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.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day thirty-five - Menomonie WI

According to a local Saint Paul television station, the severe thunder and lightning storm alert was lifted at about the time we departed this morning. The temperature at 7:00 am, the same station advised, was 77 degrees F. It was also very humid. But we experienced no more than a sprinkling of rain and it was gone by the time our real adventure began.

Kevin told us yesterday that we were not permitted to cycle on an Interstate highway. But Interstate 94 was our only option for crossing Lake St. Croix. The alternatives were much too far north or south, so I-94 was always our plan. And we did not take any chances that the last possible intersecting road might not have an interchange; we got on it about five miles before the bridge. To our horror, we discovered the shoulder of the approach lane was essentially bicycle proof. There were two- to three-inch grooves across the shoulder every 50 or 60 feet. The groves were built into the concrete slabs and left one no choice but to ride on the approach lane rather than the shoulder.

I was considering how to turn around when I got to the highway itself and learned that most of the grooves had been filled with asphalt. Our theory: the grooves were designed to discourage cyclists from riding on the Interstate and then filled when it was discovered they only forced cyclists off the shoulder, and onto the road with the traffic.

So we managed to cross Lake St. Croix on I-94. Only a few honks from outraged motorists. Then we needed local advice to find the beginning of US Hwy 12 which our map research indicated was our best bet for heading east. After cycling around the town of Hudson for while, we eventually located it and I'm not at all pleased we did. The shoulder is narrow but adequate in view of the light traffic flow. However, much too much of it is bumpy; the un-repaired cracks are no better on the road surface than on the shoulder. A most unpleasant ride. I'm not sure the bikes can take another four days of this type of surface and I'm pretty sure my behind cannot!


The mandatory new jurisdiction photo. The sign says: "Welcome to Hudson, Gateway to Wisconsin".

The Wisconsin countryside could almost be Ireland, give or take a few ancient villages (and perhaps some other discrepancies). My point is that for the first several miles on Hwy 12 it was intensely green and cultivated. There were also some reasonably significant hills, which we haven't seen in weeks. We soon learned we were out of practice.


This is Erin in front of her lovely 110 year old house in the pleasant village of Hammond WI. Gracious and welcoming, Erin invited us to sit in her yard when we pulled up nearby for a rest. A village councilor who, like her husband, commutes 40 miles to the twin cities for work, Erin was interested in our trek. One thing we learned from her is that US Hwy 12 is the "Yellowstone Trail", one of the first, if not the very first, automobile road across America: http://www.yellowstonetrail.org/.

There was time for more cycling when we got to Menomonie but the humid mid-nineties sunshine persuaded us to push it tomorrow.

Today: 97 kms. To date: 3,284 kms. Total per km pledges "earned": $3,554.93.

2 comments:

  1. Rod,

    Enjoy your time behind the 'cheddar curtain'. I recommend You and Soe find your way to US highway 10. US to will take you directly to Manitowoc, WI. It is at Manitowoc where rather than a bridge, the Highway is linked with the other side of Lake Michigan by ferry and US 10 continues through Michigan. US 12 will lead you into Chicago.
    -Endure US 12 to Elk Mound, WI, head south on County Road H to Mondovi, WI. This is the 'Driftless Area' of Wisconsin, enjoy. US 10 From Mondovi to Manitowoc over Lake Michigan on the Badger, then to Luddington, WI.

    Kevin

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  2. Rod & Soe,

    I recommend you find you way to US 10. Highway 12 goes to Chicago while US 10 takes you directly into Manitowoc, WI. Endure US 12 to Elk Mound, then take County road H south to Mondovi, WI where it intersects with US 10.

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