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.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day sixty - Annapolis Royal NS


Jim Colby introduced himself while we were waiting to board the Princess of Acadia in Saint John. He tours on his bicycle so he was interested in my trek. That makes him an exception lately. Very few in Quebec, Maine or New Brunswick have been interested, but then Jim is from Picton ON so he's not really an exception at all. Jim was on his way to Halifax to give some training in meditation. It was a pleasure to meet you, Jim; all the best.


The last of its kind.


Today's team, from the left: Kieren Whelan; you-know-who, Susan Tileston and Nat Tileston. Nat delivered Kieren and Susan to the Digby ferry terminal in his "truck" and then returned to Annapolis Royal, with my panniers and gear I'm pleased to say, where he unpacked his bike and rode down to meet us as we huffed up Hwy No. 1 against the wind. So all three rode with me, which was a tremendous compliment and sincerely appreciated.

Susan and Nat are familiar with the Thai-Burma border. They learned about my project from the Canadian Friends of Burma, and wanted to show their support. I was truly honoured to enjoy their company on the ride. Susan, Nat and Kieren are the seventh, eighth and ninth Just Riders, including Honourary Rider Murray.

More about Susan and Nat. They are avid cyclists, and so is Kieren which is why he joined us today. But Susan and Nat live in Mae Sot six months a year where they also cycle and administer a fascinating project called "MY STORY Photo Project Association", which is a registered Canadian charity.

Started in Mexico, the MSPPA has focused on the Thai-Burma border for several years. It gives digital cameras and photo training to small groups of refugees from Burma. Photographers themselves, Susan and Nat work with the Karen Youth Organization and other NGOs. By last year had trained 164 students and teacher/trainers, and mounted exhibits in Thailand, Canada, Mexico and the US. As its brochure says, the project "gives participants a means of creative expression and a new skill in an otherwise bleak environment". Check it out: www.msppa.org and mystoryphotoproject.blogspot.com.

My sincere congratulations to Susan and Nat for this innovative initiative, and of course for devising a sound reason to live in a pleasant climate every winter!

Today: 47 kms. To date: 5,839 kms. Total per km pledges "earned": $6,320.72.

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