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Just Imagine

Posted August 12th, 2009

532km Baudette to Cedar

That beautiful evening glowJust imagine: 8 flat tires in one afternoon. And then imagine fixing those punctures on a road without shade, when your patience is already wearing thin after dealing with a broken rim – one that should have lasted much longer than it did – and being rejected from a campground because tents weren’t welcome, even though there was plenty of free space.

Then picture walking to the next campsite and going straight for the showers (because nothing is going to feel better than a shower after the day you’ve had) and putting your money in the machine, only to be left standing there naked with no water at all for your 50 cents. And even after you go to complain and get nowhere, you’re still left with an unrideable bicycle and you’re 30km from the nearest town. (more…)

A wheelie bad day

Posted August 11th, 2009

failedbontragerrim2

There’s nothing quite like cycling a long distance to a town, only to be confronted with a sign at the municipal campground that says ‘no tents’ – even though there’s lots of space for tents and all the facilities to boot and no suggestion of where tenters might be welcomed….

This was our introduction to Ashland, Wisconsin. And then our mood got a little worse when Andrew inspected his back rim to try and figure out where a strange thumping noise was coming from and discovered the rim had cracked inside. What a disappointment in our Bontrager Maverick rim. We only bought it 2,000 miles ago. (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….

Play

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…)

Back in Canada. Eh?

Posted June 18th, 2009

630km Lakeside to Cochrane

dsc_8604.jpgThe Rocky Mountains loom in front of us as we pedal up the western side of Flathead Lake to the tune of a steady stream of jumbo-sized RVs rumbling past. There’s no doubt about it. North Americans like their cars big and their campers even bigger. Motorhomes the size of a large bus are commonplace, almost always coupled with an equally oversized vehicle like the gas-guzzling Hummer being towed behind them.

In campsites, we are more  often than not the only tent around, save for the occasional youth group and as we sit around the campfire, we ponder just what it costs to buy and run one of those big rigs. Later someone tells us that they can easily cost over $200,000 and you can get 30-year mortgages on them! This staggers us. For the same price, surely you could travel in a nice car and stay in upmarket hotels or rent holiday accommodation for many years? We just don’t get it.

What we do get is the fabulous scenery. The road climbs gently out of Big Fork and swings around the bottom of Glacier National Park, where the rumble of traffic is now put to the back of our minds by gushing waterfalls, elk crashing through the forest and white mountain goats licking minerals off the exposed rocks. The snowy mountains are always in view, framing this area of outstanding natural beauty.

It’s a day for celebration in other ways too. It’s June 12th and Andrew is turning 35 today. He is surprised to wake up to a few presents on the picnic table along with his morning coffee! “Where did you get those?” he asks, forgetting just how much you can buy at the supermarket these days. Inside the old tourist brochures he finds a new dish cloth to replace our  dirty rag of a thing, a big bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups and some spicy chili peppers to put on his pasta. We also stop at a nearby deli for some luxury lunch fixings and wine to toast many more happy birthdays to come. (more…)