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, August 8, 2011

The first day after - fun with numbers etc.

The number is 6,049 kms (3,759 miles). That is the distance cycled from the North Vancouver Seabus terminal to the Dalhousie Law School building.

There is another number to be explained: 6,288 kms (3,907 miles).

The odometer installed on my bike the day before I left home kept track of the total kms cycled. I re-set it every morning to measure the distance of the day's ride. But this did not interfere with the devise keeping the cumulative total of kms traveled on the bike from the beginning.

I never expected the odometer to continue to function the entire trip, on one battery and through the rain storms and many punishing bumps. Amazingly, it did; it functioned flawlessly. The cumulative total when I stopped yesterday was actually 6,290 kms, but there were 2 kms on it when Dan led Soe Naing and me out of the Seabus terminal on June 2nd.

The upshot is that since June 2nd, I have cycled a total of 239 kms (6,288 less 6,049) which were not en route and could not be claimed as kms traveled from point to point.

In other words, the total distance of unnecessary cycling was 239 kms. In the context of the 6,049 kms traveled, it does not seem a lot. And this, in turn, provides the context for all my whining about how much I detested doubling back to go to a restaurant at which we should have stopped earlier, or cycling around to pick up the next segment of a bike trail, or cycling off route to find a motel. It was, I must now admit, overdone.

For purposes of soliciting pledges, I estimated the total distance would be 5,800 to 5,900 kms. The estimate, it seems, was about 200 kms less than the final number. Again, in context, the margin of error is not that much.

But, to acknowledge the error and keep things simple, I intend to work with the nice round number of 6,000 when I prepare notices of the amounts due.

To return to the daily distance numbers, I have to give myself a little credit for remembering to re-set the odometer every morning. I can recall forgetting this ritual only once, and I came to my senses soon enough that morning to recognize we had cycled only a km. So I added that km at the end of the day. I also monitored the odometer every time we went off route, so I could deduct unnecessary cycling from the end-of-the-day total of the distance traveled. The point being, to put it bluntly, the number 6,049 is a reliable and accurate measure of the distance of the ride.

When it comes to giving credit, I have yet to mention the contribution of Fraser and the rest of the gang at Obsession Bikes in Lolo, North Vancouver. James worked with me one morning to make adjustments so my bike was a good fit. He also helped me equip the bike. But it is Fraser who gets the bulk of this overdue credit. He gave me some tutorials on bike repair and maintenance, a preparation to which I attribute the absence of any breakdowns during the entire trip. Fraser also gave me valuable advise on the equipment I needed, particularly the tires. Almost everybody I talk to is incredulous that I did not require new tires at some point. In fact, the same tires carried me all the way and the only issue was one slow leak (although I may now have another). And it was Fraser who installed the odometer so effectively a day or two before we started. So this is a huge shout out to Fraser. Hearty thanks to you, Fraser, for the excellent foundation for a successful tour.

"Lolo", I should perhaps add, stands for Lower Lonsdale, the area of North Vancouver closest to the Seabus terminal.

The official arrival event tomorrow evening may warrant one last blog.

I will also be given the opportunity to plug the cause at my class reunion dinner on Friday night.

Thanks everybody.
rg 8.8.11





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