Thursday, 15 December 2011

into the festive season .......

Well, much has happened since our last entry to our blog.
I (B) have flown to Switzerland to be with my mother following my father’s passing. It became clear quite rapidly, that mom was totally unprepared for life without dad, not that anyone could blame her, being married for 65 years and being alone 2 weeks later was a shock. The fact that mom ended up in the hospital the day before the funeral did not help….mom suffered 4 TIAs, 1 at home, 1 near the doctor’s office and 2 more  in the hospital. Thankfully mom recovered enough to attend the funeral, mind you heavily sedated, but at least she was “present” and hopefully it helped her along with the grieving process. Side-effects of the TIAs, well I feel, after observing her for the past 2 months, she only shows signs of slight speed impediments when under stress or really tired.
I have moved mom into a new senior Coop housing unit with 24x7 care. She is slowly getting used to being there. I cannot blame her; it is a massive change from living on your own, together with your husband, doing most of the household chores and now just having a room in a large apartment, sharing the common living space (living room and eating area) with 8 elderly women, most of them needing care, not like mom who went there because of needing company!
The unexpected early arrival of Kim and Sebas daughter Klara Alexia made the loss of dad (Opa) a little bit easier. We are very grateful that Kim and baby were in good hands at the Ottawa General Hospital in the NICU ward (Neonatal intensive care unit), and we are happy to say, mom and daughter are both doing extremely well. Proud dad Sebas is a great and patient help and support and all 3 seem to slowly settle into a comfortable family routine. Gerry changed his travel plans once he saw a picture of little Klara in the incubator and instead of flying to Turkey he cancelled his flight and booked a return flight to Canada. As Klara had to stay in the hospital for 2 weeks there was much driving to be done and Gerry put on his chauffeur uniform and drove Kim to and from. I (B) arrived in Ottawa on December 1 and I have been enjoying Klara to the max, as I have to be able to draw from that for a few months to come! I will return to Switzerland on December 19 in order to spend the rest of the festive season with mom. THANKS Kim for being so very understanding and supportive.
As for Gerry and me, well, we are celebrating our 38 wedding anniversary today! Not much of a celebration with Gerry onboard SY Octopus in Turkey and myself being in Ottawa, but we will celebrate once I am there. I have a flight booked to Turkey on January 3rd. Just in time for Gerry’s birthday!
Other news are, that our son Lars and Sharon plan on buying a house, we hope for them that the deal goes through and we look forward to visiting them in their now abode.

To all of you, a festive holiday season and a HAPPY 2012, good health to all, take care, see you, love B & G

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Homeward bound

Although "home" is a relative concept these days. What we mean is Kim's and Seba's place near Ottawa.

We tootled around the Avalon peninsula and visited a site where precambrian fossils have been found. Fully 565 million years old and the oldest fossils ever found. The place is named Mistaken Point, as is many ships, in the pre-GPS days, turned here and ran aground. There are many, many wrecks and as many as 2000 people have perished here.

We also visited Cape Race, where the SOS from the Titanic was received and answered in 1912. The site has references to discussions with Canadian Marconi in Montreal, my former employer, as to how much information should be released as the drama was unfolding. The famous Cape Race lighthouse light was shrouded in blue tarpaulins as the mercury bath, on which the light floats, is leaking.

St. John's is very nice and we spent some pleasant days here. Visited Cape Spear, the Eastern-most point in North America, in 100 km winds. Parks Canada closed the gift shop on the site, which we thought was an appropriate response.

Here a "taste of Newfoundland" for those of you who have not yet visited this Canadian province!

Vancouver island to Bonavista (does not sound right)   song about Canada

Iceberg near L'Ance aux meadows

Beautiful countryside

Colorful St. John's

Cape Spear, B looking slightly wind-blown.....

On Friday evening, preparing for the trip to the airport, Brigitte checked her phone messages and found that her Dad, 88, had unexpectedly passed away, 2 weeks after their 65 wedding anniversary.
This made the trip "home" very sad and she is leaving today for Zurich. I will follow in a few days for the funeral.

We hit the St. John's airport at 04:30 to dismantle the bikes and put them in plastic bags. The airline, WestJet, was very accommodating, but the bikes were slightly damaged anyway. I guess baggage handlers are the same the world over. They should compete in dwarf tossing contest. I'm sure they'd win.

This is it for now. Thanks for following our progress. Glad to answer any questions you may have.
Just as an afterthought, there are 2 bikes for sale in Ottawa, bikes with plenty of experience!!! They will probably ride across Canada by themselves and you would just have to go along for the ride and maybe fix the odd flat since Gerry want be there to do it for you!?

Gerry and Brigitte

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Touring Newfoundland

Okay, it's confirmed, the Newfies ARE very friendly. Newfoundland's Gander airport accommodated 38 flights diverted here on account of 9/11 and there are many passengers who are returning here on the tenth anniversary to reminisce with people who put them up.
Underway in the northern part of the island we spoke with many friendly people.

We went to the  landing site of the Vikings, fully 500 years before Columbus "discovered" the Caribbean

and saw icebergs if you can believe it, in August.

There are other cyclists underway here, many bucking enormous headwinds. Accommodation is a problem, pariculalrly near Bonavista where a local hero showed up with the Stanley Cup. Irene missed us and other than hard winds caused no problems.

We also hiked in Gros Morne park.  Sorry, above picture from the park does not do it justice, for the real beauty one has to do serious hiking and our legs are used to biking but not hiking (different muscles!)

We have another week to go before returning to Ottawa.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

St. John's, Newfoundland

Arrived at 2:30 this afternoon, August 27,

73 riding days
6200 kms
5 flat tires  (1 by G and 4 by B) B rides much closer to the edge, as far away from the trucks and cars as possible!!
5 time zones
10 provinces 

..... and now we'll have to watch what we eat again.
We have rented a car starting Monday for ten days, as it is not likely that we will be back here anytime soon. The last day on the Transcanada was a pain, lots of traffic and inconsiderate drivers. Thusfar the gentility of Newfies is more vaunted than flaunted, but we'll see.

Newfie computer joke: ask one to log on and he starts looking for a fireplace... Let me know if you don't get it.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

On board the Atlantic Vision

Yesssirreee, ferries have internet capabilities these days!!

From Pictou where G had a haircut

is that a vaccuum cleaner I see?

we rode the very very busy highway 104 to Baddeck in two days. I had a bit of a hard time after 50 kms both days and realized I hadn't been eating enough and was hypoglycemic, a feeling I know well enough from cross country skiing. The third day, a 82 km jaunt to Baddeck on the Cabot Trail, we stopped for some food early enough and there were no problems. We stayed an extra day to make ferry reservations and took care of a few odds and ends. Yesterday we did the 52 kms to the North Sydney ferry terminal, arrived early and had to wait 8 hours for the ferry to Newfoundland to leave. Arrival today will be 3 pm and we will cycle a short distance and then pack it in. The next day or two we will ride to St. John's and that will be it for the bike riding. We are looking forward to visiting the Rock, but have been told that rental cars need to be reserved six months ahead of time. We'll see. It would be a shame not to be able to drive around, now that we are here.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Prince Edward Island

I looked at our tires in Riviere du Loup and particulalrly Brigitte's rear tire looked pretty bad after 5000 kms. We decided to change both rear tires and kept the old ones as spares. As sailors we know that you never have enough spares and I've never seen a spare I didn't like... Next stop from Grand Falls was Florenceville and then Woodstock. On our way there we tried to use the Trans Canada Trail again. Looked okay for a while until we arrived at a place where a river came into the St. John river and where the bridge across was washed out. We managed to get across but after a few minor washouts we came to a place where we really could not get across and we had to backtrack. Tiring work, down and up the banks and through the water, with heavy bikes and the trailer. Near Fredericton we wanted to stay at the Chicadee B&B. Business must have been bad as the place had burned down and we ended up in what used to be a Holiday Inn. Next were Youngs Cove and Moncton. We took a rest on the highway and cop with flashing lights arrived wanting to know if we were allright. He passed us two more times and flashed his lights or turned on the siren each time.

The transfer to PEI  took place in a van with the bikes loaded in a trailer as the winds on the Confederation bridge, 13 kms long, are very strong and the risk is there that you get blown into traffic. At the place where the bikes are loaded the mozzies were out in full force so that we were looking for a blood transfusion once on the island. We rented a car for three days and found the island pretty but relatively boring. The only excitement came when a control freak in a car tried to convince us to ride single file (only my front wheel was overlapping) on a country road with very little traffic. We wonder what he tells Hells Angels motor bikers, who never travel single file.

Tomorrow we are back in the saddle and will take the ferry to Nova Scotia. We figure six more riding days, or 73 total, to St. John's, Newfoundland from where we will tale a plane back to Ottawa. Thusfar 5'700 kms.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Grand Falls, New Brunswick

Taking a day off from aching legs and backs and recovering from lack of sleep due to some very inconsiderate people arriving at 1 am in Edmunston. From the top:

Fromn Quebec to Montmagny and Riviere Ouelle, where we camped again. Noisy campground with music until 11 pm and drunk neighbours. until all hours of the morning. Problem is we need lots of sleep, which we don't always get. Camping is hard on the backs as well, so we'll keep motelling and use the camping gear as a backup.

Riviere du Loup next stop, all along the St. Lawrence. I wish I could confirm recognition of the various places from our trek along the coast on Octopus I in 2002, but it looks different from land.

We watched the interim resolution of the Great Debt Ceiling Debate in the Excited States of America at night. Boy, these people have really lost their way, putting the world economy at risk for the second time in three years. Failed State??

Cabano, inland, was hard, as the bike trail, consisting of crushed stone, was very soft. We stuck it out for 40 kms and then elected to hit the road again. The trail from C to Edmunston was a much harder surface and we scooted along a pretty lake for a while.

Edmunston is a miserably grimy industrial town with tall chimneys belching smoke into the sky in the downtown area. On the way in we passed St. Louis du Ha! Ha!, picture later. No idea what this is about, but it was funny.

As we were riding into Edmunston the clouds looked threatening and we asked someone if we could wait out the rain underneath his carport. His wife came out and we had a lovely conversation, in Frenglish, made lovelier by the lady's question if that was my mother I was cycling with... Needless to say Brigitte is "Mom" from now on. The receptionist at the motel wanted to know if I was older than sixty (seniors rate). You've got to love these New Brunswickers.

On balance Quebec has the loveliest bikle trails and lots and lots of tourist information points with all kinds of maps. Hard to beat. NB has the friendliest people thusfar (says G!!!!).

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


After helping Seb and Kim as much as possible, we continued towards Montreal. First stop was Voyageur Park, 95 km, where we were allowed to pay $ 36 for the privilege of camping out, for the first time. This is before paying for the blood transfusions, necessary after being depleted by the mozzies of course. Next stop was Kirkland, where we were, as always, cordially received by Henry, Liesl and Bernard. They allowed us to stay an extra day, giving the legs a rest.
Next day Nelleke and Frits came to see us. It was a heartwarming reunion after all these years. Then we threaded our way across the St. Lawrence, via Nuns' Island and the ice bridge, along the islands and across bits of the Victoria bridge to Chambly. Some of the territory along the river was familiar from the 2003 trip with our sailboat Octopus I from Lake Ontario to North Sydney. Next was a pleasant ride along the Richelieu, first to Sorel and then a long ride to Chantilly.

Along the way we were required to transfer to a small bus to carry us across a river where a bridge was being repaired as it was deemed too dangerous to bike across. Looked pretty tame to us, as we have experienced much worse.

Velma (Richard's mom) friend Cathy and B
Yesterday we stopped in St. Antoine and today we had a short ride into Quebec, where we are staying with Richard's mother, Velma, and her visiting friend Cathy. Here too, we can stay an extra day to rest the legs. Thursday we continue North-East along the south shore of the St. Lawrence.

a few pictures from the charming city of Quebec

Friday, 8 July 2011


From Sudbury we biked to French River. Late in the afternoon an elderly (or so we thought) couple moved in next door. He moved around with a walker and we expected a quiet night. No such luck: at around eight pm the bedsprings next door started creaking in that familiar rhythm and at 4 am they went at it again. Age apparently does not stand in the way of lust.

On to Parry Sound the next day (94 km). Arrival there was facilitated by a wonderful highway (nr. 400) and a tailwind. Next day we wanted to continue on the same road but were intimidated by a sign prohibiting cyclists. A passing driver directed us around this obstacle, which was just as well as we would have never found our way around. Apparently the thinking is that narrow 2-lane country roads without shoulders (and many blind lane ways) are safer than 4-lane highways with wide shoulders.  Or is it that if your're run over on a country road nobody notices or cares?

Huntsville (91km with plenty short and steep hills) was next where we stayed with Alison and Don and their two wee ones. Then a short ride to the entrance of the Algonquin park. We had heard rumblings in the sky and just made it to the motel before the skies opened and the deluge began.

Whitney was next, after taking a picture of a moose cow and calf in the park and fixing Brigitte's flat and Allan and Loretta's cottage near Killaloe followed, where we celebrated Canada Day along with the neighbours. We had a long ride (131 km) next day, partly because I made a navigational error and late in the afternoon Nancy guided us into her and Dave's driveway near Galetta. We spent a restful day with them, partly on the Ottawa river, and rode on to Fresh Air Experience in Ottawa after having coffee with Birgit along the way. Fresh Air is going over the bikes, just to make sure they are in optimal condition for the rest of the trip. They will be ready tomorrow. Meanwhile we are helping (we hope) Sebas and Kim who have just moved into their new home in Bourget. We are painting, ripping up carpets, unloading boxes etc. By the middle of next week we are off again. Thusfar we have biked 4200 km including the 800 km training in B.C. St. John's appears another 1800 km away, as the crow flies.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Sudbury, Ont.

Yes, right, but let's take it from the top.
We have had to make some compromises on this trip. The first one was not to follow the Transcanada Trail. The Trail, in BC, is cobbled together from 120 existing trails, which you can download (and get an extra trailer for the paperwork). The distance is also about twice that of following the major highways. The Trail has a nasty reputation in terms of the lack of services and was not an option early as the overnight temps were below zero.So we did what we did, up the Fraser Canyon, across to Revelstoke, down the Kootenay valley to the nr. 3, across the Crow and joined the TransCanada Highway in Swift Current. We just made it out of Saskatchewan before renewed rains made many roads, including the TCan, impassable. Another compromise was made a few days ago. Cross- and headwinds, in addition to rain, have been the story thusfar and averages then drop to about 17 km per hour, making for long days and lots of effort. We made the decision, once we arrived in Winnipeg after another Easterly windy day, and after the forecast called for 50 km easterlies the next day, to explore other options and decided to board the VIA train to Sudbury. We arrived last night at 02:00, put the bikes back together, rode to the nearest Tim Hortons in the pitchdark and waited there until we could reasonably expect to be let into a motel room. That happened at 09:30 this morning, a little past Sudbury. Slept 4 hours, did some shopping and will start for Huntsville and Ottawa tomorrow. The other consideration for taking the train was safety. The TCan past Kenora is single lane with a small shoulder and we have spoken to two people who have been hit by trucks. These are the ones who lived to tell. There are also long stretches without services and the prospect of spending ten hours+ in the saddle for days on end was a little much. Yes, it's cheating, but it ceased being fun. We could have taken the US route, but prefer to leave our money in Canada, until the paranoia in the US subsides a little. We have no stomach for the 3rd degree at the border.

Brigitte purchased a brace in Moose Jaw for what was suspected to be carpal tunnel syndrome and now her wrist feels a lot better. Met up with bikers John (trailer) and later Alain (saddle bags), from France, and a chap in the W'peg train station who had given up beating his brains out against the winds just underneath Saskatoon.

Someone who did not make it!!!
 From Moosomin we travelled to Virden, just inside Manitoba. Took a day's rest on account of the winds and rain (again), then on to Brandon where we crossed the Assiniboine River in spate. Here the road is protected by many industrially sized sandbags and it was evident that the road had been flooded despite the precautions. Next was Portage la Prairie (121 km), and Winnipeg (25 km headwinds). Tomorrow we head south, then east to Huntsville and Ottawa. Now, at least, we are back on schedule and hope to complete the trip to either Halifax or Saint John's while we're still young. We have ridden 2761 kms, or 3561 if we include the training in Victoria. more news later.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Moosomin, Sask.

What a difference an hour makes. During the previous update in Wolseley the wind shifted just enough to provide support and we rattled off another 55 kms in a little over 2 hours, namely to Broadview. Then today 75 kms to Moosomin and tomorrow hopefully to Brandon, Manitoba, weather permitting.

Sandbag barriers everywhere
There are black clouds in the sky every day but thusfar we have been able to keep things dry. In Manitoba the results of recent spring floodings await us and we have no idea of the state of the roads. The Assiniboine river was feared to jump its banks again and everywehere we look, also in Saskatchewan, there is evidence of heavy rains. One of the campgrounds resembled a rice paddy. Just across the border there is supposed to be a tourist info centre: they should be able to tell us what's up. We'll get an Ontario map in Winnipeg for the deserted streches along Lake Superior. Could get interesting.

This morning we were passed by a "fundraiser" for diabetes. His support van preceded him. Must be nice: no luggage, racing bike, anytime you need something you just call.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Downtown Wolseley

Only 35 kms since the last wide place in the road (Indian Head, home of the TV series "Little mosque on the Prairie). Not sure we'll spend the night or go on to Grenfell, 24 kms further but still well short of our target for the day, Broadview. The day started allright but with some threatening clouds. Then the winds picked up and now we have strong cross winds AND threatening clouds. It is not getting any easier. The townspeople are very friendly and stop to chat about their towns. Clearly not much happens here.
We are still "motelling" as spending the night in a tent in this weather is not appealing yet. Have had only one flat tire thusfar, which is surprising what with all the stones on the shoulders of the road.
Two days ago four cyclists with two trailers came the other way, going West. We waved a lot but, as there was no way to cross the divided highway, there was no other contact. Yesterday we saw a fellow cyclist with a trailer scoot out near a gas station ahead of us. We think this is Darren somebody who has been featured on tv and in the local papers as raising funds for a cancer cause. He is 15 days out of Vancouver, a lot faster than us. We can tell that there are cyclists ahead of us by the fresh banana and orange peels and we know that there people are ahead of us by the stories of car drivers we speak to, but we have had no other contacts. Some groups are supported by vans who carry luggage and manage water, food and clothing issues and who carry tired (or fed up) cyclists).

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Moose Jaw

In Gull Lake in the afternoon we went to the post office (yes, there is one) to snailmail something to our Swiss bank in order to continue to do business online. The postmistress (?) was very nice and we talked at length, met the Mayor and a few other influential townspeople. Finally the editor of the local paper, Tim, invited us for a drive through the countryside. We were able to explore the backroads, visited a Hutterite community (according to a local nurse who caters to them there is a lot of depression, which we can fully understand, it all looks a little drab, as do the inmates) and took a look at Gull Lake from a higher perspective. Saskatchewan produces more conventional oil than Alberta, as evidenced by the many pumps in the landscape. The province is also not nearly as flat as we had expected, and hoped, and the many gentle uphills take it out of you!

Nevertheless we made it to Morse the next day and did 120 kms to Moose Jaw yesterday. In the process we crossed the imaginary 2000 km line on this trip while battling head- and crosswinds all day. Today the headwinds are 30 kms and we decided to sit this one out, particularly since the forecast for tomorrow is a 10 km tailwind. We will just do more distance tomorrow and whiz through Regina. It also gives our rear ends a much needed rest...

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Gull Lake (downtown library)

All of 1016 people live here, more or less, as there are a few retirement homes and the numbers vary from day to day,,,

We are taking a day off on account of rain and 35 km headwinds. Tomorrow should be free of rain but we don't know about the winds. The young couple on a tandem preceding us out of Cache Creek have quit, rented a van and drove home on account of the weather. Can't say I blame them.

From Taber we headed to Medicine Hat and then to Piapot, population 86, across the Saskatchewan border. We did 123 km with a pretty good tailwind. At the visitor centre, 40 kms inside Sask we were approached by an RCMP officer who said that he had had a complaint about 2 cyclists who had a dog with them. The complaint centred on dog-abuse as it was alleged that the animal could not keep up with the cyclists. The officer took our names, as the colour of our jackets matched the description, but accepted our statement that we had never owned a dog. Someone must have mistaken our trailer for an animal, there are liquor stores everywhere, even at gas stations... See how close you can get to ending up in the slammer in red neck country. We didn't say anything about the countless empty beer cans along the side of the roead: obviously the police have better things to do than checking for drunk drivers...Nor did we complain about some trucks passing about an inch from our elbows in spite of double lanes. Ram trucks (two syllables, pronounced Rahjum in a basso profundo) seem to be the favourite here.

Yesterday we made for Swift Current but one of us was tired and we only made it half way against a 20 km headwind. We are now at about 1850 kms, we are slowly heading east when conditions permit. Two weeks to get through Saskatchewan and Manitoba and into Ontario.  We are not doing too badly, all things considered.

We will write again as soon as we have internet access: public libraries seem to be the place to go, thanks, Leah, for the hint.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Taber, Alberta

From Cranbrook, after a 2 day rain delay, to Jaffrey (52 km). We wanted to go to Elko, but the one and only motel there is occupied by CP crews which makes the motel owners happy but the tourists less so,,, Then on to Fernie, Blairmore and Pincher Creek. Yesterday in one shot through to Lethbridge (109 km) and today into the headwinds to Taber. Prevailing westerlies my ass...Rain is forecast tomorrow and the day after, we'll have to see whether we will brave the elements or not. Into Lethbridge we (or rather Brigitte) noticed that bicycles are not allowed on the highway. I was hanging on to the handlebars at 55 km/hr downhill when the sign came. I can just imagine the discussion with the local fuzz: "but officer we were going too fast to make the turn with only a 50 meter warning. Besides, there was no indication as to where we SHOULD go." Still, you should have gotten off the highway and how you get to the other end of town is your problem." Typical COPout....

Distance is now almost 1600 kms and we are in Alberta, across the Crow. BC was tough, what with all the hills, and while there are still some rolling hills in AB we expect to start doing 100km per day as soon as the weather starts cooperating.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Cranbrook and raining.........

Yes, the usual. Three days of work and then rain again. Are now in Cranbrook after a longish day in the saddle yesterday: a record (for us) 109 kms and crossing a time zone. Today rain and we are finally looking for decent rain gear so that we can save some money on motels. Looking forward to crossing into Alberta in the next few days and anticipate being able to start camping so that we do not arrive destitute at the other end. If you see cyclists begging cap in hand on the side of the road spare us a thought...Yesterday the hills were a lot flatter than we were used to, 2 to 3 degrees and we could get a decent average. We did have some rain but dried out after the rain stopped. The weather has been atrocious.

We anticipate saddling up again tomorrow, rain or shine and expect the Crowsnest pass in two days.

as you can see it was not raining.......

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Argenta, BC

Just 11 kms short of the first 1'000! I was briefly thinking of just going around in circles to make up the 11 kms but thought that a little immature. Left Revelstoke after a day's rain delay (Revelstuck?) and caught the noon ferry across the lake.

Just before the crossing we had a black bear encounter: the bear was just looking at the traffic on the road and minding his own business. Brigitte was suddenly doing 83 km an hour  and we arrived at the ferry with 20 minutes to spare...needless to say we did not stop, dig for the camera and ask the bear to say "cheese", so no picture, sorry.

Once on the ferry B did ask a motorist (who had stopped and taken pictures) to please email us one.....  and here it is!!!!!

On the other side we walked the bikes uphill and then proceeded to Halcyon Hot Springs where, at a price, we recovered in the pools and watched the Canucks win their second game.
Then on to Nakusp and New Denver. ARE THERE NO FLAT ROADS IN BC??? Brother, 85 kms of up and down. We were pretty bushed after climbing to 800 meters at Summit Lake and a sneaky little hille just 4 kms befor New Denver.

Yesterday Bruce and Cottie thankfully picked up our luggage in the morning after which Cottie led the way along a backroad trail, cutting off part of the uphill on the way to Kaslo. The trail is an old railway track which used to run past the silver mines. The trail builders had an interesting way of crossing a river... Then on to the top at 1072 meters, the high point of the trip...and lunch with our hosts. The downhill was delightfull: 37 kms of uninterrupted descending road.

In Kaslo we visited the oldest stern paddle wheeler in Canada, taken out of service in 1957 and now beached, left the bikes in Kaslo and were driven to Argenta for a day's r&r.

We have spent this morning repacking and deciding what we don't really need after all. Hans was right: we are sending about 7 kilos home (to Lars and Sharon), after dragging it through most of BC. Tomorrow we start the last leg of BC, to Creston and Cranbrook and The Crow. Should take about six days (said he and the gods were rolling in the isles with laughter).

Monday, 16 May 2011


May 16
After disengaging ourselves, with difficulty, from the warm embrace of Otto and Hanna we left for Chase. (O&H are both a bit camera-shy!!)

We had a hard time finding the way out of town. We were prohibited from riding on the TransCanada but, in the usual way of bureaucrats, no alternative was indicated. Thankfully three ladies in a InfoTourism trailer had heard this complaint before and pointed us in the right direction. Fifteen kms later we were allowed to rejoin the highway. The rest of the ride was a piece of cake: downhill false flats all the way.

The next day a steep climb out of town got our attention immediately. The rest was up and down, but nothing too serious and we cranked 85 kms without too much trouble and we watched the first hockey game between Vancouver and San Jose (Vancouver won, Canada rocks!!!).

Today was a different story. Rain was forecast, but the roads were dry when we started out.
With a little tailwind things were fine and we visited the site of the last spike on the CP railroad (one of several...). The the rains came. The semis (trucks and trailers), of which there are many on the TCan, are not usually a huge problem, but when it starts raining things get a little hairy. The bridges are narrow and you have to wait for a break in traffic as these fellows need the entire width of their lane and don't slow down at all (time is money, and all that). Not only that, but visibility is reduced to near zero as they zip by you and throw up a curtain of water. At one point a semi coming the other way needed to pass another and this wasn't funny either. We arrived in Revelstoke cold and soaking wet and our clothes have been in the dryer for two hours already. Thankfully the motel has a hottub where we spent an hour getting warm and our fingers have loosened enough from the deathgrip on the handlebars to dig a credit card out of our wallet to keep the front desk happy. Tomorrow we will head south on the Nr. 23 into the Kootenays where the traffic should be much reduced and the forecast also looks a little better. We have been in touch with Sharon's parents and they will pick up our luggage in New Denver in two days so that we can cross the mountain range to Kazlo (1000 meters) without all that weight. We will stay with Cottie and Bruce a day or two before the last bits to the Crow's Nest pass and out of BC.
Well, this is "tomorrow" and we woke up to more of the same.......after some hard thinking we decided that within no time we would be as wet as yesterday and hence G visited the front desk again and we are staying put!!! Tomorrow, Wednesday is suppose to be a much better day! We shall see..... in the meantime B managed to download some pictures and add some coor to the blog!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Half Way through BC (we think)

Made it to Kamploops yesterday May 12 and are staying with Hanna and Otto, friends from way back when in Montreal. They've been around and have done things too, so it was interesting to catch up with them. Five days of cycling from via Chilliwack, once the rains stopped, via Yale (beyond Hope...), where we were invited to stay in (another) Otto's trailer overnight, then Boston Bar, Spences Bridge, Cache Creek and to Kamloops. There are seven tunnels after Yale: you are sent across the road and are invited to bike or walk along a narrow sidewalk, without railings, muddy and full of debris, while the semis roar by in both directions. Pretty intimidating and dangerous: people get killed every year. BC does itself no favours by not improving the lot of cyclists along this stretch of the Trans Canada. Two of the tunnels have lights, activated by means of a button, to warn traffic that there are cyclists in the tunnel, but only one set of lights worked.

The Fraser Valley has train tracks on boths sides: Both CN and CP operate huge trainsets, up to 180 wagons, pushed and pulled by three or more locomotives, go up and down the valley on the way into the prairies from the coast and the other way around.

The stretch to Kamloops was a little strange: the maps said that, yes, you are going up but you go down into Kamloops. Turns out that the downhill comes just before Kamloops and to get to Otto and Hanna's you have to climb another 150 meters. Thankfully Otto picked up our luggage at the bottom, as the day was hard enough with about 800 vertical meters up and the first serious headwinds of the trip. We had an interesting conversation with a cafe owner in Savona, who told us that the sockeye salmon come all the way up here from the Pacific coast. They swim up the Thompson, then the North Thompson all the way to the Columbia Icefields to spawn. Apparently it is quite a sight.

After a day's rest (and laundry!) we will attack the second half: three or so days to Revelstoke, then down to Cranston and the Crowsnest pass into Alberta. We should be well clear of the hardest part of the trip, BC, a few days before the end of the month. We've covered 560 kms and are averaging 70 kms per day, when not held up by weather.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

On the Road...

This past Monday it rained of course. What with the crappy spring Victoria has had this did not surprise us. The Brentwood Bay ferry had stopped running at midnight the day before and thus was not an option to bypass the dangerous Malahat. Lars offered to drive us past the pass on his way to his cob house building site and dropped us in Duncan. We waited for the worst of the rain to stop and got busy. Sixty five kms along the busy Trans Canada later we arrived at Bob and Marion's, old friends from our Kanata days. We spent an evening in their wonderful home as well as the following day, well some of it as they drove us around the northern end of Vancouver Island.

Visited Mount Washington, hoping for a hike, but the 18 meters (!!!) of snow they had was still largely present and the trails were still buried. On Monday we watched the election results and were pleased with the Conservative majority as well as with Elisabeth May's election, whose presence, we are sure, will change the politics in the House. The Bloc is gone, which is okay for a party which, with Federal funds, advocates the breakup of Canada. Anywhere else this would be called seditious!.Bob and Marion insisted on getting up at 06:30 the next morning to see us off.

Thanks again for your hospitality!

Enjoying a real German meal in Port Aberni

We made the 08:30 ferry to the mainland, which was a good thing, as we had lots of trouble finding our way through hilly Vancouver on our way to Langley. Arrived at Trix and Hans' at 17:45 as promised... Tough day, with full luggage. Trix made spaghetti and the four of us had a long and animated chat about our experiences. They are avid long distance (also across Canada!) tandem riders and have ridden as well as hike the trail to Santiago. They are of Dutch origins as well and emigrated around the same time as I did. Hans rode out in the rain this morning to point us in the right direction. Thanks guys!!

Riding along 0 Ave, along the border with our paranoid friends to the south was a little unnerving, what with border patrols and cameras. Now we are at the lovely B&B of Lynne and Jim resting after another day of 80 kms.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Getting ready.......

April 27, and it is still cold and rainy here in Victoria. We have also had some beautiful days, the gardens are already full of colorful flowers and many streets here in Victoria are lined with hundreds of pink flowering cherry trees.

We have now been biking since April 9th and we have about 800km in our legs, mind you the legs are not necessarily the problem..... Every day we are getting fitter and the loops we are doing are getting easier. Gerry biked our usual 45km hilly loop with the loaded trailer yesterday and it did not slow us down very much at all, which is nice to know. Below pictures were taken at Mile "0" which is down at the Pacific coast at the end or better the beginning of Douglas Street in Victoria. Douglas turns into the Trans Canada Highway 1 outside Victoria.

We will leave Victoria on Monday, May 2nd, direction Nanaimo and we will stay with Bob and Marion Huck for a few days. Bob and Marion used to live in Kanata, they moved out to Vancouver island once the kids left home, interesting, all three boys have settled out West as well!
In Nanaimo we will take the BC ferry across to Horseshoe Bay and from there we head direction Hope. We do realise that once we hit the trails / roads on mainland BC it will get hillier quickly and we will have to do shorter distances to start with. It does not matter, we have time and as long as we are having fun that is all that matters!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Victoria, Vancouver Island

our home for the month of April!,-123.346989&num=1&t=h&sll=49.891235,-97.15369&sspn=41.251906,78.310547&ie=UTF8&ll=48.413479,-123.348184&spn=0.020623,0.038238&z=15&layer=c&cbll=48.417828,-123.34693&panoid=SK45bLMQzMjjM2TW5UCvdQ&cbp=12,330.99,,0,16.57

Here we are in Lotusland. Helped Lars and his ladies move to a new location, which is when I found out just how unfit I (g) was! We have acquired new bikes, which will be ready by Tuesday. Meanwhile we tootle around on loaners from the bike shop, trying to get in a workout per day. The new bikes are Surly bikes, with one Bob Yak trailer. We prefer this config to panniers which cause more wind resistance. The bikes are standard bikes: we would have liked to try recumbents, but people pointed out that they don't do well on soggy terrain. As we expect to follow much of the Trans Canada Trail we decided not to experiment. The next few days look like rain, unusual for this time of year. Our apartment is comfortable, but expensive and we are motivated to get going. The distance looks more like 8'000 km to Halifax and 9'000 to St. John's Newfoundland. Daunting, but we'll see.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

a map of Canada

this map shows the Trans-Canada Trails, however we will try to travel West to East without venturing to far North into Alberta and surely not Yukon or Northwest Territories! Not that these provinces wouldn't be worth visiting....but we feel that going W to E is enough of a challenge as it is!
We hope to be able to post a map on which we can mark or progress so stay tuned....

Friday, 18 March 2011

Back in Canada

We arrived in Ottawa on March 12.
Having enjoyed 2 seasons of summer (first in Turkey, sailing from Alanya to the Black Sea and back April 2010 - October 2010, followed by traveling for 4 months in Southern Africa, Oct 2010 to Feb 2011) it took some getting used to the cold temperatures here in Ottawa! Minus 10 C is not so bad in absolute terms, but the change from 35 C in Cape Town was a bit of a shock.
Daughter Kim picked us up and we spent a day with her and hubby Sebastien before, in turn, we drove them to the airport for a well-deserved vacation in Cancun, Mexico. We have been in touch with some of our friends from our Canada days and have run into Canadians who are interested in our plans.

Next on the bucket list is the cycling across Canada, from West to East. On March 30 we will leave Ottawa for Vicoria, on Vancouver Island, to meet up with son Lars and his girlfriend Sharon and start preparing, read buying bikes and getting into shape.
Expected departure date is May 1, by which time the roads across the Rocky Mountains should be at least free of snow. We intend to cover an average of at least 50 km per day, which should put us near Halifax in about four months. If we can do better, we will. Today we met someone advocating recumbent bikes, which are quicker and are easier on back and bum. They are also much more expensive, so we need to see if we can get a trial ride and if there are used bikes available in Victoria.

It will be easier to maintain this blog than the cumbersome website where we have been writing for the past 7.5 years, detailing our adventures on our sailing yacht Octopus I. More later...