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 6, 2011

Day thirty-one - Wadena MN

The Shooting Star Casino & Hotel, where we stayed last night, is owned and, I believe, operated by the White Earth Ojibwe Indian Nation. The hotel is not so glitzy inside. I itemized three complaints about our room on the form conveniently provided for the purpose. But I could not whine to management about my biggest disappointment: no bananas! So, for the first time, this morning we did not have any banana before we set out. Even in Emerson MB, where the only thing open was the restaurant in which we ate and it had none, Mohammad was able to scrounge most of a banana from the motel proprietors. But we came up short at the Shooting Star.

We rectified the omission about an hour into our ride at a general store in Ogema. We were thus fortified with potassium but it did not overcome our sluggishness. Conditions were nearly perfect but we had trouble getting our legs going. Soe Naing wants me to say this is because we were gambling late in the casino. It is true we did not get our usual eight hours and we were in the casino rather late for us (almost 10 pm!). But we had to go to the casino to find a restaurant, such as it was. Moreover, I had to go to the casino to apply for a "player's card", which I did because it gave us a $20 discount on our room. The player's card also had a complimentary $5 stored value stake for the casino. We parlayed that into $8 on a slot machine, thus reducing our net room cost to less than $48. Which is a lot less than our KOA cabin in Indian Head.

No, the problem with our legs today was probably the long ride yesterday as well as the lack of a full night's sleep. And the sleep deprivation was because we arrived at the hotel late and the check-in staff in the lobby was deplorably slow. Despite the sluggishness, the ride was good even if it was long. The topography is changing. We now see some undulation, and encounter a few gentle grades to cycle up and coast down. Extensive cultivation, including a lot of feed crops but also corn, potatoes and other unidentified veggies. Many attractive lakes. It is all very picturesque and much more interesting to cycle.

We had lunch in Detroit Lakes and resisted the curious logic that we should stop for the day when we came to New York Mills. We pushed on to Wadena, which puts us within striking distance of St. Cloud if conditions are favourable tomorrow and the Twin Cities the day after that.

A local geographical feature I should have mentioned is that about 50 or 60 kms east of yesterday's route is an area described in our map as "Missippi Head Waters State Forest".


Moorhead is another local feature we missed. These signs mark the intersection of US Hwy 59 and US Hwy 10, where we turned east. Moorhead is to the west; we cut it out of our route when we turned east in upper North Dakota two days ago. Not a big deal, but I was looking forward to seeing it for the tenuous reason that Moorhead is where Charles Hardin "Buddy" Holly did not give his scheduled performance on the night of February 3, 1959. Buddy was killed in an airplane crash in Iowa in the early hours of that fateful day, "the day the music died" to quote Don McLean's tribute song, "American Pie". If memory serves, a local singer named Bobby Vee was called in to perform in Buddy's place on February 3, 1959. Bob Dylan would later assert, untruthfully, that he had been in Vee's band. But I digress.

Two other stars perished with Buddy: J.P. Richardson aka "the Big Bopper" and 17-year-old Ritchie Valens. To quote Mr. McLean again:
"And the three men I admire most:
The father, son, and the holy ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died."

Today: 131 kms. To date: 2,900 kms. Total "earned" per km pledges to date: $3,139.25.

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