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Closing The Loop

Posted September 10th, 2009

993km Garson to St. Bruno

The end of our round-the-world trip happens so quickly, we barely see it coming. In the logical part of our minds we know it’s getting closer. Anyone can see that on a map. But emotionally the last pedal strokes towards the point where we began feel much the same as any other day or week or month over the past three years.

Those last spins of our wheels begin slowly, interspersed with lazy lunch breaks on outcroppings of solid Canadian Shield rock and long moments of quiet reflection beside the endless lakes that look like a string of rain puddles on the vast map of Ontario. In Parry Sound, we help an old college friend rip up some truly terrible 70s shag carpeting in her new house and then it’s back on the road again, over the hundreds of small rolling hills that make up this part of Canada.

Victorious at the topThe usual preoccupations of our life – where to sleep, what to eat, how much sunscreen to put on – take up their usual chunk of time and then there are the unexpected challenges, like an attack by raccoons in Algonquin Park. Incredibly bold and undeterred by our presence, this little group of bandits surrounds our site and makes repeated charges for our food-filled panniers. It’s only when our neighbours lend us enough rope to lift our bags up into the trees that we can retire confidently to our tent.

The raccoons aren’t our only companions during this part of our journey. Rob is a funny, easy-going cyclist from Toronto who hooks up with us in Huntsville and his sense of humour shines through in the $5 sunglasses he’s wearing, held together by reams of duct tape. When we first meet, we’re a bit worried that Rob might have used the same thrifty approach when buying his bicycle but there’s relief all around when we discover his trusty steed isn’t also counting on duct tape to make the distance. (more…)

Wild Camping in Ottawa

Posted September 8th, 2009

It’s so hard to find a place to pitch your tent for free in big cities. So many people. So little space. Fortunately we were able to find the perfect free camping spot in Ottawa. Flat. Green grass. Centrally located. What more could you ask for??


*For those who don’t know, this picture was taken in front of Canada’s national parliament buildings…

I’m a cyclist, get me outta here!

Posted August 21st, 2009

923km Cedar to Garson

Andrew finds a fellow riderWe’ve heard a lot of bad things about the Trans-Canada Highway through Northern Ontario. Wild truckers. Plenty of traffic. No shoulders. “They’re all true,” says one cyclist we meet in Michigan. “I stuck a hacksaw out the side of my bike to make the cars give me more room. You should try it!”

We appreciate the advice but it makes us wonder: if we need a saw – a saw??!? – to survive this treacherous stretch of road, should we just get the bus? Of course not. So close to finishing our trip from west to east across North America, we’re not going to give up that easily.

Armed with nerves of steel, we hit the highway but it’s only a few miles later when we start thinking that a saw is sounding like a mighty fine idea. After being cut off, cut up and just generally annoyed by a few hundred cars, the final straw comes when a trucker races up from behind and honks aggressively at us to get out of the way. There’s oncoming traffic. We’re already trying to cycle on a shoulder that’s less than 6 inches wide and crumbling and frankly, we don’t see why we should have to dive onto the soft gravel shoulder every time a truck comes along. Is it really too much for the truck to slow down momentarily until the road is clear? (more…)

Show 26: An African adventure and our last leg

Posted August 10th, 2009

Peter in TibetHere’s our latest radio show, coming to you from Wisconsin and with a little African flair.

In this show we talk to Peter Gostelow, who just returned last summer from a 3-year cycling journey and now is off again from England to South Africa, raising money for mosquito nets to prevent malaria along the way.

His Big Africa Cycle starts in just a few days and we were so happy to be able to connect with him on Skype and talk about his adventure. As for us, we’re off to Michigan and Ontario over the coming weeks. Home is not so far away….


Cycling in the rain

Posted August 5th, 2009

675km Dauphin to Baudette

“Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothin’ seems to fit
Those raindrops are fallin’ on my head, they keep fallin’

So I just did me some talkin’ to the sun
And I said I didn’t like the way he got things done
Sleepin’ on the job
Those raindrops are fallin’ on my head, they keep fallin’

But there’s one thing I know
The blues they send to meet me won’t defeat me
It won’t be long till happiness steps up to greet me”

Lonely Lake Drain - a good name for this remote areaIt’s 6am on Friday and rain is drumming away on our tent. At first we try denial. We roll over and simply hope it will go away. It rained two days ago as well and we weren’t impressed. An hour later and the rain is still coming down. The radio confirms our worst fears.

“Expect rain all day long,” says the weather forecaster. “And it’s been the worst summer on record here in Manitoba. That’s 8 straight months of below average temperatures,” he adds for good measure.

The morning radio show hosts chatter away about the good side of the unusually damp weather. There are fewer mosquitoes and libraries are busy like never before. Meanwhile, we discuss our options over granola and coffee. Being cooped up in a tent all day in a rustic campground is hardly attractive. We poke our noses outside. Maybe it’s not quite as bad as we thought – a little wet, but that’s what raincoats are for, right? We decide to make a go of it.

An hour down the road and the rain is still coming down but with 3 layers of clothing on we’re warm enough and trying our best to keep our spirits up. We tell silly jokes. We remember all the other days we cycled in the rain. And then we make up bad country music songs and sing them in our best twangy western accent. Happily we’re in the middle of nowhere and there’s no one around who has to suffer through our performance. (more…)