And Wow!! again

Wheel full 70px My friend Jean Aime Bigirimanawho goes by JaBig Chocophile on facebook [link] is on the Dempster Highway north of the Arctic Circle bicycling across Canada to the Arctic Ocean. I first posted about him here [link].


Wheel full 70px He has been on the road a little over a year and has ridden a single speed bicycle all the way from the Atlantic Coast in the Maritimes to the Pacific Coast in British Columbia then north up the Alaska Highway headed for Tuktoyaktuk, an Arctic Ocean coastal village in the Northwest Territories.  He has less than a week to go.  His facebook page is one of the most incredible accounts of a long-distance bicycle ride that I have ever seen.


Wheel full 70px Every so often something happens in the community of touring/endurance cyclists that just has one stopping to catch a breath.  I’m not talking about the incredibly sad events involving injury and sometimes death (the community suffered two tragic losses in the last 10 days when ultra-distance cyclist Mike Hall was killed in a competition being held in Australia [link] and then the legendary Steve Tilford died in an auto accident in Colorado [link])- those are terrible occurrences that just leave you shaking your head, and they seem to happen far too often.  Some things, though, just capture what inspires people to get on bicycles and ride, and ride, and ride.  The story of Montrealer Jean Aime Bigirimana, who goes by the name JaBig Chocophile on facebook [link], is one of those.


Wheel full 70px This guy is in the last weeks of a 14 month, 17,500 kilometer/11,000 mile plus ride from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean in Canada.  He is currently cycling between Whitehorse and Dawson in the Yukon on the Klondike Highway and will then head north on the Dempster Highway and then ultimately an ice road to Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories…

…wait for it…



…on a single speed bike!!

Wayne and Garth way no way 800px

Wheel full 70px For those of you who live in the balmy south- meaning anywhere south of Duluth, Minnesota- you have no idea what this guy is doing. Here’s the weather right now in Dawson.

Dawson Weather 170407

That’s a balmy day for this time of year up here. And it was still winter when JaBig rode up the Alaska Highway, something that can be a challenge in a car.

Wheel full 70px He’s riding Centuries (100 miles/160 kilometers in a day) on a regular basis.  And he’s had his bike stolen during the trip. And been charged by buffalo. He seems to be unstoppable. His facebook page is well worth an extended look – highly recommended.

Nine days, 450 miles to go

Wheel full 70px That’s where I was at this morning- a quarter of the way from the Georgia border to Key West.  The trip is ending way too fast.

Wheel full 70px I rolled through Daytona Beach yesterday.


Wheel full 70px Last night my friend Scott drove up and met me in New Smyrna Beach, where I spent the night.


Wheel full 70px We had a great dinner at a place called Blackbeard’s Inn.  I ate a huge prime rib, which was very tasty.  Scott and I spent a couple of hours filling in the gaps of our decade plus long friendship on the Internet.

Wheel full 70px Today the highlight was a sign.


After I passed it I rode for what seemed like hours through scrub and swamp, until I came to a gate where I was politely told I couldn’t go any further- that the road across the facility was closed to the public.  So I rode over to the mainland and stopped in Titusville for the night.  I’ll enter the space center from the south side early tomorrow morning and take a look around.


Wheel full 70px Tomorrow night’s destination is Melbourne, where I’ll get together with my nephew Jack.  It should be an interesting day.


Another Friend

Wheel full 70px Frank and I met up tonight for dinner at a restaurant in Cape May, New Jersey.


Wheel full 70px My friend drove down from his home near Philadelphia and we spent a great evening chatting about our mutual love of epic outdoor adventure and the challenges presented by stuff like bad knees, issues with vision and the changes in general that go with being in your 60s.  I can assure you, though, that there was no whining.


Wheel full 70px I owe Frank a big meal at a nice restaurant someday, and hope he can make it up to Alaska to collect on that debt there.  I’d like to think that I could show him even half the good time that we had tonight.



Wheel full 70px It has been one of the big pleasures of the trip to be able to meet friends I’ve made on the Internet over the years as I travel near where they live.  In Groton, Connecticut the other day I had a nice late afternoon snack at a Mexican restaurant with Nancy, who goes back with me in cyberspace somewhere near 10 years.


Wheel full 70px The notion that someone would take a bit of time out of their life to have a chat with me is really pretty gratifying.  To myself, I’m just a guy on a long bike ride- doing something way less interesting by and large than the everyday lives of most folks I know.  But somebody’s got to do it, I guess.

Wheel full 70px Thanks, Nancy, for a very enjoyable hour before I caught the ferry.

On to Newport

Wheel full 70px I’m in Buzzards Bay, another place name from my youth.  I plan to ride to Newport, Rhode Island today.  Good bye, Massachusetts.


Wheel full 70px It has pretty much stopped raining and the extended forecast looks much better.


Wheel full 70px Still looks foggy and damp this morning, though.  Nothing like yesterday- I white-knuckled my way over the Bourne Bridge off Cape Cod in the fog at dusk.  This is the first of several really big bridges on the trip.


Wheel full 70px I had breakfast with two great friends in Buzzards Bay.  Thanks, Art and Bev, for meeting me and treating me to a nice meal and some excellent conversation.


Closing in on 40%

Wheel full 70px It seems like it was just a few days ago that I was leaving Halifax, Nova Scotia and already here’s


Wheel full 70px I rode through the heart of the downtown, which was very exciting and at the same time sad, because it was in Boston five years ago that my daughter Stephanie, her husband Gary and we in the rest of the family had to come to grips, after several months of unsuccessful proton radiation treatments, that their son Aidan’s very aggressive brain cancer was not treatable.


Wheel full 70px Aidan passed away a day before his second birthday late in 2011.  He was very much on my mind today.

Wheel full 70px My route out of Boston was planned to be the ferry to Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod.  Brisk winds caused the Atlantic to be too choppy for the ferry to run, so I wound up on a bus for almost three hours instead, going the long way around.  The wait to depart was cheered by the opportunity to meet two longtime friends made over the Internet.  I was treated to several beers (truth be told, about half the beer I have drunk during my entire life) and great conversation for most of an hour.


Wheel full 70px It was really nice to put real faces with names, but I was surprised at the degree of connection that online interaction over the course of the past decade had created.  I can only hope that I can be as gracious a host in Alaska when folks drop out of nowhere and visit me there.

Wheel full 70px So, with about 1,300 miles down and 2,100 left to go, my trip is getting close to 40% complete. I’ll go into greater detail in a coming post, but for now I’ll just point out as well that three-quarters of the trip’s projected elevation gain is behind me. This is a big deal, as I will need to pick up the pace in order to keep my promise to my wife to be in Key West by November 10th. My average riding speed has definitely increased several miles an hour over the past few days as the terrain has flattened.