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 4, 2011

Day twenty-nine - Karlstad MN

It was a ride in two states.


At last, a kind stranger makes a timely stop when we want a photo taken. He's willing to help. Too bad he had no talent for photography.

After crossing the border and posting yesterday's blog at the Gastrack in Pembina ND, we hit Interstate 29. Our destination Grand Forks, 120 kms away. Broad shoulders and a lot of traffic for Independence Day. But mostly yesterday's wind was still blowing right at us. I think it was blowing harder but it could have been the loaded bikes. Drayton ND was 50 kms down the road, the perfect distance for breakfast. But it was tough maintaining even 15 km/hour. We cycled over 3 hours to cover those 50 kms, not including the many essential rests roadside. We arrived in Drayton at noon, utterly spent. That was the state of North Dakota.

It being a holiday, the only restaurant in town was closed. Our breakfast was a bad cheese bacon burger at the Zootoo bar. But I do not wish to speak ill of the Zootoo. We consulted extensively with Pete, the owner. Our dilemma was that we were not going to make it to Grand Forks today, not against that wind. What alternative? Pete had advice about where we might go. Because we need both a motel and a restaurant, he even called his buddy who operates the bar in Stephen MN to find out what was available there. Eventually, we settled on Karlstad which is due east of Drayton. So we abandoned the planned Grand Forks - Fargo route, and turned our bikes east. This is why we came this way instead of through Northern Ontario: it gives us options. Karlstad allowed us to rescue the day, achieve a respectable distance without dying by headwind.

The road to Karlstad begins with a bridge over the Red River to the State of Minnesota. State highway No. 11 is a complete contrast with Interstate 29: no shoulders but no traffic. We could hear the vehicles coming for miles in either direction and seldom were both lanes occupied anywhere near us, so we had to get off the asphalt only two or three times. The cruel wind turned into a relatively benign breeze blowing across our path. But what should have been an enjoyable ride was not. We'd knocked ourselves out in North Dakota. Despite the favourable conditions, it was a chore. That was the State of Minnesota.


Lighting strikes only once (except in a severe thunder and lightning storm). There was no stranger to take a bad photo of both of us this time. We did it ourselves. The sign says 'Welcome to Minnesota'.

We arrive in time to settle into the North Star Motor Inn before the 'Severe Storm warning' proved accurate. The lighting was spectacular; the unneeded rain indeed 'severe".

We've got ourselves in a bit of a corner here in Karlstad, the "Moose Capitol of the North". We have no choice but to cycle south tomorrow, so we're performing all appropriate ceremonies required to invoke a Nor'wester.


Eric and Brett, whom we encountered when we arrived in Karlstad, are on their way from home in Bemidji MN to the Winnipeg Music Festival in Winnipeg this weekend. They're camping. I wonder how they made out during the storm.

Today: 99 kms. To date: 2,614 kms. Total "earned" per km pledges to date: $2,829.66 (in addition to donations)

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