News

September 15, 2013
Most times the sound of two tires on pavement, whirling chain, wind at ones back and nature around you is the best soundtrack to a good ride. But there are times we listens to music projected from a little speaker in my back bag. If there is one soundtrack from a movie that captures the mood of this ride better than anything else it is Into The Wild by Eddie Vedder. Watch the movie, better read the book and definitely discover that album. Here are the lyrics to a song that plays over and over in my head as I watch the 100 thousand dollar RVs pass or wind past he million dollar homes here along the coast. Our little tent is a pretty nice little home of its own.

Society:
Eddie Redder

It's a mystery to me
We have a greed with which we have agreed
You think you have to want more than you need
Until you have it all you won't be free

Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me

When you want more than you have
You think you need
And when you think more than you want
Your thoughts begin to bleed

I think I need to find a bigger place
'Cause when you have more than you think
You need more space

Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me
Society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me

There's those thinking more or less, less is more
But if less is more how you're keeping score?
Means for every point you make your level drops
Kinda like it's starting from the top, you can't do that

Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me
Society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me

Society, have mercy on me
I hope you're not angry if I disagree
Society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me
September 14, 2013
Our first day of less than ideal weather in a long time. Warming our bones to nanaimo bars and hot decaf in Nanaimo BC at a funky little cafe. Early this morning an old gent yelled out in a friendly manner, everyone is pretty friendly and laid back here, "nice day for a bike ride eh?" "Always a nice day when you are on a bike," was my response and I meant it. You don't need to do anything radical, just next time the weather is nice ride your bike to the store or walk. There are alternatives to the automobile. Heck we have had two attached to our bodies for millions of years. To paraphrase Orwell, very roughly, four wheels bad, two wheels good, two legs better.
August 29

This website provider now has an app that allows me to update the website via my iPad. 

We have travelled over 3000 km thus far in our adventure to cycle to stop the cycle of drugs and violence. From Inuvik down to Stewart BC the trip has been phenomenal. The natural highs of seeing grizzlies, or stopping for more than a dozen black bears in as many km cannot be surpassed by any chemical. We have climbed high mountains, paddled deep lakes, camped out every night of the way, cooked by fire and reconnected with each other and the planet.

Now that I can place images on here I will update the website regularly starting with a slide show from the start to this point of some of the highlights.

Please don't forget to spread the word. The more people viewing our adventure and supporting our effort to raise funds and awareness for the work of Smart Kids Don't Do Drugs, the better.

September 12, 2013
Vancouver Island, North End to be precise.
Best whale watching we have ever had. Watched Biggs Killer Whales, that feed only on warm blooded mammals training their young to hunt seals by playing with sea birds, at least half a dozen humpback whales, couple hundred white sided pacific dolphins, some Dall's porpoises, colony ofStellar Sea Lions and a bald eagle. To top it off we saw the biggest black bear ever right by where the night before we camped and video taped the young one training for the circus. Incredible weather. Not a cloud in the sky for days. Warmest weather of the entire trip so far. Up to 31 degrees centigrade in the interior valleys. Sleeping in the shadow of giants each night in this Pacific Temperate rainforest. Amazing. — enCampbell River, British Columbia.
September 9, 2013
The sun has reappeared after a dreary day on the ferry. Ready for exploring Vancouver Island. Passed a couple meters in front of two deer and two juvenile bald eagles this morning. Saw thousands of salmon spawning in a creek a couple km from here, and lots of bear scat! This is Canada at its best. You can keep Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and the rest of them. — en Port Hardy, British Columbia.
September 5, 2013
Our Gear
Aside from a little Solo wood stove we have several other items that we are trying on this trip along with more familiar gear.
Our bikes are two touring bikes. Felipe is riding an REI Novara Safari, an adventure touring bike with 700 wheels. It has proven to be a steady mount and he is comfortable with it. The one day on the Dempster when I connected the trailer to it and loaded it with a couple extra panniers on top of the load I felt the spokes might start popping. Since then Felipe has ridden it exclusively save for short runs to the store or such. I think the wheel is a little out of true but nothing of serious concern yet.

I am on a Surly Long Haul Trucker that I purchased from Ride Bicycles near the University of Washington in Seattle. It is one of the most favoured touring bikes around, particularly in the States. Mine has 26 inch mountain bike size wheels. I elected for the standard cantilever breaks over more powerful but complicated discs. The breaks are to e the bikes weakest point and I wish it had at least the stopping power of Felipe's v breaks, especially with the load I am hauling with the trailer. I am very happy with the bike, especially withe seat I brought over from China, the Selle with a huge slot for the prostrate. No numbness or pain experienced.
The trailer we are using is s BOB single wheel job. It is a great way to haul stuff but a pain when it comes to parking or especially commando camping like we do most nights. I keep it attached almost all the time, for days on end, and try to find ways to park the bike by leaning it against something rather than laying it down. I may choose to leave the trailer in Vancouver to help us speed up the trip a bit although I can go no faster than Felipe.

On sunny days I sometimes attach our Goal Zero solar panels to the BOB with bungee cords. This allows us to charge up the kindle, iPad or iPhone that we are carrying and have emergency lighting for the nights, especially since we long ago left the land of the midnight sun and the midnight sun long not so long ago has left these lands for the year. We also picked up a Grundig pocket radio in Whitehorse that is starting to come in handy as we enter more populated areas but I did not bring the adaptor to charge AAA batteries with the solar panel so when its batteries go we have no radio. The kindle and iPad are Felipe's work stations of school work, his library, journal writing station and, when there is Internet, which has been rarely, online mathematics class. I also just bought a tiny speaker to augment the sound of the iPad or iPhone so we can better listen to podcasts when setting up camp. Right now our favourites are Hardcoe History by Dan Carlin. Very interesting history lessons. Just got through the story of the Mongul invasions called Wrath of the Khans.

We have a bear proof food container that can carry about four days of provisions. On longer stretches we have to hang food with parachute cord in addition to stashing food in the bear container. This also will become superfluous and will be sent on once we leave the land of ursus.
Our cooking gear is composed of a Swiss Army Knife, two metal forks and a couple plastic spoons. We have a cook kit I bought in China that has some kind of reflector system on the bottom that makes balancing it on the Solo stove problematic. Fortunately only one major spill to date. Up on Lake Bennet we found an old kettle in a train boxcar and it has prove to be the best addition to our camping gear. It's bottom is black with creosote from the many fires it has been brought to a boil over during our more than two solid months of camping. We usually cook by boiling water in the kettle and then adding the hot water to whatever we are cooking, rice, oats, pasta, mashed potatoes, in our two plastic measuring cups bought at the Salvation Army in Whitehorse where I also purchased the forks.

We have a three person REI Quarter Dome Tent. The many mornings when the day has started with rain, especially that morning up on the high Gnat Summit Pass when it was pouring until about 10 AM and we had to eat breakfast in the tent, heads out of the doors to avoid crumbs and spills adding to the bear curiosity factor of our nylon home, I have been very happy with the conscious decision to go with a bigger tent than we would use on a shorter trip. It weighs a little more but it is our home for six months and therefore a comfort factor needs to be taken into account. Once the bugs are all gone we can leave the screen doors open and add the vestibules as part of our living space.

We have two self inflating mattress from Decathlon, a French sporting goods chain with stores in China and a 3/4 Thermorest that I brought back from a visit to my parents. I sleep with two mattresses and Felipe with one. He has a medium weight synthetic bag from Decathlon and I have two very lightweight bags also from Decathlon that I double up on colder nights. On warmer nights we just used the lightweight bags, but those nights seem to be past.

For clothing we mainly depend on the riding clothes donated to the Cycling to Stop the Cycle ride by Lance Sobike, a Chinese firm based in Hangzhou where we live that specializes in cycling clothes. Some of the clothing is only now becoming useful as it is very warm, but should prove very useful as Autumn progresses. There is a photo of us with the Sobike folks at their office in Hangzhou the day they donated the clothes to us. Thanks Lance Sobike! Great gear, I hope you have success in promoting cycling as an alternative transport form.

We alternate our Sobike riding short and shirts with similar shorts from Decathlon and a series of lightweight wool T-shirts and log sleeve T-shirts from Decathlon. I have a fleece vest and Felipe a fleece sweater for colder nights. Over all this we have two down jackets that we wear in camp and if required to bed along with longhorn underwear. The long johns are great for giving a dry, cotton feel to a synthetic sleeping bag and for isolating our salty skin from the nylon. A pair of,high tech fishnet undershirts from Sobike add a nice layer of trapped warmer air and allow us to ride without wind jackets on most days. We each have one pair of cold weather windproof riding pants and jacket from Sobike. We also have a pair of light cotton pants from Decathlon and Felipe has a team Mexico soccer jersey. That is the only piece of clothing that is more form than function. We have a few pairs of socks and some underwear but the socks are the only thing that get regularly used as we are normally in riding shorts.

Sobike has excellent rain jackets and windbreakers (Bright yellow) aside from the windproof cold weather gear that we use as an additional layer against the cold wind or especially against getting wet. These have proven to be the best products of all from the donations so far. We both wear helmets although on long ascents I frequently hang mine from the drop style handlebars of my Long Haul Trucker and then put it back on once we pick up speed. I installed a rear view mirror on my helmet after the Dempster and plan on getting one for Felipe further south as the traffic picks up. It is helpful to see the behemoth that is about to bash you to the afterworld!

We have one pair of shoes each and a can of Dr. Scholls sneaker spray to keep them tolerably fragrant. Felipe has pedal cages with the straps removed and I have power grip pedals with one diagonal strap across the top. This almost cost me a broken kneecap and ankle one day whey foot became snagged sideways but other than that they have worked perfectly, almost as good as having lock in pedals and specialized shoes.
To carry all this gear we have four large back panniers by Ortlieb and Felipe has two smaller front pannier also by Ortlieb. These are a 100 percent waterproof German design. They lack external pockets which makes organizing where to put little things a bit of a challenge but otherwise they have worked quite well. The BOB has a large waterproof bag also. Over it I connect the mandolin and guitarle, a Yamaha baritone ukulele with six strings. I also carry a Topeak back bag on my rear rack for the Canon camera, my wallet, knife, lighters and other important items. Strapped to the top of this bag is the bear spray, hopefully readily accessible in case of an encounter. Felipe carries the foul weather clothes in his front panniers where they are readily accessible. He also carries the UV water filter that we use to treat all the stream, river, lake and bog water we have drink along the way. 

On the front of Felipe's bike he has a small Topeak handlebar bag where we store all the toothbrushes, cutlery, medicine, comb (infrequently used as it is, maybe we will have dreadlocks by me the we reach Mexico!) sunblock and bug dope. On my handlebar is mounted the Sony or GoPro video camera that we have alternated between along the trip.

Under the seats we each have a small bag. Mine caries the multitool, also Topeak with a Park wrench, and Felipe's carries emergency flint and fire starter materials. Felipe's front panniers also carry spare tubes, a small bag of nuts and bolts and patch kit. Finally, until we get further south and more bike shops, Felipe carries one spare tire for each bike and one for the BOB. These are remnants from the original tires the bikes came with. Before we rode a meter I swapped the tires for Schwabe Marathon tires from Germany, the standard long distance hard core heavy but almost indestructible touring tire. Even the BOB received a tire upgrade. So far I experienced one flat on the Dempster, and Felipe has been flat free, perhaps because of the considerably lighter load they are carrying, not a reference to my body mass!

We have four very small LED lamps, two red taillights and two whit pe headlights, that run on watch batteries. These can attach to the bikes or work as flashlights. My bike has a Cat Eye cycle computer. We wear bright yellow safety vests. Felipe's is one we found on the side of the road. O. The back of the bikes we have slung pieces of safety cloth found on the road for added conspicuousness. Felipe's old vest, that does not open in the front now lays over the back bag on my bike. In Whitehorse I also bought a telescopic fishing rod at came with a little tackle box not much bigger than a pack of cigarettes. Other than a lake trout on Lake Bennet, caught by Felipe, we have not been able to supplement our diet much with fish so far. 

The greatest challenge has been food. When we buy enough for a long stretch between stores the BOB is pretty loaded down as that is where most of the camping gear and all the food is stored. 
I dislike the need to carry so many forms of USB connectors. This just adds weight. Why can't there be one standard connector for everything?

Oh I forgot the harmonica. Highway blues without a harp is like love without kisses, or as the French say, a meal without cheese.
 (7 fotos)

September 5, 2013
Scenes from the Kispiox Valley, Skeena River Valley and thereabouts. The level of artistic expression by the First Nations people's around here is amazing. There's was the most highly developed of all hunter gatherer societies based othe bountifulness of the environment here. The big white thing by Felipe is a puff ball mushroom. They were growing in a perfect circle of about 10 meters diameter. Can you say alien invasion? This is a great little alternative community that is hoping to start an alternative school based on the principles of permaculture and organic living. Very tempting idea!
 (23 fotos)
September 4, 2013

Life on an organic farm in the Kispiox Valley. I could get used to this! We harvested wheat, wheat that is considered illegal by the big marketing boards because it is natural no organic and not modified. Crazy world we live in. Ate great food and slept well for three nights and felt very invigorated on our ride yesterday of 123 km. We are now in Terrace.
September 3, 2013
As we riode this last stretch of the Cassiar Highway we again entered the silent reverence that struck us near the end of the Dempster. This is no ordinary highway. To travel its course, particularly at the oh so human pace of a cyclist, to dive deep into the silence and symphony of solitude and be carried by the sense of awe is a soul-changing event.
Although solitude can signify absolute absence of sound, more often than not we are surrounded by subtle murmurings of nature. Today, as the approaching autumn with its musky smell of death and decay, of a forest land that has passed its zenith and preparing itself for a long and deep winter respite, there is an almost constant buzz and shuffling sound as the drying leaves rustle in the tall cottonwoods or meeker birch. The wind jostles the limbs to life and suddenly it is like we are beside a fast river or a huge popcorn maker. Every glance seems to reward us with the sight of a leaf drifting to rest on the forest floor. It is Labour Day weekend, the traditional end of summer for Canadians and here, still far to t he north of where most call home, autumn's arrival is clearly not far away.
This day, like many others, began with us in the tent waiting for the rain to cease and has since turned into another glorious day of relative warmth and blue sky punctuated by high cirrus clouds like casual brush strokes on an artist's blue canvas and thicker cumulus clouds floating like cotton balls across the northern sky. The mountains surround us creating a corridor that we follow to the south. It was today that I realized the meaning of AWE.
Aligned With Earth, or perhaps At Oneness with Earth. That is the feeling one submits to when you live with the rhythm of this planet and her glory. Awe is the type of feeling that will bring tears to your eyes when you gaze at a distant mountain panorama, not so much because of the landscape, although that is definitely stirring, but out of forlorn regret that so much of our lives, when we are busy "taking care of business" in our offices, glued to our radiant screens, counting money and storing up for retirement, we miss the subtle rustle of the leaves, do not capture the beauty of a leaf floating earthward, neglect to smell the perfumes of fresh cut trees, the decay of the swamp, the cool mint from a mountain stream, the smells of death from animals that have completed their journey on this mother ship we call home. How mny days do we modern humans spend busy in our routines like ants in their subterranean dungeon and miss out on the pageantry of life this planet provides us?
And then the behemoths pass, semis and motor homes, cars and pickups. Like dinosaurs that we ride to our own extinction they pass us by and violate the solitude, silence and hushed murmurs of the forest. They break our concentration and awe for where we are. They require our attention, demand respect and fear. I hate them and what they represent. This could in no way be anywhere as intense a journey in a car. I wish everyone has the chance to travel at a pace propelled by human energy, the wind or water current. It makes the world a whole lot bigger, quieter and awe inspiring.
I now turn this machine off and return to AWE.


September 2, 2013
We are resting a couple days and working on an organic farm in the mountains of Northern BC. This is the land of totems. The art work we have seen along the route the past couple of days is incredible. Listening to the sheep and roosters down in the valley below us. Sweet weather still with the crisp reminder each morning that it is September.
August 30, 2013
Spent the night in the bunk house from the road crew here. They get up to 15 meters of snow each winter. Right now only four guys working in the roads but this bunkhouse will be full of operators for snow removal equipment in a few months. Heading south in a few minutes. — enMeziadin Camp.
August 28, 2013
The ride up to Salmon Glacier. One of the best rides ever. Lunch with a gorgeous view. Riding without panniers and trailer made the 40 km climb a breeze. There are a couple shots of downtown Stewart included. (7 fotos)
August 27, 2013
From the serenity of the mountains it is hard to reflect on what inspired this ride. Here is a good reason. Anyone who says drugs are a victimless crime is wrong. No matter how you get around it illegal drugs support the worst criminals on earth. May these poor families find peace somehow.

From the Huffinton Post today:

TLALMANALCO, Mexico -- The bodies were headless and covered in lime and asbestos, hidden under a thick concrete slab – young men and women not seen since they went out partying in an upscale area of Mexico's capital nearly three months ago.

As the families of 12 missing youths settled in Saturday for an anguished wait for DNA identification, they and others said this week's gruesome discovery at a muddy mass grave in the countryside east of Mexico City was bitter vindication for those who have said all along that the city's top law-enforcement officials downplayed the disappearances and were at best incompetent in trying to find their loved ones.

The bodies were only found once federal investigators stepped in – after waiting impatiently for local police to make progress.

The kidnapping and murder has revealed a gangland battle for control of the lucrative drug trade in the poshest bars and nightclubs of a megalopolis that had been an oasis of calm during Mexico's nearly seven-year drug war. The head of Mexico City police on Saturday deployed more officers and a helicopter to some of the city's upscale districts along with the rough neighborhood of Tepito where most of the victims lived, fearing retaliatory attacks.

A federal official who helped discover the bodies said that they were found separately from their heads in what could be a frightening echo of the brutal mutilations of drug cartel victims in other parts of Mexico. The official spoke condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.

"Mexico City is not a bubble. If we don't put a stop to it, we're going to fall into a serious security problem," said Miguel Amelio Gomez, a security consultant and former investigative police chief for Mexico City's attorney-general.

The kidnapping occurred three months ago midday on a sunny Sunday in an upscale district in the heart of Mexico City, five cars pulled up outside the after-hours club known as Heaven, a block from federal police administrative offices and the U.S. Embassy. Eight men and four women who had been partying all night left and climbed inside, grainy surveillance video shows.

Then they vanished.

Mexico City police said they were working on the case. But after more than two months of little progress, federal investigators were brought in. They discovered 13 bodies, apparently the 12 young victims and an unidentified person, on Aug. 16 on a ranch 35 miles from where they disappeared. Tattoos and dental work identified at least five of the victims from the Heaven club. Work to identify the rest continued Saturday, and families pleaded for the remains to also be examined by forensic experts abroad arguing they can't trust their country's investigators.

Relatives of the 12 expressed grief, frustration and mistrust at the discovery. And they accused Mexico City's law-enforcement authorities of moving slowly on the sensitive investigation, perhaps because they were afraid of what it might reveal.

"It's all really confusing to us," Beatriz Loza, the aunt of victim Monserrat Loza, said Saturday. "The investigation failed. I can't believe that three months have passed."

Four current and former law-enforcement officials told The Associated Press the massacre appears to have been orchestrated by a wealthy and powerful drug gang as revenge and a warning to a group of poorer interlopers trying to seize territory in some of the city's trendiest neighborhoods.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal details of the ongoing investigation.

With some 100,000 police officers in the capital, Mexico's largest cartels have little public presence here. The retail drug business is booming, however, and local drug gangs collectively make $100-200 million a day selling marijuana, cocaine and hallucinogens, said Gomez, the former district-attorney's investigative chief.

Investigators told the AP they believe dealers from the poor eastern neighborhood of Tepito have been trying to move in on the Union of Insurgentes, a gang that's named after the city's prosperous main north-south thoroughfare and controls sales in virtually all of the nightspots in the wealthiest parts of the city. The gang in control hires women as spies to flirt with potential rivals looking to sell drugs on their territory, and valets are used as lookouts, Gomez said. Corrupt police with annual salaries of less than $10,000 are paid to turn a blind eye.

Two owners of the Heaven bar, Mario Ledezma and Ernesto Espinosa Lobo, have been arrested. Some of the witnesses have testified that both were working with the Union of Insurgentes, according to an investigative document written by Mexico City prosecutors and shown to the AP by a person with access to the case files.

Ledezma claimed in a statement to authorities that he was threatened by armed men from the gang who informed him that they were going to sell drugs in his bars – and kill him if he objected.

Ledezma said they told him if they ever saw other people dealing in the bars they had claimed as territory, those rivals would disappear.

Of the 12 victims, at least some had family ties to a Tepito gang.

One, Jerzy Ortiz, has a father, Jorge, who is currently imprisoned for extortion, organized crime, homicide and robbery. Another victim was Said Sanchez, whose father is serving a 23-year prison sentence for similar crimes.

Mexico City Attorney-General Rodolfo Rios has said the Heaven case was also connected to a murder two days earlier in a nightclub in the trendy Condesa neighborhood, where an alleged drug dealer was taken out onto the street and shot in the head.

An official with the Mexico City prosecutor's office told the AP that investigators there are looking into whether the gang feud was behind other deadly incidents in the capital around the same time.

In one case from April, relatives of five other young men reported that loved ones had been taken from a bar called Virtual in the same area as Heaven. Relatives said that when they filed missing persons' reports authorities asked them to stay quiet for their own safety.

Surveillance camera footage that could have helped solve the mystery disappeared eight days after the kidnapping, according to the prosecutor's official, who wasn't authorized to speak about the case.

In the Heaven case, families started to report the missing the next day but nothing happened until four days later when the relatives blocked streets in a public protest. Even then the case seemed to be going slowly, with leads turning up and immediately going cold, and Mexico City officials repeatedly emphasizing that the case was no sign of a broader problem of insecurity in the capital.

"They have many elements, many people, but where are the victims?" Leticia Ponce, mother of 16-year-old Jerzy Ortiz, one of the missing, asked in July. "Are they really trying to find them?"

The break came on Aug. 16, when federal investigators were searching a suburban area east of Mexico City. Attorney-General Jesus Murillo Karam said last week that the investigators were out on a completely different case when they stumbled across the ranch. But the official with the federal prosecutor's officer told the AP that federal investigators had been assigned specifically to look for the Heaven victims in neighboring Mexico state, a sign of impatience with efforts by police in the capital.

The investigators, following informants, had heard that the kidnappers might be in rural Tlalmanalco, already known as a spot that was popular among criminal gangs. In their search, they came upon an armed man near a cemetery who took off in his truck at the sight of investigators, the federal official said.

The officers followed him onto a ranch known as La Negra, thinking perhaps they would find a "safe house," where criminals hide guns, victims or themselves. They returned several times to move on the wooded property, where they found cows, turkeys and horses, plus an unfinished shed.

They got a search warrant on Wednesday to look for weapons. When they arrived on the ranch, they found bags of clothing and a box full of cellphones.

When they started questioning two men living on the property, the men got nervous and investigators got suspicious. Under separate questioning, the two gave different stories. Finally one confessed that someone had buried bodies on the ranch and led them to the site. By Wednesday night, federal and Mexico state authorities were mounting a full-scale excavation.
August 27, 2013
We are going to head out, and a lot of up, from beautiful Stewart today. We will be out of Internet connection again for several days before reaching the Prince Rupert area. Yesterday we did a 1200 meter, 40 km climb up to Salmon Glacier, fifth largest in North America. I will put some photos on here.
The website provider for http://www.cyclingtostopthecycle.org/ now has an ap that allows me to update the site via an iPad. I am going to start placing photo galleries and news on there as well. Please spread the word. If this trip helps any young person to choose adventure for his or her adrenaline instead of drugs then we will have kicked at the darkness just a bit.

If you would like to receive regular updates via the CSC email newsletter send us an email and we will add you to the CSC Newsletter list. 

August 21, 2013
Dease Lake 
If you check a map you will see there is a whole lot of empty country up here. The first night on the Cassiar I heard wolves from the tent. This morning we spooked a cow and baby moose. It is turning to autumn - quickly. Last two days wearing gloves, jackets, even a sweater under it all. All this region has been very seriously affected by the cost of petroleum as many places, like here, run on diesel generators. Time limits to the amount of energy you can use, internet etc. Five hundred more km of the Cassiar to go before we start seeing real towns etc. — en Dease Lake, British Columbia.
August 17, 2913
We have made it to the frontier between the Yukon and British Columbia. after stocking up on food supplies for the 1000 km or wilderness riding along the Cassiar we will turn south and cross the 60th parallel, symbolic boundary between the true north and the rest of this northern nation.

The Northern Trinity
Landscape, weather and wildlife - that is the northern trinity at which Felipe and I worship each day. Each morning promises new landscapes and opportunities to view wildlife, be it another bald eagle, we see one almost every day, grouse sitting dumbly on the side of the road, the distant cry of a coyote that I am certain I heard while resting at the top of one long climb today, or the ever present hope and fear of crossing paths with a bear. Each morning we awake to see what weather lies in store for us, fair or foul the journey must carry on. Even on a day like today when storm clouds persistently hang low and threaten to dampen our ride, the landscape can be sensed as strongly as it can be seen. Distant rapids are heard through the glistening wet folds of spruce that hem in the road. Every now and then a rustling and snapping of twigs tells us we are not alone and some other being is nearby, perhaps watching us as we glide almost silently through its abode. Landscape, weather and wildlife, we bow to their majesty and strength with respect and awe.
There is a real difference between being a traveller as compared to being a tourist. I have never done well at the tourist scene. Indeed other than a week at Disney World a few years ago, I really have shied clear of most experiences resembling the word "tourist." And when stuck in anything remotely resembling a tourist scene I invariably find a way to adventurize it. Even at Disney I needed to add some labour to the experience, purchasing a week's supply of food and carrying as many provisions as possible each day into the park. Despite the heightened security of the post 2001 world, we were able to bring crackers, spreads, fruit, juice powder and canned spinach, along with a Swiss Army knife into the high temple of tourism. This desire to follow the road less travel manifests itself in walking instead of taking the bus, taking the bus instead of a cab, thumbing a ride when the opportunity arises, sleeping under some trees outside an airport rather than taking a hotel room when the connecting flight is less than 8 hours away. It is the kind of drive for the crooked course that had Felipe and I walking across Kathmandu in the middle of the night past heaps of garbage lit at the curbsides by filthy street urchins for warmth and light. A tourist passing by in a sealed taxi would not smell the toxic smoke of burning Coke bottles, nor felt the irregularities of the cobbled, hobbled and potholed streets. The tourist sees the sights, the traveller feels them.
Paul Theroux wrote that after one of his travel adventures he needs a vacation. So it is with my escapades. I come back invigorated but exhausted. To travel comes from the French travail, to labour, to work. There is much to write about on the road of a traveller that fits the romantic and inspiring stereotype of the Lone Ranger, like the rainbow we chased this afternoon, but equally, more so in fact, this way of living is tough. It is not just the obvious grind and wear on your body. Hours propelling yourself and all your gear over mountains and against the wind is but part of the travail. There is the fetching of water and purifying it. Cooking requires collecting fuel and building a fire. Eating food that is selected and valued for its weight rather than its flavour becomes tiring to the palate. The labours put into bear proofing our activities are constant. The measures taken to leave no trace of your presence trickle right down to scratching a hole in the ground with your heal and covering your scat like a cat. Just the mental alertness of remembering to carry a pepper spray when you foray into the bush to collect fuel, amble down to a dark bend in a river for water, or lay your head to rest at last to sleep, just remembering that red canister is an act of conscious effort every moment and waking hour that we travail.
These are all skills and attitudes I hope to instil in Felipe. This mode of transport and way of LIVING, and indeed we are very much alive, our senses constantly inundated with stimulation, immerses one in the totality of BEING. Out here, under this tin roof, the pouring rain again falling from the now blackened sky, here is where one discovers what it means to be a living being. As a truly living being he will find his envelope of comfort and tolerance for discomfort to be broad and more than ample. 
Not only does this path tax our legs and lungs. It also stimulates our minds. We stop at every interpretive sign, walk every interpretive trail. We stop and listens to anyone who has a story to tell and learn from their experiences. At lunch we often listen to podcasts such as "Hardcore History" or try to pick up interesting programs on the pocket shortwave stowed away in my back bag. Ironically we seem to have most luck picking up programs in Spanish. We talk history and science, philosophy and geography, discuss the social problems of First Nations or try to identify the types of clouds as we ride side by side on empty roads. Felipe may never be a Rhodes Scholar, but better than that he is a true Road Scholar.
 — en Watson Lake. (8 fotos)

 

 

July 24, 2013

 

Felipe and I are heading down the Dempster after almost a month of adventure heading up to the Arctic. We picked up our bikes and gear from near Tacoma, Washington and rode up to Bellingham in two long days. In Bellingham we caught the Alaska ferry, stopping for a couple of days in Juneau before reaching my old friend Pete's place in Skagway. In Skagway we did some mountain climbing, saw a cinnamon coloured black bear up real close and took in the gold rush history. We then spent a week on Lake Bennet exploring the terminus of the famed Chilkoot trail by kayak and foot before travelling up to Whitehorse where we loaded the bikes onto a Manitoulin transport truck to Inuvik. After a couple rainy days in Whitehorse we flew to Inuvik via Dawson and Old Crow. We are now on our second day on the Dempster, about to cross the Porcupine River at Fort McPherson. We are being put up in a Christian centre which is a nice break from the tent. I have access to a computer in the Pastor's office and so am for the first time able to update this website. I will try to place some photos of the trip so far on here before going to bed.

On the road today at the top of a long hill I saw an animal up ahead. When I pulled out my binoculars to see what turned out to be a red fox with a moose leg in its mouth, a black bear walked right into my field of vision. I am now riding with the bear spray attached to the top tube of my bike!

People have been very kind along the way. Thanks to Mike Blackwell for putting us up in Juneau, Pete Lucchetti, greatest trail leader a guy could ever have, for all his kindness and generosity in Skagway, to Mark and Les, the first nations trappers who invited us in for a cup of coffee that ended up being an overnighter of unforgettable learning on Milhaven Bay in Lake Bennet, thanks to Teagan for putting us up out of the rain in Whitehorse, to Matt, a fellow distance cyclists like Mike for his hospitality in Inuvik and now thanks to Pastor Paul here in Fort McPherson.

July 8, 2013


We are now in Juneau, Alaska. We have ridden the ferry up from Bellingham with the bikes that we picked up in Seattle. So far we have only ridden a little over 300 kms but two of the days we did well over 110 kms which is a good start for Felipe. Tomorrow we are going out to the trail I helped build on Montana Creek twenty years ago and to the Mendenhall Glacier.  Overall lovely weather although today it has been cloudy and rained a lot. The bikes are running fine and we seem to be up for the big ride down from the Arctic.

March 5, 2013

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