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

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 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.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Otta- what?!

We have been making our way west, but not as fast as planned, due to a rediculous heat wave with 100+ temps. (thats over 30 for all you canuks). We have been hitting a lot of ice cream shops and swimming holes, just to stay alive! We saw Ottawa in a blur, but still managed an adventure or two. Mostly, just enjoying the rolling farmlands of quebec and (finally!) Ontario.
i cant resist a bucket of water dumped over my head on a hot day- thank you splash parks!

We got a new frying pan! Now we can make more than one-pot meals, and here, scrambled eggs and asparagus! Voila!

yup, we hit 3000 miles! You'd think we'd be farther west, right? Us too.

The friendly farmers are always willing to offer a peice of land for camping!

Experimenting with some more advanced cooking skills- Pad Thai!

Just your average candelight dinner on the ottawa river!

a nice view of the Parliament (its like canada's white house), crossing the bridge over to Ottawa

We arrived at the Parliament building right as they were starting their noon yoga class, so we joined in. We got to see the parliament from all different angles! It was a great stretch, except for the sweating profusely in the noon sun part.

On the hottest day so far, which was like 100 + a billion with humidity, we didnt make it very far on bike, but we DID find a great afternoon swimming hole!

We realized there were blueberries right on the roadside- yes please!!!

Today we are finally showered and happy thanks to a couple we met in Deep River, Ontario, who have given us a bed, showers, pizza, and wifi. Once again, we love!

Monday, July 18, 2011

We put the Real in Montreal

Montreal- planned to stay one day, but got sucked into this awesome city for three and a half! A few weeks back we met some local cycle tourists ending their journey, on their way home to a town called Montreal. They told us if we went through to call and stay with them. So we did! We made it from quebec city to montreal in two days, one of them involving another 100 mile day! woohoo! We pulled into town late thursday night and our new friends guided us along the bike paths to their place near downtown. Had pizza waiting. they really know how to host! They showed us the city, the shopping, the festivals and cathedrals, the bike paths and the fireworks, fed us amazing homecooked meals and made sure we stayed hydrated. It wasnt hard to stay longer than planned here! And our old friend Randy Blades, who is living in NY, drove up for a day to play with us. What a champ.
The city has a bike rental program where they have these Bixi  bike stations/docks all over town, and so you can pick one up one spot, ride it around, and drop it off wherever you end up. Pretty sweet, and even though we had our own rides, we picked some up to play around town with. 

found an alley ful of random games, now we can say we played hockey in canada!

randy, picking out the perfect Bixi.

Saturday night rode bikes to the bridge for fireworks and an awesome night ride around the island and across the bridge. Definitely the highlight of the weekend.

Our crew- Randy, mary and brad, and Jackie and Jesse, our hosts/ tour guides.

They called this mac and cheese, i call it gourmet home cookin!
Using a rest stop for what its intended for- resting!

the fuel of the gods- chocolate milk!!!
Well, we have had lots of fun and our pictures cant really even show it all, but now its time to get down to business and head west! Next stop, Ottawa, and then west west west!!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

je me souviens

Due to some minor, yet time consuming difficulties with the mail, we ended up spending a fair amount of time in Quebec city.  However if you're stuck in one place for awhile this was a great place to do it.   Mary had a friend of hers from her mission in Guatemala who lives here.  Stébane and his wife Catherine played amazing hosts for us and made this break from the saddle very entertaining.  We toured old Quebec inside and out, and with the ongoing festivals there was something going on everywhere we looked.  We took a dip and cooled off a few times.  Picked and ate probably too many strawberries.  Wonderfully overfed by Stébane`s  family.  Ate all the local favorites.  Got our bikes all tuned up and ready for another 2500 miles. Took a side tour of Jacques Cartier national park. And slept in a bit too.  We loved everything about this city.  The history is rich.  The people are active and so helpful.  Bike paths, and other cyclists galore.  The only thing I would have changed is teaching Mary and I a little french before entering this region, but we got along ok.

If you notice anything about this photo, I want you to admire two things.
Well toned thighs, and well tanned lower thighs.

The oh so hospitable Gélinas family.

Old Quebec from the ferry.

The local secret chocolate shop, Chocolat favoris.  The line out the door into the street is an instant testament of how good this place is.  Dipped in the good stuff , these babies have a quarter inch thick shell.  

Pretty sure Mary ate more strawberries than she put in the box.

Poutine.  This Canadian treat consists of french fries, gravy, cheese curds, beef, and sausage.   

Who needs a tanning bed when you have bike shorts.

The Queens flag.

Mary obeys all the posted rules.

An amazing veiw after being completly drenched by the passing storm.  In Jacques Cartier National park.

Loving the summer wildflowers in the park

the Jacques Cartier river

Friday, July 8, 2011

Everyday Adventures in Quebec

Well, in case you were wondering how a day goes on our trip, here are a few examples of our favorite experiences the past few days. 
So we roll into a town about 7 pm and start asking around for a grocery store. We ask a guy who happens to own the store, and tells us its closed but he will let us in. Then, we ask where a good place to camp is, and he says he happens to own a vacant lot on the water down by the wharf, and we can camp there! awesome!
Then, we are riding through a little town, and a car pulls over to talk to us. Its an old man named Jerry who says he is a cyclist and is on his way to go sailing and do we want to come? Sure! So we bike to the marina and board the 16 foot sailboat, Mockingbird, and go out on the St. Lawrence for a couple hours. What a nice and random break! 
These are just a few of our ramdom adventures, and well, bike touring is by far the best way to travel!!
Quebec is famous for strawberries, and we happened to be here at the right time! YUM!

B-rad surprised me with wildflowers in my handlebar bag  for our `two month on the road` mark. awww :)

we met some awesome friends through warm showers (check out the side link) who let us camp in their yard and hang out with them- great people! Its always good to meet other bike tourist and swap stories and get advice!

our capsite in Kamouraska, where the grocer let us stay. 

The Mockingbird. B-rad even got to drive, and Jerry said he must have norwegian blood because he was a great helmsman.

Biking along HWY 132 along the St. Lawrence river... BEAUTIFUL!!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Well, two weeks after leaving Goose Bay, we finally made it back to civilization! It was a few weeks filled with mostly gravel road, lots of great wilderness campsites and sunsets, lots of dusty days and big trucks flying past us, and LOTS of steep steep hills. If we are not in shape for the rockies after this, we never will be. Our bikes held up great, with the exception of shredding only one tire, for which we had a spare. And the high prices of food and snacks and dealing with lots of dirt road construction was worth it for the priceless feeling of finishing what all the locals said we were crazy for trying. And now, we are happy to be on pavement and a place where there are POEPLE to talk to!  With nearly 2 months and 2300 miles under our tires, we are now headed west and on to the mainland of our cross canada adventure!
Paved Paradise

The dirt behind the grader is way to soft unless you follow in its foot steps

Dorkas works in the Scale shack weighing all the big dumptrucks that kept passing us.  She then dumped a truck load of food onto our bikes.

Safety is our number one goal here at churchill falls.... We toured the hydro electric plant 1000ft under ground...shocking

CBC news interviewed us in Labrador city

You don`t really begin to feel like your in a different country until you don`t speak the language.  This is the border of where English is no longer normal, and we are so helpless when it comes to french.

uhhh Canada is big. Spending our day hiding from the rain.

These guys are also hiding from the rain.

We biked 100 miles in one day just to end with this. Now thats a real century ride. Hopefully the bike computer is Y2K compliant.

Worn out after a 100 mile day. 45 miles of which, was dirt.

This is what it looks like everytime a truck passes you in either direction.

pedaling through the ``eye of Quebec``

Trail Showers

Sunset in Rimouski

The very small LDS branch in Rimouski, thanks again Elders for translating.