Thursday, 12 September 2013

The many thank-you's!

There are so many people and businesses that need thanking and so many who have helped in big and small ways over the past year and a bit. I'll try and mention some here, but I know I can't get everyone.

First off, thanks and praise to God for His grace and His love for us, and for blessing our trip and using us to help others and glorify Him! "...with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)

Secondly, thanks to our families and close friends who (even though there were some with doubts) encouraged us to do this, asked tough questions to get us thinking about the planning, and supported us all the way through!

Third, thank you to all of our very generous sponsors who purchased our various sponsorships and helped make this trip possible. We had our Title Sponsor; Tim Hortons & Cold Stone Creamery (Mark & Michelle Trombley own the two locations in the Hespeler area of Cambridge). Our Primary Van sponsors - Bookstore316 & Storehouse Accounting; Forward Church & Brighthouse Branding Group (thanks to Tracy for the awesome graphics on the left side of the van!). Our Cycling Jerseys sponsor, Graham Mathew and our Cycling Shorts sponsor, Grand Valley Fortifiers! Our Bicycle Frame sponsor, Fliet Electric, and our Secondary Van sponsors, Hammond Plumbing & Heating Inc., KW4Rent, Ride for Refuge, and Sterwyn Contracting Ltd.!

When we were approaching the beginning of our trip, we were still not quite at the level of our budget, which was $16,000. But by the time we left, we found we actually had $17,400, thanks to a number of friends and family who gave us donations to fund our trip! It was nice to know at the time that we had more than what we planned to be needing. As it turned out, we had way more than what we needed, and are able to donate the rest to Ratanak!

A special thank-you to Murray and Katie Lewis, for letting us use their mini-van for the trip! We saved money by not having to buy a used van, and it was nice to know that the vehicle we were using was reliable.

Thank you so much to the amazing staff at Ratanak International, who have cheered us on since we first approached them last summer with our ambitions of supporting them; thanks especially from my end to Alexis Cobham, who was my primary contact there and helped me with the many questions and details I had to figure out.

Thanks to many, many people who fed us, gave us showers and a place to sleep, or arranged with friends and contacts for us to stay somewhere; the churches who let us use their facilities for a night, the churches who gave us a few minutes to talk about our trip. So many people were involved in direct support for us on our trip-easily well over 100 people that I can think of right away!

There were also so many people from our church and other churches who encouraged us, sent us messages, wrote us encouragement letters and especially, prayed for us continually! That meant so much before and during the trip, so thank you for that!

Through our many hosts and all those who fed us along the way, as well as thanks to the generous support we received from our sponsors and friends and family-which put us at $17,400 for trip funds-thanks to that, we were able to save a lot of money, and that has gone towards our fundraising for Ratanak.

To continue the good news, I just got some numbers from Ratanak at the end of last week, and combined with the donations that I'm sending to them this week, we have $33,868.52 in donations now! That's about twice as much as we had near the end of the trip (about $16,500), and almost $10,000 over our goal of $25,000! A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who donated! No matter how small a gift, it helped, and it added up to something BIG.

Through our trip and the many things that have come together to make this happen, we've seen how God has worked in others and in us to make amazing stuff happen! Whether it was funding, billets, opportunities to share about our trip, or fundraising, God used us to make a difference in other people's lives!


-Be EPIC!

Helping [E]xploited [P]eople [I]n [C]ambodia,
Ben Looby & the EPIC Riders - Dave, Luke and Evan

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Our favourites and not-so-favourites of crossing Canada...

Since we've gotten back home, a lot of people have asked us a lot of the same questions. Questions like, "Has your body recovered from the trip?", "How does it feel to be home?", "What was your favourite part of the trip?", or "What was your favourite part of Canada?" and "How much money have you raised?"

The first question is pretty easy for me to answer, since I didn't do any riding, I didn't have much recovering to do. Evan, Dave, and Luke have had some time to recover, so they're doing better. Dave even went for a bike ride about a week after getting back.


We're all glad to be home for sure. Getting back to work, school, and social activities. The comforts of home; good food, comfortable bed, and not living out of a backpack and luggage bag. It's also nice to back with our families. It's weird, but the 8.5 weeks we were away felt like nothing. It seemed to go so fast; maybe not fast in the moment, but looking back at certain points it was like, "Wow, we're here already in the trip?", or even "We're home already?"

Some of our favourite parts of the trip were just in the different meeting we'd have with people. Like the night in Moose Jaw, SK, where we met 4 other cyclists going across Canada. We also enjoyed seeing things like the Terry Fox monuments in Thunder Bay, ON and St. John's, NFLD; the RCMP museum in Regina, SK; the Olympic Oval in Richmond, BC; and Fort Frontenac in Quebec City. The natural wonders of Canada were really beautiful too! Places like Mink Creek Falls in Ontario, Lake Superior, both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, the mountains out west and the hills out east. The prairies of the mid-west, Lake Lousie in Alberta, and the St. Lawrence River, which we travelled alongside for a few days. We also really loved all the days where we knew we had a place to stay for the night-usually in beds, at someone's house where they would also feed us. We had planned to camp for about 40 nights of the trip, but by the end, we'd only tented for 11 nights, and a couple of those nights were at hosts' houses! So thank you to all who helped out in that regard. You were such a blessing to us!

We also had a few parts of our trip that we didn't like so much. There was our string of flats on day 2, heat exhaustion on days 4 and 5, Luke's fall on day 17, and Dave's fall on day 21. Several cold and wet days of riding for Luke and Dave during the 11 straight days of riding (days 21-31), the leaking tent in Pancake Bay Park, and the really late night of riding on day 43. Of course, just riding the terrain and doing that many days of riding were a challenge to start off with. We were gone for 61 days, and our actual ride from coast-to-coast took 53 days; only 9 of which were rest days. So in 44 days, we covered 6569 kilometres (4082 miles); an average of 150 km a day! Some days were longer than others, and some days were just average, but the weather, terrain, or aches, pains and bike problems made some of those days difficult.

Overall, the ride was good, and we found ourselves pushed and grown in new ways. We had some great days, and had some rough days, but through God's strength and with His hand protecting us, we made it to the end in one piece!


Live EPIC!
-Ben

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

End of the EPIC Ride and other stuff...

Well it's been over two weeks since we got home... I figured I should stop procrastinating and get this blog post written up and stuff before I get too busy with school and whatever P/T job I end up finding.


Let's recap from where we left off, shall we?

Our last post had us arriving in St. John's in the late evening. We stayed with some friends of mine, Burton & Josie Ward, and enjoyed pizza, pop & chips while sitting around talking for a while.
The next morning, we got all packed up, took some wheels off the bikes (to avoid damaging them or getting them dirty), and went to see down-town St. John's where we ended up finding a candy store...



...then we went to Signal Hill...




... and the Terry Fox monument...




After our sightseeing, we got going for the other side of Newfoundland. Our ferry was the next day, at about noon, on the 21st. We drove all afternoon, evening, and part of the night. As it got darker, we slowed down our driving and took 500 km of the 900 km drive at about 60 km/h. We were really concerned with hitting a moose, and it was a long, dark drive.

Since we had a lot of time, on our drive back, we stopped near a small lake to get out and look at the moon and stars...and then I accidentally locked us out of the van. Thankfully, Luke had his CAA card and we called to get some help.

We finally arrived in Port-Aux-Basques at about 2 am. Then we slept in the ferry parking lot and the next morning, drove onto the ferry. The guys mostly slept during the ferry ride, but I did some work and read, and watched the ocean from the sun deck.




We landed back in North Syndey, NS and started driving at about 8 pm. We didn't stop driving again except for a quick stop to pick up some cycling shoes Luke had seen a few days earlier...



... and to drop off a key in New Glasgow to Christian Fellowship Church.

Other than that, we only stopped for gas and snacks, and ended up arriving home at the Lewis' at 6:30 pm. With the time change our drive home took about 24 hours.


On our drive home we received the news that Evan's father, Felix, passed away unexpectedly while on vacation in BC.

The funeral for Felix was on the 30th. We grieve with the Redka family but also rejoice in the hope that we have because of our Saviour Jesus Christ. We ask that you please continue to pray for Evan and his family as they move back into daily routines and the fall activities.


If you check out our Facebook Page in the next week or so, you'll get to see a lot more photos, and over the next couple of weeks, we'll add descriptions and tags to them!

Ride EPIC!

- Ben

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Day 53 of the EPIC Ride - Port-Aux-Basques to St. John's, NFLD

Day 53                            
Monday, August 19, 2013
Port-Aux-Basques – St. John’s, NFLD
Distance: 900 km driving, 100 km riding

The ferry reached Newfoundland at about 7 am local time and we started driving across right away. We stopped after about 200 km to get gas, and then kept going. Evan drove the first few hundred km, then Luke drove about 400 km before stopping for a dinner break.

You may recall that our original trip plans had us ferrying to Argentia, Newfoundland and then riding about 130 km to St. John’s. Since that ferry route had been cancelled for this month, we took the shorter ferry to Port-Aux-Basques. Then we were thinking of maybe stopping about 50 or 20 km from St. John’s and having the Riders go into town from there.

After driving in the van all day, though, getting onto a bicycle isn’t something the guys really wanted to do; except for Luke. He wanted to put his bike’s speedometer over 6000 km, so he decided to ride 100 km.

Dave drove the rest of the way to St. John’s, stopping to let Luke get out and start riding.
A little while after dropping Luke off, we saw that we were running out of gas, so I used Google Maps to find the closest gas station. The van’s computer display was telling us that we could go about 30 km farther, and Maps pointed out a station 14 km away. At first it seemed fine; we got off the Trans-Canada and drove on a couple of other highway roads, but then the directions had us turning onto a cottage road-basically an ATV track. Eventually we got to where the station should have been, but saw that it obviously wasn’t there.

Check later for a link to a video Evan shot during our drive.

We kept going and passed someone in a truck who said there was a station 10 minutes away. So we kept driving and eventually reached a main road, and 5 minutes later, finally reached a gas station. We ended up going about 15 km with the van saying “0 km until empty”.

In St. John’s we stayed with friends of mine, Burton & Josie Ward. We got there at about 8 pm, and Luke arrived at 9, having ridden about 100 km across Newfoundland’s hilly terrain, with a 30+ km/h wind that was mostly at his back, but sometimes at his side or even a headwind!



So this is it! We’re done now! We got to St. John’s, NFLD! In 53 days we’ve gone from Richmond, BC to St. John’s, NFLD; from the West Coast to the East Coast of Canada, with over 6500 km of riding!

In a couple days, there'll be another post, about the trip home.


Thanks for following our journey across the country!

-Ben & EPIC

Days 51 & 52 of the EPIC Ride - New Glasgow - Port Hawkesbury, NS; Port Hawkesbury - North Sydney, NS

Day 51
Saturday, August 17, 2013
New Glasgow - Port Hawkesbury, NS
Distance: 121 km

Day 52
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Port Hawkesbury - North Syndey, NS
Distance: 150 km


Sorry about the delay in writing this post; I've been busy driving and sleeping and seeing Newfoundland and the ocean in the past few days.

So on Saturday we went from New Glasgow to Port Hawkesbury, which wasn't too far. The Riders left at about 10 am, and were all in Port Hawkesbury by 4 pm. We set up our tent in the backyard of United Baptist Church.

A lady from the church, Anne Cormier, made us dinner that night and let me use her washer & dryer to do some laundry. She also made breakfast and a lunch for us the next day. We had a good sleep in the tent, and then stuck around on Sunday for their church service, where we got to talk about our trip and received a few donations.

Also, on Saturday, our own Rider Dave Lewis celebrated his 22nd birthday! It just so happened that the dinner Anne made for us was spaghetti, which is one of Dave's favourite foods, so that was cool!

After church, we packed up the tent and got going for the last full day of riding, 150 km to the ferry in North Sydney, NS!

I should mention that on Saturday all the Riders-including Evan-rode the whole distance! They also did all 150 km on Sunday, including climbing Kelly's Mountain...


By about 7 pm, we were all in North Sydney, loaded up everything and went to get supper at Tim Horton's. Then we went to the ferry terminal and waited in line to board. By 10 pm we were getting on-board and went up to our cabin. We had a 4-berth cabin aboard our ferry, the Marine Atlantic vessel, Atlantic Vision. There were 2 sets of bunks and a private washroom with shower; a small cabin, but well organized and comfortable. By the time we left port at 11:45 pm, the guys were all in bed, but I stayed on upper deck watching the land slip away quietly in the dark. It was a very peaceful experience, and with a bright moon at our stern, the view of the ocean was beautiful...


-Ben

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Days 49 & 50 of the EPIC Ride - Moncton, NB - Charlottetown, PEI; Charlottetown, PEI - New Glasgow, NS

Day 49
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Moncton, NB - Charlottetown, PEI
Distance: 157 km
Sunny

Day 50
Friday, August 16, 2013
Charlottetown, PEI - New Glasgow, NS
Distance: 87 km
Sunny, light clouds, breezy


We left Moncton by 9 on Thursday morning, after a delicious breakfast prepared by our hosts, Dave & Evelyn Sherman. Thanks again for letting us stay with you for the night!

It was about 95 km to the beginning of the Confederation Bridge from Moncton, and the Riders did it all in one shot, with no breaks, and met me at the exit before the bridge.


On the way there, they met a couple of young men (22 & 23) named Nigel and Mike, who were cycling from Montreal to Charlottetown.
Their third teammate (although we didn't know it at the time), Hans, was already across the bridge and waiting for them on PEI.
The three of them make a team called Pedal'aid, and are cycling to raise money for the Red Cross' work in the Lac Megantic train crash and fire.


After crossing the bridge, we had lunch, and then the Riders left to do the last stretch of riding to Charlottetown.
A couple kilometres along, I saw Luke stopped at the side of the road, so I pulled over. With him was Hans, the third guy from Pedal'aid.
It turns out Hans had broken a spoke on his wheel earlier that day, and had hitched a ride onto PEI with a some girls, back in New Brunswick. He then stood at the side of the road for 1 1/2 hours, trying to hitch a ride to Charlottetown, so he could get his bike repaired and meet his teammates there. I loaded up him and his stuff, and took him to a bike shop.
We chatted along the way about stuff we've seen on our rides and exchanged contact info for our teams. Their team almost ended up joining us at our hosts' house, but they ended up meeting a friend from Montreal, who took them in.

In Charlottetown, we stayed with George & Rosalie Maker, some folks who'd taken in Brian Mullins - a friend of ours from Forward.
They fed burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, and fruit pizza pie. Then George drove us around Charlottetown to see some of the city, and then out to the north side of the island, where we walked on the beach and watched the sunset.




On Friday, we had breakfast at the Makers', then rode and drove the 65 km to the ferry that would take us to Nova Scotia.



The ferry ride wasn't long-only 1 1/2 hours, and then we were on Nova Scotia, our 9th province! After landing, we only had 22 km to ride to New Glasgow, so we ended up reaching our destination by 4 pm!

We stayed at Christian Fellowship Church for the night, where we had showers, ate chicken fajitas, and watched Youtube videos.


50 days since leaving Vancouver and counting! 55 since leaving Cambridge, and only 5 until we get home!

Over $16,500 raised for Ratanak! Click here to DONATE!


-Ben

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Day 48 of the EPIC Ride - Oromocto - Moncton, NB

Day #48
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Oromocto - Moncton, NB
Distance: 153 km
Grey in the morning, sunny later in the evening.


After a great breakfast at Stephen & Veronica's, in Burtts Corner, then drove back to Oromocto to pick up with the riding where the guys left off on Monday.

The ride to Moncton was relatively unremarkable; decent roads and weather, and a good riding pace.

Evan and I made it to Moncton mid-afternoon. On the way into the city, we stopped off to drive the Magnetic Hill. It's not actually magnetic, but is a very convincing optical illusion. I drove-what seemed down-the road, and then went over to the left side, put the van in neutral, and watched it crawl back-what looked like up-the road!

Then we drove through Moncton to our hosts' house. We stayed with Dave & Evelyn Sherman; Dave is the brother of Audrey Brodeur, and we stayed with Audrey & Camille in Brandon, MB back in mid-July.

Dave got there at about 4:30, and then at 5, Luke texted me to come and give him some more tubes, because he'd gotten two flats. I turned out that he only had one, and the new tube he'd put in didn't inflate because his hand-pump wasn't working. So I got him some new tubes and he used the larger tire pump to get going again. He arrived in Moncton at about 6:30.

We enjoyed a hearty dinner of potatoes, corn, peas, ham, and buns and finished it off with some chocolate cake!

We were all tired, so we just went upstairs to our beds and lounged around for a while before going to sleep.


-Ben

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Days 46 & 47 of the EPIC Ride - Florenceville - Oromocto, NB; Rest day in Burtts Corner, NB

Day 46
Monday, August 12, 2013
Florenceville - Oromocto, NB
Distance: 160 km
Partly cloudy, high 20s. Hot.

Day 47
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Rest Day in Burtts Corner, NB


We had a full day of riding and activities on Monday. First, we ate a big breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon and toast. Thanks to Sylvia and Mike McIntosh for opening their home, feeding us, and doing our laundry!

The Riders then all mounted up and rode to Hartland, about 20 km away, to get some pictures on the world's longest covered bridge. We also spent a bit of time with some of Luke & Dave's extended family, Evan's grandpa, and Dale & June Shaw, from Family Worship Centre.



Evan took the rest of the day off for his knees, after doing the first 20 km, and doing a hard and fast 80 km the day before. Luke made it the next 20 km to Woodstock, where we stopped to get some photos and interview with Doug Dickinson from the local newspaper. After stopping there, Luke got in the van for the rest of the day, because his knees were also hurting him. If he'd kept riding, he would've hurt himself more and would also have ridden slower.

So we went ahead, Dave riding, and us three in the van. After about 50 km we stopped at some cliffs for the rest break. I laid in the sun for a while, Evan took pictures of his Dr. Pepper, and Luke climbed the rocks.






Dave arrived after a while and took a break in the shade.


We had decided in the morning that since our billet for the night was northwest of Fredericton by about 30 km, that we would go past Fredericton to Oromocto, so that there was less distance to cover on the day to Moncton. In total, Dave rode 160 km, and then we loaded up and drove about 50 km to Stephen & Veronica Hoyt's, in Burtts Corner.

Veronica is the aunt to Dave & Luke's cousins, the Thorntons. We stayed at their house that night and the next day. We were fed lots, lounged around a bunch, and got some needed rest. On Tuesday we all slept in a bit. I visited Fredericton in the afternoon, the guys went on some walks, and we ate pizza for dinner.


For the rest of the evening, we just relaxed and enjoyed our last rest day.


On to the last 5 days of riding!

-Ben

Monday, 12 August 2013

Days 44 & 45 of the EPIC Ride - Riviere-du-Loup, QC to Grand Falls, NB; Grand Falls - Florenceville, NB

Day 44
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Riviere-du-Loup, QC - Grand Falls, NB
Distance: 185 km

Day 45
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Grand Falls - Florenceville, NB
Distance: 80 km
Sunny


Saturday we left Quebec. Quebec was a really beautiful province to travel through.
The first three days in the province, we were on the north side of the St. Lawrence, with hills and farmland on our left, and houses and the river on our right. When we took the ferry across to the south side we basically saw farmland and houses or small villages along the entire road, and the river on our left, with mountains on the opposite shore, and hills far to our right.

Leaving Riviere though, we headed east, and started climbing. The guys have said that the hills here in New Brunswick are like being in BC again. Not as high in elevation, but big, and lots of climbing and descending. The hills are covered with trees or farmland everywhere. Small towns are encountered occasionally.

After the first 50 km, Evan joined me in the van, because the climbing was hurting his knees.
For the first break, Dave got there first, then Luke a while later and Evan a bit later still. Dave was already waiting for us at the New Brunswick border when we got going, but got cold because of the wind, so he left about 4 minutes before we got there. So we drove ahead to give him some food, thinking that Luke (who we thought was maybe 10 km back) would wait for us at the border. Luke was actually only a few minutes from the border, so between the time that we caught up to Dave and came back around, Luke passed us. Not realizing this, we waited for 20 minutes at the border and then decided he must've gone by already. So we took off, and caught up with him a while later.

Then we had to go from there to meet Dave, who had said "45 km farther", but by the time we got to him, he'd gone over 60 km.

We waited for Luke there, and finally went on to Grand Falls, where we met relatives of Evan's at a Tim Horton's.
Evan's Grandpa, Handy Nevers, and great-aunt DoDo bought us dinner at Timmy's and we chatted there for a while.


We stayed the night in the basement of Assomption Catholic Church.



Now originally, our plan had been to ride from Grand Falls to Fredericton, about 220 km away. But we'd heard from the Redkas that they knew people in Hartland, which was 100 km from Grand Falls. We also had contacts for our two nights in Fredericton, so we figured we'd ride 100 km today (Sunday) and then do the other 120 the next day.

The people from Hartland, Pastor Dale Shaw & his wife, pastor Family Worship Centre in Florenceville, 20 km north of Hartland. They invited us there to be in their service, and to meet their youth group, and also to take us our for lunch. So we got there around 11:30, talked to their congregation for a few minutes (small group of less than 50 people), and were prayed for by them.
The church also took up an offering for us, and we raised $500 for Ratanak, thanks to their generosity!

After spending some time taking photos and talking to everyone, we were taken out for buffet lunch to a place called Grama's.

We ended up being billeted with a family from the church, who live in Florenceville, and then in the evening we were taken to another family's house for homemade pizza. We hung out with the youth from the church again, who later took us out for ice-cream.

It also turns out that our contacts for Fredericton, who are relatives of the Thorntons (Dave and Luke's cousins), are in Burtts Corners, NB. Burtts Corners is northwest of Fredericton. So we'll ride from here to Fredericton, to get the distance done, and then drive back to Woodstock to spend the night and the rest day there.
After our rest day, we'll drive back to Fredericton and start riding from where we left off.


We've met lots of friendly people across Canada, and we're sure to meet a bunch more here in the Maritimes before we finish, so we're hoping to keep making connections. If you know people out here, have them contact us.
We're still looking for billets in Charlottetown, PEI; New Glasgow & Port Hawkesbury, NS.


As of today, we're at $16,343 for donations, which is about 65% of our $25,000 goal! However, we'll be home in 11 days, and we still have a lot to go. We really want to meet our goal, so we can help support Ratanak and all the work they do in Cambodia.

We've been blessed through this whole trip with heavily reduced expenses, through many people giving us places to sleep and providing food for us. So far, we haven't had to use our emergency budget for anything, so we expect to have a surplus of funds when we return home.
We'd like to see our donations rise to $20,000 by the time we arrive home. So that's another $3,657 in 11 days, or about $332 a day, or even just 183 people giving $20 each! Between everyone we know, and have met on this trip, we have probably come into contact with 1,830 people! So can you help us out by donating, and then tell one person about us and Ratanak, and ask them to donate. Thank you for your help and sacrifice!

If you're not really familiar with Ratanak, check out their website, where you can read about the history of Cambodia, how Ratanak started, and what they do. The work they do and support helps bring the love and healing power of Jesus directly to the broken people of Cambodia.


-Ben
-EPIC to the end!

Ratanak International - www.ratanak.org
Donate to Ratanak - www.epicriders.org/donate.html

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Day 43 of the EPIC Ride - Quebec City - Riviere-du-Loup, QC (aka the Midnight Day)

Day 43
Friday, August 9, 2013
Quebec City - Riviere-du-Loup, QC
Evan - 113 km, Dave - 143 km, Luke - 187 km
Partly cloudy, low 20 degrees.


After a nice rest at with our hosts, Dominic & Mari-Josee, we loaded up and drove to downtown Quebec City to tour around a bit.
Our host in Riviere-du-Loup was going to be out between 7:30 pm and 10:30 pm, so we planned to ferry from Quebec to Levis, and ride the 185km to arrive at 10:30 that night.

We parked near the shore and walked through some of the downtown, then climbed up stairs and hills to Fort Frontenac, and then walked around that to the Plains of Abraham. By the time we got back to the van, it was almost 1 pm. Then we drove to the ferry and took it across to the opposite shore. It was a really short trip. Dominic had told us that it's so easy and cheap that people use it for commuting all the time, instead of driving across the bridge.

Fort Frontenac 

Plains of Abraham

Ferrying across

After getting off the ferry, we decided to go into the town and find some food. We went to a cafe for some sandwiches, and by the time the Riders finished and got set up to ride, it was 3:30 pm!


Lunch - we're all hungry!

I went ahead about 65 km for the first break, and Luke met me there first. Dave got there a while later, asking why I'd gone 75 km, and we found out that he and Evan had taken a bike path and ended up detouring about 9 km. He had gone ahead from Evan to try and catch up with Luke, because Evan decided to take it a bit slower pace. Evan got there a while later, rested for several minutes, and then went on ahead.


There are a number of people riding across Canada this summer, and you can find out about many of them from this website, Biking Across Canada. Two of the people riding, Katie & Sofi - the Wanderers on Wheels, have been ahead of us this summer, and we almost caught up with them in Riviere-du-Loup. They arrived a lot earlier in the day then we did, and informed me of a construction zone which was mainly dirt, mud, and rocks; the only detour for which was 15 km of country roads.

I went ahead and when Dave and Luke caught up after 40 km, I drove them through it. I then circled back and picked up Evan, who had gone 36 km. He loaded up and we went on way ahead to try and meet up with Dave and Luke for another break.

Luke and Dave have lately been going at different paces, because Dave likes to ride hard, and Luke is finding that after riding so many days, he needs to take it slightly slower.

On this side of the river, there is a cycling-friendly road, Hwy 132, which we've been taking. At one point it splits to 132 and another highway, Hwy 230. Dave reached that point and ended going up 230 about 10 km. At that point, it was about 9 pm, and he had no light on his bike, so he decided to turn around and come back to the intersection. He texted us that info, and we were already past 230, so we went and caught up with Luke to check on him. He was fine to keep riding, so we doubled back to find Dave. Once we caught up with him, he'd started coming back up Hwy 132, but decided that to ride all the way to our destination would make it too late, so we loaded him up.

We grabbed some McDonald's food (some burgers for Luke too) and kept driving through the dark. By the time we caught up with Luke, it was after 10:30 and he had about 13 km left to ride. We gave him directions, let him eat his burgers, and kept going.
Luke didn't actually reach the end until about 11:45 pm, because he had got a flat, so that delayed him.

We were all so tired that we just set up our stuff in the bedrooms and crashed within an hour.


Here is a link to the route for the day (including all the driving and detours): Day 43 - MapMyRide.


Definitely our latest day (riding-wise), and we collectively decided to never start that late again, especially with long rides.


-Ben


This what we saw for pretty much the whole day, through farmland and small villages, close to the St. Lawrence River...



Friday, 9 August 2013

Days 41 & 42 - St. Canut - Trois Rivieres; Trois Rivieres - Quebec City, QC

Day 41 of the EPIC Ride
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
St. Canut - Trois Rivieres, QC
Distance: 170 km
Sunny, mid 20s.

Day 42 of the EPIC Ride
Thursday, August 8, 2013
Trois Rivieres - Quebec City, QC
Distance: 120 km
Grey all morning, sunny by noon, grey in the late afternoon, light rain


Today all three guys started out from St. Canut and headed for our second Quebec stop; Trois Rivieres.
Evan was able to ride about 35 km before his legs and knees hurt and he stopped for the day. We took a rest break after about 60 km, then about 50 km, and then finished off in the evening at our hosts' house in Trois Rivieres.

We stayed with Kevin Veilleux in Trois-Rivieres. Kevin had come back two days earlier from biking in Asia, Europe, and across Canada in about 13 months. We set up our tent and had hamburgers for dinner. Kevin took us down to the Saint-Maurice River where we set up a slackline and took turns trying to walk across it.

This is the only half-good picture I could get of Dave trying it...

This is what it actually looks like, with proper lighting, and good balance...


In some of our earlier posts I mentioned we had been having water problems with one of our tents. When we were in North Bay, Evan's parents took us to Canadian Tire to get a new tent, which we are using for the rest of the trip and they are getting back at the end.
We set this tent up in Kevin's backyard for the night. Turns out we can all fit in it with our stuff. It was pretty nice, except that it rained that night and there are a couple seams on either end that leaked water, so it dripped in all night and got a couple things wet.


Today we rode to Quebec City. The day started out gray but became sunny later on. We Stopped at an information/tourist centre, ate in the shade, and enjoyed the view of the St. Lawrence. Evan did 65 km and took the next 40 km off. Our next break was at a snack shop, right beside the river...


The Riders got back on the road at about 3:30 and got to the outskirts of Quebec City before encountering a construction detour. The traffic was so bad, and the detour would be so long, just to get 9 km ahead, that we stopped at a Walmart. Evan, Luke and I all found good deals on shoes and/or flip-flops.

Our host for the night, Dominic Michaud, lives about 10 km out of the actual city, in Lac Beauport. He and his wife and two girls live in a beautiful home, with an aboveground pool, and a cool basement. We had a swim, ate dinner, and watched a movie downstairs before sleeping.



This post took longer to finish that I thought because we had a long and adventurous day from Quebec City to Riviere-du-Loup.

-Ben

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Day 40 of the EPIC Ride - Ottawa, ON - St. Canut, QC

Day 40 of the EPIC Ride
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Ottawa, ON - St. Canut, QC
Distance: 155 km
Sunny


We left Ottawa, Dave and Luke riding, Evan in the van (he was sick in the morning, so took the day resting in the van), and crossed into our 6th province!

We now have about 2 weeks until we reach St. John's, and then a few days later, we'll be home again in Cambridge, ON!

There was a noticeable difference in the roads as soon as we crossed into Quebec. For pretty much all of Ontario, the shoulder was about 30 cm beside the white line. In Quebec, the shoulder is wider in most parts; about 1 meter or more. In the villages and cities there hasn't been a shoulder, but more than a few have had bike lanes, and clearly marked signs indicating them.

For the most part it has also been flat coming through Quebec.

Dave and Luke made the 155 km trip in 8.5 hours, including breaks; starting at 9 and arriving by 5:30.

When we were in Brandon, MB, we stayed with Camille and Audrey Brodeur. Camille's brother, Yollard, lives in St. Canut, QC and offered his home to us. We had a great evening with a delicious dinner made by Yollard's wife Guylene, hanging out with their kids, and watching a movie. Altogether a relaxing time and a very friendly and hospitable family!


-Ben

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Days 36, 37, 38, & 39 of the EPIC Ride - North Bay - Pembroke; Pembroke - Ottawa, ON; rest days in Ottawa!

Day 36
Friday, August 2, 2013
North Bay - Pembroke, ON
Distance: 227 km
Average speed: 30 km/h
Grey and rainy

Day 37
Saturday, August 3, 2013
Pembroke - Ottawa, ON
Distance: 160 km
Sunny

Days 38 & 39
Sunday, August 4 & Monday, August 5, 2013
Rest days in Ottawa, ON
Sunny & warm


The ride from North Bay to Pembroke was long, cool and wet. Not much else to say except that it was long.
Dave and Luke made pretty good time; riding 227 km in 7 hours and 45 minutes. Evan rode the first part of the day.

Thanks to Pembroke Pentecostal Church, we were able to make a connection with Paul Henry, who hosted and cooked for us that night and the next morning. We all actually stayed at a house that is owned by a couple from Pembroke Pentecostal; they rent out the house to students during the school year, but let us stay there for the night.

On Saturday morning, Evan pulled something in his back when rolling over in bed, so needed to take a break from riding that day. We drove about 75 km and met Dave and Luke for a break. About 70 km later, we took another break, and my family joined us near Dunrobin, outside of the Ottawa area.

While in Ottawa, we stayed with Dave's friends, Dan & Mel Reid. We spent Saturday-Monday night there, and enjoyed two awesome days in the Ottawa area.

We did a variety of things, including spending time with my family (Loobys) and the Lewis' family.
Dave, Luke & Evan went to Calvary Baptist (Dave attended here when he lived in Ottawa) and shared about the EPIC Ride and Ratanak. In the evening, Luke went with Dan and Mel to their church and shared there as well.

Throughout the weekend, we all did our own things, and did stuff together, and had a fun & relaxing time with everyone!
Thanks to our families for taking us out for food, and Dan and Mel for the great home cooking!


-Ben

The adventure continues! We're in Quebec now, and plan to be in St. John's in about 2 weeks!

p.s. We're at $16,000 in donations for Ratanak, so we still need $9,000 to meet our $25,000 goal!
One of our friends from Forward, Haley Walker, will shave her head when we get back, if she can get $1,000 in donations for our fundraising goal (which will go to Ratanak). Check it out HERE, and help support Ratanak!