Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Random update: KML file

Huge news: we're doing it again. Backwards. In January. With bags of bricks. Ok, Kyle said no. Back to the drawing board...

We belong to a facebook group that collects data from cross country cycle tours. Sam is doing a great job aggregating and mapping tours like ours. If you're researching your own trip and you found this blog on a google search, I would recommend starting there.

He needed a KML file to add B4B to the collection so I created one using this Strava tool by Jonathan O'Keeffe. I suppose making this available adds marginal value to the resourcefulness of this site.

That's the update. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Reflection Part 2: Map

It's taken quite a while to finish, but here is the complete interactive map of the entire B4B journey!  

You can zoom in to see the exact route that we followed, so specific as to see where we pulled off the road for whatever reason, where we did our errands, and the u-turns the few times we got misdirected.

One area of functionality that I focused on is adding relevant data and context.  There are four sets of data, all with their own series of placemarks, which you can access by the drop-down menu at the top-left of the map.
  • Destination - all of the places we stopped for the night, complete with daily stats
  • Story - all of the best stories from the road, highlighted with pictures where possible
  • Milestone - some of the big moments of the trip
  • Bike Shops - (incomplete) all of the dozen or so bike trips that made the journey continue! (coming soon)
It's a bit rough around the edges, and the only  real omission is the missing day of data in New Brunswick.

Click the map above to view! I suppose that if you were going to look at the map for a click or two, the critical detail that you would need to remember is that we started and finished in Waterloo.

Big thanks to Kenny Scott for creating this tool and adding custom features to make this map what it is!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Reflection and Part 1: Stats

At this precise moment six months ago, we were probably cycling near Arthur, eager with the anticipation of finishing the journey, as well as who was waiting for us in Waterloo.

Six months, but who is counting?

Back in August, I had posted a good summary of the trip, and promised to share more, soon.  Well, life got in the way, and I dropped the project.  But I'm back on it now with new enthusiasm.

Part of the goal of this blog is to create a useful source of information for future Canada cyclists, just as we were incredibly benefited by the work and documentation of several bloggers before us [Bike for Mike].  With that being said, I am planning to release five more posts to complete the definitive record of the B4B project:
  1. The stats (below)
  2. The map
  3. The equipment list
  4. A photo album
  5. A qualitative reflection

Part 1: The Stats
There are just too many stats to share effectively, so I have summarized in one pivot table and two good graphs.  First, the table showing all major stats, by day.  [Open in a new tab]

Next is a distance graph.  This shows our daily distance (left axis), as well as the cumulative distance (right axis).  It shows the daily fluctuation and rest days. [Open in a new tab]

Last is a climb graph.  Again, it shows daily climb (m, right axis), and cumulative climb (left axis).  It is essentially a cross-section map of Canada's mountains, starting in the middle: Ontario, Appalachians, Newfoundland, Cascades, Rockies, Ontario.  Neat!  [Open in a new tab]

More, later!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Days 18, 19 and 20 - The East Coast...Finally

The trip may have concluded several months ago and so I doubt there will be much outside interest in reading about the days we didn’t blog for during the trip, but it’s nice to have a thorough record of the Bike for Bricks trip and so…Here it is – For those Bike for Bricks fanatics - the final days recounting the East Coast portion of the trip. Please excuse the lack of detail. It’s hard to remember which moments and events to attribute to what days after several months!

Day 18 – Campground near Baddeck to North Sydney (Wednesday, July 4th)

We wake up at our camp site and eat some breakfast, despite no recollection of the breakfast I can safely assume it was porridge and fruit. Some things that do come back quite clearly – the previous few days of the trip had not been our fastest nor most efficient days. All three of us had something slowing us down, the most serious of which was Jordan’s knee. Kyle was struggling with a broken derailleur, I had a broken clip (both the bike problems had been temporarily fixed by a nice cyclist the day before, but neither fixes were permanent or ideal), and most importantly Jordan had a painful knee that was really hindering his physical ability and quietly worrying me and Kyle. Luckily, we had a short 70kms to North Sydney to catch an overnight ferry to Newfoundland. After 3 weeks of steady pedaling a 70km day should have been really easy, but on this day we were forcing against not just our individual bike and physical problems, but we also had “Kelly’s Mountain” coming up. The mountain, combined with the heat, and the rolling hills of New Brunswick would force us to have our lowest daily average speed for the entire trip at an excruciatingly slow 19.0kms/h (the only other days below 21km/h were the first day of the trip, and the first day of rain). It was also the first of three days of the trip where we eclipsed 10m of rise per 1km (the other two days were the Coquihalla and Roger’s Pass).
A quick diversion to say Jordan kept all the stats and wow, they are fantastic stats

Despite the toughest terrain we’d faced yet we made it to North Sydney with plenty of time to spare and managed to stock up on our standard fare of sustenance (cold cuts, cheese, buns, fruit, trail mix etc.) in preparation for the SEVENTEEN hour ferry that waited. A daunting mind-numbing prospect to be sure, but to three cyclists who weren't sure if they’d be sleeping outside or not the majority of the previous nights a guaranteed 17 consecutive hours of not cycling and being inside weren't that terrible at all.
After expertly getting everything we’d needed from the grocery store, and just as expertly over-indulging in a lot of junk food we made our way to the ferry port where…yes you guessed it…Kyle had another flat while in the line to leave New Brunswick. It was becoming a cruel punch-line but with time providing perspective it’s quite amusing now.
We got on our ferry, which a couple days earlier hadn't been guaranteed as the ferry had been getting repaired from some rough voyages resulting in several cancelled crossings, chowed down on junk food and watched the Yankee’s play in the lounge/bar of the big boat. I used the ferry showers to get clean and feel good and fell asleep on a shockingly comfortable couch while reading.

On the day we cycled about 70kms at our lowest average daily speed of the whole trip

Day 19 – Argentia to St John’s

We wake up feeling really good - a good night’s sleep and getting to set wheel upon another province (new province for me and Jordan!) is exciting. We eventually see land through the morning mist and hear the PA announce the OK for passengers to go their cars…or bikes. We get our stuff, put on our biking clothes and get to be the first people to get off the ferry – and the biking continues.
Impressions of the province – it’s beautiful. Newfoundland doesn't look the same as Nova Scotia or New Brunswick at all. It’s very rocky with lots of hills and the trees and we were almost never not biking past a small lake or a big pond. There are only a couple things to note from the first part of the day’s ride. One of the first town/city signs we pass points down a road towards a place called “Placentia” which in itself isn’t very remarkable except soon after that we pass a sign pointing to a town called “Dildo”. Yes, people in Newfoundland do have their very odd sense of humour on full display right from the get-go. Their famed hospitality is also on full display as we grocery shop and buy some supplies from some mom and pop stores with very talkative and nice and VERY hard to understand owners. Though I do recall the line “ah yes, Newfoundland is the most beautiful country you’ll ever see…err, ummm, province” from one nice local!
The nice thing about this leg of the trip is we have about 140kms to get to our destination in St John’s and for about a 110kms of that there’s only one turn to make. So despite all having different limitations (knee’s and bikes) on our speeds we agree that getting separated isn't that big a deal we can all go at our own paces agreeing to meet up at the turns but to otherwise just go. It was really nice bicycling through a new province and seeing almost no one and nothing for several hours. Newfoundland was truly rustic and stunning. We eventually decided to celebrate embracing a distinctly different province by eating in a small diner in the middle of nowhere at the one major intersection we’d come across so far. We indulged ourselves and got back on our bikes where, once again we separated and continued.
It was on this leg towards St. John’s that I saw another cyclist way up in the distance while biking the lonely roads, and being who I am decided it would be silly not to try and catch him…so I did.
The cyclist was Phil. He also had a friend somewhere up ahead named ahead named Alex and they were awesome. They were just finishing up their cross-Canada cycle trip that day and we decided to join them for the rest of it. I spent a long time talking with Phil while we biked along the highway and gasping for breath from trying to catch up but eventually we caught up with Alex also and stopped for a little lunch break when Kyle and Jordan also caught up. We shared lots of stories on the side of the road and eventually Alex and Phil took off while the B4B team ate sandwiches.
We eventually caught up with A&P again at the sign for St John’s and had them take the picture that would get more hits on Facebook than any other Bike for Bricks post. Jordan, Kyle and I were excited at the prospect of completing the eastern leg of the trip, but it was nothing compared to how A&P felt at finishing their almost three-month long cycle trip and it was great to be able to see and share the moment with them. Kyle unfortunately got a flat tire (surprise) and so our group of five was forced to three for little bit though we eventually met up at a great fish ‘n’ chips restaurant and the five of us celebrated by eating more local St John’s food and drinking quite a bit of their local beer and some good talk. It was one of the most enjoyable afternoons of the trip and the two respective groups of cyclists agreed to keep the “when in NFLD” mentality going and briefly parted ways with plans to meet up later to get “screeched in”.
The B4B team then headed up to Signal Hill to choose to see the sunset and perhaps even get a campsite under the presumption that the “occupy” movement from earlier in the year had been
allowed to camp up there.
The highest point in the city wasn't easy to get up to via bicycle though the sunset was spectacular. We did manage to find a place to stash our supplies out of sight and headed back into the city for more celebratory drinks with A&P at the famous Trapper John’s where we got “screeched in” by saying some weird phrase, and drinking some foul rum. Eventually, exhaustion set in and late into the night the B4B teams re-tackled the steep incline up Signal Hill (which seemed much more difficult than it had a few hours earlier…) and passed out – though not before setting our alarms early enough to see the first sunrise of Canada.
On the day we cycled 140kms to St. John’s and another 5-10kms in the city

Day 20 – Signal Hill to the Atlantic Ocean to the airport.

Wake up! Climb up to the top of Signal hill for the first sunrise in Canada, enjoy the symbolic moment and eat breakfast…definitely porridge.
This day brought with it very little biking, but stress of a different sort as we had a flight to catch generously paid for by Mary Bales – the head of the Heartwood Place. Can’t say enough to thank her for very measurable gestures like this and for the multitude of things she did to help us before the trip, during, and after. Thanks so much, we did the biking, but you helped turn it into an event bigger than the B4B team. (You can still donate to the Heartwood Place
We made our way down signal hill (riding very hard on the brakes) and cycled around the city before finding our way out past the houses and the city and to the Atlantic Ocean to dip our bikes in the Ocean. We had also unknowingly gone to the exact same place that our greatest pre-trip resource had finished his cross-Canada cycle ( which was very cool for us since this man had really helped us by having a well laid out and informative website that provided a lot of our ideas and structure for the trip.
We took our pictures and hastily got back on the bikes after admiring the view. We had a flight to catch in a few hours and bicycles that needed to get dismantled before they’d be allowed on, and boxes to purchase to put them in. We were a little nervous about making it but there was nothing we could do but head to a bike shop and hope for some help.
We also used what little spare time we had to use the downtown Goodlife to shower in a merciful attempt to save our unfortunate fellow flyers the smell of three cyclists who hadn't showered in a couple days. After the showers we found a shop that, despite not being open had a semi-rude and dismissive employee in the store who sold us the necessary tools to take apart the bike, and sold us the boxes we’d need. With a lot of stress, and a lack of time we managed to get our bikes apart (with very little thanks to the employee) hop in a taxi and get to the airport just in time to make the flight to Toronto. In Toronto Kyle and I made our connecting flight to Vancouver while we parted ways with Jordan and the Bike for Bricks team parted ways on Friday and wouldn’t be reunited until Sunday night.
The first part of the trip, the eastern leg, or 35% of the biking, was done. We’d been through a lot of rough times, but way more good times, and once again, with the benefit of hindsight I can say that we were about to go through a lot more.
Two days of rest were coming up – and then it’d be back on the bikes to for another 4430kms…Bring it on. 

On the day we cycled approximately 10kms though Kyle and I travel almost 7000; Jordan ends up back in Waterloo exactly undoing what we’d biked in 3 grueling weeks in 3hrs.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Final Day!

Day 52 – Flesherton to Kitchener City Centre (Home!)

Having once been designated the “off day blogger” it would have been fair to presume that having had over 2 weeks of off days during which to write a blog that sums up my impressions and recollections of the final day of bike trip I would have had this finished by now instead of just starting the final days blog. However, another large trip got in the way which is why I’m writing this on plane above the Atlantic Ocean on the way to Rome…
And now the Europe trip is over, the bike trip has been done for 2 months and it's time to finally post the last day's blog.

The Final Day!
The final day was an interesting one for the wake up. It was to be a leisurely day of biking, with a mere 120kms to go before rolling into our welcoming party at Kitchener City Hall at 4pm, which would normally mean a leisurely wake up time. But on this day several factors forced us to awake at an excruciating 4:15am. The largest potential factor that forced this seemingly unnecessary amount of biking hours was precautionary as you can never predict the amount of unforeseen set-backs that can happen (remember the 6 flats in one day) but we were also hampered by not being on our own schedule and not wanting to be late to our three predetermined stops. The final factor was, quite simply, Kyle’s average speed having dropped significantly over the previous week due to very understandable mental and physical exhaustion.

Upon early waking I quietly made my way (begrudgingly) out of a very comfortable bed in my uncles house and downstairs to make breakfast. Though I didn’t know the kitchen layout the habits gained on the trip were in full display as I didn’t know what else to do except start cooking in the morning. Though wonderfully, my lovely Aunt Nancy woke up shortly after that and took over the cooking, so I used the new found leisure time to hop in a hot tub and further stretch out what had now become constantly tight and sore leg muscles. After a fantastic hot breakfast my grandmother arrived with our fresh washing proclaiming how our clothes needed washing twice since after one wash she wasn’t sure if they were clean – yes our stuff was that dirty. After donning our biking clothes we had a quick photo shoot before getting on our bikes to start the day - for the last time.

Personally, I was amazed at how unimportant that moment felt. Instead of being a grand moment full of sentiment and nostalgia it was just another start to a day of biking; though the expected sappy feelings would grow at an alarming rate with each stop along the way home.
After delaying briefly to pick up our bikes and walk through an almost impassable construction sight we cycled into Arthur for our last Timmies stop. Despite Jordan having a run in with an irritable elderly lady spirits were high since this stop wasn’t a real lunch, it was just a way to use up some time before our first scheduled stop and the long awaited reunion with Lindsay – at the sight where we would officially cross Canada at Forfar St. in Elora!
After the Timmies stop we got back on the bikes to make our way to Lindsay in Elora, with a steady and determined pace we managed to get there well ahead of schedule and right before unknowingly crossing the unremarkable looking (though grand in consequence) intersection Jordan had to call out “STOP!” and we all came to a screeching halt a few feet before officially crossing Canada. After a phone call to Lindsay and learning we had more time to kill we busted out the old faithful PB&J Sandwiches to provide sustenance during the wait while sharing stories of the trip with each other and trying to temper our enthusiasm for the upcoming moment. While we were eating our sandwiches the most important non-biking member of the B4B team showed up in a car totally decked out and painted in support of the conclusion of the trip – we were going to finish with one stylish entourage.

Forfar St. Elora - the point where we'd officially crossed Canada!
After the sandwiches were done Lindsay grabbed her camera and we three grabbed our bikes to coast over the intersection and pass the point where we could officially claim the exclusive designation of having biked across the second largest country in the world! The first daily milestone was marked by more pictures and a cheers with wine flutes filled with chocolate milk. It was a great moment that was immediately ensued by joking about just getting in the car and riding to the next scheduled stops in comfort and style. After the jokes we got back on our bikes and started peddling with the flashy support car bringing up the rear (and our panniers) on the 20km stretch to the Royal Distributing headquarters in Guelph.
The bike ride continued without incident though we were forced to adhere to normal traffic rules and street lights for the first time in ages; going was slow, but despite the underwhelming pace we were all excited to make it to the Royal Distributing headquarters for our second scheduled stop of the day.
Once we arrived at RD there was a pleasant surprise. Jordan’s family was waiting dressed in “B4B Team Jordan” t-shirts and the entire RD crew were out to welcome us and their bicycles in. We spent a good hour getting interviewed and filmed for a couple YouTube spots and Jordan got to spend time catching up the members of his family he hadn't seen since the wedding.
Once we decided to get back on the road we delayed a little more to adjust for the Tri-City traffic and amend our route to take more back roads on which Jordan, Kyle and I could really stretch our legs and push ourselves as fast as we could for the final 25 kms of our epic journey. We also had the luxury of a 5 car entourage and our second member of the Schmidt family to bike with us as Jordan’s dad Lloyd hopped on his road bike and took off at a wonderfully rigorous pace as we delightedly sped towards the end of our trip and greatest milestone of our lives.
We budgeted about an hour to get to the City Hall, but, knowing we didn't have to get on a bike the next day and once done we’d actually be done, we pushed ourselves hard! It was one of the most enjoyable bike rides of my life. The scenery wasn’t spectacular, but it was home. We passed signs we’d driven by in our day to day lives for years, we passed fields and streets that had associated memories, and, we were constantly moving measurable and significant distances towards being done. In fact, with the speeds we were moving at we would have arrived at our arrival party 30 minutes early, and so, the Bike for Bricks team parted ways with Lloyd and joined Lindsay for a quick stop at McDonalds for some ice-cream and laughs, camaraderie and story-telling before once again alighting our familiar bicycles last time to go the 200m down King street to the final destination.

The final turn into Kitchener City Hall
The traffic was terrible so it was stop and go but we managed to take over the road and all three of us kept safety in the forefront of our minds, and even in such a momentous occasion habit took over and we signaled our turn into the City Hall Square amidst cheers, applause and hugs from friends and family that we hadn’t seen in almost two months.

I’m going to step away from pure narrative to say that this moment cannot really be recreated or recaptured in a way that would truly portray how significant the first few minutes off the bicycles were. There were several converging factors that culminated in the truly blissful feeling of joy and euphoria that I’ve only ever felt a few times. Having completed 52 days of grueling physical exertion and an equally trying 52 days of pushing the barriers of our mental fortitude we were done. We were within striking distance of our fundraising goal. We were receiving heartfelt and deserved congratulations from our closest family and friends and equally impressed strangers. We knew where we were going to sleep that night. We were done!

The next hour is a blur of answering questions and saying hello and feeling a little bit like a celebrity. It was all very surreal and still feels like a dream. Eventually though, the festivities started to wind down and I made plans with the 20 members of the Cadman Clan to meet for dinner and tore myself away from the admirers to say a quick and amazing goodbye to Jordan and Kyle. Except for the Wedding Weekend we had spent almost the entirety of the previous 52 days in each other’s company whether we wanted to or not and now we were parting ways. It was a very significant moment marked by a terse manly “see you guys later” and a slightly less manly hug and laugh. And then I left.
The rest of the day was, naturally, very family oriented and easy going. I went to bed way too late, I ate and drank way too much and eventually fell asleep into an easy, comfortable sleep at home.

52 days
3 great guys
1 beautiful country
1 amazing accomplishment