The continued path 

Happy New Year.

We had planned to share a reflective post.  A few times, earlier than this, actually. In September, sitting together at a bar in Halifax, we drafted a top ten list (see below). In November, we attended a TEDx Seattle conference together, and pondered the metaphor of being asked to fold down our name tags to indicate the tangible marks of interactions and wisdom of others we met in the day, with connections to those who “marked our maps” along the way, and along the road. In December, we texted each other photos of our independent journey across a long awaited bike path across Lake Washington. (included)

Why now, then, on this new year’s day in the sunshine in Seattle? The final stroke of inspiration comes this time directly from the paddlers we had met in Kenora, who wrote yesterday of their own overdue reflection. Cass wrote on their blog that life got in the way; they were busy doing good things. Her gem is here, “And that is the essence of what was so incredible about our summer. There was very little to get in the way.”

 

Don’t push the river, it flows by itself.

Keep pedaling. Ride on, write on, right on.

 

In fact, since our independent returns to Seattle, Olive and Glory have never been far from. We both have the luxury to ride regularly, and have been blessed this fall and winter with unseasonably drier than most days. I continue to commute, park Olive behind my desk and great students at the door next to a poster of me wearing wings from a public art piece along the Route Verte in Montreal.  Irena increased her bike commuting, taking Glory the long way to cross the lake until last week. Last week our region opened a much overdue, new 14′ wide bike lane on the north side of the state route 520 bridge, ultimately shortening and easing her daily commute! I rode in the sunshine on the opening day and texted Irena a photo. She rode it the next day, to work, and texted me back.

So here we are, Olive and Glory, Irena and Jess, all smiles, riding a new path, at long last!

Here’s that top ten:

10 provinces

9 pictures with giant things

8 ferry boat crossings

7 thousand kilometers

6 worn out bike shorts

5 time zones

4 quad tan lines

3 full moons

2 gals on bikes

1 big country

 

Thank you all for following along, riding along, encouraging us, hosting us, entertaining us, feeding us, inspiring us, supporting us, and celebrating with us.

Keep pedaling. Ride on, write on, right on.

officially graduated (1)

Advertisements

Day 84: Crossing my own finish line

September 15: Butter Pot Provincial Park to St. John’s, 41 km

By ten in the morning, I made it to St. John’s.! I couldn’t even eat my muffin or yesterday’s breakfast sandwich at camp, I was so excited or anxious, not sure which. Google offered two ways to get downtown and I was stressed for about 5 km that the route that I selected, which took me off the TCH, would mean missing the city sign. What relief when I spotted it! There was a path through the tall and wet grass and I positioned my bike next to the sign in pure joy, just like other cross-Canada riders before me have done. 

After three month of being inseparable from my bike, Glory, I turned her over to the helpful bike shop guys to get her boxed up for the flight home. 

And just like that I walked with my bags to the hostel. A surreal feeling of completion and one that took some grit to accomplish. At some point, maybe this will all sink in but for now, I am going to drink some good coffee and beer and enjoy being a tourist in St. John’s on foot. 

Stats: 

ZERO flat tires

8100 km of road (5000 miles); 10 provinces; 6 time zones; 84 days on the road; 73 biking days; 49 nights of camping; 9 ferry boats, biggest day of climbing 1962 m (Cabot Trail); total trip ascend 47,643 m (156,000 ft or more than five times up Mt. Everest); one great riding partner, Jessica; support crew of so many, especially my Justin. 

Canada is a big country. Next time, I am biking across a smaller one!

Day 82 and 83: The Final Countdown

September 13: Gander to Clarenville, 146 km; September 14: Clarenville to Butter Pot Provincial Park, 155 km

Blue skies and sun returned. Everything is more enjoyable when the weather is better. Take me out for a beer and I’ll tell you about the hill climbs, the headwind and the remoteness. I was grateful to see other cyclists, chatted it up with the few fellow campers and gas station attendants “enjoyed” my company as I finished my just purchased chocolate milk or coke. Highway motels with a “dining room” were appreciated when the sky stormed. It only seemed right to camp the last night of this journey and I rolled into the Provincial Park with about an hour of daylight. Although I planned to cook up the dinner I have been carrying since North Sydney, I ate my subway sandwich instead, showered and went looking for moose. The park attendant assured me that every evening at dusk there is a moose hanging around near the comfort station. Not having seen a moose since BC, I waited and waited but no luck. Just rabbits. I can’t believe I have cycled all of Ontario and Newfoundland without seeing a single moose. 



Stats: 

Two days of hilly miles 

Newfoundland beer 

Sharing stories on the side of the road with fellow cyclists and an Ironman 

49th night in this tent; Campground closes in four days

St. John’s tomorrow!!! 

Day 80: Jackets and motels

September 11: South Brook to Bishop’s Falls, 105 km 

I am starting to get worried that if this weather keeps up, I will bike across all of Newfoundland but not really “see” it. I salvaged the day by playing tourist in Bishop’s Falls, my destination for the day. 

I couldn’t resist a dam selfie. 

Stats: 

105 km
People are heating their homes; furnaces have been turned on

Wore 3 jackets

A motel stay; the rainy and windy night confirmed my good decision. Based on the forecast, I might have a few motels ahead. 

Day 79: Getting there

September 10: Deer Lake to South Brook, 135 km
I have carried this paper map of Canada with me for almost 5000 miles and for the second time on this journey I sat down to update this low tech option. It’s satisfying to see the end in sight. Canada is a big country. 

The first time I heard the term “brook”, it was from a construction guy who was telling me how close the cayote was. The conversation occurred somewhere between Cheticamp and Ingonish on the Cabot Trail. I don’t think I ever heard this word before this trip but between Cape Breton and Newfoundland, I have seen it on many, many creek signs and finally took a picture. One of two today. 

Stats: 

135 km

Roadside burger and fresh (potatoes were pulled out of the ground this morning) fries 

Another campsite by a lovely lake. Salmon jumping. Only two other campers other than the seasonals. Temperature is dropping but I wasn’t cold last night in my sleeping bag, down jacket, long sleeve wool shirt, tights and warm socks. 

Day 78: Soul Crushing Wind

September 9: Barachois Pond Provincial Park to Deer Lake, 120 km

The headwind on top of all the hills was soul crushing today. I moved slowly. 60 km of remote Trans Canada Highway with barely any traffic and no services. With all the lakes, rivers, hills and trees, this island reminds me of BC. It’s still early for fall colors. 

Corner Brook, a city with all the amenities, was welcomed. Tired, I took a long break. Traffic picked up as I got back on the road and a day cyclist came up next to me. We briefly chatted and he offered to take me on a quiet road, paralleling the highway. Richard and I rode side by side for the next 20 km and I learned all about his family, work, wife and Newfoundland life. We passed by a ski area. As a fellow cyclist, he had lots of info about the road and services along the way. 

It was a welcomed distraction from the headwind. When we were ready to part ways, he told me to take his number in case I have questions about the island or need some help. Such is the Newfoundland way. 

Stats: 

120 WINDY and HILLY kilometers

Honks of support (I think) from passing cars and trucks

First day of Moose hunting and I saw quite a few quads loaded on trucks probably going hunting 

Country music blaring couple camp sites over late into the night; it’s Saturday night.