So we did a little more today than we planned. If we have another day like it tomorrow, we'll be on the shores of Lake Huron.

Eric, R U following? We're in Saginaw, Michigan. I'll take a look around for Lefty although I think he may no longer be with us.

Today: 145 kms. To date: 3,951 kms. Total per km pledges "earned": $4,276.96.

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