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Thursday, 21 July 2011

July 18th: Heat wave to Dryden

  Everything had to be double checked before I left the cottage. The last thing I wanted to do is have the cottage burn down because  i left velvetta cheese cooking in the oven. So once I had made my rounds I locked up and jumped on the old aluminum horse and rode on out of town.
   Downey rode into Kenora the night before and would be meeting me at the junction of hihway 71 and 17. I remember hoping I wouldn't have to wait long for him and hoped he wouldn't wait long for me. Turns out we didn't need to wait at all. We had arrived simultaniously at the junction, like salmon swiming upstream to mate, we were in perfect synchrony (except there would be no mating, unlike the salmon).
   The day was hot. Hotter than any we had experienced to date. At eight in the morning droplets of sweat were already rolling down my back. By the time Downey and I met up I had already drank both bottles of water (over a litre) and was thirsting for more. My body was acting differently than I was used to. Things that normally would take little effort would exasperate me. I didn't crave any food, just water, and my body was perpetually dripping sweat.
   At about 12pm Downey and I realised heat exhaustion was a real risk. Since we were in the land of lakes it was decided every 20k we would jump in to cool our bodies down. The first lake we came across was right next to the highway and it had a rest area right next to it for truckers. What a great place to jump in, I thought. When the coast was clear I took off my biking apparel and jumped in the lake as naked as a jay bird. the water cooled my burning flesh and euphoria came over me. the healing properties of this lake were only overshadowed by the beauty of its shores. As I frolicked in the lake Downey jumped in as well. We  were relaxing in the water when all of a sudden I heard Downey yell:

   "O my God there is a dead dog in here!"

   "what?"

   "joe not kidding there are skeletons in the water!"

   "Downey do not  ------- tell me that ----!"

 Seconds after realising we were swimming in a lake full of skeletons (I imagine its where they dump their road kill) panick struck Downey and I. We swam for shore yelling and tried to clamber out of Death lake. I couldn't help but laugh when I saw Downey's naked body ungracefully trying to scramble up a particullarly smooth rock, trip and fall back into the lake and exclaim in all seriousness:

   "It's got me! The slime has got me!"

   I do not doubt that there are a couple of motorists that witnessed two men with very defined tan lines running panicked and naked from Percy lake on highway 17. Count yourself lucky that you know the whole story, because to the motorist we will most likely remain a mystery for life. A story to be passed on from generation to generation, probably.

   The day was continued in the same routine, although a little tweaked. The lakes were checked for bodies beforehand and we made sure not to flash anyone else driving by. We managed to keep our water stores filled by stopping frequently at restaurants and gas stations.
   Our next resting place was near the government docks in Vermillion Bay. I slept uneasy as I dreamed that during the night, skeletons from the lake near us would rise and drag us back in.

July 17th: Lobstic Bay, not here to stay

  The departure from Lobstic Bay had to be pushed back a day. The reason for this being that a windstorm had plowed through the small cotage community  and had toppled so many trees upon the highway and roads leading out that traffic was paralized. Instead of me leaving, Moncle Raymond, Old Man and I spent a lot of time and effort cutting, clearing and moving fallen trees with a handful of other volunteers. By the time the work was done, it was too late to leave by bike and make it anywhere to sleep. Therefore I decided to stay one more night.
   My father gave me a lift into Kenora on his way out so I could get my hands on a patching kit and a pump. On sunday night everyone left the cottage but me. I realised that this was the first time that I had been completly alone since the tour began. This opportunity was not lost on me and used it to watch a couple of episodes of The Office, eat an inexcusable amount of Velvetta cheese with an assortment of food companions and then quickly drift into a deep peaceful sleep.

July 16th: Lobstic bay

  I left off in my last entry at arriving in Kenora, tired, with a rash but with renewed high spirits. Those high spirits alone would not fix my bike, however, so I had to call on a higher power to help me.

   "I know I don't thank you enough for the great things you provide for me, and sometimes I do some bad things... But... Father.... Please give me a ride?"

   "fine, but stop calling me, your wasting the minutes on my phone"

   And with a swift phone call my Pappa (or Old Man if you like) was on his way to rescue his only child worth saving. He arrived in his truck and open the door and lovingly said:

   "Ah Joe... Your full of sweat. Don't get any of that on the seat"

   With my bike and I in the truck, we sped down to lobstic bay about 40 k south of Kenora for a few days of fishing. It would be a chance for me and the Old Man to spend some quality time together. We would be staying at my uncle Mononcle Raymond's cottage. I felt honored to stay at my uncle's cottage. Raymond had been an instrumental piece of the efforts in Winnipeg and it had paid off. Alerts to my cell phone had been indicating to me that donations were becoming a frequent thing and though we were still far from our fundraising goal by about $45,000, we were getting closer everyday. $50,000 may seem like an ambitious goal but no matter what it's always better to aim high and miss than to aim low and hit!

July 15th: Kenora and the staple curse

   The distance between Kenora and St-Annes is not crazy. It must be around 180 K. The problem is that while training in the months leading up to this trip I had used Winnipeg to Kenora as a proving ground. The problem was that both times I had attempted the Winnipeg to Kenora run, I had run into problems. it is my kryptonite. The last attempt had left me tired and exasperated only 20 k from Kenora. This day, however, would be different.
   I took off from St-Anne early. The wind was not blowing in any direction so I looked at it as a blessing since it was not blowing in my face. My legs were pumping away. Mt ipod was still the only thing keeping me company and I started to become depressed. Not depressed because I was leaving home again but rather because I realised I had started to miss Downey. The fact that I started to miss that guy made me sick to my stomach and therefore depressed. Usually when I needed something to keep me entertained I would just look at Downey and say something like:

   "You know what's awesome? Capitalism"

Or I would say something like

   "You know what is great... Organized religion"

   Then I would listen to my opinionated friend rant on for the next 45 minutes to an hour with his thoughts on the world and how it should work, and I would be entertained for a while. But now I was by myself. Facing my kryptonite... Kenora... All alone.
    I changed my Ipod to some Gansta Rap. I thought if rap makes me speed uncounsiously when driving, maybe it will do the same while I biked. With no repair kit (carried by Downey) this stretch left no room for error. I was bound and determined to make it to Kenora today, but would my bike, myself, and my ego all make it in one piece?
    The day wore on and I kept on pumping my little chicken legs (as Annique my sister referred to them, which they are totally not). The road signs kept me going: Kenora 88k, Kenora 40K...

   I am going to make it! I thought, boasting.

   "Take that Kenora! I am all that is man! No road can stop me!" I yelled into the sky while pumping my fists in victory.

   "This is the single best day... O God No!"

   And with that, the famillliar rumble of a flat tire began. And I put my head down and wept. Well, wept in a way. I mostly swore, I didn't really weep at all. I didn't have any tools to fix the tire, that was Downeys forte.
   So there I stood, next to my bike, holding the staple that had suddenly halted my momentum.

   "Who keeps dumping these staples on the highway! What do you want from me staple man? What do you want from me!!"

   I grabbed my bike angrily by the handles and started walking down the highway. I was going to get to Kenora no matter what. I was only about 10 K away when the staple incident ruined my life so I figured I would just grit my teeth and keep moving.
   I can appreciate the comedy of my situation. Here is a guy in tight shorts and bike shoes walking next to a bike, but for me at the time it was not so funny, and any attempt at humour was lost on me. At one point, I was passing a gas station when an older gentleman looked at me and with a big grin said:

   "Beautiful day to take your bike for a walk eh"

   "Beautiful indeed sir, haha" I had never wanted to kill a man as badly as I wanted to at this moment.

   Finally, after two hours of walking and after getting a painful rash on my behind (TMI?) I made it. I stood in Kenora with a big grin on my face. No voodoo curse can hold me back. Not this guy.

July 14: Goodbyes, round one.

  I kissed and hugged Ozzy, told him to take care and that I'd see him soon. My little dog (a black lab/pug cross who really just looks like a midget lab with a tail that curls up into a complete circle) would have to go without me for a couple for months yet. My bags were packed and it was time to hit the old dusty trail.
   The day was a nice ride. I would be heading to my younger sister Annique's acreage just outside of St. Anne. She, like my other sister, is also pregnant and I could only imagine the plethora of food she would be demanding to sustain the life growing inside if her.  Dennis, her husband, was probably cooking right now, I thought. How lucky was I to have a family that became pregant at a time that suited me perfectly.
   I was on a high knowing that our stay in Winnipeg had been a big success. the donations were finally coming in and it felt as though we were really moving forward. Thanks to the media and the volunteers it seemed we really had managed to get the message out (though there is still a LOT of work to be done and dollars to raise).
   My extended stay in Winnipeg had softened my butt and finding comfort on my bike seat was a battle that would last a number of days. However I define comfort loosely and it may be more appropriate to call it a general numbness instead of comfort. I rolled into Annique's driveway and was happy to see my beautiful sister and my great brother in-law. They prepared some amazing food (as I had predicted) and Rose came out to spend somee more time together.
    The four of us just watched a movie and afterwards went to bed. It was a real treat for Rose and I to spend some time visiting at the Deng Ranch.

July 13: Winnipeg. Last day

  I woke up early because my Dad would be picking me up to go to breakfast with him and his friends. There would be Chuck, Fuds, Roach, Vic, Biss, Chief and others with comical if not questionable nick names.
   He arrived at about 720 am and we were off to Fresh Cafe for some excellent food and coffee.
   Breakfast was composed of a ton of  jokes (at everyones expense) and a lot of laughs. After breakfast I returned home to do something I had been thinking about doing for weeks. Lawn care.
   After cleaning, watering and generally loving my yard, Rose returned home from work and we took our tandem bike down to my parents for supper. it was truly a nice day.

July 12: Winnipeg, day two

   The closest I ever got to having my fifteen minutes of fame was years ago when The National was doing a story on amateur fight clubs and my friends and I ended up on the news for our part in organizing and carrying out fun fights in my parents back yards. That is a different story all together but it could not have prepared me for the media storm that was about to come about.
  My alarm clock went off at 530 am and I found myself getting dressed in my skimpy bike outfit. Today I would be parading in front of the cameras for A-channel's Breakfast Television. They asked me specifically to wear my biking clothes, I suppose my skin tight outfit would bring a new draw to the show.
   Rose dropped me off at the station where I met Downey. The interview was short but effective, I had a hard time keeping myself from shivering as it was a cold morning. Before I knew it we were done and it as off to Hermano's for a live radio show with Hot 103.1.
   Downey, ..Mr. Downey, Rose, Brian Campbell and I ordered breakfast at Hermanos while we waited for our chance to speak on the air.
   I made an effort to drink a lot of coffee because I was still a little asleep and wanted to be alert for the show. The problem is that I over did the coffee thing and found myself in a state of nervous twitchiness.
   My nervous state resulted in me coining the most interresting saying on live radio I could conjure. When Ace Burpee asked me about the cycling clothes I was wearing (Downey had changed into his casual clothes after the A-channel segment) I responded with saying:

    "Wearing this clothes sometimes makes me feel like a thumb out of place"

   A... Thumb... Out... Of... Place...

   As soon as the words left my mouth all I could think of was people would probably be asking themselves where this rogue thumb could be. I became really embarrassed and hoped to God that no one would caught it, however, immediately after saying it Downey glanced at me with these crazy eyes and I knew he would not let it go.

   "Well one I never heard before, a thumb out of place? That must be a new saying." Said Ace.

   "Yeah, trying to move it forward" I quickly joked.

   All I could do was dig my hole deeper and deeper. In the end though, even with my slip up the radio show was a great success. Ace said a story about his youth. Apparently Uncle Vic had taught him back in the day. (Vic is afflicted with ALS and was my inspiration for us choosing the ALS Society of Canada as our charity for the tour) The story was funny and touching, about how he and his buddies would give Vic grief in the classroom and how good he was to them.

   After the show I returned home for a much needed rest. During that time Downey did an interview with 92.1 CityFM.
  Not long after taking a short rest, it was time to get my suit ready as Downey and I had the privilege of meeting the mayor of Winnipeg, Sam Katz. The fact that he took time out of his day to talk to us meant a lot to me. The amazement was not lost on me and felt honored by the opportunity to tell Mayor Katz about our trip. He had an enthusiastic smile and was very welcoming and asked all kinds of questions about adventures on the road.
   After our visit with the mayor and later that night Downey, Uncle Vic and I did an interview on CJOB the nighthawk. The interview was of fun and it was great spending some time with Vic again. after the interview I was exhausted. Being a media starlet was totally outside of my realm of normalcy so to get back to normal I took the time to make a small fire in the backyard and enjoyed some quiet before bed.

July 11: Winnipeg

   On the morning of July eleventh, Brian Campbell and the ALS society of manitoba organised a bit of a celebration for Downey and I. They invited our friends, family, media, supporters and politicians. It was a great success and I felt a little odd having such a fuss kicked up for me. However, I enjoyed it incredibly.
   After the celebration I returned home and enjoyed some time with Rose. My parents were anxious to spend time with me as well so I went and visited with them. I ended my day rather early. it was the first time I could sleep in my own bed for a while. As I clutched my Teddy bear Zeddy, and as my dog Ozzy licked my face, I drifted off to sleep.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

July 10th: Portage to Winnipeg

   Nats, Mark and I had a nice breakfast and I jumped back on my bike. I headed down the highway and was sad to find long stretches of highway with no shoulder. Once again I had to entertain myself and so my ipod and its infinite library of music would keep me company.
   Nothing of real significance happened on the way home except for when I stopped at a BC fruit stand. I pulled off the road to buy fruit, when I realised that the driveway to the fruit stand was pure beach sand. My feet could not unclip in time and before I knew it my bikes tires sank into the sand and I crashed hard in the sand, rolled head over heel and landed two feet from the ordering couter. To say I was embarrassed would be an understatment. The proprietor of the stand look over the counter in fright.

   " O my. God! Are you ok?"

   In my embarrasment all I could think of was avoiding the issue of the crash all together, therefore from my prone position in the sand I decided to respond with:

   "do you have nectarines?"

   "why yes... Are you ok?" she said

   "Can have five please?"Said I

   then as I got up and dusted myself off an old angry man came out from around the corner and blasted me for dropping my bike right in front of the stand and told me it would hold up the line up. I don't know where he thought we were, but the line up he was imagining must have been invisible because I was the only customer there.
   When I finally made it home I was very happy and ready to celebrate. However, everyone else was gone to work. I should also mention that my house was locked and I didn't have a key, therefore the first thing I did upon returning to Winnipeg is commit a break and enter on my own house.
   I ended up spending some time with my cousin Pat and Rose and ended up going to a barbaque Downey was hosting. it was nice to celebrate with all my friends again.

July 9th: from Brandon to Portage

It truly is great to wake up so close to home next to the person you love. I cashed in on the opportunity to cook indoors by making some crepes (my favorite breakfast food and a French specialty) with the help of Rose for our hosts, the Wolski's. They were excellent if I do say so myself.
   After breakfast I packed my gear and prepared to get back on the road. Saying goodbye to Rose was difficult. I had already gone so long without her that I did not look forward to being without her again, even if it was only for a short time.
   After saying goodbye to the gang along with Jen and Bernie's two pugs, Bugsy and Fat Tony, I started to cycle on down the road.
   A new challenge started to present itself on this stretch. Since Downey wasn't around, I had to entertain myself. After trying to re-create the movie Forrest Gump in my head I gave up and decided to listen to Supertramp's Crime of the Century album on my Ipod over and over again.
   the destination for the day was not far at all. Today I was Portage La Prairie-bound. My sister Natalie and her husband Mark have a house there and I wanted to visit with my family wherever possible as I crossed the country.
   the best part about visiting with my sister natalie is that she is pregnant and therefore she has no restraint on food consumption. if you are self conscious about the amount of food you eat, just have supper with a pregnant woman and you will look like less of a glutton.
   after supper we talked, laughed and watched a show called Its Always Sunny in Phillidelphia. They set me up in the guest room down stairs and I slept great... until I atttempted to open a window at 3am to cool off my room. Apparently the window was attached to the alarm system and by opening it I had set off the alarm. My brother in law Mark seemed very understanding, but learned another valuable lesson: Do not, EVER, interrupt a pregnant woman's sleep. I was just lucky enough that I would be on the road the next day, or may have been buried in the back yard.

July 8th: Brandon

I used july 7th as a recovery day, but also as a day of relaxing with my fiancee Rose. Being the wonderful woman she is, it was easy to have a great time with her around. On the 8th we put my bike in her car and drove back out to Brandon. Downey and I had an awareness concert there and since Downey was licking his wounds back home, Rose would be filling in for him.
   A talented musician by the name of Eddie Hudson was playing an accoustic show. It was nice to sit back and enjoy the show while Eddie did all the hard work and PR for the ALS society. During the concert Jen and her husband Bernie, some of Rose's friends, came out to show their support. They were awesome and welcoming and were also my hosts for the night in Brandon.
   After the concert Bernie, Jen, Eddie, Rose and I spent some time together and just had a blast chattering excitedly, recounting stories, and laughing a lot. We spent the night at Bernie and Jen's on an air mattress that ended up getting about as flat as my back tire all those times on the road. Rose and I were both so wiped, however, that we didn't notice until her alarm woke us up the next morning.

July 5th and 6th: the longest day

Downey and I settled our business in Regina and picked up our bikes from the shop and headed out on the road. From Regina to Winnipeg there were no major media stops, nor any touristy places we really wanted to see. Home was a stones throw away and we both desperatly missed our friends and family. I also dearly missed my fiance. We started the day thinking we would only do our regular 160 k, but found ourselves all of a sudden extremely motivated to do more.

   "what if we cycled until we got to winnipeg, just so we could spend some time at home incognito?" Said I.

   "I'm down" said Downey.

   And that is what we did. We cycled past all of our scheduled stops and kept on cycling. we stopped at every 24 hour restaurant for a good dose of coffee and kept cycling. at 15 hours into the cycle chafing became a bit of an issue. at hour 17 our moods were terrible. at 20 hours in, concentration was not great and at 22 hours reaction time was pathetic.

   at around 5 in the morning, once the skies were lighting up, we made it to the Manitoba border. it was a nice moment because we knew we were getting close.
   When we arrived in Virden, we had our breakfast paid for us by some old farmers there. After a few minutes of rest we were moving once again. By the time Brandon became a possibility my energy stores were drying up. Downey had called his Dad to act as a sort of support vehicle while we finished the final leg.
    It was a good thing Downey had called his Dad, because shortly after we all met up, Downey crashed his bike in a large heaping mess of metal and blood. it turns out all those little things of sour mood, bad concentration and slow reaction had real consequences. Downey hit a pot hole on the number one shoulder. His physical state meant he would not be riding for a while, and I was all too happy to jump into Mr.Downey's FJ Cruiser the rest of the way home to Winnipeg (not to worry, the Brandon-Winnipeg stretch would not remain uncycled for long! Stay tuned...).

June 4th: day off

  I was a little disapointed in the fact that I could get no one from the media to pay attention to our cause. With no media in Regina, I felt like our job was useless. We did manage to get the bikes fixed, and I managed to get a nice hair cut. Other than that, nothing really significant happened. We spent one more night in the motel.

June 3rd: Regina, and the duct tape saga

   The problem with setting up camp at 1am is that you're never quite aware of all your surroundings in the dark. I woke up to not only the sun beating down on me in full force at 6am, but also the march of a hundred little ants that were all seemingly angry that I chose to set my bed over their home. These ants were very vengeful, and made Michael and I sorry for ever having camped there.
   I made Dowey and I some flavoured rice in the morning, then we spent a good chunk of time jumping in and out of the mineral lake. it truly was great, your wold float on the water and it would make all your skin really soft. I am always amazed at some of the secrets our nation has.
   after having our fun in the sun, we set out to reach Regina. Things were going great, my duct tape tire was rolling along, but of course something had to give. Only twenty minutes after getting on the road, my duct tape tire busted... again.
   We sat ourselves down by the side of the road, diligently tore off all the duct tape from the tire, inspected the inner tube, found the puncture and patched it with, you guessed it, duct tape. then we proceeded to re duct tape the entire tire. the whole affair took about an hour.
    We rolled into regina some time later. we found a little restaurant at the north edge of the city to eat. I founf myself in a sea of green coloured people with wigs and banjo's. Unsure as to what was going on, was informed that it was a rough rider game later, and everyone was getting ready for the game.
   Now I may often trash the Rough Riders, but there is one thing to be said about their fans: they REALLY have team spirit. In fact, thses people were so crazy about their team that I founf myself also wanting to paint myself green, grab a banjo and cut myself a mullet. Those sakachewanians really know how to support their team.
    someone from the ALS society of Regina came and met us at the restaurant and bought us to a motel for the night. We had a nice room and the place had a pool so was happy. Moving my bike from place to place was a little akward because would often get wierd stares and comments because of the duct tape.
   before going to bed, we had coffee witha couple of the ALS regina volunteers. we shared our stories and motivations. those voluteers are great people.

July 2nd: Tales of the Duct taped tire

The Canada day celebrations were full and exciting. we awoke in the campsite of a friend we had made before. We had slept near his campfire and had slept "a la bell etoile".
   The day was a hot one, Downey and I had slept in due to the nights festivities and we would now be paying for it. Our friends wished us the best and we waved goodbye.
   Being on the road was nice enough, accept the journey would not be complete without a little trouble from my bikes back tire. O how I wished nothing would go wrong, but of course not the way god would have it.
   As soon as we reached what I like to call the "no rescue zone" (which is about 25 K out of any towns radious) my back tire disintegrated. The rubber part of my back tire just came apart, and in doing so busted my inner tube as well. Downey and I were low on supplies and so we ended up making use of some masking tape we had for some reason unknown to me until this point, and piece my rubber tire back together as well as patch up the inner tube.
   I do not know how the bike made it through the next ten kilometers, and I am quite sure we were the most sorry sight any biker had ever set his eyes on, but it somehow worked. We found a little gas station and managed to have the owner give us a roll of duct tape
   With our new super tool (duct tape) we completed a more permanent tire repair job. my tire ended up looking like a silver shiny ring rather than a black rubber tire. however, regardless of how terrible it looked, my duct tape tire actually rolled, held pressure and in my opinion lookeded very stylish.
   I biked all day in this condition. No bike stores would be around until we got to Regina. Instead of biking supplies, we purchased duct tape when possible.
   Around 11pm at night we rolled into the town of Watrous saskatchewan. There we found the only local establishment open was the bar, so we stopped in, bought an order of wings and sat down. It wasn't long before the local patrons noticed the condition of my bike during their frequent smoke breaks.

   "Is that bike being held together with duct tape?"

    "I think held together is a stretch" said I.

    " You drove like that for 90 miles?"

    "Something like that."

   The bar owner's interest was piqued by us and he wanted to buy Downey and I a few drinks. He ended by offering us a free room in his motel. Even though his offer was generous, we had to refuse. We had been spending too many beautiful nights indoors and I wanted to sleep outside.
   Downey attempted to pay for the wings and was refused. It was on the house, thanks to the owner. We jumped once again on our bikes and headed about 20k north. There we found Manitou Beach, the only mineral lake in the praries. I put out my sleeping bag, without the protection of the bivy and wrapped my shirt around my head to protect myself from the mosqitoes and tried to sleep on the shores to this awesome lake.

Monday, 11 July 2011

July 1st: Wakaw au Canada

   The Boiteau's made sure we had a good breakfast before sending us back out into the hard and cold world. We found ourselves a good destination and I was very excited. The extent of our travels on this day would not exceed a couple of kilometers to the beach where we would spend Canada Day.
   At the beach I just layed around in the sun, not unlike what like a lizzard would look like on a warm flat rock. I joined myself to a group of friends that was playing frizbee and jumped in the lac a couple of times. It was the absolute perfect day. Downey partook in the fun too. I'm almost sure at one point I saw him walk on the beach, enjoying a nice healthy smoke under the bask of sunlight.
   Our friends from the night before joined us for some time and we heard that there was going to be a live band at the golf course on Canada day. And that is exactly where we found ourselves come celebration time.
   The music was excellent. The band's name was "Dixie Highway" and it was not long before I found myself dancing to the tunes they played. Everyone was in celebration mode for Canada's birthday, I enjoyed this Canada Day better than any year I could recall. The night's celebrations were fun and full. If I could recall all of the detail I would share them with you, but I simply can't.

June 30th: Saskatoon to Wakaw

   Have you ever been so mad that you felt your brain was melting? I have, and there is nothing fun about it. For the thousands of unbelievably great people we have met accross this wonderful country there was bound to be one person who would be "the bad apple". Downey and I had the displeasure of meeting our bad apple of our journey on this day.
   It all started on a beautiful day in Saskatoon. We had packed our gear and had started biking outside of the city. The day actually started better than usual. A couple of saskatoonians had recognized Downey and I from the news segment the night before and came up to us to offer their support. It was quite a lifting experience and a memory I will always cherish.
   The day started to sour as soon as I looked at the map of our route. I'm not sure how I mistakenly ended up taking the wrong numbered highway, but its a mistake Downey and I ended up paying for dearly.
   The first problem about our predicament was that it took me and Downey hours away from the route we were actually supposed to be on. The second problem lay in the fact that we met one very sorry individual on the road. Case in point:

   Downey and I were heading down the wrong highway east. This highway did not afford the luxury of a paved shoulder, so Downey and I already had to fight for room on a single laned highway. That alone is a stressful experience, to put it lightly. Enter our bad apple driving up behind us in his big black pickup truck honking his horn while passing us and trying to literally more than figurtively run Downey and I off the road. He then proceeded to yell profanities and insults at us while gesturing wildly with the most middle of his fingers in our general direction.
   My mind could not comprehend what this reckless yahoo was so angry about. My face was frozen in an expression of confusion while a deep cloud of anger started brewing inside of me.
   The next event perplexed me even more. The truck pulled over just a ways down the road. Now I'm not going to lie to you, Downey and I are no angels, and I would be lying if I neglected telling you that we may have thrown our own swears and gestures in his direction. But only as would be appropriate from someone in a situation similar to ours.
   When I saw this guy pulling his truck into park and waiting for us, I could only imagine the worst was waiting for us. The normal thoughts before a fight were running threw my head:

     "What are the chances he has a weapon? He is in his truck so chances are pretty good. How about friends, is there any more of them?"

   And then another thought runs threw my head.

    "Should we keep going?"

   There is after all quite a bit to lose on my part. I'm in physical danger, not to mention I can not afford any major injuries. Other thoughts like, if a fight does start, the odds are bad for us wether we win or lose. The problem was the alternative didn't look any brigher. What could we really do? If we were to stop, how long would we have to impeded progress because of this bully? Whether we turned around or stopped there would always have been that unresolved problem down the road. I did not want to leave a challenge unanswered. This problem would be met head on, because there was no chance I would be turning around.

   I maneauvered my bicycle to run parrallel to Downeys.

   "Hey Downey, I don't know what this guy down here wants, but I'm guessing he is not about to wish us luck with our travels."

   "You think?" Downey replied.

   "Just remember whatever happens, we've got each others backs. Make sure your shoes are unclipped and try to stay as relaxed as possible"

    As we neared the truck I tried to keep my mind open to any event that would unfold. My mind was planning for conflict aversion, but my body was ready. I jumped off my bike and eased into a slow jog towards the truck.

   "What was your problem back there?" I asked

   The driver was still sitting in the drivers seat and his response got me off guard.

   "Next time, I'll run over you!"

   Downey was approaching the driver side door from the right hand side when buddy panicked and turned the ignition. The motor roared to life, our boy slammed the transmission into gear and took off turning a hard left and my mind could not comprehend what I was seeing. This boy's truck plowed right on over the front wheel of Downey's bike. Once the truck had cleared Downeys bike, I found myself picking up a rock and angrily throwing it into a field of soil. This guy had successfully made me lose it.
   Downey was no more amused, his emotional state was clouded with a brewing anger. When buddy left, he left in his dust two steaming kettles with no spout to relieve pressure.
   While Downey cursed, I brewed. There was no chance of freeing my mind of what I could have done differently, of ways how I could have vented my steam at this individual or how happy I would have been if we met this guy down the road with a flat.

   With our heads hanging low, and Downey's front tire wobbling at a new frequency, we corrected our highway direction and started heading towards Wakaw. To say that our spirits were low would have been an exageration of how high they were.

   A couple hours later when we rolled into Wakaw, we were met by a local "Don" who inquired about where we had come from and where we were going.

  "We just came in from Saskatoon" Downey said

   "Shoot... Thats a long way"

   "Yeah, it sure felt like it"

   After a couple more questions, and upon hearing of the bike's failed tire-on-tire romance, Don was determined to help us. He took off from the town gas station and went out to find someone to host us for the night. He returned in a short period of time and asked us to follow him.
   Downey and I followed his car to the local bar where he told us to leave our bikes outside and come in to have a drink with him. Downey locked up the bikes, and we headed inside.

   "Hey Tina, these two guys are biking across Canada. Get them two pilsners."

   The bartender looks at both Downey and I and says while handing us two beers:

   "You don't say? Well right on boys. These are on the house."

   Don explained the bartender Tina was his wife. He also explained to us that he had found us a willing host family. Then he went on to apologize for the behavior of the young driver. He hoped that the experience we had gone through hadn't painted all of Saskatchewan with the same bad-coloured brush.
   We followed Don's car once again and he led us to a lot just outside of town with a trailer home and a beautiful yard. There was a family and a couple of friends in the back yard of the house having a bonfire. Downey and I rode our bikes over to them. Don and the Oldest man talked for a little while, and Downey and I made use of the time by introducing ourselves to the rest of the people present. Not long after we met everyone, they all started to feel like friends to us.
   The familie's name was the Boiteau's and they were more than happy to have us over for the night. They opened their home to us and we gratefully made use of it for the night.
   The night was wrapped up by Downey and I finishing a nice cold beer at around two oclock in the morning. I strummed the blues out on a guitar that I had found in the Boiteau's home. It has been a trying day, and it ended a bluesy night.

June 28 and 29th: Saskatoon

   It turns out that our push to get to Saskatoon early really paid off. We could finally lick our wounds, and relax.
   We called a friend of my cousin Pat. Her name was Zoe Fortier and she lived in Saskatoon with a couple of friends. Luckily Zoe was more than happy to help us out any way she could. She had absolutly no problem with Downey and I staying at her house, she was also very helpful in pointing out what in Saskatoon was going on in terms of entertainment. Before we knew it, Downey and I found ourself at the local Saskatoon jazz festival with Zoe and her friends.
   Listening to live jazz music is one of the best ways to relax. It was easy to clear my mind of all things and sway along with the music. Saskatoon was proving to be a beautiful little city that was not only welcoming and warm, but also entertaining and alive.
   After getting settled into town Downey and I had some business to take care of. I had done some research and had found a few media contacts to get a hold of. I spent the morning of the first day in Saskatoon playing phone tag with different media stations. The only problem was that in this game of "tag" it was one sided, with me trying to tag everyone else, and no one tagging me back.
   After having finished my part in trying to get the media to pay attention, Downey and I had the liberty to go see a movie, go out for a nice supper and just spend time with guys and girls our age around a nice relaxing bonfire in the back of Zoe's yard.

   The next day I found myself getting a number of calls from different media outlets accross the city. My hard work the day before had started to pay off and I managed to get Downey and I a spot on Global saskatoon as well as a spot on a live local radio station.
   The Global interview was great. Our best interview yet by far. The short time we had been spending in the public eye was enough to get us somewhat comfortable in front of a camera, and therefore we were definitely behaving much more naturally. Our humour and personalities came through in the interview, and the nervous frozen robots that we had presented in the past were no more.
   The interview was shot in a beautiful Saskatoon park right next to the Jazz festival. The sun was shinning brightly and we were dressed in our full biking regalia. I felt a little self conscious about the tightness of my shorts, but I figured if anything it would only get the attention of more people, and hopefully more people would pay attention.
   Downey and I both played off each other. I would make a friendly but fun jab at him, and he would counter with a jab of his own. I felt quite confident about myself during the interview and I sure hope we were successful in coming across as regular guys cycling accross Canada.
   Afterwards, we headed a couple of blocks down the street and got a chance to pass our message through a live radio broadcast. Once again I felt like we really aced it. Speaking in public on radio or television is becoming less and less intimidating for me and I imagine the same for Downey.

   Our time in Saskatoon was just about wrapping up. There wasn't much left for us to do in town except for saying goodbyes and packing our gear. We had planned to stay there for Canada day but being so far ahead of schedule and home being withing fathomable distance, we decided to keep the pace. Wakaw, a small, peaceful town in North Eastern Saskatchewan was our next destination.

Friday, 8 July 2011

June 27th: Kindersley to Saskatoon

    It wasn't hard to wake up. The camper was being cooked under the sun, and I felt a little like a stuffed cannelloni in a casserole. The discomfort from the heat did not exactly inspire me with confidence that our day would be spent in comfort. From the time I jumped on my bike, until I jumped off of it for the last time that day, I was constantly and perfusely sweating. I am not too sure if there is a sweat world record, but if there is I think I should be a candidate.
   Downey and I were lucky enough to have some great paved shoulders throughout our travels. Very rarely do we have to compete with traffic and I do not look forward to those times. The good thing about a nice wide shoulder is that you can really enjoy the ride. You can look about you and look at the fields, the cars, the people. You can let your thoughts take you away and you can take in everything you see. I know I make this bike ride sound very hard, or at least I complain alot, but it truly is an honor to see all the beauty in this land.
   It was another day of biking, biking and more biking. Because we were on such a strong incentive to finish before our scheduled date, we didn't take very many breaks. Of course we stopped to eat every now and then, and of course we "went" when we had to "go", but any other kind of break was out of the question.
   When we rolled into Saskatoon, we found a parking lot to rest in. I gave a call to a contact of mine who lives in Saskatoon to see if we could find a place to sleep, as Downeys dad was leaving back to Winnipeg. Zoe answered the phone and was delighted to have us over for a couple of nights. Mr. Downey, Downey and I decided to go out for supper, and then afterwards we said our thank yous and goodbyes. We would be seeing Mr. Downey again when we got to Winnipeg but the help he gave us was very thoughtful and uplifting. Afterwards, Downey and I headed to Zoe's house.
  There was a couch and a bed available. I slept once again on a couch.

June 26th: Hanna To Kindersley

   We set out on the road by 8 am. The same pattern as yesterday was to be followed. Our gear would be in Mr. Downeys truck and we would leapfrog, if you will, about 210 kilometers to a town called Kindersley.
   There wasn't anything in the most interresting sense that happened on thi day's trip. It was one of those days where you simply put your head down and pushed yourself as fast and as hard as you could.
   The sun was out in full force and we were wilting under the heat. To stay refreshed we drank copious amounts of water and gatorade.
   When we finally pulled into the town of Kindersley we found ourselves a motel where we could take a shower for free and immediatly afterwards made ourselves something to eat. I was exhausted but very happy to have a camper to sleep in. The second my head hit the pillow I slept like a baby.

June 25th: Calgary to Hanna

   It was a beautiful day outside. Mr. Downey, Downey and I went out for breakfast at a place called "Rickies" in Calgary. It was a great way to start off the day. The week was laid out in front of us.

    "We got nothing between here and Saskatoon. Its about 620 k between here and there" Downey said
    "If we travel light, and if my dad wants to shadow us for a few days and carry some of our gear, we should be able to push at least 200 something kilometers every day. If we do that, we'll make it there early, and get a decent rest".

   The proposal seemed good enough to me. If nothing else I thought that covering Calgary to Saskatoon in three days was a challenge in and of itself and would be worth the effort. Downey's Dad was more than happy to help any way he could, and so we had our course of action planed.
   We cycled all day long, and finally found ourselves in the town of Hanna. Downey's dad had a camper along with him, and so we didn't need to look for a place to sleep.

June 24th: Day off in Calgary

  I woke up rather late. Knowing I wouldn't be biking during the day was motivation enough for me to remain motionless in my bed for an extra hour. It was worth every second.
   When I finally made my way upstairs Roger and his family were already up. His wife had gone to work but his child had stayed home from school to come with Roger and I to the ALS Calgary office.
   At around 11:30 am, Amanda, from the ALS office Calgary arrived to pick up our crew and head over to the office. When I arrived I was more than happy to find pizza after pizza waiting for all the workers, volunteers, families, and media people who were invited to the event. By some of the looks being cast in my direction, I could tell a couple of people looked doubtful whether or not I was one of the guys biking accross Canada due to the copious amounts of pizza I was shoving into my face, but I silenced any inner worry I had by reassuring myself that I was carbo loading, and  therefore was performing a duty of utmost importance for the completion of our trip.
   Downey did not make it to the ALS Calgary meeting. His father had driven to Calgary from Winnipeg to see Downey and spend some quality time, father and son. Some people from the ALS Calgary office were dissapointed that they could not meet Downey. They said he sounded like a very interresting fellow and a very animated one at that. I assured them that that just wasn't the case, and that if I made Downey seem like an interresting, nice, or decent fellow, it was only due to the creative liberty I take when I'm writting the blogs.

     "He is ok at best, and after all, more pizza for us!" I said jokingly... yet seriously.

   The meeting was great! Everyone present at the table shared stories. I was asked many times about the things we had seen on the trip, as well as the interesting people we had met. I recounted all the various breakdowns we had, both our bikes and ourselves, and all the memories we cherished from the trip. Some people at the table told me, their own stories of struggle, effort, and hope. For me, the most difficult part in some of my days are climbing mountain passes or cycling threw the rain. For others at the table, their version of climbing a mountain can be as simple as picking up a spoon, tying their shoelaces or moving from their bed to their wheelchair.
   I often talk about how a warm shower or a dry bed is the greatest thing in the world after spending a couple of days in rain. They are common things that are so easily taken for granted. During my time on the road, I have come accross a huge number of people who take nothing for granted anymore. Something as simple as a full breath of air in their lungs is something they cherish. It has been a priviledge to meet the people at the front line of ALS, and its resounding impression has not been lost. These workers, volunteers, patients, and families are among the most determined, strong, and positive people I have ever met. When every little task in one's life is comparable to climbing to a mountain peak of thier own, these people face every challenge, no matter how bleak, with a strong courageous motivation. No mountain is too big, and that is how I know that its only a matter of time before we find a cure of this terrible disease.
    After the office party, Roger, Amanda and I made our way to a bike shop. My back tire was cursed, I was sure of it, and therefore had to be replaced. A 36 spoke tire should afford me the extra strenght I needed to support the extra weight I was carrying. After a quick repair, we were back to Rogers home.
   Downey and his father, Mr. Downey, arrived at Rogers home sometime in the afternoon and we said our goodbyes. For our second night in Calgary we would be staying, once again, with my cousin Nicole and her boyfriend Jeff. Roger and his family were great people and they will be amoung the cherished memories we will carry forever.
   My cousin Nicole and Jeff were happy to see us again. It was funny how close I felt to Nicole and Jeff. They had been the only faces we had seen twice in the last month at different times, and I suppose it made me feel really happy. Downey was in great spirits too, I think a combination of seeing his father and seeing Nicole and Jeff were great mood lifters.
   We had a nice supper, talked and watched a movie. I slept on the couch as there was only one bed. My sleep was fitful, but I did manage to get some precious rest.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

June 23: Red Deer to Calgary

   I had to force myself out of bed. It would have been ever so easy to sleep in, but I could tell by the commotion that was going on upstairs that the Catelliers were already out and about.
   My foot fell out of bed, and was followed by my leg, and then by my tired body. After I managed to stand up and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, I headed upstairs into the morning light.
   Doris Catellier busied herself in the kitchen making Downey and I another incredible meal. The Catellier kids were getting ready to head out for school and Ron was leaving for work. After the proper goodbyes to Ron and the kids, they were off. Downey and I were left with Dorris for breakfast.
   Maybe French Canadian families are all very similar, but having breakfast with Doris made me feel as though I was back home having breakfast with my own mother. Dorris was so kind and concerned. She made sure we would be having a safe journey and asked all the questions a concerned mother would ask. When it was finally time to leave I found myself wanting to stay because it felt like home.
   Downey and I were on the number 2 highway from Red Deer to Calgary for about ten minutes when my bike stared to break down. The first bike malfunction of the day was one of my rear spokes snapping. It turns out the extra weight from the food that had been given to us by the Marchands and Catelliers had been just a tad too much strain. Therefore, we found ourselves not only repairing our bikes, but also repacking bags and looking for ways to shed weight that wouldn't include leaving our precious "Pop Tarts" behind.
   About half an hour after our first set of repairs came a blown out back tire. The back rear tire was punctured by a staple.
   An hour after that repair came another broken spoke, after that another blown out back tire due to a pin (who throws this stuff on the highway?) and finally another broken spoke.
   My back tire was now rolling in such a wavy uneasy way that I had to take off the back brake just to continue moving forward. With our repair kits becoming depleted and my spokes constantly snapping, I decided it would only be a matter of time before my back tire would become completly useless and I would have no choice but to thumb a ride. Time was not on my side, so I opted to leave Downey in the wake of my dusty trail and peddle as fast as I could to Calgary.
   At some point in the day, the Alberta sky changed from burning hot sun to pelting hail. The change must have taken place within the span of half an hour, and ended just as fast. I was suprised at the speed of change in weather. It had not been like this since our journey between Lake Louise and High Beauty Creek, and that was in the heart of the Rockies. When the hail hit, I found myself on the highway with nothing but fields in sight, no bridges... no cover. There was no other option available to me, so I was forced to bike through the hail. All I could do was shrivel up into a tiny human squiggly ball and try to protect as much of myself as possible while mother nature pulverised me with penny-sized balls of ice. The quickness of the changes in wheather, and the change in the mood of our environment is proof enough to me that nature is a woman.
   Downey was lucky enough to be near a farm-like building when the hail hit. He biked over to the house on the property, ran over to their front door and knocked. It was answered by a man in cowboy boots who had spent his share of years on this earth. Downey asked him if it would be alright if he grabbed his bike and waited out the foul weather in the farm's building near the highway. The man just looked at Downey blankly and without breaking the slightest smile or batting an eyelash said:

   "You can stay in the shed. But if you steal anything... I'll kill you."

    So Downey uneasily grabbed his bike and made his way to the shed. He mentality made note not to pick anything up in the shed or disturb any object regardless of its interest.
    Downey did not know it yet, but this farm existed for a rather intersting reason. By impregnating horses, collecting the urine from pregnant horses, and then selling that urine for a profit to pharmaceutical  companies, Downey had ended up on a PMU farm. Most interresting of all is the part of the farm that Downey ended up in. Of all places, Michael "the city slicker" Downey, ended up in the place where they artificially inseminate horses. Downey can't recal all of what he saw in that shed, nor does he want too, but by what I can gather about the tools they used in that shed, I don't think the temptation of theft would have come over anyone.
 
   While Downey waited out the hail in the horse love shack, I continued to peddle. Downey and I got seperated by so many miles that we did not see each other until 11pm that night. I managed to push myself and my dilapitated bike to my final destination in Calgary. In the heart of the city was the home of Roger and his family.
   Roger has been a number of things in his lifetime. He has been a long distance trucker, an ice road trucker, he has logged lumber and moved all kinds of cargo. He is a father, a husband and this year he was the ALS embasador at the annual ALS walk.
   Roger was diagnosed with ALS about two years ago. He gets around in a wheelchair but his personality is in great shape. Roger is such a nice man with such a beautiful family that I was pained to hear that he was a rough riders fan. Its a shame, but I suppose nobody is perfect.
   Roger and his wife got some great greek food for Downey and I. They asked me where Downey was and I told them I had no idea, the last time I saw him was hours ago before the hail storm hit. Of all the emotions I was feeling at that moment, I definatly did not feel disapointment that Downey would not be joining us. All I felt was excitment that there would be more food for me.
   After supper, Roger's seven year old son decided he would try and teach me how to play Nintendo Wii. After spending the next half an hour losing game after game to a seven year old, I think I had learned a new level of humility and decided to retire my gaming career.
   At around 11pm Downey rolled on in. After Roger and his wife gave Michael and I a couple of their specially blended drink called "Irish blueberry tea" Downey and I woosily retreated to our rooms an fell into a deep sleep.

June 22nd: Random Field to Red Deer

   When I woke up, I didn't want to waste any time. Downey and I had two seperate families to visit in Red Deer and we could not have afforded to fall behind schedule.
   We found ourselves once again eating at the greasy road side restaurant that we had eaten at the previous day. When we paid and left, I made myself a promise to eat healthier in the future. If my theory that an unhealty diet led to unhealthy thinking was true, I couldn't afford to eat like that again and jeopordise my motivation and determination.
   I called our contact in Red Deer. Doris Catellier would be hosting us for the night in Red Deer and she was very excited to have us over. We also had another familly that wanted us over called the Marchands. The plan would be to get to Red Deer as early as possible, have supper with the Marchands, and sleep at the Catelliers.
   When we arrived at the Marchand home, we were greeted by the Marchand sisters. Nadine and Chantal Marchand were really great people. They explained to me that their father was diagnosed with ALS some time ago and that he was unable to make it over to Red Deer to welcome us because of his condition. It was a shame we could not meet Mr. Marchand, but his daughters definitely gave us a huge reason to continue our journey. They were very positive and offered us great converstation as well as food. They also had a hot tub, and if my sore muscles could talk, they would have thanked them profusely as well.
   At 8pm, we were off to our next host family. Ronald Catellier, our new host, picked up Downey and I and brought us over to their house. We said hello to the Catelliers, had a second supper (it was excellent) and then rested. Downey became aware of the fact that the Catelliers owned a xbox 360 and the game Call of Duty: Black Ops, and therefore we spent a large portion of the night playing "Zombies" on xbox. It was alot of fun.
   The Catelliers offered both me and Downey our own rooms with very comfortable beds, we I turned in for the night I slept like I hadn't for a long time.

June 21st: Edmonton to Some Field

   The first thing that happened when we left our hotel is that we realised my freshly fixed bike already had a flat. Instead of and early start we found ourselves heading back to the Mountain Equipment Co-op. They were very understanding and fixed the tire and replaced the inner tube at no cost and we were back on the road, however quite a bit behind schedule.
   It was a beautiful sunny day, something both Michael and I were thankful for. For the most part of the drive I put in my ipod and enjoyed some great music from the Tragically Hip and Wolfmother. The ride during the day was a pic-nic. No flats, no rain, just smiles all around.
   At around 6pm, we were still far from Red Deer (our destination) and stopped at a road side restaurant for a greasy burger and fries. When we do eat at a restaurant, its usually very un nourishing and I feel like it does more bad than good. It fills you up, but you really don't get any energy out of it.The other bad thing about highway food is that sometimes it tends to effect your mood. Maybe it was because I had been on the road under the sun, or maybe it was the quality of the food we just ate, but after supper my mood became very dark. I felt like I was going threw a mini depression and all my motivation to continue biking evaporated.
   I think Downey could feel a change in my mood because he was very concerned. It boiled down to me just missing family, friends and fiancee. It gets long being away from home, away from every comfort you know.
   There was a ranch not far from where we were, so we gathered our things and found ourselves a little piece of land on which to set up camp. Under the stars I shared with Downey what I was feeling in my dark mood and Downey reflected the same feelings. It was nice to talk about everything and instantly my mood was lifted.

June 20th: Edmonton

   Every Monday morning seems worst than the last. Downey and I had a media event going on at the ALS Edmonton office and we had to get down there to share our message and get the donations we were desperatly trying to raise. I wasn't sure when the last time we got a donation was, but it felt like a very long time and we were well below our 50,000$ goal.
  I had never taken public transit before, and therefore bussing in Edmonton ended up being quite the chore. Luckily, we arrived at the ALS office on time. There we were introduced to the different members of th Edmonton team. The ALS Edmonton office was a very warm reception and they managed to get a bit of media attention because amoung the welcoming party was a member of the CBC media with a Camera.
    Sam, the camera guy, was a very nice guy and had been working for CBC for only a short period of time. He had Downey and I answer the usual questions about our motivations and methods. He was dissapointed when we told him our bikes were being fixed and therefore weren't able to be video taped. During the tapping, I noticed Downey was very nervous in front of camera. It was as if the TV camera was a personality sucking vaccum, because Downey just turned into a robot simply blurbing out facts. It wasn't a very big deal, but I definatly made fun of him for it later.
   After Sam left, a couple more volunteers fom the Edmonton office showed up. Amanda, a newly arrived volunteer, was also a sales rep for the Marriot hotel in Edmonton. She arranged for Downey and I to stay our last night in Edmonton in the Marriot. Another volunteer, Krystal, was more of a conversationalist and provided very meaningful and uplifting advice, which in and of itself is worth alot.
   Once the office stuff was done in Edmonton, we got a ride to the Talbots house, where we collected our things, and then a lift to our hotel. Having our own space was nice. Amanda invited Downey and I to have drinks with her and her fiance that night. We did and it was great. It always nice to talk to people just for the sake of talking.

June 19th: Day in Edmonton

   Tammie and Scott Talbot drove us around Edmonton. They showed us the sights and highights of the city, afterwards they drove us to mountain equipment co-op so we could repair the major issues with our bikes and purchase supplies for the next leg of the journey.
   It had rained all day, and so we spent it indoors. The T.V was a constant companion, like an old friend. T.V was never something I normaly enjoyed, but I suppose since I had  had so little time to watch it since the begining of our journey, it seemed like I was making up for lost time.
   Nothing of major interrest occured during the day, it was mostly made up of relaxing and catching up on our personal journals and updating the blog.
   The day was ended with a great supper, and some great company as well. We laughed, recounted stories and shared feelings. At the days end, I retreated to the couch that served as my bed and fell asleep.

June 18th: Edson to Edmonton

   Rain poured outside once again. The day before keeping my bike on the road had been a constant battle, therefore we took an hour before leaving to do as much work on the bike to insure a smooth travel to Edmonton It was rather miserable working in the rain, but it was something that had to be done.
   Once on the move,I didn't stop once all day. My gretest fear became stopping to warm up, and crashing under a heavy cloud of exhaustion and finding myself unable to continue riding for the day. Therefore I didn't want my misery to improve, only to get worse again. Downey stopped every now and again for a smoke,  but I peddled without end until we got the the "Welcome to Edmonton" sign at the west edge of the city.
   My Mom had sent me a contact with which we could stay. I gave them a call, and it turns out they were actually friends of my Aunt Michelle and they were more than happy to have us over for a couple of nights. All the luxuries we had once taken for granted were available to us again. A shower, warm and dry beds, home cooked meals, and some nice drinks. As hard as it is sometimes, it has been in my experience that every low we have gone threw on the trips, every rainy kilometer has been worth it.
   We stayed with the Talbots in Edmonton. Downey found himself a bed to sleep in and given the choice of sharing a bed with Downey, or sleep on a slightly uncomfortable couch, I opted for the couch. Too many nights had already been spent with Downey and I hope you can understand why the uncomfortable couch seemed like a the better option at the time.
   Downey and I found ourselves staying up late in front of a big TV watching "Forrest Gump". It was a great movie to watch because sometimes when we are biking and have nothing to say to each other, we will simply recite lines from the movie Forrest Gump and try to recreate the story line with all the characters just to keep boredom at bay.
   We must have finally gone to bed in the wee hours of the morning. It was quite worth it.