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, July 18, 2011

Day forty-three – Reece’s Corner ON

Not many were taking the M21 from Imlay City to Port Huron this morning. We were told the road is the M21 but it was not signed that we notice. The “M” in M21, incidentally, stands for Michigan (not motorway, in case someone in the UK is reading this). A local road but exactly what we wanted: good condition, a satisfactory if not broad shoulder and a straight shot to Port Huron. It got a little busy as we approached the city but nothing serious.

In Port Huron the “Bridge to Canada detour” signs took us on a convoluted route to a structure formally known as the Blue Water Toll Bridge. We approached the toll booth apprehensively. We’d been told that bicycles are not allowed on the bridge and our Michigan map stated: “Sidewalk Currently Closed”. The nearest alternative is a ferry more than 20 kms south of Port Huron and no less out of our way.

We need not have worried. The nicest toll booth attendant in the world stepped out of her booth to greet us. She told us to put our bikes in the back of a nearby pickup and we’d be transported across for free. Not even a toll! And the Canadian Customs and Immigration officer on the other side was equally pleasant. We were through in far less time than it took us to load and unload our bikes and bags. Another member of the Customs and Immigration staff directed us to the nearby Ontario Travel Centre and, in short order, we had more maps and information than we probably need.

All good. But here’s the thing: how will I be able to assert that I’ve bicycled every inch of road from coast to coast? The ride over the bridge represents a 2 km gap in the pedal powered progression. But wait, perhaps with a little more creativity, the conundrum can be cracked. The St. Clair River is a body of water we had to cross. The pickup was essentially a wheeled ferry, transporting us over the water and providing us with a great view of Lake Huron and, in turn, explained the name of the bridge. Naturally, the 2 kms will not be included in the kms we cycled today any more than the width of Lake Michigan was. On this view of the crossing, no gap. I adopt it.


Tradition restored.

We cycled another 25 kms toward London before stopping in Reece’s Corner at the Country View Motel and RV Resort, a name which puts some strain on the word “resort” shall we say. No wifi in sight. On the bright side, dear friend Dick is on his way to take us to dinner in Wyoming. I kid you not.

Today: 87 kms. To date: 4,153 kms. Total per km pledges “earned”: $4,495.62.

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