The route cycled
In the town where he was not born lives a man who rides bicycles. He finds that this activity, more than many others, can be both very exhilarating as well as very frustrating, but never boring. Moreover, a solist like him finds it really nice that this activity needs very little - if any - assistance, as well as annoyance, from other people.

The man in question - let's call him Mr. Iik - has made several rides in the world (where exactly can be seen here) and last year he published a journal with a title "Dushanbe to Delhi", even though he never rode to Delhi but stopped at Amritsar, which is shorter for a whole 500 km. From this latter fact we can learn not to believe everything he writes! In the epilogue of that journal Mr. Iik expresses his doubts about the whole concept of bike touring and states that he will never do that again. And then, a year later, he forgets the promise and starts another tour, yet the longest of them all, a trans-continental tour of North America from the Pacific at Vancouver to Atlantic at the New York City. You really can't trust this man, can you? To avoid further truth-bending it's better that he doesn't speak for himself. We can safely assume that, having his diary and photos from the trip at hand, we can recreate his trip and make story-telling more objective and insightful then he would. A good side effect would also be the total absence of the word "I" in the journal - a rare case in english bicycle prose.

So, if you are interested what happened on this continental ride or what it has to do with Yellow submarine, get a pack of beer, a big bag of popcorn, lay back in your sofa and continue reading. On the second thought, make it a crate of beer: just in case the lack of hair-rising adventures on this trip starts to bore you a bit.

Motivation, Plan and Equipment

If you moved around in university circles and have read or even written a couple of university papers in the days of publish-or-perish craze, than you know that a strange new-age phenomenon appeared in late eighties and followed up to mid nineties. The papers at that time liked to start with a paragraph on "Motivation", a somewhat hippie concept which was totally inappropriate for a serious scientific content. The motivation for the "Motivation" was probably to add a softer, user friendly element to the cold and dry scientific lingo, making the papers more suitable for broader, lay public.
This practice however was not well accepted by all scientists: the ones who were more then happy to dig themselves right from the start in solving systems of equations with complex boundary conditions, were now smashing their heads against the table, trying to find the words to explain why are they doing it. As if the broader, lay public really cared! And besides, it is well known that those who ask too many "Why?"s will not understand the explanation anyway.

As late comers to the Motivation movement, bicyclists still find appropriate to include the reasons "why". So, here it goes.


It is easy to explain Mr. Iik's motivation. It is:
(a) to reduce the fat belt (popularly called "michelins" in his country) that accumulated around his belly during one year of unhealthy way of living, and
(b) to break the unhealthy way of living that resulted in the formation of the michelins, at least for a month.
OK, now that we sorted the motivation problem, let's move to the:


As said in the introduction the plan was to cross the continent of North America from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Vancouver and New York City were chosen as terminal points because they were far apart enough to call it a continent crossing (unlike, for example, Santa Barbara and Corpus Christi), because the ride covers more than one country and because of the anticipation of the thrill on the dangerous NYC streets. The planned route runs mostly west to east through Canada: from Vancouver to Calgary to Winnipeg to North Bay to Ottawa and then swerving south to USA through Adirondack mountains to Albany, Poughkeepsie and NYC. Time available was fixed to 37 days, which ment riding 150 km per day on average to cover the estimated distance of 5500 km.


Mr. Iik and his bike. Featuring special edition bear deterrent
"Yellow submarine" cycling shorts.
And matching color ultra-light "Liquigas helmet".
 It was an easy decision what to take. Mr. Iik has been advocating ultralight cycling for a number of years now and it would be foolish to think he was going to change. Since the bike and the stuff from the last trip performed quite good, there was little reason to make a substantial change.
The bike got a new stem which raised the bars for 1 inch. As good paved roads were expected all of the way, Mr. Iik put on the original 25x622 tyres which already had about 4000 km on them. "If they wore down before the end of the trip", he thought, "it would be an easy matter to get a replacement in a country like Canada or USA". The old rear rack was replaced by a new one of the same brand, just a bit shorter and 100 g lighter. A small change with big weight saving (105 g) worth noting is the omission of the second bottle cage and bottle - Iik correctly predicted that he shouldn't have problems finding water in North America. The bike got a rear view mirror too - a novelty so far.
There were some changes in non-bike stuff. Warm sleeping bag was replaced with 300 g lighter summer one. Also a rain jacket was replaced with a combination of a light wind-breaker and very light rain-shell, saving almost 100 g. However, being a bit worried about the performance of his rain gear, and also as an experiment, Iik took a 170 g light protective suit made of tyvec. This suit covers the body from the head to the feet and it might provide good protection in serious rain conditions.
All his stuff weighed 5600 g, including the bike it was around 15700 g, the base weight was 5 kg. "Base weight" is somewhat unclear UL cycling term which includes the total weight minus: (a) standalone bike (bike without carriers like racks, bottle cages), (b) water and food and (c) clothes worn on an average day (in Iik's case: cap, glasses, gloves, shorts, jersey, arm warmers, socks, shoes). For the sake of comleteness, we will list the equipment once again here.

ITEM                                          WEIGHT   POSITION
Bicycle alone.                                 9500    bike        
1 bottle cage with bolts.                        72    bike        
Rear rack with bolts.                           454    bike        
Computer with holder, magnet and reciever.       36    bike
Lock.                                            48    bike
Mirror.                                          34    bike

Underseat bag used as handlebar bag.             92    bike
Main stuff sack (30 L).                         158    rear rack
Stuff sack for medical kit, spare glasses, etc.   6    stuff sack       
Bungee cord for the main stuff sack.             52    rear rack        
Plastic bags.                                    50    stuff sack
1 l plastic bottle.                              44    bottle cage

Flat screwdriver                                 30    tool sack       
Spoke key, allen keys                            42    tool sack 
Razor blades (instead of a knife)                 2    tool sack
Pump                                             26    tool sack        
Patch kit                                        20    tool sack        
15 mm pedal wrench (cut in half)                 50    tool sack        
2 tyre levers                                    10    tool sack
Oil                                               8    bike             
Duct tape                                        16    seatpost        
1 spare emergency spoke                           4    rear rack        
1 spare tube                                     98    bike

Tent.                                           888    rear rack       
Sleeping bag with compression bag.              592    stuff sack       
Strip of bubble wrap (sleeping pad).             72    stuff sack        
Mini flash light (= bike taillight).             18    stuff sack

Water in plastic bottle.                       1000    bike
Emergency food.                                   0    stuff sack

Cycling cap.                                     28    cyclist
Glasses.                                         40    cyclist
Merino cycling jersey.                          230    cyclist           
Arm warmers.                                     62    cyclist
Cycling shorts.                                 152    cyclist          
Cycling gloves                                   28    cyclist
Socks.                                           20    cyclist
Shoes.                                          616    cyclist
Wind jacket.                                    168    rear rack
Rain shell.                                     114    stuff sack
Tyvec suit (for rain).                          172    stuff sack
Polar fleece top.                               200    stuff sack        
Long trousers.                                  292    stuff sack        
Rain pants.                                     136    stuff sack
Underwear.                                       34    stuff sack       
Rain shell gloves.                               10    handlebar bag       
Light fleece gloves.                             48    wind jacket
Overshoes.                                       76    handlebar bag
2 pair spare socks (ligh + woolen).              78    stuff sack
Nylon stockings as leg/arm warmers.              10    jersey pocket

Digital camera with battery.                    336    handlebar bag     
Battery charger.                                 86    stuff sack
Bubble-wrap protection.                           4    handlebar bag

Passport, air tickets.                           70    cyclist
Notebook, calendar and a pencil.                 28    jersey pocket
Distance card.                                    2    jersey pocket

Tooth brush.                                     12    handlebar bag        
Skin cream.                                      10    handlebar bag     
Razor.                                            6    handlebar bag
Dish washing cloth used as a towel.              12    handlebar bag
Pen water filter.                                20    stuff sack        
Spare glasses in soft case.                      40    stuff sack       
Medical kit & sewing kit.                        26    stuff sack
Mosqito net.                                     14    stuff sack
"Monocular" for watching birds.                  80    bike
Cell phone.                                      70    stuff sack
Reflective vecro straps.                          8    cyclist
TOTAL                                         16770 g (36.97 lb)
TOTAL without bicycle, water and food          5616 g (12.38 lb)
BASE WEIGHT                                    5000 g (11.02 lb)

British Columbia

Day 0. (29-June-2009). It was a 23-hour trip from Ljubljana to Vancouver. During the flight some interesting documentaries were on the program: about building an airplane which imitates bird's flight by flapping its wings, producing artificial spider web from the milk of genetically transformed goats and about David Ogilvy, the pioneer in advertising. Iik liked David Ogilvy's unusual idea of getting people's attention: he made a fortune by advertising a shirt-making company by posters of a man wearing company's shirts and a black patch over his eye.
Dave, an internet acquaintance from Vancouver, came to pick up Mr. Iik from the airport and drove him to his home. Thanks Dave!

Day 1: 207 km. The morning ride starts promising, with good flat road and huge tailwind Mr. Iik made excellent progress on #7 (Broadway, then Lougheed Highway) up to Hope, then he turned on #3 (Crow's nest HWY) which climbs up to Hope landslide, makes a fast descent to Sunshine Valley and climbs again to Allison pass. Just a few km before the top of the pass Mr. Iik finds a piece of flat ground between the road and a creek and decides to put up a tent. The high temperatures and the climbs of that day left him water-less and thirsty (weight saving measures reduces his capacity to only one bottle cage with 1l water bottle). The cold creek water looks perfectly clean and is tempting to drink, but there is a risk of giardia, so he filters the water by sucking it through the straw water-filter (light at 20 grams) and transferring mouthful by mouthful of it to the water bottle.

Day 2: 174 km. Mr. Iik's ambition, 'Osoyoos in two days', did not realize. 25 km short of that town he spotted a good camping place, close to the road but perfectly hidden and another chance of free wild camp won over an hour or two of riding on difficult roller-coaster type of road. Too much ups and downs of this day made him rather exhausted.

Day 3: 132 km. Today is Canada Independence Day. Back in Vancouver Dave is giving party for 400 people. Last night was a hot one. It was quite comfortable to sleep with sleeping bag unzipped. What a difference from the morning before when Iik found a patch of ice on his tent, indicating that the night temperature must have dropped close to 0 degrees C. The undulating road from yesterday continues in the morning up to the summit with a curious salt lake (unfortunately closed for visitors) and then steep 7 km downhill to Osoyoos.
Eastward from Osoyoos there is a big climb with the summit at Anarchist pass. It was not on the itinerary of this trip (the plan is to go north on #97 to Kelowna), but the name of the pass was too tempting, so Mr. Iik went up to the summit (or close to it) and came back to Osoyoos just in time for lunch special at Husky petrol station. For the rest of the day he had headwind and too much traffic on #97. Worth mentioning was a cherry break. He picked up a pound and a half of cherries which the owner of the orchard gave him for free. 'The higher you go the better they are' is a phrase worth remembering, at least when picking cherries. In Penticton he checked into a motel after bargaining the price a bit. You can do that with the owners of Chinese or Indian origin, if you try it with Canadians, you'll get a blank stare.

Along Okanagan Lake.
Day 4: 182 km. A great day. It went on up and down following a number of lakes in rather hot weather (up to 32 deg C) which is said to be common in this Okanagan valley renown as one of the best vine growing regions of Canada.
In Vernon Mr. Iik left the traffic congested #97 and followed #6 through Lumby and Cherryville - a peaceful idyllic road dotted with farms which looked like two centuries ago. At the end of the day he found a friendly campground for $15 which included armful of firewood and Coco-Chanel, a female rotweiler guard dog to protect him from the bears during the night. The 180 km made today didn't particularly tire him, although we will see if his back side will have to say something about it tomorrow.

Day 5: 135 km. There was a pass or two to cross today, but most of the climbing was done yesterday, so much of the day Mr. Iik enjoyed coasting down the smooth empty road surrounded by multitude of streams, rivers and dark lakes. It was the undisturbed wilderness as he imagined it to be in British Columbia. He took a dip in the refreshing dark waters of Lost Lake which felt like a return to blue lagoon. On the tree trunk by the picnic table where he parked the bike there were traces of bear claws. Territorial marking, obviously. The claws cuts were a bit higher then his head. It made him feel a bit vulnerable, especially as he was naked coming out from the water. He would confront the bear more readily if he had his clothes on.
One of the Arrow Lakes.
There was some further climbing after the Lost Lake and after he reached an unnamed pass that was recorded on his card at altitude 1250 m, the huge long downhill followed all the way to the ferry crossing of Lower Arrow Lake. The road on the other side of the lake was deserted, except when a dozen of cars passed at regular ½ hour intervals of the ferry crossings. In Naksup he found a room in a hotel with adjacent pub where he joined a rock'n'roll friday night party to celebrate this Deliverance day. The only down side to this great day was his sore back side. It was giving him a bit of trouble from the morning and as he observed it in his bicycle mirror there was a nasty looking wound on the left side. He did put a plaster on it, but was a bit worried if that would solve the problem. He was still at the beginning of the trip. A wound on his arse might be fatal for the conclusion of this journey.

A tributary to Upper Arrow Lake.
Day 6: 141 km. A continuation of good days. It was the first cloudy morning but it soon clears up. On mostly deserted roads with the usual amount of ups and downs, Mr. Iik finally gets to Revelstoke and civilization. He hangs an hour or so in a restaurant and a pub, reflecting upon good times he had in the last couple of days. He concludes regrettably that the peace, the good sights and the best part of the trip is already behind him. After shedding a tear for the good old times, he then moves on to Trans-Canada Highway.
On smooth wide shoulder he makes another 35 km to the Hot springs camp. There he finds out that the price for a camping site is the same whether you have a bicycle, a car or a motor-home, and it's even the same if there are four of you or just one. Outraged by this shameless concession to already disturbingly high volume of motorized tourists, he boycotts the campground and finds his free place for the night behind a shed with road gravel.

Rogers Pass.
Day 7: 120 km. Climbing to Rogers pass was easy. In the middle of it a cyclist overtakes Mr. Iik. He is from the group that had camped in the Hot springs camp. They are riding Canada coast-to-coast, from Victoria to Halifax, unloaded and supported. Mr. Iik meets a couple of other touring cyclists, but it seems it is not customary here to stop and chat. Just a nod with the head or a wave of the hand is enough.
Just before Golden he stops at the petrol station to refill his water bottle. A cars stops near and a lady struggles out of the passanger seat. One look of Mr. Iik's trained eye of light-weight addict is enough to assess her weight: 145 kg. The lady throws a painfull look at Iik and proclaims, refering to the way he travels: "I never imagined that someone would want to suffer so much".
Mr. Iik arrives in Golden in early afternoon and feels somewhat lazy to continue further. He also thinks a half day of rest would do good for his sore back side. While he waits for his lunch a power goes off in the restaurant. To his surprise the power came back only late that evening. A rather embarrassing fact for a G8 member like Canada, isn't it? They are quicker to restore the power in Pakistan.

In the morning near Lake Louise.
Day 8: 97 km. In the morning Mr. Iik listens to bad weather forecast on TV in his motel room. There will be rain all day, with possible improvement tomorrow. He looks outside and the forecast seems right. He ponders over the possibility to take a rest that day. There is nothing worse than riding in rain. On the other hand a rest day this early in the trip might ruin his planned schedule. He goes outside and takes a look on the cloud cover. It doesn't look that bad, there is even a hint of clearing up in the east. Then he decides to move on. Half an hour later the rain starts, lightly at first but then there is a real downpour. He puts his overshoes and rain jacket in a hurry and continues riding. It is not long that he is soaked from the waist down. His rain pants are worthless, it's better not wearing them at all. When he comes to a rest area he goes to a restroom and puts on his tyvec suit. The rain is not that hard now, so the tyvec suit provides good protection. It is highly visible and has good ventilation. When he comes to Fields, which is mid way to Lake Louise, Mr. Iik is already convinced that tyvec suit is the magic formula for the rain that he was searching for a number of years. But there is another downpour before he reaches Lake Louise, which leaves him totally soaked, so he is not that sure any more. Accommodation in Lake Louise is ridiculously expensive, so he rides back 14 km to a motel where he saw a sign for room for $49. By the time he checks in the sun is already shining. His bike is dirty as a pig and so is most of his wet clothes. As he inspects the bike he notices that the rear brake pad on one side of the rim had rotated and it appeared it had worn the rim beyond the breaking surface. A very bad day, it seemed, but after cleaning the bike, a shower, a change of clothes and a dinner he couldn't find much motivation to be angry. 97 km in a rainy day isn't that bad after all.


Spring hotel in Banff.
Day 9: 202 km. Yes, that's life: after the rain there comes sunshine. This was a rich day, we can say 'carpe diem' all right. The plan to get to Calgary today was ambitious. The first 14 km back to Lake Louise are fast, even though the cold morning air required several stops to put on more and more clothes items. It was the third time in last two days that Mr. Iik rode through Kicking Horse pass without noticing it: there's no sign of a pass and there really isn't any climbing. After a coffee and a doughnut in L.L. he resumes fast pace on good HWY 1 (not to mention the good wind). He even had a though of taking a hike to Taylor Lake, but a 6.5 km hike one way would just be too much. Half way to Banff he crosses over to Bow valley Parkway which is excellent choice, smooth and peaceful. So peaceful that bears are crossing it regularly, one of them walked over about 100 meters in front of him. The race on HWY 1 was interrupted by a short visit to Banff downtown and a short rain storm that passed in 15 minutes without damage.
As Mr. Iik rides down #1 with a huge wind in his back - we should say he glides, he sails more then cycles, keeping 33 km/h without pedaling - the scenery is gradually changing. The rocky mountains are taking farewell and are replaced by flat prairie scenery. Around Calgary the plain has still some small hills, small undulations but nevertheless it gives a great sensation of immense vastness.

Road through prairies.
Day 10: 203 km. Inspired by yesterday's good winds Mr. Iik attempted to ride to Medicine Hat today. That would make a 300 km day. Up to Brooks it all seemed possible. He arrived at the town around 15:30 making 200 km with good wind, although he had to put in some effort too to keep the average speed at least 25 km/h. In Brooks he went for a lunch and when he came back he faced deep dark clouds coming from the east and the beginning of the storm. He decided to stay in Brooks, he'll have to make the big day another time.

Before the storm.
Day 11: 107 km. Morning is cloudy but without rain. With the usual tailwind the cycling is excellent. And then the rear tyre goes flat! Mr. Iik can't find anything in the tyre that caused the puncture; it seems there was a piece of glass that fell out of it once the puncture occurred. He notices that the rear tyre is badly worn: on few places the thread is totally worn, so the tyre fabric is showing. He replaces the tube and moves on. The darks clouds in distance indicate there are several storms around, but he hopes to dodge them all. Not a chance! Suddenly coming out of nowhere a downpour catches him unprepared. In two hours he comes to Medicine Hat soaked from the rain, from the spray of passing trucks and from his wheels. Maybe an investment in mudguards would solve a couple of problems with rain.

Aha, so it's here where Bill Gates got the inspiration for his Windows!
Day 12: 211 km. Another good day. There has been quite a lot of good days on this tour. Even the rain can't spoil the fun! Yesterday Mr. Iik kept himself busy in his motel room by drying his clothes, cleaning the bike and swapping the front and rear tyre. The front tyre wears several times slower then the rear one, so the badly worn tyre, which is now on the front, will hopefully last untill a big town like Regina or Winnipeg, where it shouldn't be problem to get a new one.
The weather was kind to him today, the tyre not. There was another punture, on the front tyre as expected. He will have to replace it before Regina, otherwise he will soon run out of patches. At the middle of the day Mr. Iik crosses into another province, Saskachewan, and rides untill he finds good camping place in the rest area few kilometers before Swift Current.


Mr. IIk's camp in the morning.
Day 13: 190 km. These prairies are all the same. You can't tell one day from another. So far all of them were good, but there's nothing particular to say about today. Just the usual procedure, the breakfast and coffee in a petrol station to get you going, sailing with the wind up to midday and a stop for another coffee, optionally a light snack and to wait out the storm that passes over in half an hour, then another few hours of gliding in wind, then comes a bigger town this time, Moose Jaw, which offers a possibility to have a beer in the pub and at the end of the day putting up a wild camp not far from the road.

A hole in the sky.
Day 14: 158 km. A cold morning. Canadians are complaining about this year's summer: it is supposedly one of the coldest and rainiest. The wind had turned during the night, it's now blowing from the south-east against Mr. Iik and he progresses slowly to Regina. It seems to be a big town, but he goes around it, it is too early for a stop and today is Sunday, so no chances of getting a replacement tyre. Shortly after that he gets another puncture on the front. Again, there is no trace of what caused the puncture, even if there is a small hole in the tyre at the puncture location. Is it possible that the stones are so sharp to puncture the tyre and the tube without leaving any trace? These kind of punctures are new to Mr. Iik. He changes the tube in a hurry (mosquitoes are quite active here), moves on and manages not to be angry about the whole thing, he even starts singing and shooting videos.
Upon arriving in Indian Head he sees a girl on a racing bike, catches up with her and asks her if there is a bicycle shop in the town. There isn't, she said, but she could give him her spare tyre. Wow, that's great, he says, and they ride together to the girl's home. There it becomes clear that the girl confused the tyre and the tube, but that's all right, he will get one in Brandon, if not earlier. He checks into a campground and learns that he could try to get the tyre in the Indian Head's hardware store next morning.

A road in Saskatchewan.
Day 15: 147 km. In the hardware store there were some bicycle tyres, just for mountain bikes. Mr. Iik bought a patch kit; there were three small patches appropriate for the type of puncture he gets, and that should be enough until Winnipeg, where he will get the new tyre.
He was working hard this day, there was no respite from the headwind (not a direct one, but still unfavorable one). What a difference a wind makes! Still, it seems that even the headwind can't spoil the good feeling he has about this trip. At the end of the day, when he found a secluded place for a camp between the road and the railway line, he wrote in his diary: 'It was an interesting day'.


Day 16: 154 km. It rained quite heavily during the night. Mr. Iik had been wondering if his single wall tent is capable of sustaining such a prolonged downpour. Well now he knows: it is, with a little leaking. However, there was a major damage: his camera got wet and all the function buttons except the trigger are now dead! Last night he made a mistake: he put the handlebar bag the camera was in into a stuff bag which he leaned against the tent side wall. The stuff bag got wet from the water running down the tent side and apparently the handlebar bag was lying in a pool of water the whole night. He still can shoot, only with wide angle and no focusing and he can review only the last shot.
Other than that the ride went smoothly, the wind again mostly in his back. He stopped at the Manitoba border, where he got a free road map of the province and information about the location of bicycle stores in Brandon. In Brandon he got a new, sexy looking tyre.

Day 17: 227 km. Before the start that morning Iik changed the tyres. He threw away the worn front tyre, put the rear tyre to the front (where it had been in the first place) and the new tyre on the rear wheel.
Drying in a motel room.
The roads in Manitoba are supposedly dangerous because they are lacking the paved shoulder. But these sections of shoulder-less road are not dominant, there were about 70 km of such sections altogether from the Saskatchewan border to Winnipeg. Trans-Canada #1 in Manitoba has divided roadways for each direction of travel and two lanes in each direction, so there is enough room for trucks and cars to pass. We will see that the roads in Ontario are much worse. Mr. Iik found that the rear view mirror is excellent help in such critical situations when you are not sure how close the traffic behind you will pass and at the same time you have to scan the road ahead to make sure you don't ride into gravel.

The tyvec suit.

Day 18: 105 km. Grey, cloudy morning, as countless mornings so far. The weather forecasts optimistically predict improvement in two days, and the next day the forecast is the same. So he is always two days behind the good weather. As many days before Mr. Iik rode on the front edge between dry weather and grey stormy clouds. Sometimes he managed to avoid the rain, sometimes, as today, not. The rain catches him in Sandiland Provincial park, firstly as a drizzle, then a real hard rain. He again changes rain gear from rain jacket and pants to tyvec suit, yet nothing seems to work well. He retreats early into a motel just a kilometer or two after Hadashville.


Day 19: 157 km. Same old shit. Cloudy and cold. Shortly after the start Mr. Iik stops at Esso restaurant for the usual dose of breakfast and coffee. He notices that an elderly lady from the table nearby is particularly interested at him. As she is leaving, she comes over for a chat and when she learns that he is cycling from coast to coast, she can't hesitate to finally ask:
'But why are you doing it?'
The promised road in Ontario.
'So that I can brag about that I didi it', Iik answers and the lady seems satisfied with that. Although, as we know, it is not the only reason.
The road to the border with Ontario is a mix of excellent wide stretches and parts which are hopelessly beaten up and patched over and over again. Right on the Ontario border, however, a shock: road works and gravel. Fortunately it doesn't last long, after 15 km there is wide paved shoulder which looks promising. The scenery is excellent, there are thousand little lakes and rocks along the road. The road is waving up and down, but not excessively, so with a bit of standing on pedals on up hills and aerodynamic posture on down hills Mr. Iik manages to master the road and even enjoys it. In fact, he finds himself regretting that the whole thing will be over in about 20 days.

A butterfly on a motel door.
Day 20: 207 km. The usual day, overcast at the start, then clearer. After Dryden the paved shoulder vanished. The conditions now are worse then on shoulder-less Manitoba sections because it's the two-way road here with just one lane in each direction. When two trucks meet, there is no room for a cyclist on the road. And there are a lot of trucks, almost every second vehicle is a truck. Iik meets another cyclist, a 66-year old Canadian from Quebec, doing the Trans-Canada coats-to-coats. He is an inspiration for Mr. Iik's future trips: it means he has at least 15 more years to improve cycle touring to perfection. After arriving in Ignace Iik finds a mosquito-infested wild camping spot. These kind of camps are good for breaking the speed record of setting up a tent.

66 and still going strong.
Day 21: 225 km. The hills are getting steeper and longer. It's no longer possible to get over the hill using the momentum from the previous downhill. Soon Mr. Iik will have to use the granny gear. He meets again the Canadian cyclist from yesterday. They cycle together for a while and exchange a few words in French. The Canadian stops at Upsala and Iik carries on until Kakabeca falls, some 30 km before Thunder Bay.

Day 22: 150 km. There was a 'No camping' sign at the rest area where Mr. Iik spent the night. He left the area early, making it the earliest start so far at 6:30, leaving no trace. Soon he is in Thunder Bay and even sooner out of it, on the memorial site of Terry Fox.
Terry Fox memorial.
A few kilometers later he sees a sign for a hostel just a km away and decides to go and check what kind of facilities these things have to offer. He finds a great place and is a bit sorry that it is so early in the day and he can not stay. There he meets another cyclist going in the opposite direction (as usual Iik forgot his name). The cyclist had just prepared the soup and he invites Mr. Iik to join him. He has some interesting stories to tell: last night a black bear came to his tent which was just outside on the hostel's lawn and the day before he got trapped between two trucks passing him, had to evade into the gravel shoulder, had crashed, bent the handlebar and trashed the wheel. Mr. Iik doesn't find this too surprising, given the conditions on Ontario roads. But, he notes the warning and will be more careful, more so as he now knows that such roads are to be expected at least up until the border with USA. In the hostel he meets also a pair of his country mates, two Slovenians traveling around the world.

Day 23: 194 km. As Mr. Iik looks at his image in the mirror in the motel room in Nipignon that morning, he realizes that he had lost quite some weight. Must be around 5 kg or 7 % of his normal body weight. The 'michelins' are certainly gone, so he might as well end the trip right now. He had benefited from the weight loss, if not earlier, then right this day, as immediately as he leaves Nipignon big roller-coaster hills start and last up to the end of the day ride at Marathon. Most of the day the road is rather peaceful with little traffic and at times Mr. Iik feels like a pioneer settler from centuries ago wandering through vast North American wilderness.
There are few views of Lake Superior and once the road descends right to the shore of it. Mr. Iik uses the opportunity to refresh in the cold water and rests a bit laying on the big rocks on the lake shore. These rock are much older then him and he feels a certain respect to the experience and knowledge that the rocks accumulated over the millions of years. They might have been deep down under the water some time in their life and maybe buried hundred of meters in mud. He envies them that they do not suffer the cold, they are indifferent to being wet and they do not hide from mosquitoes in the tent at night but gaze at the stars instead. He decides to take two stones with him. A hard decision to make for an ultralight fanatic as he is (he later weighed them: 202 g and 134 g). But he will take them home, to comfort him in the times of darkness, to observe them and to learn the truth and to become as wise and peaceful as the rocks of Lake Superior.
On the rocks of Lake Superior.
In Marathon Iik has a bit of a problem to find a campground. A lady who was walking her dog helps him and describes the way to the campground in such accurate detail as if she was walking that road every day for the last 50 years. She was also picking litter from the road that obviously she didn't throw away. A litter hero maybe? Mr. Iik wouldn't be surprised to find a stone in her pocket.

Day 24: 173 km. A misty morning. Then a rain. Another day of changing back and forth from rain jacket and pants to tyvec suit. Almost until the end of the day the rain was light, so a tyvec suit worked quite good: enough protection from the rain and great ventilation so that you don't cook up from the inside. After all, this is a suit of size XXXL, cyclist sometimes fells like a balloon, but at least he is well ventilated. And then at the end of the day as Mr. Iik approached his destination at Wawa, the Rain God considers that he wasn't suffering enough today and sends him another storm that soaks everything he has on. Wet Iik stops at a motel 15 km before Wawa, orders a pizza, has a bath, turns on heating, changes the tube (he had a strange puncture in the middle of the day with such a slow leak that he made 70 km with one re-pumping), prepares coffee and looks on the forecast on TV: cyclone is twisting endlessly around Great Lakes and we are looking at another week of thunderstorms.

A shot made few minutes before the encounter with a bear.
Day 25: 160 km. Before leaving the motel in the morning Mr. Iik has to fend off the owner's hyper active young dog. The dog leaps on him and on his bike and while trying to fend it off Iik wounds his leg by hitting the pedal. Not long after that he meets another animal - the black bear. The bear slowly crossed the road and then vanished in the forest - at least it seemed so. Mr. Iik gave it a few minutes to disappear, but as he rode on, he met the bear just a few meters from the edge of the road. When the bear heard him, it run away into the woods. This greatly increased Iik's self-confidence. After all, the bears are afraid of him! He used to sing or shout to acquaint the bears of his presence, but from now on he was silent, impatiently expecting another animal encounter.
In Wawa he stops for a coffee and doughnuts and there he decides to change the route. Instead of following #17 south along the Great Lakes, he will turn north on the road #101 and make a detour through Timmins. He hopes to avoid the forecasted cyclone and rain, or at least a part of it. From the start it seems like a great decision; the road is smooth, the traffic minimal, the clouds are disappearing and the sun starts to shine.
The lack of traffic brings wildlife closer to the road. He sees two cranes, some kind of partridge with a crest on its head, a fox and a strange black creature the size of a big cat with long fat tail (a wolverine maybe?). There is also a bird who sings similarly to the refrain 'We all live in a yellow submarine'. This becomes a hit of the tour, especially the beginning 'In the toooown, where I was boooorn, lived a maaaaan, who sailed the seeeeeas', as this is all Mr. Iik can remember from the song.
OK, not everything was so cheerful. There was a section of road works with bad road and at the end of the day, again just 3 km from the destination at Chapleau, he was again caught in the storm and was soaked for the #5 time.

Day 26: 206 km. We don't believe everything we hear, do we? So why should we believe weather forecasts? For example, today was totally different from predicted. In the morning it was foggy, but it was soon clear that there were clear skies above. And so it was all the way to Timmins where, for once, Iik manages to dodge the storm and retreat in the motel on time.
The road was so-so. 50 % of the time there are cracks in the road, the whole width of it. The worse thing about them is that they come at regular intervals, roughly every 10 meters and every 10 meters you get a kick in the butt. It's like Chinese torture.

Day 27: 163 km. The riding pattern is now all too predictable. You ride all day, 160 km (100 miles) or more and then 1 km before the finish the rain hits you and you are completely wet.

Day's end.
Day 28: 120 km. Mr. Iik was complaining yesterday about predictable riding and rain pattern. Well, today it was not. It started raining right from the morning and he was soaked several times that day, not only in the finish line. The best strategy is just to grin and bear it. As he arrives in Temangami, and stops for a sandwich, he already dried. 20 km further he checks in a cottage at the shore of Angus Lake and takes a ride in a canoe.
Yes, such is the life of a cyclist. In the morning he was dripping wet, the passing trucks spraying him as much as his own wheels, he was cursing everything and everybody, and in the evening he is now sitting on veranda overlooking the lake, sipping a cold beer and smelling the sweet smell coming from the kitchen where he prepares enormous pasta dinner.

Day 29: 187 km. Mr. Iik cooks the rest of the pasta for breakfast. He ate the whole 450 g package of spaghetti. Some say this is not possible, but they are bitterly wrong. Not only that, he soon stops at the next petrol station for another breakfast and caffeine stimulation. A few last mornings he feels a certain tiredness and he needs the dope. Why is he tired? He is cycling for 29 days now without the rest and should be well accustomed to the rhythm. In North Bay he continues his eating orgy and devours 600 grams of yoghurt right at the exit of Wal Mart and then immediately goes to Tim Horton's to have his daily fill of chocolate and maple dipped doughnuts. The tailwind blows him off for 50 km to Mattawa, where he is hungry again and comforts himself with a collection of muffins, brownies and sneekers bars. In Deux Rivieres he runs out of imagination and buys just a pepsi.
He finds camping space in the rest area 5 km down the road. There was the biggest convention of mosquitoes so far. If someone had seen him putting up his tent, one would conclude that he is the most accomplished break dancer. In the night he had to go out to the bathroom. A couple of mosquitoes took advantage of it and sneaked into his tent and they all had a buzzing party for the rest of the night.

Day 30: 142 km. In the morning Mr. Iik can't believe his eyes: there were about 20 mosquitoes sitting inside his tent walls. He kills them all. Others are still hanging outside the net. He is quick to put his tent down. With 5 minutes he probably sets the new world record.
It was a hard day today: tiredness, bad wind, bad road and lot of traffic. He stops in Cobden for n-th coffee and doesn't feel too much desire to continue. He meets Dan, another cyclist, outside the petrol station. Dan is traveling on a single speed bike, on a very tight budget, sleeping always outdoors and once in a week in a campground where he washes off a week's sweat and dirt. Mr. Iik is shocked to hear that Dan sleeps without the tent, just with a sleeping bag. After last night's experience Iik can't understand how that could be possible.

Before the Parlament.
Day 31: 171 km. It rained throughout the morning. Iik didn't bother to put his rain gear on. He was in his wind breaker jacket, got wet, but was not particularly upset, as he knew from experience that he will dry out at the end of the day. Soon after Cobden he takes the side road and decides to ride on the Quebec side to Ottawa. But in Chenaux the people from a petrol station tell him that it is a very busy and narrow road so he chooses to follow #1 along the Ottawa river, but on Ontario side. It is a peaceful road, even more so because there were some detours due to road works that took him through some even minor roads. He comes to Ottawa on a busy #49, but it has a wide shoulder and even a cyclists lane. Across the street he sees Dan, who cycles in opposite direction without the luggage. He needs an hour and a half to get to Ottawa center and another hour to get out of the town. It is already night when he finds a motel.

New York

On the Prescot-Ogdensburg bridge.
Day 32: 131 km. The cycling was not smooth today. One reason was the headwind. The other reason is that he didn't put enough effort to it. If you have a small distance to make, then you think 'It's easy, just go slowly and you'll get to it', but you don't put any effort in the cycling and you never get into a good rhythm, especially if you are stopping too much, and that's why every hill seems difficult. You need a little effort to get things going smoothly and you also need time to develop a rhythm.
Mr. Iik crossed into USA on the Prescot-Ogdensburg bridge. He didn't do it exactly legally, as there are signs prohibiting the access to cyclists and pedestrians, but nobody stopped him on the Canadian side. The deck on the bridge is a steel grid and he didn't ride across but walked the bike on a pathway. As he got to USA he got a little lesson in good manners, but he was cooperative and the entry into USA went smoothly. He was pleased to see that the roads in the US had a wide and mostly good shoulder divided with a full white line from the rest of the road and drivers obeyed the divide and didn't cross the line. Along the road there were neat houses with big lawns and the owners must be spending most of their free time mowing them. He finished his cycling today in Canton, and went for a dinner - if he recalls correctly the first dinner of the tour.

Adirondack mountains park.
Day 33: 138 km. Cloudy morning, it all smelt of another rainy day, but Mr. Iik managed to dodge all the threatening storms by waiting them out close to some shelter. After Potsdam the road starts to climb to Adirondack mountains. The climbing is not all that difficult, he is quickly up in the hart of the park. It seems this is very popular retreat for New Yorkers. The road is excellent, the traffic low, the scenery of forests, lakes and rivers is nice, the atmosphere is peaceful and Iik thinks at times that he is out on his weekend Sunday ride at home.
It is not Sunday though, but Friday, which means a lot of week-end campers have moved to Adirondacks from all over the state. All the campgrounds are full but Iik doesn't have much trouble to find a wild camping space behind the demolished sawmill. As he puts up the tent the picture-book creatures from the woods move closer to check him out: a dear, then a coyote, then a hawk.

Day 34: 167 km. Today was a rather lazy day, from lake to lake and coffee to coffee. He stops in a library in Indian Lake to send e-mails and to print out a street map of Manhattan. At the petrol station he meets a guy (Carl) who gives him a free map of the state of New York. It later turned out to be quite useful, especially when crossing Albany, following many variants of the road #9 to Yonkers and finding the way to Jamaica station in Queens. It would be a tough job to do it with just the card that he was riding with so far.
The idyll of Adirondack park ends somewhere around Mayfield. It must be something in the air there as the drivers, who were benign as sheep in Adirondack adopt the wild urbane manners as soon as they cross the sign indicating the end of the park.

American home: the flag, the lawn and chairs on the porch
Day 35: 101 km. The last wet day. How will Mr. Iik miss them! Today he did a good job in crossing the labyrinth of under- and over-passes across the Hudson river in Albany. It was just 15:00 when he reached Hudson, but his wet feet were complaining and he checked in the motel early. He made a kilometer further and back just to avoid the shame of having to write down a pitiful distance of 98 km in his diary. It was too late to cycle to Poughkeepsie and he didn't know if there is any other accommodation in between. The motels are rather sparse in the USA, he now learned to appreciate the luxury of motels in Canada, where every village has at least two of them.

Day 36: 171 km. Look, look. It's sunny morning, just as predicted. Mr. Iik followed route #9, which becomes closed to cyclists in Poughkeepsie, so he is directed to #376 and #82 and back to #9 in Beacon, but there were road works on #9 in Peekskill so he leaves it, goes around on #9A and again back on #9 and exits in Ossining where he asks in a visitor center about a hotel but gets an offer for $161 without the tax, which is ridiculous, so he says good-bye and continues to Tarrytown which is renown for its many motels, however Iik fails to find any of them there, so he continues on #119, finally finds a decent motel in Elmsford, and celebrates both this lucky find and a practical end of his tour - after all, he is just 70 km from New York City - with a bottle of white wine and three slices of pizza.

On NYC streets.
Day 37: 62 km. (4-August-2009.) When Mr. Iik went through Albany a couple of days ago he justly concluded that riding into New York City shouldn't be much more difficult. A little caution is needed to confront frequent patches, holes and cracks on the streets and a watchful eye on the cars coming behind you, especially when you overtake single, double or even triple rows of parked cars on your right.
Mr. Iik followed Broadway up to the beginning of the Central park, then went in the park to have a little nap on the grass and then cruised on Avenues (going north to south) and Streets (going west to east) up to the ground zero and the Atlantic.

So, Mr. Iik came to the end of the tour. What can he say? He was not overwhelmed beyond expression as he stood at the Atlantic front with a lookout on the Statue of liberty. He'd known that he would be there sooner or later. There were no more kilometers to go. And there was no time to continue and cycle around the world, which he felt able of doing more then ever. He was silently satisfied and he didn't even feel the need to tell it to anybody.
Just one song from long ago came to his mind:
'Rejoice, glory's ours!
(Our young men have not died in vain
Their graves need no flowers
The tapes have recorded their names)'


A few statistical facts from Mr. Iik's trip.

Starting point: Kitchener steet, Vancouver, Canada.
Ending point: Battery Park, New York City, USA.
Distance cycled: 5918 km.
Cycling days: 37 days.
Rest days: 0 days.
Average distance per day: 160 km.
Longest distance in a day: 227 km.
Shortest distance in a day: 62 km.
Overall average speed: 21.0 km/h.
Highest average speed in a day: 26.6 km/h.
Lowest average speed in a day: 15.8 km/h.
Highest speed: 66 km/h.
Average daily cycling time: 7h 37'.
Longest day: 10h 21'.
Shortest day: 3h 56'.
Total altitude climbed: 32242 m.
Altitude climbed per day on average: 871 m.
Total altitude lost in descent: 32242 m.
Average descent per day: 871 m.
Wheel revolutions (per wheel): 2.8 million.
Pedal revolutions (per leg): 1.1 million.
Energy for cycling per day: 3 MJ or 0.83 kilowatt hours or 717 calories.
Punctures: 4.
Replaced tyres: 1.
Chain elongation: 2 mm.
Traffic: 77000 vehicles passed, of which 17000 trucks and 10000 motorhomes.
Close overtakings: 5.
Evacuations off the road: 10.
Falls and crashes: 0.
Touring-cyclists encoutered - in the direction of travel: 6.
Touring-cyclists encoutered - in the opposite direction: 17.
Touring-cyclists encoutered - direction unknown: 2.
Soaked from the rain: 13 times in 10 days.
Showers: 33.
Clothes washings: 4.
11 wild campings.
4 nights in campgrounds.
19 nights in motels.
2 nights in hotels.
1 night in hostel.
21 usual Canadian breakfasts (2 eggs, ham, fried potatoes, toasts).
2 burgers.
2 lunch specials.
1 dinner.
1 Chinese chop suy.
28 doughnuts.
7 bagels with butter.
2 Danish pastries.
6 muffins.
6 brownies.
4 packs of other types of pastries.
25 sneekers or mars bars.
3 yoghurts (600 grams).
7 sandwiches.
4 nectarines.
5 apples.
4 bananas.
4 oranges.
1/2 kg of cherries.
500 g of spaghetti.
1 pasta salad.
1 ham salad.
4 packages of brown bread.
4 cans of luncheon meat.
8 cans of spaghetti with tomato.
1 can of beans.
1 lentil soup.
1 whole pizza.
5 pizza slices.
3 bags of potato chips.
4 bags of peanuts.
1 bag of pistachios.
2 bags of cashews.
15 beers.
1 bottle of wine.
1.5 liter of juice.
5 cans of soft drinks.
7 bottles of soft drinks.
60 medium coffees, two sugars, one cream.
60 liters of water.
5 kg of body weight lost.