Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Day 33 of the EPIC Ride - Thessalon - Sudbury, ON

Day 33
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Thessalon - Sudbury, ON
Distance: 220 km
Average speed: 31 km/h
Sunny & little to no breeze

The ride from Thessalon to Sudbury was one of our best riding days so far. Evan rode the first 65 km, but took the rest of the day off, to prevent his knees from hurting again. He'll be doing that for a little while; getting back into riding gradually.

The weather was great all day-sunny, warm, but not too hot; and not a lot of wind. There also weren't a lot of hills, compared to what we've had in other parts of Northern Ontario.

So the Riders left at 9:30 am, from the cottage, and got to our billets' house in Sudbury around 6:30 pm. Dave and Luke covered 220 km in only 7 hours of riding, with an average of 31 km/h. For parts of the day, they kept up speeds around 35 km/h.

For the night, we stayed with Jack & Dedee Flietstra, who live on the east side of Sudbury. Jack's brother, John, goes to our church in Cambridge.

They were also hosting four students (Steven, Johnny, Angela & Alison) from Athletes In Action (AIA), a group that "is committed to using the language of sport to communicate the most powerful message of all: God’s passionate love for his children as communicated through his Son, Jesus Christ." We had a great evening of dinner at the Flietstra's, and then went with the AIA crew to a nearby beach for a quick dip, and some friendly conversation.
It was really fun hanging out with other people our age, and Dave and Luke found out that Steven knew people from Cambridge that they knew, so that was cool too!

All in all, a pretty EPIC day! ;)


(p.s. no blog post until Friday. I'm writing this in North Bay right now, and we're taking a rest day tomorrow, so I'll update after that.)

Days 31 & 32 of the EPIC Ride - Pancake Bay Provincial Park - Thessalon, ON; Thessalon rest day

Day 31
Sunday, July 27, 2013
Pancake Bay Provincial Park - Thessalon, ON
Distance: 186 km
Grey in the morning, sunny and warm in the afternoon

Day 32
Monday, July 28, 2013
Rest day in Thessalon, ON

Before going to bed on Saturday night, Evan checked the forecast, and found out that there was supposed to be a little bit of rain that night. 

Evan and Dave slept in one tent and Luke and I slept in the other one. At 3:30, Evan woke up Dave, telling him that the whole tent was soaked. After trying to cover up the tent with a tarp and realizing everything on the floor was soaked, they just packed up all their stuff, and went and sat in the van for a bit. After not being able to fall asleep, Dave got his stuff together, and started riding at 5:50 am. Luke got ready and started riding at about 7. After packing up the second tent, Evan and I drove off to meet the guys in Sault Ste Marie, 70 km away.

The whole morning of riding was cool and grey, but after taking a rest and breakfast at a Tim Horton's in Sault, it cleared up and the sun came out for the day.

Being that this was the 11th straight day of riding for the guys, it was a hard day, especially since they did 186 km. But they made it to Thessalon by the evening. Thanks to Tim & Sue Hutton, friends from our church, we were able to stay at their cottage near Thessalon.

This was our view from their place...

We spent the evening and the next day enjoying movies, barbecued dinners, swimming, canoeing, and we got a bunch of laundry washed and stuff repacked! All in all, it was a really relaxing time, amazing scenery and weather, and lots of food!

Thanks also to Sue's cousin, Jim, and his wife Dorothy, who were at the cottage the same time we were-they made us breakfasts and showed us where everything was at the cottage.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Day 30 of the EPIC Ride - Wawa - Pancake Bay Provincial Park, ON

Day 30
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Wawa - Pancake Bay Provincial Park, ON
Distance: 158 km
Grey and rainy

With grey skies above them yet again, and on their 10th straight day of riding, Dave and Luke headed out from the church we stayed at in Wawa and made for Pancake Bay.

Thanks again to Pastor Brian from Calvary Pentecostal Church for letting us use their building!

Evan and I got all the stuff loaded up and got going to meet up with Dave and Luke for their first rest break.

While it was a cold, sometimes wet and always grey day, we rode/drove through some amazing scenery and had great views of Lake Superior...

We got to Pancake Bay Provincial Park in the early evening.
Dinner was sloppy joes and we had a fire with marshmallows later at night.
Then we went to bed hoping it wouldn't rain too much. More on that in the next post...

Days 28 & 29 of the EPIC Ride – Marathon – White River; White River – Wawa, ON

Day 28
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Marathon – White River, ON
Distance: 100 km
Grey, rainy, and cold

Day 29
Friday, July 26, 2013
White River – Wawa, ON
Distance: 97 km
Grey and rainy

Today we headed out from Marathon to go 190 km to Wawa, ON. Thanks again to our billets in Marathon; Lakeview Manor Bed & Breakfast, and George & Joy Bot. Thanks as well to Sarah & Chris Whaley for feeding us dinner and arranging our billets.

Evan and I left Marathon after doing a few errands and caught up with Dave and Luke. They were pretty cold and wet. After a rest break we went on ahead to White River. After a couple hours, Evan got a message from Dave that they had stopped at a restaurant to warm up, because they were so cold and wet. We met them about 20 km back from where we were for another break, and then about an hour or so later, they made it to White River. Since it was cold and rainy, and Dave and Luke were tired and sore from the previous day’s difficult 209 km, we decided to stay in the town at a motel for the night. We got A & W for dinner and shared a good-sized motel room at the Continental Motel, with plans to make it the other 90 km to Wawa the next day.

In the morning, we slept in a bit and avoided having to ride in the rain at the beginning of the morning.
After breakfast and packing up, we left town around 11 and Dave and Luke headed out. Since we’d cut yesterday short, and made today short as well, we encountered the Tour Du Canada cyclists a couple of times. They actually started about 30 km west of us and were going a ways east of Wawa.

We ended up getting to Wawa before 4 pm. When Evan and I got there at about 2, we stopped to see the Wawa Goose, and then visited Wilderness Helicopters to see their helicopters.

For the night, we stayed at Calvary Pentecostal Church in Wawa thanks to the pastor, Brian, who let us use their facilities. We had spaghetti and meat sauce, watched a movie, and slept in the sanctuary while it poured outside.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Day 27 of the EPIC Ride – Red River – Marathon, ON

Day 27
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Red River – Marathon, ON
Distance: 209 km
Grey, some sun. Cooler temperatures with a breeze along the edge of Lake Superior.

Left Thunder Bay at 9. Drove 110 km to drop off Dave & Luke. Today was a loooong ride, with lots of hills, and cool temperatures.

Our accommodations for the night were already set up, thanks to friends of some friends of my family, so there wasn't much for Evan and I to do except meet Dave and Luke for rest breaks and sit in the van...

...and go exploring in the Canadian wilderness...

...we also went to Mink Creek Falls.

Thanks to Sarah & Chris Whaley for feeding us dinner and getting us set up with one room at Lakeview Manor and one at George & Joy Bot's. If you go to Marathon, Lakeview is a really nice B&B to stay at; George & Joy are also great hosts and happy to take people in-especially cyclists!

OK, peace!


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Days 25 & 26 of the EPIC Ride – Shabaqua Corners – Thunder Bay; Thunder Bay – Nipigon, ON

Day 25
Monday, July 22, 2013
Shabaqua Corners - Thunder Bay, ON
Distance: 70 km
Mixed sun & clouds

Day 26
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Thunder Bay - Nipigon, ON
Distance: 108 km
Sunny, partly cloudy

On Monday morning, I woke up at 6 to the sound of light rain. Remembering that I’d left my shoes outside, I quickly opened the tent, pulled my shoes in, and then went back to sleep. I woke up less than an hour later to a thunderstorm.

Basically we all just slept until 9:30 because it took pretty much that long for the rain to finally stop. After breakfast we packed everything up and started riding the 70 km to our host’s house in Thunder Bay. Due to some rescheduling of our route, we decided to skip a rest day in Thunder Bay, and instead just rest as much as possible during Monday-since the riding distance was pretty short.

We stopped at Kakabeka Falls on the way to Thunder Bay…

The rest of the day was pretty relaxed. Evan rode the 70 km to see how his knees were feeling. We stayed the night at Frank Pollari’s house, where we had dinner, and met a couple of friends Frank had over in the evening. Frank has done lots of cycling in places around the world and he told us some stories. He also gave us directions and tips on some cool places to see in the Thunder Bay area and places as we head east.

Tuesday was supposed to be 145 km to a tiny nothing-place called Gurney. The guys started out from Thunder Bay much earlier than I did (I slept a bit longer and had a few errands to do as well).

On the way out of Thunder Bay, we stopped at the Terry Fox monument.

Partway through the day's ride, Evan had to stop riding, because his knees were hurting him too much.
Throughout the day's riding the guys ended up catching up with, and passing, some of the Tour Du Canada cyclists.

Dave ended up getting to the second rest break a while before Luke did and didn't stop long, wanting to get on to Nipigon, about 15 km ahead. A little while later, Luke reached us, going pretty fast. He grabbed a quick snack and water, telling us that he'd seen a helicopter and ambulance go by, and a lady driving the other way had told him two cyclist and two vehicles were in an accident up ahead. We were immediately concerned and thought Dave might have been involved.

Evan and I started driving ahead, but only got a few kilometres farther before having to stop in a long line of traffic. Evan texted Dave and found out that he was okay, but that a couple vehicles and two cyclists had been involved in an accident about 3 km ahead, and that the cyclists were both killed. The two were both from the Tour Du Canada group, and were a couple in their 70s.

Luke and Evan both rode on ahead to meet up with Dave near the accident, and after a while, they all came back at about 5:30. After hearing reports that traffic wouldn't clear up for the next 3 to 10 hours, we decided to drive back to Thunder Bay and stay another night at Frank's, then drive back out in the morning to where we started. The actual riding distance covered was only 108 km.

On the way back, we stopped at Ouimet Canyon...

Thanks to our great support team at home for all the encouragment and prayers for safety on the road. Thanks to God for keeping us safe so far, and for being with us for the rest of this trip.
Between Tuesday and Wednesday's riding this week, we're pretty sure we hit the halfway point for riding distance (not including any ferries), and we're past the halfway point for the days we've been away.

- Ben

Link to news article on the accident:

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Days 23 & 24 of the EPIC Ride - Dryden - Ignace, ON; Igance - Shabaqua Corners, ON

Day #23 of the EPIC Ride
Saturday, July 20, 2013
Dryden - Ignace, ON
Distance: 112 km

Day #24 of the EPIC Ride
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Ignace - Shabaqua Corners, ON
Distance: about 181 km
Sunny with light clouds, slight headwind

Hey Everyone! Ben here with another 2-day blog post!

Saturday was a relatively short day; and if you saw our Facebook status from the afternoon, you'll know we had a late start. We slept in a bit at the Robertsons, had breakfast, and the guys did a couple things with their bikes and we just chatted and hung out. I wrote a couple blog posts, we kept hanging out, and then had lunch. After some photos at the Robertsons', the Riders got going, I went and got groceries and gas, and then caught up with the them for a break.

Doug Robertson is a photographer, and took a bunch of photos of us and of the Riders on the road, which we'll have available to view soon!

After our break the guys started off again while I sent a couple emails. When I was catching up to them, they flagged me down and I picked up Evan, who needed to stop riding because his knees hurt him too much at the time.

He took the rest of the day off and we went ahead to Davy Lake Campground. We got a great discount there - 50% off the camping rates!
We had spaghetti with vegetable & meat sauce for dinner-which I would say is the meal that has turned out the best for the stuff I've made-and after dinner we had a campfire and made s'mores!

On Sunday, Evan took the day off and rested his knees, while Dave and Luke got going by 9. After getting everything cleaned up at the campsite, we caught up with them and had a rest break after about 60 km.

After 50 km more, we had another rest break, and some ice cream...

...then Evan and I headed off to find a place to camp, near the day's destination-a highway intersection known as Shabaqua Corners.
We were hoping to find something about 40 km from where we had stopped, but nothing came up until Shabaqua Corners itself, and it was more of a hunting/fishing lodge, where they let us camp & shower. Because Dave and Luke were thinking they only had to do another 40 km or so, they hadn't eaten a big lunch, or packed really any snacks. After about 70 km, and 5 km from the day's end, they called us for a snack break because Dave was feeling faint. After that, and a hearty dinner at camp, they were feeling fine.

We managed to snag some free wifi at our campsite, which helped us work on some more route connections, and on last night's stay in Thunder Bay.

In case you haven't seen the changes yet, we've updated our Route page on the website to reflect the changes we made to our schedule.

Thanks to everyone who's helped us make billeting connections or taken us in along the way! We've got a lot of the rest of the nights of the trip confirmed or tentatively scheduled.
We've also only had to camp for 7 nights of these 25 days on the road! Lots of people have helped provide meals and comfortable, dry places to sleep, which means less work at the end and beginning of the day, and less costs to cover.

Almost half-way there!

-Ben Looby (SAG - Support And Gear driver)

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Days 21 & 22 of the EPIC Ride - Winnipeg - Falcon Lake, MB; Falcon Lake, MB to Dryden, ON

Day #21 of the EPIC Ride
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Winnipeg - Falcon Lake, MB
Distance: 150 km

Day #22 of the EPIC Ride
Friday, July 19, 2013
Falcon Lake, MB - Dryden, ON
Distance: about 200 km
Sunny to cloudy to sunny with light clouds

After a great rest day in Winnipeg at the Bredins', we slept in for a bit, had some breakfast, and then the Riders started out at 10 am for Falcon Lake.

As I was putting our stuff out to start loading the van, I got a call from Evan, "Hey, Dave fell off his bike, can you come to us?"

Dave's in the ambulance getting checked out

After visiting the hospital...

So I left our pile of stuff at the Bredins, and went about 16km in the van to find the guys.
I arrived to find Dave lying on the edge of the shoulder of Winnipeg's Perimeter Highway. We got him into the van, Luke did a little bit of first aid, and then I started driving to the hospital. A couple km down the road, Dave was getting sick, and asked me to pull over. We ended up calling for an ambulance, because at the time, Dave was in shock from his accident, and we thought he had a concussion.

The ambulance came and the paramedics said Dave probably had a concussion, so we all went to the hospital (Evan and Luke loaded their bikes on the van). After some time in Winnipeg's Concordia Hospital, we determined that Dave did not have a concussion, but had lost some skin on his chin-which required three stitches-and had scraped up his left hand and bruised his right wrist, plus got a few other scrapes.

By the time we left the hospital, and got Evan and Luke to the Trans-Canada, it was 1:30 pm. They decided to ride to Falcon Lake, about 140 km away, and Dave rested in the van.

Dave and I arrived in Falcon Lake at 7:30; Evan and Luke arrived at 8:30. We stayed at the Falcon Lake Resort Hotel - thanks to the Bredins for setting us up with that. We ate dinner (and breakfast the next day) at the Falcon Lake Bakery Bistro.

When we were getting ready to start out from Falcon Lake, Evan got another flat on his rear wheel, and this was due to the tire tube getting cut on spots on the inside of the rim, where the spokes connect in.

So Luke did the first leg of the riding to Kenora and Evan came with Dave and I in the van so that he could get rim tape for his bike.

Just after leaving Falcon Lake, we crossed the border into Ontario...

After Evan fixed his tire problem, he and Luke rode from Kenora to Dryden, with 2 rest breaks in between.

Over the past couple days the geography changes have been quite noticeable. The day to Falcon Lake, we saw a line of trees in the distance, and since passing that line, the trees haven't really stopped. Also, just before crossing the Ontario border, it went from really flat, to lots of hills and twists in the road.

Our day ended in Dryden, ON with us arriving at our hosts', Tara & Doug Robertson. We had burgers and hot dogs for dinner and then watched The Hobbit.

Sorry if these posts seem rushed, I've written both of these posts' in the Robertsons' living room, and now we're packing up to leave for today's 100 km trip.

More posts to come, probably once we get to Thunder Bay.

Donation update: $15,294 (about 60% of the way to our goal). Click here to Donate.

Keep it EPIC!
- Ben

Days 19 & 20 of the EPIC Ride - Brandon - Winnipeg, MB; rest day in Winnipeg

Day #19 of the EPIC Ride
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Brandon - Winnipeg, MB
Distance: 262 km
Average speed: 30 km/h

Day #20 of the EPIC Ride
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Rest Day in Winnipeg, MB

Tuesday, the 16th of July, was the longest ride Dave and Evan had done, and the longest one they'll ever do on this trip. 262 kilometres of prairies in 8.5 hours of riding. They left Brandon, MB at 7:30 and did a few legs of riding split by some food and rest stops. (Luke did not ride, because he still needed to rest from his fall on Day 17.)

There's not much to say about the riding except that it was long, hard, long, and tiring. And long.

We stayed with Pam & Howard Bredin, and their sons David & Daniel, just east of Winnipeg in a town called Oakbank. They hosted a BBQ fundraiser event on Tuesday night for us.
We had about 30 people show up, and enjoyed lots of great food, as well as each of us spending lots of time talking with people and answering questions. We also sold about 10 shirts and raised about $2500 from that event.

Evan filmed another vlog post after the BBQ.

For our first night in Winnipeg, we split up, and Dave & Luke went to Pam's sister-in-law's and Evan & I stayed at Pam & Howard's house.

On Wednesday, we had a rest day; the guys relaxed and swam for part of the day, then went to the Royal Canadian Mint.

I went shopping at a few local used book stores.

Thanks to the Bredins for all their great hospitality, including all the work they put into the BBQ event; we really enjoyed our time there!


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Days 17 & 18 of the EPIC Ride - Regina - Moosomin, SK; Moosomin, SK - Brandon, MB

Day #17 of the EPIC Ride
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Regina - Moosomin, SK
Distance: 230 km
Sunny, partly cloudy, light winds. Mid to high 20s.

Day #18 of the EPIC Ride
Monday, July 15, 2013
Moosomin, SK - Brandon, MB
Distance: about 130 km
Grey, windy - headwind @ 25 km/h

Today was one of our more eventful days of riding-and also one the longest. Starting from Regina, our goal was Moosomin, because friends of the Gerrards (we stayed with them in Regina) knew the pastor of a local church who said we could sleep at the church for the night.

The ride was going pretty well for most of the day. At one of our afternoon breaks we stopped in Grenfell, SK, and as we were eating lunch, we were joined by another cyclist named Joe.

Joe is a young man in his 20s who just finished at university in Newfoundland, for music, and is now riding home to BC this summer. So he's going East to West. We spent a few minutes talking with him and shared some of our food with him as well.

After leaving Grenfell, and riding about 15 km, Evan had to stop. He'd got his 3rd flat of the day and it was in the same spot each time. Unable to find the problem, and with some leg cramps during his final stop, he called me to pick him up. As I was going back from Whitewood (about 35 km ahead), Dave called me to say that Luke had fallen off his bike and was scraped, and had possibly broken his wrist. So I picked up Luke and his bike, and got him the first aid kit. While picking up Evan and then going to the nearest hospital, in Broadview, Luke cleaned and bandaged himself up as best he could.

We obviously picked the best time to go to the hospital, as there were no other patients there when we showed up, and all 3 women on staff helped clean up and take care of Luke. 

When the x-ray technicians came to the hospital, they x-rayed Luke's arm and confirmed that it was not broken, but just sprained.

So we left the hospital with instructions to rest and heal, and headed off to Moosomin. Dave chose to keep riding all day, and covered the last 70 km on his own, with some headwind, arriving at about 8:30.

After settling in at Moosomin Baptist Church, we went out to Dairy Queen for dinner, because the grocery stores were closed and the only place we could find open after 9 was DQ. Not a great idea-too much fat and grease for that to be called food, let alone a good dinner.

Thanks to Dr. Mel Konkel of Moosomin Baptist for letting us sleep in the basement youth centre!

Yesterday, after a later start in Moosomin-Evan spent some time working on his tire problem-Dave and Evan started out in a 25-30 km/h headwind, which they battled all day long.

From leaving Moosomin at 10 am, battling headwind, and going to just outside of Brandon, MB it took the guys until 5:30 (6:30 with the time change) to cover 130 km.

This was definitely one of the harder days of riding. Dave said later that when they started in the morning, that he didn't know how they were going to make it all the way, with the headwind. They only averaged 22 km/h riding, but at the end, they just pushed and as the wind died down, managed to get closer to 28 km/h. The only highlight to the ride was crossing the Manitoba border...

We stayed the night just outside of Brandon, MB with Audrey and Camille Brodeur, who were contacted by our hosts in Regina, the Gerrards.
After showering and eating a hearty meal of burgers, angel food cake and ice cream and strawberries, the Riders went to bed for a good night's rest.
I spent a while with Google Maps and Warmshowers, looking up possible places to stay for the rest of our journey.

God willing, we'll be in St. John's, NFLD in about 1 month. Today Evan and Dave left at 7:30 (CST) and are heading to just past Winnipeg. Probably at 250+ km ride. As I sit writing this post, I can see the wind picking up to about 20 km/h, and thankfully it's coming from the West.

We're taking a rest day tomorrow, so I'll write another post after that.

Thank you to everyone so far who has taken us in, fed us, donated, encouraged or otherwise supported us in our journey and goal to help the exploited and vulnerable.

As always, if you know someone who will be along our route, or who might have a friend along our way, let us know-we appreciate any connections and love sharing our stories and why we're doing this Ride!

Ben & EPIC - helping Exploited People In Cambodia

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Days 15-16 of the EPIC Ride - Moose Jaw - Regina, SK

Day #15 of the EPIC Ride
Friday, July 12, 2013
Moose Jaw - Regina, SK
Distance: 80 km
Sunny with some light clouds

Day #16 of the EPIC Ride
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Rest day in Regina, SK
Some sun, mostly windy with lots of rain

The 15th day of our Ride was pretty easy for the Riders, compared to their recent days. We also got some media attention.

After a great breakfast in Moose Jaw, thanks to our host Glenda James, we said some farewells and got photos with the cyclists we'd met the day before (see previous post).
While the Riders started the 80 km ride to Regina, I went to a few news agencies in Moose Jaw, to tell them about what we were doing. After that, I gave CBC Regina a call to tell them that the Riders were coming in to the area, and would they be interested in featuring us?

The reporter I talked to was really excited about it, so we arranged to have them meet us where we were staying in Regina.

When the Riders got to Regina in the mid-afternoon, we spent a few minutes talking to CBC and Dave went on camera to answer a few questions.

You can see the news clip here; just skip ahead to 8:35.

In Regina, we stayed with Glendyne & Doug Gerrard, who are involved with the Christian Missionary Alliance (CMA). Glendyne also runs an anti-human trafficking group called Defend Dignity. They work to end prostitution in Canada and are trying to create awareness about why making prostitution legal in Canada would not be a good thing.

While in Regina, we did a few fun and touristy type things, like visiting the RCMP Heritage Museum...

...visiting the Corner Gas Souvenir store...

...and getting a bike repair done at Big Sky Cycle (they were really friendly and gave us some great deals!); we also went back to the RCMP Museum and met up with Sharon Forbes-she worked with International Justice Mission and spoke to our church's young adult earlier this year-she is training to be an RCMP officer...

...finally, thanks to a connection through the owner of the Boston Pizza that Ben works at in Cambridge, we got free dinner at Boston Pizza South Regina!

We really enjoyed our time in Regina on the weekend, and it helped us rest up for a few long days of riding.

Tomorrow, I'll share how our 230 km ride to Moosimin went...

Ben Looby, EPIC Riders Team Leader and Support Driver (aka. "Ride Mom")

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Days 12, 13 & 14 of the EPIC Ride - Brooks - Irvine, AB - Swift Current, SK - Moose Jaw

Day #12 of the EPIC Ride
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Brooks - Irvine, AB
Distance: 147 km
Sunny with part clouds

Day #13 of the EPIC Ride
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Irvine, AB - Swift Current, SK
Distance: 196 km

Day #14 of the EPIC Ride
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Swift Current - Moose Jaw, SK
Distance: 170 km
Avg. speed: 28 km/h
Sunny with a bit of tailwind

So the 12th day of our Ride took us from Brooks to Irvine in Alberta. Irvine was our last stop in AB before crossing the border to Saskatchewan.

This was, if I remember correctly, a good day of riding. One of our rest stops was in Medicine Hat, and we spent some time at the world's tallest teepee...

The Riders covered 147 km in good time, and we made it to Irvine by about 5 pm.
When we had originally set up our route, Dave and I had picked random cities between the larger ones, with the goal of making days that weren't too long or short.

As it turned out, Irvine is a town of 300 people that had no campgrounds, and not much more than a general store and bar. We were told we could camp in the local park/playground area if we didn't make much noise. We ended up setting up our tents and making dinner in the park-which was about 30 metres from the train tracks. The trains, combined with the Tuesday night biker's night at the bar, made for poor sleeping conditions, so it was a hard night for us. We've since sworn never to sleep in a park again, but to go however much farther to the closest campground.

Our ride on Wednesday was where we crossed into Saskatchewan and went to Swift Current...

This was a 196 km ride day and it was pretty warm all day. We took a couple breaks, including one at an ice cream shop where someone bought us free ice cream.

When we got to Swift Current, we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, thanks to Regan Bull (from our church in Cambridge). We also had dinner in-1 large pizza each! We also spent some time in the pool and hot tub, which was pretty relaxing.

Originally our route was going to take us from Swift Current straight to Regina, and then leave us with a rest day there. This was a 250+ km distance, which we decided to split into two days. So we rode from Swift Current to Moose Jaw on day #14; a 170 km ride.

We used the website WarmShowers to find a host in Moose Jaw. WarmShowers is a "Community for touring cyclists and hosts", so people friendly to cyclists can let people know where they live and if someone is coming through a city, they can ask to be taken in and fed for a night.

We ended up staying with a Glenda & Larry James. When we were stopped for a rest about 40 km from Moose Jaw, another cyclist named Joshua came by and asked where we were going. Since he was also going to Moose Jaw, he asked if he could stay at the same place as us. Our hosts agreed, and so there were 5 of us.
Another couple cyclists coming to the area showed up just after us, as they couldn't find anyone else in the area. Then after we finished dinner, another cyclist showed up (he was supposed to arrive on Friday night but ended up being early).
In total, there were 8 of us, and so one of the James' neighbours took in 3 of us that night.

It was one of the highlights of our trip so far, getting to talk to other cyclists and hear their stories. Joshua is from Toronto, and 4 years ago, rode from Toronto to St. John's, NFLD. This summer he's riding from Vancouver to Toronto, and will be back before the end of August.

The next cyclist was a Frenchman, whose name I do not remember well enough to spell, but will find out. He has been riding for 3 months already, and has rode in Japan and some of the US, and is coming through Canada. He's going back down into the States now and coming back up in the East to get to St. John's.

The other fellow he was travelling with, Yak (short version-I'll find out how to spell his full name), is a high-school teacher from Toronto, and is riding from Victoria to Toronto, hoping to be back in early August. We hope to meet up and ride with him a bit near Winnipeg.

The 4th cyclist we met was Ernest. We asked him how long he's been cycling. His response? "Oh, about 6 years and 3 months now." Ernest is from South Africa, and has been cycling the world, and has been to every continent except for Europe (and Antarctica, which would be hard to cycle in). His journey right now is carrying him all the way across Canada and then probably into the US and back across to Africa, then into Europe. He expects to be riding for at least 2 more years. If you visit his blog, you'll see that he's cycled over 111,300 km! Visit that for loads of information and posts about his journey.

We definitely had a great night on Thursday, talking to these other cyclists and hearing about their journeys.

Check back tomorrow for the next posting!

- Ben Looby

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Day 11 - Calgary - Brooks, AB

Day #11 of the EPIC Ride
Monday, July 8, 2013
Calgary – Brooks, AB
Distance: 192 km
Avg. Speed: approx. 30 km/h
Cloudy, breezy/windy, rainy

Yesterday was a long, hard day of riding. After leaving our great accommodations in Calgary at the SAIT Residence (see previous post), the Riders headed out for Brooks, AB.

The trek was not only a long ride, but the weather was grey and cool with light winds, and it rained for most of the day.

We made 3 stops along the way, and after leaving Calgary at 9 am, the Riders got to Brooks at 6 pm, with 6.5 hours of total riding for the day.

Thanks to a connection I was able to make by phoning around, Victory Church of Brooks helped us out by providing rooms for us at the Heritage Inn & Suites in Brooks. We did laundry, enjoyed a great dinner in the adjoining restaurant, and spent some time in the pool and hot tub.

Thank you to everyone for all the prayers and support! We are looking for places to stay as we travel, so if you know any friends or friends of friends or family who might be along our route, let us know!

One prayer request we do have is for the Riders’ health, and Evan in particular, as his knees and elbows are hurting him, from the constant riding.

Thank you again for the support! Check out our website to donate to Ratanak!


Days 8, 9 & 10 of the EPIC Ride - Golden, BC - Banff, AB; Banff - Calgary, AB; Calgary rest day

Day #8 of the EPIC Ride
Friday, July 5, 2013
Golden, BC - Banff, AB
Distance: 148 km
Avg. Speed: 25 km/h
Partly cloudy

Day #9 of the EPIC Ride
Saturday, July 6, 2013
Banff – Calgary, AB
Distance: 127 km
Mostly cloudy all day-windy and rainy in the later part of the day

Day #10 of the EPIC Ride
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Rest day in Calgary

Sorry about the delay in posting stuff. I was busy and somewhat lazy at the same time.

So for Day #8 of our trip, the Riders went from Golden, BC and crossed over in to Banff.
After breakfast, they left the campsite and started out for the day, while I cleaned up camp, did a couple quick errands, and then realized I needed to catch up really quickly. By the time I caught up with the Riders, they’d rode over 80km in 4 hours. We stopped for lunch in the village of Lake Louise for about an hour, then the Riders headed off for Banff, while I went up to see Lake Louise

Between that side-trip, and the time to get to Banff, the Riders actually made it to Banff a few minutes before I did. They covered 57 km in 1.5 hours!

When we arrived in Banff, we got ourselves set up at the Rundlestone Lodge on Banff Avenue, thanks to the generosity of General Manager Ron Bateman. He and his wife and daughters had us over in the evening for a delicious dinner! Then we went back to the Lodge and soaked in the hot tub. Thanks again to the Batemans for all their hospitality!

On Saturday, Dave, Luke and Evan rode from Banff to Calgary. The first part of the day was cool and overcast, with a bunch of uphills and downhills coming through the last of the mountains. For our first water and snack break, we pulled off on an exit that used to actually go somewhere, before the flooding in that area…

A few kilometres later, we left the mountains and passed through rolling hills and fields. At the second stop, as the Riders were getting ready to do the last part of the day’s ride, Luke noticed that dark clouds were moving south/southeast. They started off in an attempt to avoid rain, but the clouds moved too fast.

By the time they’d reached Calgary, they were cold, soaked, and tired. Winds of at least 40 km/h beat at them from the north, while rain pelted at them as they rode.

Thankfully, a friend of ours, Jesse Corriveau, had set up  accommodations for us at the SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) Residence building just off of the Trans-Canada. Once the Riders reached Calgary, they were able to dry off and change, and then we went to Swiss Chalet, thanks to Jesse giving us a gift card.

This is my view from the 22nd-and top-floor of the Residence building at night.

On Sunday, we took a day off and went to Centre Street Church in Calgary, where we were treated to lunch after the service. We sat and talked with a couple people from the church and had some great discussions about Ratanak and sex trafficking awareness.

We then visited the coolest bicycle shop we’ve ever been to, called The Bike Shop, in downtown Calgary. They had stock in everything you could need for bicycles on one floor, and on the second floor, they had dozens of bicycles. They also ran a large repair area on the first floor.

Later in the evening, Jesse treated us-again!-to dinner at Peter’s Drive-In (burgers, fries, & shakes), and my cousin Justin and Evan’s uncle Marc joined us as well.

We were there so long, talking and joking around, that finally we started to get cold and noticed that even though it was still bright out, it was almost 10 pm!

So we headed back to the residence building and got some sleep in preparation for a long day of riding.

Thanks for all the support, prayers, and connections as we go!
While the riding is going well overall, we are still raising money for Ratanak, and we have a $25,000 goal, Right now we’re at about $13,000.

Please, consider donating to Ratanak. Our team is giving up our summer and going through long days of riding to do what we can to help others; will you help by making a sacrifice too?

Keep it EPIC!

- Ben