Last update: the dust settles

Hi Everyone,

On November 29th the folks at River Woods had a gathering in the Co-op for me to see the members again. I did a little slideshow and told some stories about my trip. around 30 people came and I got a lot of hugs and handshakes: the event was very touching. The Ride for River Woods fundraiser raised $5,000 in total which is awesome! When I first got the ball rolling with fundraising for River Woods I was hoping to raise $3,000, and to nearly double that is fantastic.

I was given some cards from River Woods and a giftcard to Mec!  IMG_6766 IMG_6765

Everyone at River Woods was very kind and the gratitude expressed was flattering. A big thank you to everyone who came out!

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All the best,

Ben

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Done! Cape Spear

This morning at 10:51 I completed my trip across Canada by bicycle by reaching Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America.

I had to laugh at the number of things that went wrong with my bike at the 11th hour: the weld on my frame reopened and I got two flats coming into St. John’s: one 45km from the city limit, one 15km! I had to laugh that these problems happen now, as my last flat was over a month ago in Manitoba, and I had just replaced my tire this past Wednesday.

So close!

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Thankfully, I patched my tube and made it up the giant hills to Cape Spear:

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I chatted with some people at the top and told them I had just completed crossing Canada on my bicycle and they shook my hand & took a picture of me which was nice.

It’s nice to be done. Immediately after I got a wave of tiredness. It’s probably relief that my bike held out getting up to Cape  Spear and finally finishing. From July 4th to September 26th is 86 days total, 17 rest days, 69 days of cycling, and somewhere around 7000km of road.

Problems with the bike:

  • 9 flats
  • 2 frame breaks
  • worn out chain

I experienced a level of generosity from strangers I’ve never seen before. Some highlights:

  • staying at Susan’s cousin Mike’s gorgeous house in northern B.C
  • staying in Eddie’s trailer my first day in the U.S. In a town of less than 300 people
  • being picked up by Sue Moe after five days of flats and fed an amazing meal by her brother & hanging out with her family
  • speaking to a man in a dog park for less than 5 minutes and seeing he gave a 200$ donation to River Woods
  • seeing my family in Fergus, Orangeville, & Toronto
  • being given pasta by a woman after my stove ran out of fuel to make my own for the night & having a coffee with her on the water before departing for the day
  • & loads more: being handed water on the side of the road, getting lifts into town when my bike broke down, having meals paid for in restaurants, given food and drinks by strangers, meeting several other bike tourists along the way, staying with warm showers hosts, avoiding most rainy days… On and on.

It will take some time for everything to sink in.  For the time being, I’m happy to be done.

The hills up to Cape Spear:

The finish line:

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The day before the LAST DAY

I’m writing this in Ivany Cove, it’s 6:00am on the last day of the ride.

On Tuesday I discovered my frame broke near the rear wheel. My handlebars wobbled rapidly from side to side for a couple of days and I didn’t know what the cause was. I picked the back of the bike up and let it slam on the ground and it bounced weirdly. I don’t have a picture of it, but it’s a bad place to have the frame break. I took it to a welder in the morning on Tuesday:

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I also noticed my back tire was shedding its first layer of rubber, and I had to get a replacement. None of the 3 shops I checked had a 700x32c tire, so I opted for a 30c. I was lucky: the tire was ordered for another customer who didn’t pick it up.

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Yum yum:

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I met Toru on the road Wednesday night and again Thursday morning. He is from Japan and worked in Winnipeg for 3 months before leaving for his bike trip east across Canada. He has a huge amount of stuff! I was behind him going down a hill going around 50km and was impressed by how stable his bike was!

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I don’t see many children in Newfoundland:

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Newfoundland – Day 1 – Port Aux Basques to Stephenville

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I arrived in Port aux Basques last night via the 6 hour ferry from Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Here’s a short video of me leaving Port aux Basques this morning in thick fog:

imageMoose hunting season started on September 12. The hotel was full of hunters dressed in camo.  Many bring vans with freezers inside to freeze the meat (see above photo). There are lots of atv’s around as well.

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Lots of moose warnings around. Apparently Newfoundland has a population of @135,000 moose.

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Back in Nova Scotia:  When you have a big lawn in Nova Scotia, you can do dope things like post up every Simpsons character (and Ninja Turtles, Spider-Man, & Bratz):

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I met up with the momma in North Sydney, after 57km of beautiful sunshine – maybe the last for this trip. We took the ferry to Port aux Basques, had sandwiches  and bad ferry coffee.

imageThe sunny picture above is leaving Sydney and the foggy one is our arrival in Port aux Basques.

On the boat: wearing something other than biking gear is really nice!

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In Newfoundland, there are a ton of guys with hunting jackets covered in trees, leaves, and branches designs. At our motel there were lots of middle aged men checking in – looks like a big gathering of hunters from Tennessee.

Today was the first day for the last section of this trip (890km to St. John’s), and I left my bags in the car. Biking without baggage is really nice. I went 23km/hour, up from 20km/hour.

The roads into Stephenville were gorgeous:

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Article in the Orangeville Citizen!

Here’s s link to an article by Tabitha Wells about my bike trip published today in the Orangeville Citizen. Thanks for the interview while I was in Ontario Tabitha and thanks for the great article!

http://citizen.on.ca/?p=4235

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New Brunswick and the start of Nova Scotia

I got through New Brunswick in 4 days and I’m now in Wentworth, NS., in Canada’s oldest hostel from 1961. It’s at the base of a ski mountain in the area and built in an old farm house. The manager, Andrew, is a really great host and made dinner for me & upgraded me to a private room with a big bed! Very nice guy, I would highly recommend staying here if you’re in the area. This is the living room:

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I didn’t know much about New Brunswick, but I like the geography. The highways are lined with trees much like northern BC, but with more gradual, rolling hills. My favourite blog of a guy going across Canada said he didn’t like his ride across northern New Brunswick, but I enjoyed my ride through the centre. There are also some monuments here, like the world’s largest covered bridge:

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And the world’s largest axe:

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The photo includes a gathering of men beneath the axe, which I found really funny.

I also found a place where a witch lives FOR SURE:

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I took a break to grab a bite at the Douglas Diner, and the owner Aaron bought me breakfast! Super nice! The food was filling and the coffee was fantastic.  Thank you for your generosity!

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New Brunswick, again like BC, has long, desolate highways where there are nothing but farm houses and cemeteries. Lots of cemeteries. And there might be zombies in New Brunswick:

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I went four hours of constant pedalling without finding a gas station and when I found a pizza place I inhaled four slices of pizza and two cans of pop. Here’s a picture from my campsite that night:

imageI’m going to try and do another 140ish km today. I haven’t taken a rest day since Ottawa (12 days) and I’m a bit worried about blowing my legs out. I’ve been thinking of doing yoga when I get back; something I’ve refused to do, to stretch my unstretched legs out.

I have a couple more days until Sydney, NS, where I will cross into Newfoundland for the last 800 and change kilometres of the trip. My mom is flying in to Moncton on Friday, and having the company for the last part of my trip will be welcome.

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120km north of Fredericton & the home stretch!

Stayed in a motel with excellent wifi in Andover-Perth, NB. I found out New Brunswick has a law that hotels have limitations on how much can be charged for accommodations – for a single the max is 70 or 80$. Last night I paid 60$, one of the cheaper motels on my trip.

My bike is slowly but surely breaking down. The rear mounting eyelet broke off and I did a crappy temporary fix which got me to my campsite:

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Better fix:

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This is Roy and Eleanor. I met them at a weird campground in eastern Quebec – I had to ride over sharp purple rock to get to it. The campsite was going to charge me 25$ for a site and I asked if that was the price for a biker – in Quebec, campsites can belong to a biker friendly organization, and they give discounts. Before she replied, Roy, who was checking in at the same time as me began speaking to her in French. Two minutes later, he told me where I could tent, and that they weren’t going to charge me. Roy invited me to have dinner at the restaurant, and I asked what he told the host at check in. Roy told her, ‘he’s biking to St. John’s, he’s come a long way from Vancouver, you should give him a free night’. Roy, this was so kind of you and really says something about your character, thank you. It was great having dinner with you & Eleanor!

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While biking along a trail alongside highway 2, I came across this awesome campsite: it had a covered area which could fit a tent, a bbq, a grill, table, benches, water, washroom, firewood, and right on the river! So rad. I had another 2 hours of biking that day, otherwise I would have stayed.

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Spare parts wheel:

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Near the end of a day I met Michael, who was touring on a single speed bike. We decided to share a campsite at Michael’s destination for that day. It was nice to meet another tourist this late in the season, and a good guy at that! Best of luck with your tour!

Yesterday was a bit of a gongshow. I broke camp as it started to rain, went to a McDonald’s where I had some covered area to fix my bike. I got the rack mounted pretty good and headed to Grand Falls, where I was told there was a bike shop. It was raining, my gears were squeaky and clicking; it was an unpleasant ride. I met the mechanic, who was really nice but didn’t know much about bikes, and he referred me to a shop in Fredericton. I was told two other tourists going to St. John’s had come through that morning too! They were still at the Tim Horton’s nearby, where I went to meet them. They were a father & daughter team, John and Sara, who were from Niagara Falls, ON, and started in Vancouver. They started July 9th, shortly after I started on July4th. I rode with them for about 35km to Perth-Andover, where we took a break and I decided to get a hotel after a day of delays and fixing stuff.

I’m going to stop somewhere and have my bike checked out. I likely need a new chain and something for my crank. All I want is for my bike to not fall apart before I get to dip my tire in Cape Spear. Afterwards it can burst into flame.

Also – the fundrazr page has gotten two anonymous donations for $200 & $100! So Good! The donations are close to 2500$, if not just over.

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