Thursday, September 29, 2011

Adventure with a song

The end of trip slide show is complete. This was shown at our presentation we did at Wasatch Touring, the wonderful shop downtown Salt Lake that helped us out so much.  We don't have the greatest slide show making skills but its a learn by doing thing for us just as bike touring was for us 4 months ago.  It was so hard to take a summers worth of amazing photos and experiences, then whittle them down into the length of one song. Almost as hard as it is to answer the most commonly asked question that we have been getting since returning, "what was your favorite part?" I hope this slide show can show that there was just to much awesome to have one favorite.




In other news Mary's sister Cassie who attended our presentation was inspired to write down a few words expressing how she felt.  We totally loved it and just couldn't not share it.


A good bye Poem for you guys!
Oh the places you've gone!
Labrador, Maine, Montana and Such,
Places these feet of mine might never touch!
Riding your bike,
You hauled all your gear!
Met new friends and spent part of your year...
You know what you learned,
And you learned what you know.
I bet you didn't expect just how much you would grow.
Thru dirt roads and trails,
Up hills and down sails,
Over bridges, and boat rides,
On high tides and on low tides,
You kept peddling onward,
And upward and down,
You kept it an adventure,
 avoided a frown.
You ate lots of ice cream,
And slept in strange places.
You'll never forget those kind helping faces.
They invited you in,
As old friends do,
They fed you good food,
offered beds too!
You made it home safe,
From the places you've been.
How we've worried and watched,
Before it even began.
I'm happy you did it!
Admire it so,
What a long way to travel
On the tips of your toe.
So I bid you farewell,
As you move up to AK!
Drive safely and quickly,
But do stop to play:)
Oh the places you've been...
And the places to go,
Thru mountains, plains,
And now up to the snow!
Love you Mary-b-rat:)
-By Cassie Jacobson

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The End

Four and a half months. 6,447 miles. Nine provinces, 6 states, 6 flat tires. 14 bear sightings. One Epic Bike Ride.
Well, we made it. Thursday, September 15 we finally rolled into Salt Lake City to end our summer ride. We were met by friends and family riding collectively with us almost the whole 90 mile day. What an awesome way to finish!
Thanks to everyone who helped us along the way with shelter, food, friendship or even just a friendly wave- this has been an incredible journey and all of you were the reason. We have been inspired by the kindness and generosity we experienced all summer.
But the end of one adventure is always just the beginning of another- after spending some time with friends and family here in Utah, we will be driving our fully loaded car (i know, a welcome change ;) up to Alaska to see what the north has in store for us.
If you are in the Salt Lake area, come on over to Wasatch Touring for a short presentation we are doing about our ride! Its Wed, Sept. 28th at 7pm. 100 south 700 east. salt lake city.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Home Stretch

From Glacier national park, we headed south through Missoula and over to West Yellowstone, through the park and into Grand Teton National Park. SO many great experiences- we came around a corner and almost ran into a bison, we crossed the great divide 6 times, with the highest elevation being over 8000 ft, and were photographed by several tourists, and passed our 6000 mile mark. It made us feel pretty proud of what we are accomplishing :) We were met in Jackson by lots of old friends, a rafting trip down the Snake river, and a BBQ before heading toward Salt Lake for the final 300 miles. Bring on the home stretch!

adventures through Yellowstone and Grand Teton
Brad and Mary in 20 years...

All our buddies in Jackson- what a welcoming committee!

Leaving Jackson, bound for Salt Lake!

oh the bike tan :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

An Ode to my wife


I just needed to take a minute and brag about how rad my adventure partner is.  We have been asked numerous times, if I had to talk Mary into doing a trip like this.  And I love being able to answer that she was equally if not more excited to irresponsibly drop everything and spend 4+ months on a bicycle.  This girl has been so tough taking on the challenges that came around every bend in the road.  When my knee was uncooperative at the beginning of the trip, she pulled the trailer for about a thousand miles alone refusing to give it back until she was confident it wouldn't hurt me.  When she could tell I was not riding my best she would find creative ways to get me pedaling.  She is willing and excited for whatever experience we come across.  Sometimes while riding she just gets so excited that I can see her bouncing as she pedals towards that days adventure.  The trip has not always been sunshine and downhill, and Mary handles the unawesome with ease.   With almost a year and a half under our wedding rings, I have been able to learn more about her these last four months than ever.  Riding side by side we do a lot of chatting and thinking which turns into more chatting and deeper thinking.  Spending time in strangers homes we have noted and shared what we have liked and learned from each couple.  We have been able to share so many amazing memories together, and spend every moment side by side that I believe has helped us build a hecka super strong foundation for our lives together.  Everyday I ride behind this girl and just think about how lucky I am to have such a rockstar wife, who is willing and wanting to spend this time together getting crazy.  Many have asked us if we are riding for a cause or a charity, we like to answer that we are riding to raise a marriage.  Thank you Mary for being that girl.  I still love you more everyday.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Going to the Sun in Glacier

Well, we made it out of Canada, and are headed south toward Salt Lake City, Utah. Its a pretty exciting way home- we have been biking in the mountains since we left Alberta, which has been great! Legs burning up a mountain are much more tolerable than weeks of headwinds, for us anyway. Our first stop in the states? Glacier National Park, taking the famous Going to the Sun road. It is a long mountain pass that cuts right through the heart of the park, through some pretty stunning mountains. We were so excited, and rightly so- it was AWESOME! The views, the downhill, everything. And luckily, we hit it on a good day- the next day, it snowed :)

we finally got through the plains!!! WAHOO!!! what doesnt kill you makes you stronger, right?

Oh rockies- bring on your goodness.

Gorgeous morning to a gorgeous ride- glacier national park

Going to the Sun

Almost at the top!

We went on a hike at the top of the pass with a friend we met at our campsite- Kirk the tugboat captain. What a gorgeous trail- but who knew after biking over 5000 miles hiking could make us sore!?

The top of our first mountain pass- Logan pass on the Going to the Sun road through Glacier National Park. 12 miles of uphill is better than headwinds any day!

Making friends with the 'other bikers'

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fooled you!, Suprise ending!


Riding through the plains has been tough on us mentally and physically.  Most of the time we have had the dreaded headwinds keeping us from breaking any land speed records.  The treeless, rolling hills have their own beauty but that got old for us pretty quick.   Throughout a day we have many phases of our own energy levels.  We have experimented a lot with several different (legal) ways of giving us that extra boost we need throughout the day.  Most of the time we just need something new, cool, fresh and exciting to get our spirits going.  Often times this ends up in the form of a milkshake.  After a tall cold milkshake in a small town diner I am instantly ready to crank out another 20 30 miles no problem.  We have decided that for us to really give us the boost we need for the rest of the trip though we would need something else.  A full slow morning had a thinking hard of the possibilities.  We again needed the something new, cool, fresh and exciting to kick start us for the last leg or legs of our summer.  Brad had the idea of getting a puppy.  We could start it out in a handlebar basket and train it to tour with us, it would also double as great kitchen clean up and a bear alarm.  Mary (being the slightly more practical one) thought up a surprise ending to our trip.  We tossed a coin and Mary still said no to the puppy idea.  So here is the NEW and hopefully Final plan... We are turning south.  From Lethbridge, Alberta we are going southbound to Glacier national park in our home country of the United States. (finally Payday candy bars will be available again)  Then we are going on a National park tour home, through Yellow Stone, and Grand Teton.  Probably spend a couple days with all our friends in Jackson hole Wyoming (where we both worked as river guides last year) then through Logan and onto Salt Lake city.  Whew there it is. We chose this for many reasons, but really we wanted to see some good friends.  From Salt Lake we will probably only stick around for a few days, then we are driving to our original destination of Alaska.  Then we have to get real, find jobs quick before we have to sell a kidney and start our new Alaskan lives.  We are super excited about this plan, riding through some epic country, and ending hopefully with a warm welcome from friends (preferably with food and hugs)  We have already pedaled more than 5300 miles which is more than most other cross Canada tours, so I do want to stress that we are not cheating, or quiting early, just continuing to make this trip our own, and the best.  Since making this route change our spirits have been at nose-bleeding altitudes and our daydreams of riding the homestretch are storybook.  Hope to see you all soon.
\brad was so excited to reach Alberta he crack climbed up the sign!

This guy saw us riding in the heat in Medicine Hat and invited us to take shelter at his house- including great meals, laundry, a bed for the night, AND he tuned up our bikes! Thanks Doug!

little tent on the prairie...

While riding through Taber we couldnt turn down signs for a cornfest! We showed up and the locals gave us free corn, elephant ears, and cold bottles of water. A fest worth stopping for!

we got the first ears of the festival!

everyone says they are riding for some cause, we are riding for a marraige :)

B-rad working on some of his tricks.

this is mary trying to put on a positive face for the constant headwinds...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saskatchewan- hard to spell, easy to draw...

We are well into to Plains- for the last week we have been biking through Saskatchewan- we've had lots more adventures, and met some great people who have infused some energy back into us. We camped through a severe thunder and lighting storm in which Mary was sure we would be struck and killed, battled some intense headwinds (only getting 26 miles one day) and been invited to stranger's houses for a warm shower, a bed, and a good meal. We have been magically surrounded by butterflies and dragonflies, and biked along endless amber waves of grain. My favorite part of our prairie rides? The skies. Always big and full of majestic clouds- even though the plains can be boring at times, they have a beauty that we are learning to appreciate after weeks of being a part of them. 

A birds eye view of our typical camp kitchen, with the special extra of an occasional picnic table.

i was a sunflower once for halloween, so i feel right at home.

just keep adding up those miles!!!

Ron, our friend we met in Regina, fed us a delicious meal and had a pretty complete bike shop in his garage! What a great place to stop!

sometimes stealthy campsites are hard to find on the plains, so this wide open field was all we could find.

Brad making friends with the locals and showing the effects of his 'no shaving on the trip' experiement.
Up next, Alberta!!! Keep following, we love to hear that people are still keeping track of us now and then!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Route changes and flat roads


Our previous post stated that our plan was to keep heading west and end at Prince Rupert, British Columbia, then take a ferry to our final destination of Alaska.  This also came with a predicted timeline of 5 weeks left (now 4).  This has all changed.  As it turns out you must be a millionaire to take the ferry even with just a bike.  So we did some heavy thinking and looked over some maps, we have talked about some options and have become very big fans of google maps.  Anyways we are pulling out the Gnarly card and pushing it on up to Alaska the old fashioned way, by road.  Furthermore we couldn't stand the thought of doing all this sight seeing and then saving a couple days by going around Banff and Jasper National parks, so we are headed through to Calgary then up through the parks and north to Alaska.  From where we are now that's about 2200 miles to go.  We have been averaging over 400 a week (450 mostly but lets round down because we have big mountains ahead) and so this will be about 5 and a half weeks till we are in the final frontier.  Once back on US soil I don't know how much further we will pedal or maybe call it good enough because after all the blog is only called canada2ak and not throughAK. 
     I myself am feeling the effects of a ton of biking, and little rest.  My body is pretty tired and sometimes it is tough to keep going.  I don't like to admit this but its true.  I don't have thoughts of really quiting or giving up, but I do daydream of sleeping in a bed for a week straight.  We have come over 4600 miles so far and the whole trip has already been the most amazing time of my life, however I think I am beginning to mentally wind down and its getting tough sometimes to keep motivated.  I also blame a ton of this on the newly discovered flatness of the roads.  We were originally really excited for the prairies because we thought flat roads would cruise by easily.  Not the case.  The flatness turns it into more of a treadmill.  There is no variation and you just keep pushing all day long.  Its been tough and I know its going to get harder before its easier but I am already excited for the rocky mountains.  Anyways, I hope this doesn't come off as complaining, or negative, because we are still having amazing experiences and still excited about the trip, but we are human and getting a little worn down.... it must be old age kicking in.
video     Yesterday we beat our long distance record again and rode from sunrise to sunset rocking out a cool 128 miles.  That got us to a campground right outside of Brandon.  Brymar RV and Campground, we were super tired and it was getting dark when we pulled in but the owner Bryan took us to the best site and filled us full of firewood and made sure we were all taken care of.  He just opened the place a month ago and has a really nice place going but not many campers yet, So if your in the area and need a place to stay the night this guy will make you feel as though your family, another golden Canadian.  -By Brad

We rode a little corner of Minnesota for three reasons.  We were only allowed 3 months of being in Canada at one time.  It was shorter. And Mary really was craving a Payday candy bar which is not available in Canada.

Customs into Minnesota put us through the ringer, emptied all of our bags and drilled us hard to spill the beans.  The customs officer wouldn't even let us take her picture..... and after all that all they confiscated was a bell pepper.

This is what happens to drivers who don't give bike tourist enough room when there is no shoulder.

This is a FLATTERING picture of the road

Mama bear with 4 cubs, only 3 cubs would pose for the picture though, you can BEARly see them

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

a Superior ride

Well, the last few weeks have been busy- we biked up along the north coast of Lake Superior- the largest freshwater lake in the world! And biking on the longest national highway in the world. Pretty exciting. Lots of coastline, lots of hills, and lots of interesting people to see along the way! We hit 4000 miles and the three month mark this past week, and mapped out a potential route to Prince Rupert (on the west coast of B.C.).We decided that in case cold comes before we want it to, and so that we are not rushed for the second half of our trip, we will head to Prince Rupert and probably take the ferry up to alaska, unless we get an unusually warm fall! According to our calculations, should be there in about 5 weeks! WOW!



Met this guy- Jean- he's finishing up an 11 year walk around the world! pretty amazing guy, worth stopping to talk to! check him out at wwwalk.org



seems like every break we take nowadays, i just want to nap!

another interesting friend- this guy is running across canada, to promote awareness of prostate cancer- guys- go get checked- one finger can save your life! :) www. stepintoaction.ca


Frank, our warmshowers host in Thunder Bay- awesome guy! they had a huge BBQ full of cyclists at his place- made us want to stay longer!

the Fisk fmaily we met at church in Atikokan, the caoeing capital of canada. Pretty awesome people who fed us garden fresh food and gave us a bed and great company! Its so fun to meet new friends every day!
Well, so we are still making our way west, heading toward Winnipeg and beyond, still having lots of adventures!! Stay Tuned!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Half way recap, and FAQ











So mileage wise we figure we are over half way. Total so far we have pedaled over 3500 miles or 5632 km. We estimate that to make it all the way to Anchorage, Alaska it would be 6700 miles. This is still our hopeful destination although we are still leaving an escape route through Prince Rupert in British Columbia for if we run out of warm weather or money, in which case we will take a ferry to our slightly less but still happy ending. We are riding about 75 miles a day on a normal day and try to get crazy once a week and crank out a 100 mile ride, before our day of rest on Sundays. The last few days we have seen several other bike tourists who are headed east crossing Canada. We have talked with several bikers who say that they left Vancouver only a month and a half ago. This gives us a great deal of confidence that we can still make it but it will most likely be late September, as long as Jack Frost holds out that will work.

Our bikes and really all of our gear is holding up great. We wore out our chains and some break pads but that's going to happen after this kind of distance. Our biker tans are dark and extremely defined, complete with ankle socks and even our fingerless gloves.



Frequently asked questions.


Where are you from?

This is always a loaded question, because you never know if they want to know the beginning location of your trip or where you were raised, conceived, lived most recently, or where the IRS currently thinks your address is. So most of the time we just answer Utah.


Where did you start?

We started in Bangor, Maine on May 6th


Where are you headed?

Again kind of a complicated question. We receive looks of doubt when we answer Alaska, and often are even discouraged. Often times we just respond that the Pacific ocean is our destination. But then I always feel the need to elaborate with the details of our route since its not a direct line and I want the credit we deserve for what we have biked and when the other cross Canada bikers ask this I can't let them think we are undermileaged rookies. (still rookies just with a minor credibility)


How far do you go in a day?

We have lately set the goal at 75 miles a day. Some days we do more some days we do less, it depends on weather and whatever other distractions we encounter. Passing up on opportunities is something we actively try to avoid so often big mile days take the back seat. Our record day is 103 miles and our least is Zero. And Sundays we do our best to make it the day of rest.


What do you eat?

We eat everything. Biking all day turns us into bears after a long hibernation. We eat it all and we eat a lot. While in Canada we have been doing our best to try the local favorites, which has given me a lot of first times. I had my first Lobster, in Maine. My first raw oyster, mussel and clam in PEI. First Poutine in New Brunswick, which is now a staple. And first moose stew in Labrador. But mostly we try to cook our own food on our little camp stove. The meals we have created vary a ton depending on whats available to us. For a whole week in Labrador we enjoyed military MREs thanks to Wilf. Having spent countless weeks working in the woods and living off of dehydrated food cooked on a little stove for our work, this was nothing new for Mary and I. We are now improving our camp stove meals and expanding a bit, just last week we got crazy and bought a frying pan to add to our kitchen. Now the possibilities are endless. Whatever the meal we try our best to take advantage of the roadside veggie stands and toss in some fresh food to keep our cadence up. This morning we got a hold of some milk, mixed with the bread and eggs we bought the day before from the Mennonites, our peanut butter french toast was amazing. Quebec was a haven for roadside ice cream stands, that's a tradition I hope the rest of Canada can carry on.


What happened to Keith and Michaela?

Keith and Michaela are another couple we started our trip out with. Keith is the only one of us who had any previous bike touring experience, so he let us ride his knowing tail for a bit. Once Mary and I got the hang of the whole bike touring concept, we cut them loose. Those two have more pedaling endurance than we knew what to do with. They are now about a week ahead of us and you can follow them at http://thelifeoflarsens.blogspot.com


Where do you sleep?

Most nights we stay in our tent. Its a lovely tent, the Mountain Hardware Hammerhead3 has been amazing at keeping us dry and bug free in some pretty crazy times. We never really know where we will sleep most nights and just hope that a place opens its arms to us. Now that we have returned to more of an English speaking population we have been asking farmers for permission to camp somewhere on their land. So far no has said no and often we make friends that way. We also have been taking advantage of http://warmshowers.org which is a network of bike tourists who will open their home to you for a shower and tent space or often times even a bed. We have been warmshowers every chance we can and have met some of the coolest people through that. Also attending church is always a great way to see direct blessings through the invitations and meals we receive. If all else fails we sneak into the woods or anywhere hidden and call it home.


Whats your favorite part so far?

Big question, vague answer. The experiences. Most mornings we wake up (way later than planned) and we know we are going to bike further but we never know whats going to happen along the way. The many amazing things we have seen, the people we have met, the kindness we have felt, and the challenges we have beat. This trip is only half way through and has already been the best trip/ summer I have ever experienced. I am convinced that for me this is the best way to travel, you can't have these kind of adventures from your car or camper. You don't mix and live the place when your tucked in a hotel room. We don't move fast, and yet we still can't catch it all.