Monday, July 30, 2007


It has been a while since I've done a blog entry. That's because I'm in the middle of the most arduous leg of the journey - Minneapolis to Kingston, 1700km, in 12 days. I have had no time for anything but pedaling, sleeping, and an occasional meal. Tonight I reached Sault Ste Marie, the halfway point, and re-entered Canada. I'm gonna try to fill you in on all the details of the past few days:

July 25
I was supposed to be ready to leave Minneapolis early in the morning. Of course I am slow as shit, so I didn't get out of town until 6pm. It wasn't really my fault, I suppose. As I was trying to clean up at the gallery people kept bringing bikes in. I couldn't say no, so I got stuck there way longer than I hoped. I had a bowl of pho on my way out of town and made it as far as Somerset (just across the Wisconsin border) before setting up camp. I rode until about 11pm, mostly out of panic about losing time, which was my first night ride of the whole trip.

July 26
The day started off fine - I got up early (OK - 10am is early for some people) and had a decent ride. It soon got hot - really hot. By 1pm it was about 36 celcius and 60% humidity. I stripped down to just my shorts, gloves, helmet and shoes, and enjoyed the strong crosswind coming from the north as best I could. Early in the afternoon, around 2pm, I ran into Shawn and Matt at a rest stop. They are biking from Anacortes, Washington to Boston. We rode together as far as Bloomer where they planned to stay the night.

It was only 4pm when we got there and I couldn't afford to stop so early so I carried on without them as far as Cornell. All the while a hideous thunderstorm was right on my tail (though not nearly as bad as the ones I encountered on the prairies) so when I stopped I got a motel for the night and rode out the weather. I only made 80 miles (sorry for the antiquated American units) but the lightning and wind prohibited me from making any more progress.

July 27
Knowing I was way behind where I should be I determined to ride all the way to Antigo - 110 miles!!! Needless to say, this day was mostly a blur to me. I rode from 10am until about 11pm into a slight headwind. I didn't stop long anywhere, but can attest to the amazing beauty of Wisconsin State Highway 64. There were forests thick and tall, hills and twists and turns, and corn as high as an elephant's eye. Shawn and Matt caught up with me at one point while I was stopping for water, and although I wanted to ride with them I felt I couldn't afford to wait while they watered and ate. They were taking a different route after Antigo anyways, so that's the last I'll see of them. It would be nice to have a biking buddy or two, but impossible at this point due to my schedule.
I arrived in Antigo well after dark in the midst of some sort of weird Americana coincidence. There were stock car races which were audible from about 10 miles outside of town, a baseball tournament which ended in a huge fireworks show (never been a fan of fireworks - blowing stuff up just isn't my cup of tea), and a powwow attended by Indians from all over the midwest. I found a place to camp and set my alarm for early.

July 28
Again I had to have a massive day of riding. Marinette, on the Wisconsin/Michigan border was 78 miles away, and I wanted to get past that. At that point anything less than 85 miles a day was losing ground. I got up earlier than I ever have (8am) and rode all day again. Part way through the day I began to notice a serious tenderness and burning sensation all over my back and shoulders. Apparently, riding shirtless two days before (for the first time all summer) was a bad idea because I've got a major sunburn. By sunset my back is so itchy I can't help but scratch it, but so sore that when I do scratch I only replace itch with pain. Argh! I've NEVER in my life had a sunburn anything like this. But the ride was excellent - no wind to speak of and cooler temperatures than the previous days. I did my longest single, uninterrupted ride of the tour on this day - 71km from Mountain to Marinette nonstop. But my determination faltered after I reached Lake Michigan.

I followed Highway 35 north along the lakeshore and stopped several times to dip my feet in the water and take some pictures. It astonishes me how this lake persists. What keeps all the water from spilling out? It's just sand keeping it all in!
I camped within earshot of the lake - I was able to hear waves lapping the shore all night long. But I didn't sleep well, because a large mammal kept me awake most of the night. I thought it was a bear going for my food, as I heard something thrashing around where I had hung my Lucky Charms and Twizzlers. But when the sun came up in morning my stash was still there. Must have been another deer masquerading as a black bear.

July 29
The path north and east of Marinette hugs the shore of Lake Michigan. For most of this day I was distracted and tempted by sandy beaches and beautiful vistas. Aside from that, not much of note happened until I reached Gulliver, my camp site for the night. I got the low down from some locals about an abandoned resort near tiny Lake Gulliver. I was able to camp within 10 metres of the shore on a perfect little piece of grass. The spot was so ideal that I found it hard to sleep - the reflection of the full moon on the water was astonishing, to say the least. I set my alarm for 7am.

July 30
I got up at 9:30, tired and sore, with 107 miles to go to the border. I had a little splash around in the lake before I left and discovered these frighteningly large bird tracks in the sand.

Again, most of this day was a blur. I rode through two big sections of Hiawatha National Forest where I was sure a bear was gonna jump out of the bushes and take me down (incidentally, I've taken to sleeping with either my chain whip or my pedal wrench by my side, in the event of unwanted visitors of any species) but nothing of note happened. I made really good time - must've had an imperceptible tailwind with me the whole time. Got to the Sault by 7pm, found my way across the International Bridge and got hooked up at the hostel in town. Have to stay in the city tonight because I've got a bunch of errands to run in the morning.
That's halfway to Kingston, and, I am proud to say, 500 miles in the past five days!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I'm out of Minneapolis this afternoon. The show was a huge success at Art Of This, and I had a fantastic time.

I want to give a massive thanks to everyone who made this a week to remember:

John, Kristin, JoAnn, Daniel, David, Pete and Jamie from Art Of This - thanks for inviting me and for all the hard work you put in on this end of things. You run a first-class establishment!

The Hub Bicycle Co-op and all your staff (I'm sorry I don't know your names!) - thanks for the sponsorship and for all the assistance with everything this week. I'd have been lost without you!

Derek - thanks for the yummy tamales and for bringing your toolbelt to the gallery that night. It was fun wrenching together!

Steven - thanks for entertaining me with your music. I'm still waiting to see the eagles fly off your shirt!

Lauren - thanks for taking me into your house, feeding me, staying up all night watching movies with me, showing me your awesome lighter collection, the tour of the uni, and sharing your cats. I look forward to the day we meet again!

Becky - thanks for being my first customer, and for the amazing smoothie!

Craig - thanks for the tunes, they will keep me company on my ride!

Jason - thanks for the stories. Good luck on your trip!

Mike, Kristin, Ethan, Larry, Travis, Randy, Erik, Tatiana, Hazel, and the many other people whose names I've rudely forgotten, or never got in the first place - thank-you so much for bringing in your bikes, taking part in the project, and keeping me company in the gallery!

And of course to everyone who I've forgotten (my apologies, this week has been a whirlwind to say the least) thanks so much!!!

Keep riding those bikes!

Monday, July 23, 2007


Minneapolis has been non-stop fun and art. I can barely believe that I have to leave tomorrow.

I arrived in town Thursday afternoon and got to the gallery a little early. My lucky day - there was a bar next door. As I was finishing my pint John, one of the gallery people, arrived to meet me. We got the space set up and some other people showed up. I spent most of the evening preparing the gallery, since I wouldn't meet the woman that I was staying with until 10:30pm.

So I went to meet her, and it turns out that we have a crazy random connection. I met Lauren through and we new absolutely nothing about each other except that I was staying on her couch while in town. But it turns out that she's a grad student in the ceramics program at U of Minnesota. We have many mutual friends and acquaintances from our respective times at NSCAD, Bowling Green, Archie Bray, and U of Nebraska. So we played the name game and talked shop for a couple hours. Turns out Lauren has Pete Voulkos's last lighter, the one he had with him when he passed away while teaching a workshop at Bowling Green. The bottom of it is all scratched up from opening beer bottles.

Friday the show opened, and all my apprehensions disappeared as people showed up in droves with their hideously deformed bikes. Well, I was pretty busy, but found time to accompany Lauren and her friend Steven to a rock show downtown later in the evening.

Saturday was more of the same, but we had the opening in the evening. It was pretty mellow, and we had a good time in the brand new Art Of This lounge, telling stories, talking art and debating politics. A few of us stayed until about 2am. Good times, good times.

Sunday I went for breakfast with Lauren and some other grad students and then I got my tour of U of M. They have a really amazing facility, like every American school I've ever seen. Sigh. I made it back to the gallery a few minutes late but had about a dozen bikes waiting there for me. I had to make a few trips to The Hub, which is the local bike co-op. It's a really awesome place, and they graciously sponsored me and my project while I'm here in town. Later on Lauren and I went to see Steven's band play at a bar just across the river in St. Paul, and then came back over to Minneapolis to go to John's 30th birthday party. Krystal had made some really awesome cake with basil and some other stuff that I can't even remember. But it was awesome.

This morning when I arrived at the gallery there were actually people sitting on the sidewalk waiting for me to get there. Sheeesh! I had to cut off new jobs early in the afternoon, as I know I'll never get through them all tomorrow. Fortunately, a guy named Derek showed up with some tamales for me, and when he saw how backed up i was offered to come and wrench with me for a bit later tomorrow afternoon.

Alright, I know that's a lot, but a lot has happened. Everything here is great and Minneapolis is a really impressive city. I'll have to make it back here some day soon, and next time I'll have to make sure I do it at a slower pace.

Almost There

OK - I know i've been neglecting my blogging duties lately, but it's been REALLY busy. I've been having a great time since I left Staples. I had one particularly fun day of riding - from Little Falls to Cloquet Island. I ran into some other cyclists, Roy, Michelle, and Jerry, who are riding from Oregon to Massachusetts. We stopped and had lunch together at the local pub in Royalton, where, as we ate, two more coast-to-coast cyclists happened by. We enjoyed our meal while we traded stories and strategies, and an hour later we all headed our separate ways again.

Later that afternoon I found a quiet road that followed the Mississippi really closely for the rest of the way into Minneapolis. As the sun was setting I looked for a place to camp near the river - the romantic in me had wanted to camp near the river ever since I passed into Minnesota. I found a park, Cloquet Island Park, where there wasn't much traffic and decided to camp there. I left my bike by the road and scouted around for a spot where I'd be out of sight and comfortable. One place stood out - the island itself. The river was very low at that point, so I waded in and ferried all my gear across. It was perfect - I had it all to myself the whole night. I was not just camping near the Mississipi, but actually in the Mississippi!

Next morning I packed up, got back on the road and made it into Art Of This by 2pm.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Tonight I am camping in a forest for the first time in almost a month. There's just something that's a lot more comforting about having trees over my head instead of nothing til the absolute edges of the universe.


Well, I must say, I had a very good time in Staples. Monday was the first day I've taken off from all responsibilities since I can't even remember when - I didn't ride, i didn't work on bikes, I didn't even work on my website. It was great. I surfed a little earlier in the day, then went swimming at the local river with Michael Beachy and his roommate Trevor. We returned home to play video games and listen to vampire music before Michael cooked a delicious feast of spaghetti and garlic bread for supper. Tyler swung by and we decided to go bar hopping in Staples. None of these guys had ever been in a bar in Staples before, despite having grown up there, so it was a real learning experience. There are only four bars, and we got kicked out of two on account of Trevor being only 20 years, 355 days old (curse the USA and its weirdo alcohol laws). But we had a fun time nonetheless. The bottom photo was taken in a bar called Enockers, where the owner swears he has pictures of Elvis, John Lennon and Daunte Culpepper kissing the cow.

Anyways, I just want to thank Mike, Trevor and Tyler for showing me a great time.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Hanging with Michael Beachy in Staples, MN

I have arrived in Minnesota, and now I'm lazing about in Staples, home of Michael Beachy. Michael is a guy who I met through the Me(a)ghans in Vancouver and ended up hanging out with quite a bit. Purely through coincidence I have to ride through Staples to get to Minneapolis and I have a day to kill. We are going to go swimming right now, and then I'm going out to document the scenery in Staples. I will report back soon.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

North Dakota

I haven't done much blogging lately. To tell you the truth, I don't have that much to report, as North Dakota is...well...North Dakota. There's nothing wrong with it - in fact I've been having a really enjoyable ride. Despite its reputation for boring I've seen beautiful lakes, hills, valleys, rivers and lots of animals. Seriously, I don't know what there is to complain about - North Dakota has obviously never been to Saskatchewan. Even the fields are a little more interesting here - they grow crops other than wheat, flax and canola. Why just today I passed fields of potatoes and corn!

Speaking of canola, there has been a conspicuous lack of it since I crossed the border. Maybe if they called it freedomola it'd be a bigger hit with the farmers and consumers.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Extreme Weather Phenomenon

Last night I stopped in Weyburn and battened down the hatches for what looked like an all-out assault by the weather. Well, that never happened - until today, that is. I got up early and rode fast, but by noon it was apparent that my luck was running out. Playing it safe I stopped at a grocery store in a small town called Macoun. A few minutes later the sky exploded dropping about 3cm of rain in an hour. By the time it cleared off enough to ride again it was 4pm, and I headed for Estevan. Arriving in Estevan it appeared the same thing was about to happen - and it did. So here I am at 8pm at a restuarant in Estevan considering getting a motel room for the night because to this incredible rain. Blah.

By the way, I think that I might be a rain god, and that the clouds adore me and have to be near me.

St. John's

St. John's has been on my mind more and more lately. By the time I arrive there it will have been more than three years since I left for Regina. And I've only been to visit once in all that time.

What will it be like? Who will be there? What will I do? Where will I live? Will I enjoy it? Will I stay? Will there be good music? Will there be good food? Will there be good art?

I don't expect there will be any answers to any of these questions until I get there. Oh well, just three more months.


Had a good time in Regina last weekend. I arrived in town at about 1pm and stopped at O'Hanlon's for a pint o' Guinness. After relaxing for a bit I cruised down to the university to finally dispose of the refuse from my thesis exhibition. Yes, that is correct - Rublic is now in the collection of the Regina Landfill Authority. I got to spend the rest of the evening catching up with Grace and Jim at their house. Jim, who was very ill when I left Regina, is now back in fighting form, which I was very happy to see.

Friday I did some odds and ends around the university, and met up with some people at O'Hanlon's for drinks later in the night. My plan was to leave early the next morning, but I hadn't sorted out all the things I had wanted to send to Newfoundland so everything got delayed.

Which was OK, since I got to spend Saturday hanging with Carolyn. We barbecued some salmon and had fresh vegetables from her garden, and basically exercised our right to gluttony. Oh yeah - and we toasted with some white wine that she had made. Delicious!

Then I got on the road around 2pm on Sunday and got the heck out of Dodge. Who knows when I will be back.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


I'm not writing this to boast, only to show how perfect the conditions were and how much I was enjoying myself. I rode 200km yesterday, from Saskatoon to Bethune, which is far more than I've ever ridden in a single day before.

The weather was perfect - mid to high twenties, dry, and a good strong tailwind. There was no traffic - I spent most of the day out in the lane instead of on the rough shoulder. I was barely able to force myself to stop and whenever I did all I wanted to do was get back on and ride again. Even when the sun went down I couldn't stop - I rode until the last remnants of daylight were no longer enough to safely see my way. I knew I had a good day, but I really had no idea how far I went until I pulled into Bethune and passed a sign that said: SASKATOON 200.

I am very happy - and lucky - to be doing this.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Prairie panorama

For anyone who's never been to the prairies before I thought I should post this panorama from near the Alberta - Saskatchewan border:









It really is like this everywhere in every direction for thousands of miles.
Canola to the right of me,
Canola to the left of me,
Canola in front of me
Volleyed and thundered;...

Yes, I have crossed into the golden fields of Saskatchewan. Just a few more days until I reach Regina, the land of my birth. Well not really birth so much as release - release from the surly bonds of academia.

Speaking of which, my gradution ceremony was a couple of weeks ago. I did not attend, however, I've been told by a very reliable source that my name was read aloud during the proceedings. That means that I've officially graduated, and that I'm technically done with the university. But I know that seperation will not be that easy...

Actually, Regina represents another sort of milestone right now. When I reach there I will be almost exactly one-third done the tour. From there it's the long slow road to Minneapolis - 1200km in 12 days across uncharted territory. Just me and the wheat.


Now that I've got a good chunk of the tour out of the way I thought it might be a fun time to list some numbers:

As of July 3, 2007

Kilometres traveled - 2176
Days spent biking - 22
Provinces visited - 3
States visited - 1
Flat tires - 3
Thunderstorms I was out in - 2
Wipeouts/accidents - 0

Black bears encountered - 5
Grizzly bears encountered - 0
Coyotes encountered - 1
Moose encountered - 0
Elk encountered - 2

Nights spent camping - 17
Nights I left the fly open - 4
Nights I paid to camp - 2
Hotels/motels/hostels slept in - 2
Showers I paid for - 2

Days repairing bikes - 16
Exhibitions finished - 3
Galleries slept in - 2
Interviews done - 6
Interviews and articles printed or aired - 3

Kilograms of peanut butter eaten - 3
Bowls of pho eaten - 3