We finally finished what we set out to do: that is cycle from Vancouver Airport to Ottawa and blog about our adventure. Today we finalized the remainder of our blog entries. We updated the following pages: a. Equipment list b. Fun statistics c. Food We can now get on with the planning and preparation for our next two trips. For 2016, we had hoped to cycle to St-John's, Nfld, but due to unexpected circumstances, we must delay our trip by 1 year. As we have done in the past this East Coast trip will serve as a full dress rehearsal for the trip we are now planning for the summer of 2018. In 2018, we will fly to Deadhorse, Alaska and pedal as far SOUTH as we can in a two month period. We expect to make it at least to Vancouver or Calgary (we have not firmed up the route yet). The particular challenge on this trip is the lack of support between Deadhorse and Fairbanks, Alaska. We will have to be self sufficient for 800 kms. The 200 km of near nothingness between Wawa and Sault Ste-Marie now looks like a Sunday afternoon ride on the multi-use pathways in Ottawa. We hope you enjoyed our blog and for the cyclist reading this we hope it is useful. Hélène et Daniel
The post ride Blog editing has started and should last for a while. Helene has been busy working on our videos. They are now of better quality and have a bigger viewing window. We have also compiled all of the videos on one page so you don't have to go through every page of the blog again. So for those of you who where concerned about withdrawal, well you still have something to take care of that problem. You can access them on the Videos page via the Blog Index or via this link http://hd-canadabybike.blogspot.ca/p/videos.html. We are still busy updating our Fun Statistic, Food post and Equipment Failures and Success. Just check the blog every week or so and updates we will inform you of what has been updated. We are now amusing ourselves with our road bikes since we had signed up for an event a 160 km ride in August in order to have something to focus on upon our return.
Not nearly as much fun as loaded touring bike but a lot faster!
We faced a number of challenges from the climbs in the Rockies, the headwinds in the Prairies and the hills and traffic all along Hwy 17 in Northern Ontario. We did our best to capture images of the magnificent scenery in the Rockies, beautiful and ever changing skies on the Prairies and the most incredible turquoise waters of Lakes Superior and Huron. Of this incredible experience what we will treasure the most are the daily encounters we had with the most wonderful and generous people and the new friends we made. We want to extend a special thanks to Bill and Rose Lynn who offered us much advice, planning for us a route through Cochrane in order to avoid Calgary and meeting with us in Irricana, Alberta. To Alain and Denis thank you so much for sharing with us your experience crossing this beautiful country and making us better prepared for the unexpected. To Andre, thanks for your constant support and encouragement. Last but not least to all of you that followed us on our blog. What was initially a personal journal and the means to keep our families informed evolved into so much more. It became a link to what felt like a behind the scene support team with who we could share experiences good and bad, a team that could be called upon to help find things when we had neither the time or resources to do it ourselves. While you waited for your daily blog updates we in turn waited for your comments and to date total 250. Thanks to all of you that sent in pictures and videos. We posted a few of each below.
A little video of the arrival
Another little video of the arrival
All formal with ribbon at the arrival
Celebrating with family and friends
I don't think the smile can be any bigger
I got caught off guard, I'm all smiles inside :-)
Lady on the right is Sylvie, one of our frequent commentators!
Helene trying to convince her family that once you get the hang of it, it is easy to ride a loaded touring bike. Her mother (on the right) is buying none of it.
Maman Leroux is still not convinced.
Robert explaining to Jacques why he voted for Helene's video
Thank you Jose and France for bringing the delicious cake!
Helene's family, this one brought her close to tears!
Helene busy chatting with cycling/skiing friends
Lady on the right is Helen another frequent commentator!
Me chatting with friends from work
Pauline who also commented frequently
Helene with her parents, Rejeanne and Simon
Thank you everyone for all the good wishes and encouragement!
Although we were in a motel next door to McDonald's, this last morning started like any other day with a breakfast of grilled cheese made on the single burner stove. We cheated a bit by using the motel coffee maker, but with our own coffee.
Unlike every other day when the goal was to get to destination in the most direct way (direct became important ever since our epic detour in Sask.) today we needed to stretch things out as long as possible. With a distance of 67 km, we could have been at Hog's Back by 12:30.
As we cycled through Arnprior the sound of running water as we crossed the bridge caused Hélène to stop and take pictures. For many years I had driven through Arnprior (old route of Hwy 17) on my way to Petawawa and never thought that someday I would be there cycling. As we walked about, we noticed many buildings and facilities that made us want to come back to Arnprior and take the time to visit.
Arnprior and District Museum building
We headed south of town towards the Galetta side road with a slight tail wind. Go figure on the one day when we want to take it really slow we get a tail wind! Not much to see on Galetta side road except for flowers in the ditch and one great big field of sunflowers. As we neared the intersection to County Road #5 we had a decision to make, to either turn right and pedal 18 km to Carp on a relatively flat road or stay on the current road and go up a hill. This hill I am very familiar with. It was at the end of a particular long and very hot ride, the summer following my surgery (Nov 20110, and we were riding to catch the ferry to Quyon, Québec. Three quarters pf the way up the hill, I had to stop, rest and slowly and painfully push the bike to the top of the hill. What a powerful moment it was this time to charge up the hill on a fully loaded bike while holding a conversation.
Flower of the day
Not flower of the day but pretty impressive as all flowers facing east
The business end
No idea what it is but it looked nice and just across the road from the sunflowers
Making a right turn on another side road, we casually pedalled towards Carp. Not much vehicular traffic on that road but lots of cyclists taking advantage of the smooth surface. As we neared Carp, we ran into two young guys from Vancouver on their way to St John's, Newfoundland. They told us of the horrible treatment they had the day before being turned away from two trailers parks near White Lake with a thunderstorm looming. These trailer parks did not accept people with tents. Without exception, may of the trailer parks we stopped in BC and the Prairies always made room for folks on bicycles.
We got to Carp at about 11 am and headed straight to "Alice's Village Café" a favourite rest stop for cyclists. After soup, coffee, day old scones and not wanting to be asked to leave after our extended stay, we got back on the bikes and slowly made our way to Ottawa. We were passed by individual cyclists and groups who cheered us on and gave us thumbs up when they discovered why we were loaded down.
Alice's Village Café...get there early on weekends as it is pretty busy and worth a stop
The mandatory village mural
We got to Parliament Hill at about 1:30 and by 1:45 all the needed pictures at the hill were taken. We offered our services to another cyclist from Vancouver heading to St John's. Trust me, we felt the urge to just keep going ourselves.
Inuksuks by the Ottawa River at Remic Rapids by John Ceprano
The happy travellers unaware of what was waiting for them...later
We ended up stopping along the Canal between Bank and Bronson bridges and waited to make our way to Hog's Bag for 3:30. A group of three cyclists was heading our way and the last cyclists recognised our blue cycling jerseys' with the 'E(e)!'. We were surprised and delighted to see Peter, Yiwen and Jacques on bicycles and heading to Hog's Back. We never imagined having an escort on the last leg of our trip.
The bikes enjoying a well deserved break
We had expected Hélène's family to be there to meet us but as we neared the park we noticed a group of people with a ribbon and cheering. I recognised that most were friends either from work or from cycling and one relative. What had happened to the Leroux's? Turns out they were at a different location in the park. Eventually, the two groups got together and we got to repeat our arrival at destination. It was unexpected to see that many people there cheering our arrival.
Hélène and I are most fortunate to have had the opportunity and resources to fulfill a long held dream of cycling from Vancouver to Ottawa. For both of us, it also marked a major milestone, for Hélène a significant birthday and for me a chance to really test my plumbing (triple bypass).
We thougth we had well planned our trip from start to finish. It was not till 3:30 pm yesterday afternoon that we realized that one major aspect of the trip had not been given much thought, the arrival marking the end of our adventure. We were overwhelmed by the reception and as of yet, not completely processed its impact. Look for another blog entry in the next few days that will cover the arrival. :-)
Hélène, Daniel, GrandmaRoux and Grambo (the turtles)
Day 62 has posted. We had a really nice waterfront campsite complete with lawn chairs lent to us by the owners. They normally don't provide a camp site to 'road people' but they seem to have a certain interest in folks who travel by bicycle. We left at 8:30 under overcast skies and first headed to Calabogie, 45 km away. Once again a lot of up and down till we reached Calabogie. At Calabogie, we stopped for our second breakfast and saw many cyclists whizz by on road bikes. It was only later in Burnstown that we learned that the Ottawa GranFondo was taking place today.
Beach at Camel Chute Campground on Madawaska River
Bridge over one of the many lakes on our route
Time share lodge on Calabogie Lake
Once we left Calabogie, the route became a lot less hilly and we were able to make quick time to Burnstown were we had to stop for desert. We sort of ran out of wild flowers to take pictures of so now we are taking pictures of amphibians. The little guy in the picture below did not make taking his picture easy which explains why it is not as clear as usual.
Amphibian of the day
The Blackbird Café in Burnstown often hosts upcoming singers and bands. It is a well known place in the arts community around Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley.
We had delicious strawberry-rhubarb pie with lemonade at the café. Once desert over, we hit the road for what I remembered to be a big hill after the bridge over the Madawaska River. I could not have been more wrong. Yes, there was a hill but a relatively small one. As we negotiated the hill, we were passed by folks cycling the GranFondo. We followed the GranFondo route for a while but eventually turned away from it as we were heading to Arnprior and they, to Ottawa. A few cars and trucks passed us on the road and offered us words of encouragement (that is what we think they were yelling at us ;-). I wish they would stop and yell at us from the side of the road so we could at least make out what they say and we could thank them for their kind words with a few choice words of our own.
The Madawaska River as seen from the new bridge.
Once in Arnprior, we quickly ran around town to pick up essentials and headed to the motel just in time. It did not take long for the skies to open and for a thunder storm to start. We sat outside for a while until there was a lighting pretty close to us and we decided to beat a retreat inside.
Just like that day in Wawa
A lovely video of rain falling outside and not on us while in a tent
We did win at the lottery but just enough to buy a bag of Cheesies so we will be at Hog's Back Park tomorrow at around 3:30. Just look for two people on loaded bikes with mismatched flags. Hélène's parents will be there with refreshments and we will supply the Cheesies, everyone is welcome.
The park entrance is on Hog's Back which runs between Prince of Wales and Riverside Dr
We left Paudash at around 8:30 on route to our last campground near Griffith. We expected the route to be pretty much the same as the day before with lots of uphill and downhills and once again we were not disappointed. These darn little hills are so close together that there isn't much of a chance to take a break. We were told that Northern Ontario (Hwy 17 North of Lake Superior) was tougher than the Rockies but the folks who told us that might not have had the pleasure of riding Hwy 28 in Haliburton. We stopped for a drink and a rest at a country store in McArthur's Mills. There were two young travellers from Quebec who upon seeing us said they had done the same thing as us when they cycled on Prince Edward Island last year. When we cycled the Cabot Trail the first time, our guide Jacob Racine told us he was next going to support a ride in PEI and that there is one hill to speak of in PEI. I just couldn't get over what I had just heard and you can see my reaction in the picture below. I think I am becoming a cyclo-touring snob (Hélène uses another word but I can't repeat it here!)
Smiling from the encounter with the two young Quebecois we met in the store
McArthur's Falls rushing water
The view from the top of one of the many hills
Not just about hills but also about farmers working their fields
The flower of the day
After our short break, it was back on the road and more hill climbing. We thought we had already climbed the steepest hill (10%) a few days ago but we had no idea of what was coming our way. With our RideWithGPS we can have a look at all our routes but with limited Internet, we rely on a cell phone and Google map which doesn't always provide you with accurate hill data. We had no idea that we would be going up a 12% incline, complete with two areas for trucks/cars to stop and cool down (starts at km 61.5 in RideWithGPS). This hill was a challenge and the heat and humidity made it even more so. If that was not enough, the clouds of black flies just made it that more fun. Our 56 km detour in Saskatchewan helped us prepare for these kinds of hills and Hélène's reaction at the base of the hill was very much understated: "That's gonna be a 15 minute climb!" She was pretty close in the timing. We include the picture of another small hill because that 12% hill can't be seen in full from the bottom but the picture and the video below gives you an idea. The little black spots in the video are the black flies that insisted on making the climb with us. This 12% hill was by far the steepest hill of the entire trip and reminded us very much of some of the hills we experienced in Gaspesie and in Cape Breton Island.
A nice little climb, short and steep and you can see the top
Nice little farm house
View at the top of the 12% hill, it was well worth the effort
The video below is of Hélène nearing the top of the 12% climb that was accomplished without stopping.
We keep a list (well many lists as Hélène has lists for everything) of the most difficult hills we have climbed since our first cycling trip in Cape Breton in 2012. After cycling almost 5,200 km on this trip and climbing up such memorable features as Allison Pass, 10-Mile Hill out of Golden, the hill in Cochrane Alberta and that little 12% the other day, the most difficult hill we have ever climbed remains the hill at Ste Madeleine de la Rivière Madeleine , in Gaspésie. This hill remains the only one where we either had to push the bicycle to the top or needed a push to start climbing after a rest stop.