Thursday, 4 September 2008

Last Words from Canada

3 September
Randy has finished his last interview with us for Triple Echo Productions planned BBC programme on the Big Ride to be show later in the year and is driving us to the airport. I had a lovely massage this morning before the long journey home. We have to fly to Newark and wait 4 hrs for our next flight to Amsterdam and then 3hrs there before flying to Glasgow. I want to thank Randy and all the other helpers and friends old and new I have met during this amazing journey for all their support kindness and wonderful hospitality. We have had incredible ups and downs but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I owe a huge debt to cousins John and Ruth who have been with me since the beginning. I don't think they will ever know how much it has meant to me. They were Base Camp always there for me and kept everyone informed of my progress. Thank you so much to everyone.


25th August
Shediac to Confederation Bridge
We have decided to go to Prince Edward Island as we have a day or two to spare. We had to cross the bridge in a mini bus as cyclists are not allowed to cycle across the bridge. - WOW - WOW

Dear Blogger Readers,
I am missing out a few days but will fill in when I return to Scotland and tell you what happened on fantastic Prince Edward Island and later in Novia Scotia, Canada's Ocean Playground. There is one thing I must tell you. We heard that the very fine airline ZOOM was no longer operating and we would now have to sort out an airline to take us home. We went to the tourist office in Pictou Nova Scotia where the staff of three lovely girls were a great help to us. Penny did the booking on their computer which took hours of endless red tape. - WOW

Lobster Capital of the World

24th August
Salisbury to Shediac
More cycling mostly on autopilot. More later, lobsters and all that,_New_Brunswick


23rd August
Whites Cove to Salisbury
A never ending cycle of friends and new friends. We had put up our tents in a public park and were worried about leaving our gear there to go to find somewhere to eat. We cycled into the town with our panniers and found a nice little restaurant. A short while later a couple came over to ask to join us. We chatted away and they were interested in the Bike Ride. We told them we were camping in the park and they immediately insisted on picking up our tents and driving us to stay the night with them. Larry and Anne asked us if we liked Country Western music and when we said we did we were taken to a great night in their local pub.

More of the Same

22nd August
Keswick to White Cove.
Just another day of cycling, eating and taking down and putting up tents. More about it eventually in the book.

Struggling To Cope With The Local Food

21st August
Woodstock to Keswick
This was a sad day for me as there was a message from Becky on my mobile saying she would not be back to do any more filming. She had hoped so much to rejoin us again but sadly not to be. A girl with a wonderful future and we wish her all the very best. We were invited to stay with friends of Penny's, Francesca and Tim who live in Keswick Bridge. We were given a great welcome. We dined that night on crispy crunchy fresh corn on the cob, local barbequed salmon with fresh garden vegetables and red, red wine (and you think we are having a tough time !)Whilst replying later to e-mails and blogging a call summoned me to sample a very fine malt. Yea, life is a struggle!!

Day Off In Woodstock

Mave was not able to send her Perth to Prince Edward Island blogs until somewhat later so they appear slightly out of order here.

20th August
Perth to Woodstock
Heidi had insisted we breakfast with her in her log cabin and Scott would join us. So there we were, instead of having our usual instant porridge and banana, we were treated to the finest omelettes. First we sampled Scotts' and then Heidis' - delicious. They suggested we take a day off as they would like to take us on a tour of the area where the Scottish families came to settle so long ago. It was so interesting and fun to be with Scott and Heidi.
A bit mixed up with the dates.
We packed and cycled a few kms along the road to have coffee with Paul Kinney (met him in restaurant the night before) village councillor for Perth and Andover. His house was massive and was used as a base for the Scottish immigrants. He apologised for the milk being a bit off and to our surprise a large bottle of Bailley's arrived on the table. He insisted on pouring it in to our coffee as it would most deffinitely enhance the taste! he showed us round the grounds and then we were off to Woodstock. For some reason, Penny thought this was the swinging Woodstock of the 60's as she had been there with her daughter 10 years ago! As it was not, in fact, that particular Woodstock it sadly turned out to be a bit of a disappointment.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

The End in Sight

Saturday 30th August
Pictou, Nova Scotia

At 15:08 Mave emailed: "We are at presently in the Tourist Office in Pictou, Nove Scotia, trying to sort our flight. I can't think about blogging at the moment but will do as soon as poss. I'll do a wee blog about the circumstances. See you soon, I hope!!!"
At 18:13 Mave emailed: "Flight booked at great expense. We are flying with KLM via Newark & Amsterdam to Glasgow. The flight leaves Halifax on the 3rd Sept at 3-15pm and arrives Glasgow on the 4th Sept at 1-35pm. It would be good if you could let the folk know as soon as possible and perhaps a wee bit on the blog.
Lots of love
Mave and Penny xxx"


The Sting in the Tail

Friday 29th August
Prince Edward Island

By early last week Mave & Penny had pretty well finished their great transcontinental bike ride. As a reward they decided to have a couple of days sightseeing and relaxing on Prince Edward Island. Whilst splashing about there in the Atlantic Ocean their dreams of free flight home this Thursday, along with great welcome home party on the 12th at the Cock Inn etc, were dashed when they heard the disastrous news of the collapse of Zoom Airlines who have been such stalwart supporters throughout. They must now find a new carrier to fly them from Halifax to the UK which, at best, is going to result in a delay of some days in their return. The latest heard from them was by email this morning, sent from Penny's Blackberry whilst on the ferry from PEI to Nova Scotia (see album on the website for picture showing them looking somewhat down in the dumps). All we can do now is to wait to see how long it will be before their efforts to secure a new passage prove fruitful - hopefully with someone as generous as Zoom.....

Monday, 25 August 2008

Home From Home

18th August
Saint Leonard to Perth

Heat, hills, and head winds. The nightmare ahead was about to begin again. The wind had swung round from a great tail yesterday to a full on head to-day. It was hard but had to be done. We are cutting back on the kms as we have a bit of time on our hands and able to have a few more rest days. Although we enjoyed the countryside and little villages of Quebec, I was missing the friendliness of the Canada with which we were more familiar. It wasn't until we passed through Grand Falls that the land of true Canadian hospitality was evident once more. It was at the Robert Baird Memorial Park where we had booked in for the night that it happened. It began when we asked about an evening meal. Charlene Baird, owner, said that the restaurant was closed on a Monday night but she would see what she could rustle up. Hot steaming thick vegetable soup arrived follwed by cinamon rolls and coffee. We were later asked to join in a camp fire. I brought the camera and filmed the scene around the fire with Country Western Music playing in the background. Suddenly the rain came, pouring down on us. Penny made it back to her tent but I only managed to make it to a small cabin where others had gathered. There was Heidi, Scott, Alfred and Joe and we chatted over a beer. Scott told how in 1876 many people of Stonehaven, Scotland began to talk seriously of crossing the seas and establishing a Scottish Colony in this area of New Brunswick. They knew little of the new country but courage they had and bravely resolved to face the unknown. By perseverence and hard work, the sturdy Scots carved farms out of the wilderness and were growing small crops of grain and slowly acquiring animals to their pastures. The District of Kilburn still has its Scottish roots and the flag of Saint Andrews is seen flying in many places. Scottish nights, Highland games and Burns suppers are held annually. I retired to my tent thinking of the many Scots who had left their homes with so little to start a new life in Canada.

Shared Laughter

17th August.
Lac Baker to Saint Leonard.

Sun shining, and a tail wind - a cyclists dream. Found superb little camp site at a river spot and there we met three cyclists all going different ways. There was Guy, cycling alone, and Mike and girlfriend Esther, both doing PHD's in Psychology at university. We sat round a picnic table and had supper and laughed so much. Mike was a real fun guy with a great sense of humour. I tried to do a wee bit of filming but the falling about with laughter put paid to that.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

7th Province

16th August.
River Quelle to Lac Baker, New Brunswick

Now cycling into my 7th Province and, when I look at a map of Canada, find it hard to believe I have almost cycled across this vast country! We stopped at the Tourist Office in Edmunston and used internet to check e-mails but not enough time to blog.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Haute Cusine

13th August
Quebec City to L'islet-sur-Mer.
We were slightly worried about cycling out of the city but managed to find the bike track and were well on our way. We crossed the St. Lawrence River on the ferry and cycled through the lovely French countryside and villages. The count down started on the 9th and now we have 20 days to cycle. I can't believe it, I am so excited and can't believe I have cycled almost Coast to Coast! We arrived at a camp site beside the St. Lawrence River. We dined haute cuisine cooked by Randy, local fresh grown sweet corn with lobster salad and vin blanc followed by chocolate eclairs and a glass of the very best MALT.

14th August
Right up to date with the blog, hurray, hurray. It may be a while before another appears. This is Randy's lap top I am using in the camp ground but no internet access, so unable to read e-mails. Randy is cooking a gourmet breakfast as I type in the sunshine--pancakes with blueberries, yummie. Will close now.

From Vancouver: 6,200km
To Halifax: 920km

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

11th August
Batiscan to Quebec City.
We left our little haven to find the clouds were dark in the sky again. We hoped and prayed they would blow away as there was quite a strong wind and we did not want another day of rain. We cycled on to-wards Quebec City where we would be meeting Randy with his two sons, Oliver and Colin. The road surface was a cyclist's nightmare, full of pot holes with a high pavement. I was worried that the wall of the high pavement would rub against the panniers hurling me on to the road and to avoid the holes it would mean swinging round thus causing the traffic thundering down behind hitting me one mighty belt. It was a difficult choice so I chose the latter hoping the traffic would manage to steer clear of this slightly crazy Scottish Granny flying the Scottish flag and amazingly it did! Randy had booked us into Motel le Jardine, which we found without too much difficulty, and he joined us later with the boys and we all went to downtown to eat.

12th August
We were going to have a whole day of site seeing and we set off early to explore the Old City of Quebec. The City is celebrating its 400th anniversary and there was so much to see and do and not nearly enough time. At night there was a wonderful display of son et lumier on to the trade buildings across the harbour depicting 400years in the life of Quebec. There is so much history about Quebec and too much for me to blog so I suggest a book on it it for historians reading this but for a taste try

Lazy Day

10th August
Sun still shining and a perfect day ahead. A swim before breakfast and leisurely sitting around pool. It is all so French now and we are wondering if we are still in Canada. We want to stay here for much longer but know that, come the morning, it is up and off again!

Sunshine and Riverside Delights

9th August
Louisville to Batiscan
We came down to the most amazing breakfast; all Madame's home cooking. The table was groaning under the weight of the silver service and the light from the chandelier shone down on us. The sun,which had been missing for so many days, shone brilliantly and we were on our way. We are now on count down as we reckon we have about 24 days to cycle and I am so happy about that. It has been an amazing ride and when I look at the big map of Canada, I can't believe I have cycled so far. We crossed a bridge and found the most amazing spot to camp complete with bar and swimming pool. The forecast was good and we decided to have a day off at this magical little spot. The St Lawrence River was on our door step and the area was a yachtsman's paradise.

A Breath of French Air

8th August
Saint Jacques to Louisville.
Opened the front door to find puddles galore and rain belting down. On with the rain gear and off to face another gruesome day. Around about 11am we stopped at a very French bar for coffee and decided a cognac would be an excellent idea and cheer us on our way! The countryside was so different from the Canada I had been cycling across since May and, although it was throwing it down I was enjoying the Frenchness of the whole scenario. We needed another motel night and found a beautiful B&B full of Victoriana. Our chambre for the night was wildly different from the tents as we slept in the luxury of magnificent 4 poster beds.

Back to the Rain and Wet Tent

7th August
Montebello to Saint Jacques.
Packed wet tent, more filming and then au revoir to Randy and Colin, who will be returning in a few days. The rain battered down and it was hard to see the road ahead. We were pleased when the cycling was over for the day and managed to find a reasonable motel and booked in for the night.

Farewell to Ann

6th August
Ottawa to Montebello
Six sat around the table and enjoyed a hearty breakfast. Ann had mentioned she felt she had no ties now in Scotland and probably would not be returning. I felt very sad about this when I left her thinking I might never see her again. She had been so kind. Off on the road again and, in a round about way, managed to find our way out of Ottawa. We cycled across the Alexander Bridge and out of Ontario and into Quebec. The change was instant. The signs were all in French and there was almost a different smell in the air. Cameraman Randy joined us and did some filming and at times his young son Colin took control of the camera. Randy would drive the car slowly along beside us and there was our young film maker pointing the camera on us as we cycled along. I wanted to laugh but knew I musn't. We were cycling along by the St Lawrence River where huge cargo boats make their way to Thunder Bay. We found a nice little town called Montebello and camped beside the river.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


3rd August
We had a leisurely day. Ann drove me around the area where she lives. It used to be called Gloucester but is now all part of Ottawa. Later, we sat in the garden enjoying the afternoon sun and the conversation was "Remember old so and so (teacher at Marr College). I got the belt nearly every day for talking. Old Dunt used to throw the wooden duster at me. Old Wilson took his cane across my backside" and so it went on. We agreed that would never happen now. The police would be involved and teachers would lose their jobs. We also agreed we had the best years.

4th August
Up and off early to sight-see around Ottawa We walked along the canal which is frozen in the winter and the whole city takes on a theme called Winter Interlude. It is a beautiful city with many magnificent buildings, too many to mention here.

5th August
Penny and I have decided to finish the bike ride in Halifax and forget going up to Newfoundland. ZOOM headquarters are in Ottawa, in fact not very far from Ann. Mark, who does an excellent job as head of Customer Relations, had written a very nice letter inviting us to visit when we reached Ottawa. Penny came down with her sister-in-law, Janet, from Gateneau and Ann and I drove up to the office. What a reception was waiting for us. I just keep thinking that I am an ordinary wee granny from Scotland but the ZOOM team made me feel like a celebrity. They gave us gifts, donation for Macmillan Cancer Support and some dollars for us to enjoy a coffee or two and they very kindly arranged to bring the flight forward for us without a problem and we are now flying back on the 4th September arriving in Glasgow on the 5th at 08-40am which is 10 days ahead of the original schedule. I read through the ticket form to find that we are flying under "Very Important Person" status - there may be a charge for autographs when I get home!We left the office on a high, thanking them for the lovely time, and drove back to Ann's. Penny had to go back to collect her bike and cycled to Ann's. Triple Echo Film Productions had arranged for Randy to come to do a bit more filming (thank goodness, as my filming is such an amateurish affair) and he arrived with his young son Colin. It was so good to see him again - the last time we saw each other was in Nelson, BC, 4,800km ago. Ann's grandson, another Colin, also joined the party so it was a full house for her who originally thought I would just be stopping for a night or two by myself - well done Ann and thank you so much.
I am now up to date and Penny is starting to worry about the short time we have left to finish the bike ride. I may only be able to blog now and again but will do my best.

Friendly Stranger in Ottowa

3rd August
Arnprior to Ottawa. 70km
Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and about 70kms to cycle! I am feeling good to-day and ' gearing' up for the last push to the coast. In coast to coast bike rides the tradition is to dip the rear wheel into the sea when you begin and the front when you finish. In all the excitement we dipped our front wheels as if we were about to cycle across the Pacific so I suppose we will have to reverse into the Atlantic - but we won't be setting off back! We had been told of a bike track, part way, which would take us into Ottawa avoiding the chaos of Highway 17. We would be parting company for a couple of days as Penny was off to stay with relatives North of Ottawa and I was going South to Ann's. We were at the 'Spider' a famous meeting point in Ottawa and apparently cost millions to build. We were not sure how to join the path again as we had lost it somewhere. We asked a passing cyclist who said he was going that way too. We parted company with Penny when we reached the point where she turned off and our companion stayed with me. He said he would accompany me to a point near Bank Street from where I was to cycle down to Ann's. He talked about the assaults on innocent victims that happen on the trail and I asked if it happened at night. "Oh no" he said "it can happen in broad daylight - just like now!!" I expected a knife or gun to appear from a pocket of his cycling top any minute. Who was this man - we had never met before and we were alone on a very quiet part of the bike track. Perhaps I should make a break for it break and beat it fast. My imagination went into overdrive but I decided this was ridiculous. He was a perfectly pleasant chap only trying to be helpful to a stupid old granny, hopefully! He finally waved goodbye with a cheery smile in Bank Street and I was on my way to stay with Ann for a couple of days. "What shall I take" I said to myself. "Perhaps a bottle of wine or fruit or chocs. would be nice." I settled for a bottle of wine and then a thought struck me. Perhaps she doesn't drink and she is a TT person! She wasn't and we had a great re-union. The old school photographs came out as we knocked back the whisky. The 1st XV rugby team of 1954 "Oh, I remember having a crush on him" I said to Ann "I remember my first real kiss with him" said Ann pointing to a stunner and so it went on. Lots of laughter and plenty of drachms!

Highway of Horrorsl

1st Aug
Griffith to Arnprior, 80 km
Packed wet tent. No more long haul camping ever - remind me just in case I weaken one day. Dennis had made toast and tea in the kitchen which we appreciated so much. We have not lit the breakfast camping stove for quite some time now and it's good to get away from all that. We knew we would be joining Highway 17 again which is the horror of all horrors! There is next to no hard shoulder apart from a couple of nightmare feet. The traffic is constant and it was also the start of the holiday weekend and every living soul in Canada was on this road! I wasn't happy on this road to death highway and told Penny I was off the bike and walking. She said it was more dangerous to walk than cycle but I said the traffic could send the bike flying but at least I wouldn't be on it. I moved to the gravel area and felt safer. I had about 8kms to walk and Penny had gone - ZOOM! When we met at the entrance to Arnprior she had already booked us into a very upmarket motel. A feeling of giving it all up was beginning to settling in around me. Penny was working away and e-mailing via her Blackberry. We dried our tents and Penny went in to shower. I was unloading my bike when it fell over causing Penny's bike to fall to the ground. Her mirror, which she cannot do without, broke from the handlebars and lay shattered on the ground. I was distraught. I wanted to go home. I asked at the office if there was a bike shop in Arnprior. They told me there was a Canadian Tire and they did bike things. Penny emerged from the shower and I told her the bad news of the mirror. I also said I wanted to go home. "Don't worry" she said " it won't be long now" I cycled off to Candian Tire and bought a mirror which was the best they could do but substandard to the one I broke. Penny attached it to the bike and it seemed ok. We hit the town and had an excellent meal complete with customary vin blanc - maybe it all wasn't so bad after all and I was pleased at the thought of a nice warm bed to sleep in and not my wet tent. When we finally got to it the the room had a double bed and when Penny had booked in she asked for two single beds! They only had the one room with the double bed but said they would bring a "cot" The cot turned out to be a mattress on the floor which Penny insisted on sleeping on. I slept well - Penny did not. She would much rather have been in her tent.....

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

31st July
Chandos Lake to Griffith 130km
We were both loathe to leave this little paradise and the wonderful warmth and hospitality of Jane & Jock, but the old bikes were calling and it was time to go. Our hosts ran us to our starting point and we were off. The hills were big and tough and it was very hot. When the cycling pace slowed on the hills, flies gathered around the face and it was hard to ride. We stopped at Griffith and went into the local shop to ask about camping. " There is no camp site here but you can put your tents up in my garden at the back of the shop" said Dennis, owner of the shop He came round to tell us about swimming in the river and that he would be around if we needed anything. We thanked him and swam in the river. Ottawa is 150km from here and I am excited. Excited because we are on the last leg of the journey and also to meet up with an old school friend, Ann Barnard, whom I have only seen once in the last 54 years!

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Chandos Lake

29th July
Orilia to Jock and Jane's Cabin, Chandos Lake, Apsley, about 250kms west of Ottawa.
(After all those good resolutions this was a seriously long ride of about 160km but well worth it in the end by the sound of it)
Jock picked us up on the road to the cabin. He piled all our panniers and bikes on to the truck and off we drove. Jane met us at the door and this is a truly out of this world place. The path from the cabin runs down to the lake where they have their own jetty with boats and canoes all hanging around. We sat looking across the lake, gin and tonics in hand! Jane cooked a superb meal and we chatted long in to the night.

30 July
Relaxing by the lake
It is so good to sleep in a comfortable bed for a change. I slept well - first time for ages. The day dawned but unfortunately the weather had changed and heavy rain was falling with thunder storm following. However, it cleared and in the afternoon we went of across the lake in Jock"s power boat. We saw Mother Loon with her two Baby Loons swimming along beside us. She was turning and calling to the babies. The sound was magical. We stopped for a while to watch the loons and then sped across the lake to see the Osprey's nesting on the top of a disused telegraph pole, a mum and her three babes. Back to the cabin for a cup of tea on the jetty. It is such a wonderful spot, one day is not enough. Jane had cooked a fantastic rack of lamb with new potatoes and big stuffed mushrooms. Penny was tucking into this right down to the bare bone and I had to remind her that she was a vegetarian! Jock lit the big log fire and we settled back for a leisurely chat.

Good Resolutions!

Thornbury to Orillia
Cracking morning, sun is up and the day looks good. I made a few decisions. No more long distance bike rides, no more long spells of putting up tent and packing wet tent in the morning. No, life will not be "No Pain NoGain" that must end. Perhaps an odd challenge but no more ridiculous goals that I take on board. Prentice is ready in full Tour de France gear and we are ready for the off. He is going to join us for a short ride so we say goodbye and thank Denise and off we go down the mile long drive!! After a superb run on the old railway track we part company with Prentice, big hugs all round and off we pedal. Now, do you remember Jim White who piped at the Cock Inn Farewell Bash? Well his brother Jock and wife Jane live a days cycle from here, so I phoned Jock to tell him where we were and he said he would be delighted to see us and have us to stay at his lake-side home. My bum and shoulder ache like mad and I want to get off the bike as soon as poss. This will be a welcome break. We camped that night in Orillia and I could see Jock and Jane's log cabin in my dreams. Jim has told me all about it at back home in Scotland.

Proper Cyclists!

27th July
Wiarton to Thornbury
Bad night in camp site, noisy campers beside my tent and raining. Packed wet tent at 6-30am, on bikes and off to meet Prentice (Andreas Dad) and his cycling friends in a town called Owen Sound. The group were serious cyclists - Tour de France type thing. I think I am a disgrace to the cycling world. The serious cyclists wear the clip on pedal shoes - I wear sandals. They wear lycra shorts and vests - I wear normal shorts that flap about. My cycling uniform would have to change if I became a serious cyclist. I am a fun cyclist and just mosey along singing. We had a great morning. Denise (Prentice's wife) had taken our panniers so it was light cycling. Prentice invited us to their home for drinks. This turned out to be a J R Ewing Dallas type ranch - wow, out of this world with swimming pool and Lake! We sat on the terrace and drank beer. Prentice and Denise invited us to stay the night. They had been invited to a party but told us to make ourselves at home computer and all. So I BLOGGED and BLOGGED and managed to catch up. I worry a lot when I fall behind as I know family and friends are waiting for the next episode and I am missing you all. I hope it won't be so long until I can blog again but it's all in the lap of the Gods.
The Blue Mountains,_Ontario
Thornbury weather:

More Dream Holiday Destinations

26th July
Tobermory to Wiarton.
Some nights I sleep well in my tent but to-night I was tossing and turning and worrying about the blog. It is more than 10days since I last blogged and want to keep uo to date as much as possible. We were hoping to cycle to Owen sound but found a nice little town called Wiarton and decided to camp there. Andrea, you may remember I stayed with in BC near a town called Nelson, had e-mailed to say if we were near where her dad stayed, he would love to spend a morning cycling with us.

Manitoulin Island and the Ferry

25th July
Little Current to Tobermory.
Mave and Penny spent the night in Little Current ( on Manitoulin Island described as "A unique scenic region, where Native life and legend meld with European history to provide an unforgettable holiday experience. The island town of Manitowaning was the first European settlement, whilst Wikwemikong remains the only unceded Indian Reserve in Canada. Enjoy the Island's stress free holiday environment, where life moves at a slower pace and time and water flow gently together. Awaken to the awesome beauty of an island sun, rising over crystal clear lakes, warming azure waters and inviting you to enjoy our endless shoreline......." and, from what Mave says, I am sure that is no exaggeration! JRG
Catching the ferry to take us to Tobermory we spotted a bike parked by the terminal. It's owner, 50 year old Lauren, is celebrating her birthday by doing a solo Trans Canada - everybody's at it! She was meeting relatives and spending a couple of days with them. We had a great chat on the ferry and exchanged e-mails. She is a strong determined athlete and we were amazed at what she was doing. It was like a mutual appreciation society as she said she wants to be just like us when she is 7oyrs. We cycled off the ferry and Lauren met her very young Aunt and Uncle who were taking her off for a couple of relaxing days - something I think I have forgotten how to do! We said goodbye and off we went to find a camp site near Tobermory. As we were cycling through the town, a truck pulled alongside and an arm shot out. In the hand of the arm was a bottle of vin rouge." This is for you, a present from my Aunt and Uncle" It was Lauren and off they drove!!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Ojibwa, Native Americas-First Nations

24th July
Spanish to Little Current.
Packed tents, on bikes and ready for another eight hours on the saddle!! We stopped for a cold drink at a small shop at the road side. We met Carol who was very interested in two old grannies on their bikes. We chatted for a while and asked about camping in Little Current, our planned destination another 80k's or so down the road. "Well there is no camping but you are more than welcome to put your tents up in my friend, Jim's, garden! More hospitality! She phoned Jim and gave us instructions about how to get there. We arrived to find Jim was waiting for us. He showed us where to put the tents and told us what he would be cooking for supper. "To-night I am going to be cooking fresh white fish caught to-day with green tomato fritters and you may join us. Carol will be here later" They are First Nation Ojibwa and we listened to their stories of how they are re-claiming their land. Carol is also interested in setting up a Fitness Centre as there is a big obesity problem here, much as everywhere nowadays, and we saw a lot of it especially the young.,_Ontario

Bad Road

23rd July
Thessalon to Spanish
Cycling on very bad road surface which has been the norm for several days. Due to the harsh winters with ice and snow, the cracks are left on the roads which makes riding difficult with very little hard shoulder

Lake Huron

22nd July
Sault Ste. Marie to Thessalon.
We find Sheila's 'cottage by the sea' and are overcome by the generosity of the people we have met. A few days ago, we had never met Sylvana and her friends, and here we were sharing Sheila's lovely home. The cottage overlooks Lake Huron with a sandy beach in front. It would be lovely to spend a few days here but we are now a bit behind our schedule and must press on.

Canadian-Scottish Hospitaliy at its Very Best

20th July
Montreal River to Saulte Ste. Marie.
Babs and Dick had offered us their home in this town so we decided to have a day off as we hadn't had one for eight days and were pretty tired. We had been in the house for about 5 minutes when the phone rang. It was Dave and Christine, Scottish friends, inviting us round for supper. (No wonder the gaps between the bloggs get longer and longer) Dave picked us up and when we arrived the Scottish music was in full flow. We had a great night and Dave told us stories about his days in Glasgow as a welder at the docks and why he had made a new life in Canada.
21st July
Dave came round to take us shopping and took us on a tour of the town - with a population of 75,000, and a big steel making plant, quite a change from the past few stops. We really enjoyed our stay in Bab's and Dick's house and our time with Dave and Christine. I spent time answering e-mails but eventually too late to catch up to date with the blog-sorry!,_Ontario

Surprise Encounter

19th July
Wawa to Montreal River
Big cycling day (100km), big hills, camped at night. During the day a Moose with it's little baby crossed the road right in front of us. The camera was not at the ready for a photograph unfortunately and the locals don't hang about - better luck next time.

A Glimpse Into Canada's Industrial Past

17th July
We were back in the boat in the morning to carry on the ride. We had hoped to go further than Wawa but mist settled in and the cycling became dangerous. We decided to spend the night in Wawa, a town with a rich history of mining, forestry and fur trading but which now depends for its survival on tourism coming from the Trans Canada Highway. At The Tourist Office we met Sylvana a keen touring cyclist. I mentioned a camp site or very cheap motel for overnight accommodation to which she replied "Well why don't you girls come and stay in my house to-night" Can this get any better!!! The house was built by her husband with help from friends and is the most magnificent log cabin I have ever seen. Every log was brought down to the Lake(overlooks Lake Superior) by hand and it took four years to build. Friends arrived for drinks. They were all interested in the bike ride and Shirley offered her holiday home in Thessalon where we would be arriving in a couple of days. As I have already said, so often, it just goes on and on with kindness. It was so great to stay with Sylvana and to meet her friends but you always know that, in the morning, the bike is calling and you have to pack and head off for another day's mixture of pain from saddle sores and pleasure to know that you have covered well over half of Canada.,_Ontario

Dream Hide-Away by the Lake

16th July
White River to Wawa
We were cycling to-wards Wawa when a truck drew up across the highway. A blonde figure ran across and stopped me "Are you Penny or Mave" - Penny was way ahead as usual. I thought perhaps another reporter but no, this was Barbara a relation of a friend of penny's in Kincraig. They had been trying to contact us for a while, but with no signal from the blackberry all had been in vain. Penny had left a message on her answering machine at her home so she knew we were on that road, somewhere. A great stroke of luck - five minutes she would have missed us altogether. She said to me "About turn and go back to Halfway House. We'll catch Penny and meet you there". Dick (husband) and Babs would take us to their hide-away. We drove for a while then Dick left us to fetch the boat. We raced across the lake to their cabin and what a truly wonderful place we found. We had a great night with them, ate their food, drank their wine and regaled them with our stories!

Joys of Campling

15th July
Schreiber to White River.
Heavy rain during the night left the tent very wet to cap it all. It is so difficult in the morning when you don't have the time to dry the tent and it has to be packed up, soaking wet. You can imagine what we must have looked like, no filming needless to say. Much more to say about the logistics of it all but too tired now; you'll all have to wait for the book.........

Dreaded Black Fly & Other Ills

14th July
Nipigon to Schreiber.
Janice said in her book that the hills were big and they were. I was showing signs of wear and tear. My right shoulder was killing me and I was suffering from saddle sores. The black fly that we had been plagued by had left big lumps all over my neck, round my ears and my legs. I was a mess. We would cover up with our head gear, cover our arms and legs to avoid being attacked whilst putting up the tents. We met some cyclists at the camp site but it was impossible to have a sociable beer with them as the black fly would have eaten us alive. We camped that night near the railway town of Schreiber (,_Ontario). In my tent that night the little b-----s had managed to get in so half the night was spent slashing them to death. Oh, the joys of a long distance cyclist!!

Lake Superior

13th July
Thunder Bay to Nipigon.
We left the campus and cycled out of Thunder Bay. The road was dreicht and endless. At last there was a gap in the trees and I caught my first glimpse of Lake Superior ( and then the trees closed in again. The rest of the journey was fairly uneventful with some big hills. We set up camp near Nipigon (,_Ontario)but there was no sign of a shop for food. We managed to cook some spagetti and opened a can of chilli sauce for a treat.

Return of the Voyageurs

12th July, Thunder Bay.
To-day The Voyageurs arrive in Fort William after a marathon journey of 3,600kms in canoes. Some of the competitors have paddled the whole way starting on May 10th. The scene is emotional as they raise their paddles in the air. The cheers go up and the crowds roar with excitement. The event is in commemoration of David Thompson, an explorer and adventurer. We visited Fort William Historical Park and were taken back over 200 years ago to discover how The First Nation lived. We saw the fur stores and how they traded and visited the Doctors surgery and the medicines that were used then. We went back to Stan and MaryBeth's camp site and after a farewell drink and food we wave goodbye and cycle back to the university. I want to celebrate as this is midway. Regretably nothing much is happening in town so we settle for a beer by the river!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Thunder Bay at Last - Halfway Across Canada

Thursday 10th July
Kakabaeka Fallas to Thunder bay
The tents are dripping with rain and it is impossible to dry them out. Just then Stan and Mary Beth drive up to ask us to join them for breakfast in the village. We pack as quickly as possible, and cycle into Kakabeka falls. They are such a great couple and are so kind and helpful to us -Stan treats us to breakfast! We are looking forward to being with them on Sat at the finale of the Voyageurs. The run to Thunder Bay is not far but the roads are very busy with the big logging trucks. I feel good as, apart from the time when I was snowed in, I have now cycled half way across Canada officially. If we had planned to finish in Halifax that would be the case but due to finishing in St Johns, it is not quite so - pity! Thunder Bay used to be two towns, one was called Fort William and the other Port Arthur. The Neebring River divided the towns and it is only as recently as 1976 that the towns became one - Thunder Bay. We booked into The Confederation College in the Halls of Residence for 2 nights . We have a room each and the facilities are bang on The price is reasonable and the internet facilities are great. I am going to try to answer some of the back-log of emails I've got and again, sorry for the delay but as I have explained, it is not easy. When we arrived here we enquired at The Holiday Inn about hostels and camping. The assistant manageress was so kind,she even phoned around for us and managed to find this accommodation. We even had coffee with compliments of The Inn. It would have been great to have had a night there but totally outwith the budget. We fdid however find a friendly bike shop, had the bikes checked over and celebrated the official half way across Canada with a drop of vin rouge for me and vin blanc for Penny!!

More Road to Thunder Bay

9th July
Shebandowan to Kakabeka Falls.
We awake to grey skies and another day of long hilly roads. The drearieness is overcome by the sight of a sign saying "Home Baking" We are greeted by Mary and son Dan. She ushers us into the large homely kitchen of her house. We eat the most fabulous breakfast and mary joins us with a cup of tea. She tells the story of how her granny came over from Finland many years ago. She had to travel alone as her husband had gone out to Canada earlier. Her granny had a baby and was expecting another. The boat was full of different nationalities and there was no one on the boat she could communicate with as they all spoke a different language. When she arrived her home was a shack in the hills with bears roaming around. She had several children of which one was Mary's mother. We listened to Mary's fascinating stories and then it was time to pedal again. We were sorting out the bill for the breakfast when Mary said "There is no charge for this!" More kindness. We are on our way to Kakabeka Falls which at one time had been a big Trading Post in exchange for furs. A silver truck draws alongside me "Are you Mave?" the voice says. I nod thinking this is probably another reporter. She stops ahead and says she is Becky's mum. This is great news. She says she has been looking out for us. She is here to support her husband,Stan - remember Stan came with Becky to help wth the filming several weeks ago - who is one of the Voyageurs on the Thomson Expedition. This is a journey following the rivers in big dug out canoes and started on the 10th of May in Rocky . 160 people are involved and work a relay system although a few have been canoeing from the start. The journey ends in Thunder Bay on Sat 12th July (More about Thomson later) We find the camp site where the voyageurs will be staying that night and later, after a meal out, we arrive back to find a note from Stan and Mary Beth. We find them in the group camp site and are invited to sit down and have a beer. The mosquitoes are busy and Stan is covering us up with all sorts of things to keep them away - makes us feel quite at home (midges). We enjoy a chat with some of the group and listen to their stories. It is raining when we make our way back to our tents. Our tents are soaking. It is not much fun climbing into a wet tent but what the Hell.

Still on the Road to Thunder Bay

Tuesday 8thJuly
Mars Perch Lodge to Shebandowan
The road offers no facilities and we are always looking out for a store. We are cycling well over 100kms a day. Again, we have no idea about night accommodation. In the early evening we find a store and filling station. We ask if we could camp in the adjoining field.We were told that would be fine but if a storm (which was expected) blew up during the night we could use the motel facilities. "Oh, there's a motel. How much would a room cost?" we asked. "Let me think, let's say $40 how about that" That works out at 10 pounds each so we took it. We managed to buy some wine from the store and cooked a pasta on our stoves outside on the pavement. Penny had a disturbed night as my snoring kept her awake. "It's not really snoring, it's just a sort of noise you make!" Just as well I live alone!

The Road to Thunder Bay

Monday 7th July
Fort Francis - Mars Perch Lodge
The roads are long and hilly and becoming quite monotonous. We are hoping to find somewhere to have a kind of breakfast. About 1-30pm we stop at a roadside store and have coffe and a cake. We have no idea about where we will camp to-night when a smart van draws up for "gaz" Printed along the side of the van it says "Sierre River Resort" "We are in luck" I call to Penny. I go out to speak to the driver but the window of the van remains shut. The driver and occupants are First Nation (Indians) I stand like an idiot, smiling and indicating I would like to talk. The window is lowered to 1inch. I ask about camping at the resort. An unsmiling face replies "No camping" and shuts the window. I go back to the store and the owner tells us of a place called Mars Perch Lodge which is 50kms along the road. He phones the Lodge and speaks to Lorna. We will be most welcome and a meal will be ready--what great news. When we arrived we were tired and the thought of pitching the tents with the mosquitoes biting was almost too much. Lorna and Tom (husband) offered us a small log cabin at a reasonable rate.When we opened the door the heat hit us. They had the heaters going full blast and within a few moments we were almost fast asleep. This was a fishing resort with boats tethered to the jetty outside the cabin. I would have loved to have had a day on the lake,fishing, but to-morrow was another long day of cycling.

Fort Francis

Sunday 6th July
Sioux Narrows - Fort Frances
Penny and I had a good run to Fort Frances and pitched the tents in a camp site looking across the bay to America. We are 5 mins from the border. Along from us sat Dave drinking beer beside his tent. He came over to chat and when we told him we were making our way toThunder Bay he said "No kidding" He told us he lived there and we could have his house as it was empty apart from his 4 kittens. He was working as an electrician and contracted to work in Fort Frances for a month. Instead of staying in hotels he decided to camp each week and drove home at the weekends to Thunder Bay. He said he would phone his landlord to let him know about the 2 Scottish cyclists who would be coming to stay and to get in plenty of beers!!We were looking forward to that and again thinking how kind people have been. A couple of days later Penny phoned the contact number of the landlord to be told he knew nothing of the cycling grannies and the apartment was not at all suitable because of the kittens!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Skinny dipping

Thursday 3rd July
Elmo -
Penny could not resist the temptation of an early morning dip in the river so in she went in her birthday suit. I managed to get the camera so it is all there. Carol was calling from the house to come for breakfast. It never stops. I'll never forget the kind and friendly Canadians. I had been told how friendly they are but this is unbelievable. Just one sad bit - my backpack has never turned up. Maybe it just got misplaced and is waiting for me somewhere. I find it hard to believe anyone over here would actually take it to keep.

On the road with Penny

Wednesday 2nd July
Becky was leaving us to-day. I was sad as we had such a lot of fun. She is a great girl and I hope she will be back to film again. She gave us a lift out of Winnipeg, did a farewell interview and then she was gone. Penny was cycling well and feeling good and said she felt her health was as good as ever. We arrived at a hamlet called Elme. There was nothing apart from a shop which was closed! We cycled out and I spotted what looked like a golf course. I cycled along a dirt track road hoping to find a club house, instead it was a private house. As I approached, a couple came out. "We were looking for somewhere to stay" I said. "You are very welcome to stay here". "You can put your tents up down by the river which is our garden" Well, what do you know! After we had pitched our tents and made supper John and Carol (owners) called us up to for a coffee and a chat.

Winnipeg - Canada Day

Tuesday 1st July
Penny said she hadn't slept a wink and she thought she might just take the bus across Canada and to Hell with the bike. She was so tired plus the jet lag. She was shattered. To-day was Canada Day and we thought we might celebrate. So down town we went (Penny on 2nd wind) We bought all the souveniers, Canadian Flag umbrellas on our heads and really joining in the fun!! We were staying in a Backpacker that night and the owner had invited us to a BarBQ in the garden. We went down town again to watch the firework display and then back for a good night's sleep. Penny had gone to bed earlier as she was so tired but happy.

Winnipeg at last

Monday 30th June
Hayward to Winnipeg
I was up early and had a walk around the cemetry which was beside our tents. There was a cafe that would be opening at 7am so we decided to have breakfast there. A few locals were in and we got chatting as usual. Becky picked up the daily paper and called over to me. "There is very bad news and I don't know whether to tell you or not " I read "Two charity cyclists had been killed on route 1. My God, I think I met them in a place called Carlyle" I was stunned. Later I saw a photograph of them and it wasn't the guys I had met, thank goodness, but dreadful news nevertheless - We would be on that very same route in a couple of days. We had a huge breakfast and when one of the locals left to pay for his coffee he called over "Your breakfast has been paid girls" It just goes on and on, the kindness. We were on our way to Winnipeg. Several days ago in Weyburn I asked how far it was to Winnipeg and was told it was 500miles and here I was, almost there. We were going to the airport to meet Penny off the plane and I was excited about seeing her again. The plane was on time and there was Penny looking as fitter than ever. We had a celebration meal and then it was off to a camp site for the night. Penny was tired. The site was full of noisy RV's and it was difficult to sleep and not just because of the noise....

Tail Wind For A Welcome Change

Sunday 29th June
Cypress Hills to Hayward.
We had booked into Jim's for B&B and after a fabulous breakfast we said how much we had enjoyed our visit and asked for the bill. "There will be no bill" said Jim with a smile. What a really great person - hopefully he must have enjoyed having us as much as we enjoyed being there. We were off and, believe it or not, I actually had a tail wind and I was flying. That was only the 2nd tail I had had in all the time I was cycling the praries! Becky said "Slow down, I can't keep up with you" She did a lot of filming and at night we camped in the local park in Hayward. As ever we met lots of people who were offering us all sorts of things from a bed for the night, showers in the morning and a meal.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Leaving Glenboro

June 28th
It was sad to leave Ian and Carol. They had been so kind to us and it would have been so easy to stay a little longer before finally making the effort to get back in the saddle. After waving good-bye we were off to Kevin's in Glenboro. Kevin is head master at the local school and the school had just closed for the summer holidays. He checked my Dawes Karakum supplied by Dawes Cycles of Birmingham, who contributed to the ride with a very generous discount, and was impressed "This is a very good bike and everthing seems ok--spokes are fine and it is in very good condition. I thanked him very much and off we went. There was a fierce North wind blowing and it was increasingly difficult staying on the bike. I lost my balance several times and eventually decided to push. I was horizontal. Becky was trying to film some of the drama and it was even hard for her to stay upright. We came to a small town called Cypress Hills and I told becky I'd had enough. She understood and we headed for The Cypress Motor Inn. We entered the restaurant and immediately we were made welcome. Jim Cassels, the proprietor, said he had read about me in The Brandon Sun where I had been spread across page three!! "What can I get you girls" he asked " A large brandy would be nice" I joked. "No", I said, "I think a nice pot of tea and a look at the menu, please". "Sure" said Jim and off he went. Next thing a large bottle of brandy appeared at the table" Say when" said Jim. Becky and I giggled like school kids. "I was joking about the brandy, honestly" I said "Say when" said Jim removing the cap from the bottle. I think he realised what hell I had gone through out on the praries so we relented and thoroughly enjoyed the treat. We were then whisked off in Jim's truck to look at a church that had been bought by a couple and moved 7 miles to where they live. It is now a thriving B&B with large function room where the pews were. We admired the church and the amount of work that had gone into moving the church."Want to go horse riding out on the praries, or you can have a ride in a horse drawn wagon" Jim asked "Sounds brilliant " we said. Becky thought she could film me from her horse as I rode along in the wagon. We arrived at the ranch to find two 16 hand horses saddled up. Becky is an experienced horse rider, I am not. "I thought I was going in the wagon" I muttered "Well, no" called Carol, the owner of the ranch "We're not going out in the wagon to-day". So with no further ado Becky and I were up in the saddle. Carol had her horse running along side mine and with one big jump she was up bareback riding. I was nervous at first but began to relax and enjoy the hills we were going up and over. Katy (Eventing daughter) would have been proud to see me up there, or I think or she might have had a fit!! The day ended with a delightful evening chatting with all the locals in the bar allbeit a bit saddle sore in a few different spots!!

Exta Day at Glen Abbey

June 27th June
Glen Abbey
Ian and Carol decided that Becky and I must spend another day with them. We didn't need much persuasion as they have such a fabulous place and we felt so much at home with them. Carol went off to work at the Glenboro newspaper office and later Ian took us in to meet the staff there. Carol had organised an interview with the paper and after that she took us to meet most of the people who work in Glenboro. Becky did some filming and more of me cycling back to Glen Abbey. At night we went into town for a meal and Carol and Ian took us for a run to show us the countryside. Later Carol phoned Kevin, a friend who is a bike fanatic to ask if he would give my bike a quick service in the am before moving on. It is such a lovely community with everyone doing little turns for each other.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

GlenAbbey, Home of Ian & Carol

Thursday 26th June
I was meeting Kay for coffee at 10am so there was no rush. A cheeky little mouse jumped out of my food pannier and it looked as if it had a very good breakfast!! I had a sou'west wind on my way to GlenAbbey and also I had to look out for Becky who was driving from Winnipeg to meet me. I arrived at the most fantastic place--Ian and Carol's farm, It was a pig farm when they bought it but now a cattle farm and I was so pleased to see the Belted Galloways which originatd from the area where I now live in Scotland. Another evening of merriment ensued with many neighbours arriving. The social life here in the prairies is quite something I tell you. You have to be here to believe it. A couple of days ago I was in a wilderness with not a soul in sight and now I am surrounded. I apologise to the friends I made in Sascatchewan about the roads and the loneliness of the prairies, but they, and the courteous drivers, especially the big truckers, made up for everything.

Feast fit for a Queen

25th June
I moved my tent down by the river as I had pitched it in an enclosure surrounded by a high hedge. I needed new tyres for my bike as they were showing signs of wear and tear. I met Kay who had been sitting next to me the previous evening during supper at Manor house. She had come over from England many years ago and settled in Canada. I told her about the tyres and she said if I went to the hardware shop Scott would sort me out. Scott did not have the suitable tyre but would phone the bike shop in the nearest big town called Brandon. "Come back about 3pm" he said. When I returned, the tyres were there and together Scott and I assembled them. No, there was no charge for delivery just the price of the tyres. What kindness. That evening I cycled to Robin and Yvonne's and you would have thought you were back in Scotland. The Scottish accents and jokes were flying. The meal was out of this world and Yvonne insisted I have seconds of everything. She was worried about about my camping diet. I met so many wonderful people and thank them all for being so kind to me. I was returning to the camp and it was quite dark. A car pulled up and a voice called "Is that Mavis?" It was Ian and Carol Marshall from Glenluce who had ome out here 10yrs ago. They had spent a couple of hours trying to find me. Ian and Peter (son-in-law) had been friends since childhood and Ian had been usher at the wedding of Peter and Katy I had left a message on their answer machine to tell them where I was and was hoping to meet them. They insisted I stay with them on my way to Winnipeg. I was meeting Becky again to do some more filming and they invited her to stay also.

New Friendships

Tuesday 24th June
Reston to Souris
I arrived in Souris with a tail wind and blazing sunshine. The town used to be called Mouse after The Mouse River, but 127yrs ago the residents decided they did not like the name and changed it to Souris, French for mouse!! It is a very lively little town with friendly smiling faces. Within half an hour of arriving I was in the dining room of Manor House (residential flats) sharing a cup of tea with Lynn and Tineke. Lynn was preparing the evening meal for the residents and asked me if I would like to join them. She said they would love to hear about the bike ride and the meal was at 5-30. Yes I could use the computer and blog away as long as I wished. Meantime, Lynn was phoning round some Scottish Friends to tell them about Granny Mave who had just arrived in town. Later after a delightful meal, I cycled off to the camp site. A honed and toned and tanned Sandra came to-wards me. "Hi" she said "You must be Mave. I have been looking for you in the camp." She invited me to her home for a cup of tea and to meet her husband, Bill - Canadian, Sandra was born in Glasgow. Two figures passed the window. It was Robin and Yvonne who were on their way to the camp with home made shortbread for me. She called them in and after, a great blether of an evening, Yvonne invited me to come for supper the next night. What wonderful friendly people--you cannot imagine.
Monday 23rd June
Carlyle to Souris

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The Pub with No Beer

22nd June
Weyburn - Carlyle
I had a long day's ride ahead of me so I was on the road early. In the end I decided to stay the night in a small town called Carlyle 116km from Weyburn. There was no camp site so I had to book into the only Motel. Big flashing signs outside announced Restaurant, Bars, Coffee Room, Cold Beers. I booked in and fancied a cold beer. "Don't sell alcohol on a Sunday" announced the face without expression behind the counter. "Is the restaurant serving now " I asked "I am quite hungry and tired" "We don't open the restaurant on a Sunday". "You'll need to go down town if you want food or drink". Well I couldn't believe what she was saying. All the flashing signs and everything shuts down on a Sunday. So I parked my gear and walked to the town a couple of kms away. There was a saloon bar called The Office and there I met Melissa - bar assistant extraordinaire!! She was a most attractive young girl, wore a cloth checked skip cap on her head, a black dress just covering boobs and bum and sporting a large tattoo on her left thigh. I sat outside with my beer. She came to join me for her coffee and fag break. She told me she had been brought up in the small town I had passed through earlier. She told me she was a country girl at heart and and big cities were not her scene. I asked If I could have a carry out cold salad to take back to the Motel. I said I would have liked something hot but it would be cold by the time I got back. "If you want a hot meal then that's no problem as my friend will drive you back." With a snap of her fingers, her friend was by my side. She was another lovely 20 year old who had brought her tupperware type catalogue along with her. I apologised for not buying but explained it would be difficult with the bike. She called to a ranchman across the bar "Perhaps you would like to buy something for your mum" she said "Well that would be difficult cos she died 3 years ago!!" Oh dear. Soon I was in among a group of youngsters. I asked about the oil and I'll let Kory Williamson tell you all about that. "There are many different ways to bring oil out of the ground, the most common way being the use of a Pumpjock. Different companies make different styles of Pumpjocks and that is why there are trade mark colours. Oil has been produced in Sascatchewan for 50+ years but only recently has the boom begun with the discovery of new oil formations. These formations guarantee at least 10-15 more years of available oil. It is brought to the surface from as deep as 3000meters underground. Drilling rigs are brought in to drill the hole where the oil is thought to be. Following up is the service rig and their job is to bring the oil from the ground. It's changing the whole econmy out here. What a lovely bunch of interesting youngsters who took time to talk to an old granny like me. Thank you all for a great night.

Busy Rural Saskatchewan City

21st June Weyburn
Rest Day At Weyburn
The temp is starting to rise and to-day is 30C - I cannot believe that only 8 days ago I was snowed in at Waterton Lakes with my dear friends Barbara and Dave. I repair my puncture and give my bike a good clean up. Weyburn is a small country town of 9,000 people, There is a museum which hosts one of the biggest silver collections in the world. The collection was gifted to the museum by Charlie Wilson on his death in 1995. He had come over from England with his parents in the early 20th century. They farmed for many years and his mother kept the collection in one of the upstair rooms. On her death, Charlie continued the collection, sometimes bringing in case loads that remained unopened until his death. It is now an enviable collection of the most magnificent silver. Weburn is the Largest inland grain gathering point in Canada with well over a million tons passing through the terminals every year

Rural No 2

20th June
Ogema- Weyburn
Sunny day with a tail wind - Great. I decided to stop to have a breakfast in a little place called Pangman. There was a delightful cafe where a table stretched along the middle of the room. There sat a group of women and a couple of men. It looked as if a meeting was in progress and I wasn't sure where to sit. "Come and sit with us" a voice called out. No they were not having a meeting but do meet every morning for a chat and to catch up with the latest news. I asked about The Red Coat Trail that I had been cycling on for several days. There was a great bustle around me and one lady went off to see how much history she could collect. They were all showing a great deal of interst in my question and I was beginning to feel a little embarrassed. Well this is the story - In 1874 two groups of Mounties left Winnipeg in their covered wagons. One group went South to Fort Macleod and the other group went North to Fort Edmonton. There they set up the Trail which is 1300kms long and called The Red Coat Trail on route 13. The whole scene was re-enacted in 1999 when the all the village folk turned out with their bonnets and covered wagons. I was invited to come through to an adjoining room where a lady asked if I was the cyclist who had been in the library in Ogema yesterday. A friend of hers, one of The Rural at the coffee gathering, had phoned to tell her of the Scottish Granny. They were all such a lovely bunch and I remarked on how sad to think we'll probably never meet again. "I know our paths will cross again" one lady said. I didn't like to ask "where" but somehow I suspect she meant Heaven! During my blogs I know I haven't been pointed out much on historical facts of interest but it is a fascinating country with a great deal of history. I know Janice did that in her book "Bike Ride With A Twist" . She researched so much. I think I am just researching my brain. I do apologise to the blog readers who would like a bit more history, but if you buy Janice's book or a book on Canada, it's all there - or maybe I might just write my own!!
Weyburn, - reputed to be so-called because two Scotsmen on horseback riding across the prairies came upon the River Souris and one said to the other "Oh, there's a wee burn" That is the romantic version and the other is that it was called after a famous rail road worker of that name. I made my way to the Riverside Camp Ground and it was busy. My front tyre was slowly deflating and this is where I got my first puncture . At the office was a decking with flowers and people sat chatting and drinking coffee. They asked me to join them and then started "Where are you from, where are you going. are you alone ??? It was good to spend an evening with people. I decided to have a lay over day as it seemed to be a happening kind of place. I called Penny and she said her flight was booked and she would be flying into Winnipeg on the 3oth June. So that was very good news. Also I had a chat with Laura, co-ordinator for Triple Echo Productions, who did not realise I had lost the camera and that, unless it is turned in - still hoping, there would be no footage from the unforgettable prairies!! All that drama out on the prairies and no record except memories I will never ever forget. Wow-that is bad. I spoke to Becky on the phone and she is coming out on the 25th June to film the last of the prairies!! I will be so happy to see her.

The Rural

19th June
The days are all very similar with long long stretches of road ahead and flat flat fields to right and left. Here is a song I made up to the tune of I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Has Gone. My version. I can see clearly now the road ahead, I can see miles and miles of distant land, And as I cycle along with the wind in my face, I think of the long and lonely day. But, cheer up Mave it will be over soon, The struggle, the pain will disappear, Beyond the horizon is another world, Where friends are waiting for you!! End of song. I arrived in Ogema and found a little library. The librarian kindly gave me the use of a computer to catch up with mail etc. A cluster of ladies were chatting over coffe at a table in the middle of the room. This was a jolly, laughing bunch and certainly no signs of SILENCE PLEASE. When I finished, they invited me to join them and they asked me about the bike ride. They meet every morning and it reminded me a bit of The Rural back home. I camped alone in a field that night. It was a recognised camp site with a toilet block, etc but absolutely deserted. I worried about another thunder storm and decided after the first flash of lightning I'd grab my bedding and make for the loo's. All was quiet and there was no storm that night.

Lost Touch

18th June.
Lafleche -Assiniboia
I left Lafleche and began to worry. I had been unable to make contact with Base Camp (John Ruth) for several days. I had no signal from my tracker or mobile It is impossble to realise just how difficult it is out here. By the time I reach a town at night everything is shut and as I am off early in the morning,everthing is still shut!! I had to find a phone. I saw a sign that said Limerick of all places, and took a sharp right. I noticed an office with Ranch Ins. above it and it was open. I sort of fell in the door with all my baggage and asked if there was a phone I could use as it was urgent. Wendy was the lovely girl who had to listen to this distraught granny. She was so kind despite everything. She took John's number made the call and John rang back - what a relief. After 4 days missing John had contacted the British Embassy who were about to organise a search party.... What a lot of trouble I was causing. Anyway we started catching up on what had been going on when by an amazing coincidence daughter Katy rang John and Ruth on the other line. She is an Eventer and the good news was that she and her horse, Barney, had just won their class at Burgie, a big event near Elgin in Scotland. Ruth put her on the speaker phone so we could hear her ans she could hear me and there was chaos for the next ten minutes. I burst out crying and felt sorry for Wendy who was looking worriedly across her desk at me. When I explained they were really tears of happiness she said she understood as she had travelled a lot too and got really home sick. She lived on a ranch in Wood Mountain with husband and two children. I thanked her so much and off I pedalled. I arrived in Assiniboia and needed to find a library to blog and reply to e-mails. It is quite a big town and it felt strange having people around me for a change. Help; was I becoming some kind of lonesome nomad shuffling from place to place and forgetting what it was like to communicate with people. If I have many more prairie days I may become withdrawn and unable to talk!! Suddely a figure was waving at me. It was Wendy with her children who had come into town to do some shopping. We had a chat and I felt so much better.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Lonliness of the Long Distance Cyclist

Tuesday 17th June
I really do need some human being from somewhere. I think Penny and Janice could cope as they both enjoy solo cycling. I am hoping to meet up with Becky but it is so difficult as once I leave here, communication ends and that is why I have not been able to blog. I hope this makes up for it - [At the moment Mave is sending her blogs in batches by email]
[Mave's mobile has been out of action for the past 4 days - and possibly still is, we will not know until trying it at 4.00 o'clock this afternoon - and she has been out of contact but she has clearly been able to find a computer in Lafleche to which we are indebted for the sometimes heartbreaking story of what took place over that period. JRG]

A Rum Do

Tuesday 17th June
Cadillac to Lafleche
In the end there were no galloping hooves but I did have a rather disturbing night. I wanted to leave at break of dawn for the 86Km to Lafleche so I was on the road at 6-30am. The sun was out and it looked set to be a perfect day. As you have probably read, the perfect days did not exist on this journey so far!! The roads are really bad, with rough red tarmac with huge patches of repair work covered in gravel. My poor old bike, it was all over the place!! I felt a bit better as the sun was shining and I had a tail wind. I arrived in Lafleche, a very pretty little town, and asked about camping. I was told it was a field and the chap pointed over to a very remote area. There were no campers or R V's It was completely deserted. No one to talk to. I need people. I'm losing my marbles. I have come through such a lot and when I am home in my cosy wee log cabin, I'll wonder how I survived. Courage, that is what a friend of Penny's commented in her Just Giving Web Site. I think that sums it up. During the night, I was awakened by a flash of lightening that filled my tent. In the distance, the crack of thunder could be heard. I dread a thunder storm when I am in my tent. The flashing was so bright that I hid in my sleeping bag. The thunder drew closer and the downpour started. A howling wind was bringing my tent down. I hadn't tied it down very well as it had been such a lovely night and I had no thought of a thunder storm. It became intolerable and I was sure the tent would cave in on me. I couldn't get out to tie it down as I would be blown off the planet. Only one thing for it, reach for the rum. Janice had mentioned how, after a hard days cycle , a glass of rum and whatever you wish in it, was a perfect way to end the day. This was no long drink with whatever you wish in it--no it was straight from the neck of the bottle. I lay terrified and prayed for the storm to die before I did. The rum was helping but sleep was impossible. Eventually it settled, and I slept.

Phantom Horseman

Monday 16th June
Eastend to Cadillac
I cycled to Cadillac, a hamlet in the middle of nowhere. No there wasn't a camp site, but there was a Motel. I booked into this seriously run down Motel to find I was the only resident!!! Joy(manages the place) served me a really good steak with all the trimmings. She told me she would lock up after the last drinker had gone. She told me the owners would be in about 10am and to lock my door. I would be here alone all night. A rancher overheard the conversation and told the tale of a gentleman who once stayed - and during the night was awakened by the sound of galloping hooves in the corridor. This was bad news. I wanted to have a good night's sleep and now after this bit of news, I'd be awake listening for the sound of galloping hooves!!!

Good Samaritan

Sunday 15th June.
Maple Creek to Eastend.
I was heading South on the Cypress Hills and it was hilly. Route 21 was busy until a sign said Recreation Park and the road emptied. I was alone on the road, a car passing about every half hour. There was nothing but huge stretches of empty roads ahead. Janice had told me to take plenty of food and water as there is nothing out there. She was right --there was nothing--prairies to left, prairies to right. I entered Frenchman's valley and it was eerie. I was beginning to feel afraid. To see the remains of a tin shed by the side of the road was almost comforting as a human being must have used it at some time. The loneliness was tearing me apart but I had to keep going. On a ship you would shout "Land Ahoy". On my bike it was "Any Mortal Thing Ahoy" I turned off to join Route 13, the so called "Red Coat Trail", where the Mounties took watch on horseback. A North East wind was coming in fast and ahead. the clouds were black. I had a long way to go and I was tired, tired through lack of sleep and tired at seeing the unending road. I decided to sit it out in a derelict barn until the rain stopped. I had been told many times about the prairies but you have to be here to fully understand the wilderness of the Saskatchewan Prairies. What was a 70yr old granny doing out here? I decided there and then that this would be my last challenge. I would spend lots of time with my grandchildren, do some knitting, join the rural, that sort of thing. Yes, this was sheer madness. I started to dream of cycling around the Galloway countryside. The Red Coat Trail is an endless road of roller coaster hills. If a car passes it can still be seen 5 mins later! I was on the edge of Eastend when a truck pulled over. It was Anne,one of the local Doctors. She said she had seen me earlier on the Cypress Hills. I told her I was looking for a camp site or Motel. Well she invited me to her home for a meal and stay over night. Out of the darkness, comes light. I met the family and after a delicious meal we jumped in to the family truck to take to the hills to watch the sunset.The skies over Saskatchewan are reputed to be about the best in the world. It was stunning. The cliffs were deep red from the reflection of the sky and the sky was a blistering red with a lilac shade running round it. They told me of the Dinosaur bone found by an archaeologist in 1998. Many more were found and Eastend now has a museum attracting 10,000 visitors a year.

Disaster en-route to Maple Creek

Saturday 14th June
After the goodbyes I was off with a tail wind from Medicine Hat to Maple Creek. M H has its own natural gas which was discoverd about 100 years ago. I was belting along and it was fairly flat. Early evening I stopped at Eagle Way Camp Site. I wanted to make it to Maple Creek so I looked in my back pack for Janice's book re camping and then I remembered that I had transferred the book into a front pannier. I put the back pack on the grass to read the book. I was 8kms from Eagle Way C S when I realised that I had not picked up my B P!! I about turned to face a severe head wind but cycled as fast as I could. I checked the ground where I had left it - but there was no sign of it . I belted to the office to ask if it had been handed in. Sadly, no. In it were all my personal papers, Meg's camera I was using to record part of the journey and using as a video diary (there was some good footage in it) my flight home ticket and Penny's, my insurance policy and lots of cards I had collected from friends along the way with contact numbers (sorry to those whose cards I had as I won't be able to get in touch) and also my very best rain coat. It is difficult to explain how I felt at this point. The thief who took it will know that Grannymave is cycling across canada as all that inf was in it. Perhaps he is able to read my blogs if so "you are a RAT" I cycled to a camp sit at Maple Creek where the owner listened to my tail of woe. He was sorry for me and phoned the police. It has not turned up. I was the only camper that night as everyone there had an RV that seemed to be without people!! Just as I was about to nod off the RV's came alive to the sound of music. There was great merriment. It was Saturday night after all. On top of this, the freight train came thundering through with horn blasting WOOH WOOH. The trains were passing through every half hour blasting away. It was impossible to sleep. I was amazed Maple Creek had any residents!!

Medicine Hat

Friday 13th June
On my way to Medicine Hat----by car!! Babs has a nephew there whom she hadn't seen for a while so it was a good excuse to visit Brian and his family. What a lovely family they were. Helen, Brian's wife, and their three children, Derek, Ashley and Jamie plus two dogs. Here are strangers I have never met and they are making me completely at home.

Max's Log Cabin

Thursday 12th June
Awoke to sleety rain, grey skies, and snow still lying heavily on the ground. Barbara and Dave are to run me out of Waterton which is off my route. I have the waterproofs at the ready. Barbara is phoning her friend in Cardston for a weather report. What about the shorts, T-shirts that occupy half a pannier? Barbara had phoned around and the report was grim. She arrived at the door. "Stay put" she said "You are staying right here" I wanted to be out on the road but it would be another Max scenario with perhaps some kind person picking up the pieces!! It began to clear in the afternoon and I went out for a bike ride to make up the miles I had missed. Max arrived at his cabin to find us sitting in the garden enjoying some fine wine. He had phoned Babs earlier to find out the position. I was embarassed as I didn't want to be there when he arrived for his relaxing few days but what a great evening we had with more wine!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Temporarily out of touch

Monday 16 June
[Mave's new friends Barbara and David of Waterton Lakes saw Mave safely to Medicine Hat last Friday and sent her off on schedule on Saturday morning in the general direction of Maple Creek. Dave's nephew, with who they stayed in Medicine Hat, is a policeman and he chatted to the detachment in Maple Creek and they were going to be on the look out for her and would send info about her to the next detachment for the following day and so on, so she is hopefully getting lots of attention and TLC. She phoned on the Saturday to say that the weather was much better and that she was making good progress but she will be going through fairly secluded areas so she did not think she would have access to a computer for a while as is clearly proving to be the case. JRG]

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Snowed In!!

Wednesday, 11th June. Waterton
Barbara arrived, big welly boots in the deep snow. She had phoned a friend in Cardston to find
out about weather conditions. The news was not good. Serious wind conditions were coming in from the North East and temperatures were dropping. Heavy rain was also forecast later in the day so definitely not a cyclists dream. "Better stay put" said Barbara. I am now 3days behind schedule but hopefully will make up for it on the prairies!
I'll finish blogging meantime as Dave would like to take some photographs and download them for the blog. I am hopeless at that. At this point may I say thanks to all who e-mail me and to those taking an interest in the Bike Ride. When I have time I'll do my best to reply. It is not easy to find a computer to reply and blog especially in the wilds of Alberta and then into Sakatchewan--prairie country.
(I'm sure everyone will agree that Mave is doing an incredible job for MacMillan Cancer Support struggling on alone, until such time as her good friend Penny is able to rejoin her. She is a person of great determination and courage and earns the respect of everyone who meets her as is abundantly clear from what we read. Although we can't do much to help her with the ups and downs of the journey, so to speak, the one thing that would really give her a boost is to see more donations to her charity. The readership of her blog is increasing and if everyone were to give just £10 it could be quite significant. For those who have not already contributed just log on to and follow the instructions. Thank you. JRG)

Knight in Shining Armour

Tuesday 10th June.
Leaving Pinchers Creek for Cardston.
You would really have to have been with me to see what I endured to-day!!
I had a lot to do this morning before I left and wanted to make it to Cardston-93kms. Janice had said I would face roller coaster hills but not as bad as BC. I was told by one or two locals that a storm was coming in - I always get this negative stuff when I am just setting off. A little into the cycling the rain came down. I was prepared as I had put on my full rain gear. A short bike ride later, head winds and hail stones greeted me. The hail stones were bouncing off my face.I stopped at a cafe in the middle of nowhere. A few cowboys were sitting chatting round a table. There was silence as I entered. They looked at me."Does the sun ever shine in Alberta" I asked "Yes lady, it does but you sure have picked a godam day to ride your bike". As I left to pay for my coffee at the check out the hailstones were bouncing off the tin roof off the cafe "Have a nice day" the lady said behind the counter. I did a MacInroe "you can't be serious" I left in a blizzard. The hills were steeper than I had expected and the head winds became intolerable. The bike came to a halt and I keeled over. I stayed off the saddle as I was no longer in control of the bike. I pushed the bike into the icy wind. I had no feeling on my face and my lips could not move. My fingers were frozen stiff as I wear fingerless cycling gloves. I was heading down the road to hypothermia. I was afraid I might perish and I was worried sick. It's a wilderness with just an odd ranch or two. At that moment a truck pulled up. It was Max and without ado, he simply took my bike, panniers and loaded them on to the truck. "Just get right into the front and get warm" he said I was numb and unable to talk. He had been heading to Pinchers Creek where I had cycled from and turned his truck round when he saw me. He was my saviour." Where are you heading" he asked. At this point I was crying and incoherent. He understood and was so considerate . When normal service resumed, I told him I was cycling to Cardston but if he could drop me off at Waterton I'd find a cheap motel or camp site.He told me his home was in Lethbridge and had a cabin here that he loved and often came to trek in the mountains and golf. We drove on. He asked me about the Bike Ride and where I came from. Later we arrived at his cabin and he said "This is yours". He took me in and showed me round. "Please help yourself to food, drink, shower and laundry and when you are warm I'll take you across and introduce you to Dave and Barbara". It was all too much to take in. There I was, a short while ago desparately struggling against all that nature could throw at me and now I was warm and cosy in this wonderful cabin -- wow!! Later that day, Max phoned Barbara to see how I was and to say that the news was a tornado was expected around the area of Lethbridge not far from here! Oh boy! Later Barbara phoned her friend, Pat, who runs the local bike shop, to ask if he could service my bike. By this time snow was falling, snow upon snow. I can't believe it The tree branches are already hanging from the effect. We checked the bike in and Barbara took me on a tour of Waterton National Park where I am staying. I settled down for the night and aloud thanked Max for saving me.

Farewell to High River

Monday 9th June, High River
I have been staying at the beautiful home of Janice Kenyon, cyclist extradinaire and writer (, . The view from the kitchen window overlooks the magnificent Rocky Mountains and at the moment, snow covers the upper half. I spent the morning blogging and preparing myself for the next leg of the journey. Everyone has gone now so it will be me and the elements. Although I was cycling alone, I was happy knowing that helen or the camera crew were around. Janice drove me back to Pinchers Creek and treated me to a superb farewell meal. Then it was time for her, my new kindred spirit friend, to leave me. I waved goodbye with a lump in my throat as she drove off into the distance. Massive wind farms adorn the surrounding hills and electric trains run around the city of Calgary. Booked into a motel in anticipation of the rigours to come - so expensive and not particularly good.

Monday, 9 June 2008


Sunday 8th June
Rest Day at High River
Becky and Stan would be leaving us in a few hours but Becky decided still had some filming to do. So back up on the roof in the kayak. The neighbours had never seen anything like this before, so out they came for a better view. It was hilarious. We were on our bikes cycling along a quiet pleasant neighbourhood with the red truck ahead with big lens on us. After lunch, they left and when I have more time I'll tell you about Becky - she's quite famous. At night we were invited to Scottish Barbara's for supper and when we arrived I heard the sound of a pipe band playing Flower of Scotland. The tears started. I felt so homesick.

High River

Saturday 7th June
Crowsnest to Pincher Creek/High River
We awoke to dark clouds. Helen was leaving to-day and heading back home. She had been cooking my meals and generally seeing that I was all together. I'll miss her but I did not expect to have the support she gave me as, remember, this was to have beeen an unsupported Bike Ride with my friend Penny - who is this minute languishing in hospital in Inverness waiting to hear when she can have her pacemaker fitted - not a solo, and I do miss her so very much. The rain came down and who was in the kayak on top of the truck? You've guessed it - Becky!! She was filming me in the pouring rain on top of the truck!!!. What an amazing girl. Now I can't remember whether I told you this or not but Penny and I had planned to follow the route that Canadian cyclist Janice Kenyon had taken in 2004 and written a book about it called Bike Ride With A Twist. She was 66yrs at the time and to-day in her home at High River she would be celebrating her 70th birthday. I had been in touch with Janice throughout and, although High River was not on the route, she suggested we put the bike in Becky's van and head North to join the party. Janice has written and has had several books published and at the moment is writing a novel. The party full swing when we arrived and Becky wanted to film Janice meeting me for the first time. After she did the filming we met all the guests. The first guest I met was Barbara who was Scottish and came out to Canada when she was in her 20's. We talked for a while and she said "I don't suppose you will have heard of a small town called Dalbeattie." "Of course" I said "I lived there for 20yrs". Well, believe it or not, Barbara was born there and lived round the corner from my home until she went to Canada. This is happening all the time - like Ian in the Bike Shop in Nelson - Amazing. We had a great time at the party, good food and wine and fell into bed in the small hours.

Border Crossing

Friday 6th June
Fernie to Crowsnest
I left the big mountains and cycled across the border into Alberta. The change was immediate. The rolling hills of Alberta lay ahead, the road surface improved and, guess what, a TailWind, yipee!! The sun believe it or not came out for a few minutes. I had come up and over Crows Nest Pass and been told the worst bits were now behind me. If I had managed the mountain passes in BC then I had nothing further to fear. I was still on Route 3 and heading for the CrowsNest settlements. It is like three small separate villages but all called Crows Nest. I had caught up with Helen and we stopped to have a chat. It would be further along the route that I would rendezvos with the next camera person . I had to look out for a red truck with a red kayak on the roof. You'll never guess what the kayak was for!! More later!! Then it appeared in the distance, arms waving from the windows. This was Becky Bristow and her dad ,Stan.and they turned out to be two amazing people. With lots of hand shaking and and cuddles we hit the road again with the usual downpour accompanying me!! We would camp at Lundbreck that night. When we arrived in the outback town I was freezing and desperately longed for a hot bath and a log fire!! I did not want to put the tent up after a hard days cycle. A local came over to tell us about the free spagetti dinner they were serving in the hall so without further ado we were in there. I did a quick change in the loo and joined the gathering. By this time ,word had got around about the Scottish Granny so when I emerged from the loo cameras were at the ready. Help, all I am doing is pedalling a bike!! The supper was great and a Country Western Band played on the platform. This is an annual get-together of oldies and funded by money from raffles etc. over the year. Becky was filming the scene and I think the locals loved it. "We might be on TV " I heard them whispering. We said our goodbyes and off we went to the camp site. Stan made a roaring camp fire , Helen played the mouth organ, Becky filmed away and I sat taking in the scene with a glass of vin rouge!! Bliss!!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Suicidal Journey

Thursday 5th June
Cranbrook to Fernie
Mountain Time Zone--clocks forward one hour
To-day , if at all comprehendible , was more of a nightmare than the day before. Rain, big logger trucks having fun spraying me and road surface worse than the previous day. I removed my self from the saddle of my bike and wept, A big dark tunnel lay ahead. I was scared to go through it as I have no lights on my bike. If I went through it beside a logger truck then it was curtains for me!! Doesn't this sound fun my dear blogger readers!! Bet you wish you were out here cycling with me!! Well I got through the tunnel risking my life and emerged safely at the other end. Helen had arranged an interview with Pierre, journalist with the local Free Press in Fernie. He arranged to meet at The Stanford Inn, a magnificent hotel overlooking the Rockie Mountains. Pierre is quite a cyclist himself - he and his wife packed their bikes and went off on a 14 month cycling trip taking in Scotland, Ireland, Germany and France! I told him about the horrors of my trip so far and he said "Do you know what", "I would never cycle on that route 3 that you did". During the interview the rain was tumbling down and I aired my thoughts about the putting up of tents in the cold and wet. Pierre had been there before and do you know what - he booked us into the splendid hotel where the interview took place!! Wasn't that fantastic!! Thank you dear Pierre.
PS I haven't been giving you any historical facts about the places I have been through. Apologies for this. There had been a big mining population in most of the towns but that died many years ago and new industries have taken over, mainly tourism. BC has many ski resorts and I am in one at the moment. I will not be blogging for a day or so as to-day I cross the border into Alberta, big prairie country and flat!!! I have been on mountain passes since I started and have one more to go over!!

Rain and mad dogs

Wednesday 4th June
Creston - Cranbrook
The forecast was rain. I set off early to cycle the 110kms to Cranbrook . 15 mins later it started!! I stopped at a filling station to get the rain gear on ready for the big black clouds ahead. There I met a joyless man. He asked where I was going. He told me I shouldn't be cycling alone. He told me it was big bear country -- "be bear aware" he said. "you've got some big uns " he continued. Now he was now talking about the hills I would be encountering. Then without further ado, he was off and so was I. My spirits were sinking well into the pedals on my bike !! It poured. The area to the side of the road was uncycleable. My specs were dripping with rain water and I couldn't see. The big logger trucks were spraying gallons of water over me. A barking from the woods startled me. The barking got louder but a fence stopped the crazy dogs from molesting me. They went berserk at this point. I felt so alone and very unhappy. The friends I had made earlier had been so kind. To-day I felt Canada was a big, cold country. I was homesick. I wanted to go home--home to Whitefield Loch to be with my grand children, fishing, Penny had flown home to Scotland for treatment and I was missing my cycling buddy. I am not sure when she will be joining me but hopefully, soon. Later the sun came out and I felt better. We camped in a forest where we heard a bear had been prowling the night before!! Sweet dreams !!

Ferry to Creston

Tuesday 3rd June
Nelson/Salmo to Creston. We packed and left our friends. Helen had hired a car as she decided to sell her truck. She has loads to do so I set off for Creston, There was a ferry crossing involved with the road surface to the ferry ok for cycling but the other side had big problems. There were huge pot holes which I had to swerve on to the road to avoid. Also huge cracks which would have caused a somersault over the handle bars if I had hit one - happened in Australia when I ended up with a smashed collar bone !! The scenery around me was spectacular, stunning lakes and mountains. It was a long day 127kms and I was tired. When I eventually arrived in Creston the police were looking for me!! Helen had driven a different route from me arriving at the top of the town, I had arrived at the bottom end. She had my tent and gear in the car. I booked into the first motel I saw as I was too exhausted to think about the tent. Eventually Helen found me!!

Hot Springs

Monday 2 June
Cycled with Paula, a 29yr old lady racing cyclist, to Nelson for interview with local press, radio and TV. Paula tols me she worked in the local bike shop and I asked her would be ok to take my bike along to have it serviced. She said "sure"and we cycled to the shop. There we met Ian from Scotland and he said "Haven't I seen you somewhere before"? It turned out we had met at The Strathpuffer Mountain Bike Race. I was in a fancy big camper van looking after the BBC team and Ian and his pals were in a tent beside our van. He said he was envious of the comfort of our van as it was a 24hr marathon and they were shivering in their tent. We cycled on to meet the Mayor, Gord McAdam and the fire station crew. After the interviews we were back to the log cabin to enjoy our weekend. Pat, lovely neighbour of Andrea, Helen and Randy headed off to the hot springs at Ainsworth. Randy did some filming when I was in the cave and then filmed me emerging from the cave. I felt like Ursula Andress in the James Bond film - dream on Granny Mave, dream on !! We ended our stay with Tom and Pat and their wonderful hospitality. They were all so kind.

Monday, 2 June 2008

More Solo Through the Mountains

Castlegar 1st June
Now I am still solo cyclist as Penny is still unwell at the moment and unable to cycle with me. Helen arranged to get in touch with the local cycling club for a bit of support and in the morning(31stMay) we met the local press for an update on the Bike Ride and the usual photos taken. At this point a Tour-de-France style cyclist arrived on the scene. This was Anton who would be accompanying me for a leg of the journey. Anton is 40yrs and leader of the pack. I wonder if he knew the cyclist he was meeting was a 70yr old granny! I approached him with some trepidation and introduced myself informing him that I was a fun cyclist. He didn't seem to mind and it did turn out to be fun with my eyes on the lithe, lean body riding ahead of me. At times we cycled side by side and I did some filming as the camera was on my bike. Randy has come back to do some more filming for Triple Echo and Helen and Randy drove behind us for a while. I had been cycling uphill for a long time although it wasn't as hard as The Anarchist - named for obvious reasons!! The Pass to-day is called Blueberry Poulson. At night we stopped at Jonathan's, son of Helen, and visited Andrea - friend - in her amazing log cabin in the middle of the Bonnington Mountains. We all sat down to an amazing supper joined by Pat and Tom, neighbours from the forrest.
To-day we are relaxing here and just chilling out. Pat invited us over for breakfast.The mist which hung around all day is clearing and we are off to the pub for supper. What a struggle it all is. Tomorrow it's through the mountains on the Crowsnest Highway to Salma and beyond. More later.....
(To see a close up don't forget to double click on the Google map on the Route page of the website and click on the Castlegar place-marker on the list at the LHS. Zoom in and click on Terrain at the top of the map to see the route in detail. Ed)