Tuesday, June 03, 2008

After 2 long years the derth is reborn

Hello dear reader,

Things have changed considerably since my last appearance. I'm no longer bearded, I live next to the sea, and can no longer consume Falafels without suffering frightful gastric discomfort. This is painful for me—both physically and emotionally—as I love the falafel ball almost more than life itself. But as we age, we must make hard decisions.

So I've decided to resurrect the derthspeaks, if only to increase my e-presence in the eyes of our great overlord Google. I've changed the title of the blog, and updated my links list. Check them out.

Beyond this being an outlet for me to complain about dietary problems, it also serves as a trip log for my cross Canada bike ride in the summer of 2006. The story unfolds in reverse, so if you're interested in reading about it in proper chronological order, please use the archives on the right.

I love you all.


Saturday, October 07, 2006



Ian and I made the trek up to Cape Spear in a raging storm. Steep climbs and thick fog made the trip uncomfortable and dangerous. After a quick obligatory photo next to the plaque it was into the bathrooms to try and regain some warmth. We ended up taking a cab back to the hotel. Yeah, we're lightweights.

The Newfoundland posse. We picked up random cyclists along the way. Originally it was just Ian and I, then Irene and Jean-Sebastien, and finally John.

Irene celebrates her 8000th kilometer.

Here I am standing next to the no smuggling sign. This was my last day of riding. After 68 days on a bicycle, I could finally see the end. As you can see, I was excited.

Argentia ferry terminal. This was my first look at Newfoundland. Rugged landscape.

View of the Atlantic ocean from the Newfoundland ferry. It was a long trip... 14 hours I think. I saw a couple of porpoises swimming off the bow of the boat at one point. According to some ferry regulars, the porpoises plowing alongside the boat is a common occurance.

Ferry from North Sydney to Argentia.

This is my art photo. Watch out Burtynsky, there's a new kid on the block.

My homeboy Ian from Ottawa. At only 18 years of age, Ian rode from Ottawa to St.John's solo. Pretty impressive. At 18 I was only interested in sitting on my duff and finding new ways to skirt responsibility and work.

Cape Breton.

Nova Scotia! Nine down, one to go.

In the bowels of the ferry upon arrival in Nova Scotia.

View of the Atlantic from the ferry to Nova Scotia.

My one and only photo from PEI. By this point, I was so obsessed with making good time I blew past nearly everything of interest. In the distance is Confederation Bridge. I had intended to take pictures while I crossed the bridge by shuttle bus, but was distracted by conversation with the driver. Ce la vie.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The East

TABERNAC!!! French Canadians live life in the fast lane. If it's potentially life threatening, the French want a piece of it. Cigs for all. Booze available on every corner. Hotdogs blanketed in coleslaw and hamburgers drowned in gravy. Kids riding mini bikes down major highways and leaping off train trusles into murky canal water. And for this I love them.

Pictured above is a bike lane just outside of Montreal. This route stretched for miles, and made entering the city an absolute breeze.

The Lachine canal.

This is Yves and Therese . I was riding around one evening in search of a place to bed down when I passed these folks in their backyard. There were no campsites for many kilometers so Yves was generous enough to let me set up in his yard. Not only that, he let me do my laundry and shower, then fed me cheese and homemade soup. Yves was a righteous fellow that took a chance on a strange traveller despite communication difficulties.

Oh oh. What's this? I sense something adorable coming on. BLAHHHHHH! So small. So precious. So milk crazed. Yves cat got knocked-up a while back and now there are a eight of these things lurking in his front yard. The one on the left looks like a mogwai, pre-gremlin freakout.

Saint-Laurent avec bateau.

Someplace east of Quebec City.

Before you sits the welcome sign to New Brunswick. I couldn't be bothered to trek all the way into the middle of the field for a close-up, so this will have to make due.

World's longest covered bridge! AWOOOOGA!

I finally figured out how to take timed pictures with my camera. You'd think I'd have done this at the beginning, but I'm not that thoughtful. I'd rather wait until there's only 5 days left, then familiarize myself with it. This may be the one and only picture taken with the timer.

Gravel pit accomodations.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Nice try Ontario. Still not as big as Alberta though.

Tim and Toby—booze enthusiasts and excellent riding companions. Technically this photo was taken in Manitoba, but I rode with them in Ontario for the majority of the time. Deal with it.

I think this was taken near Kenora. Look at that big fat paved shoulder. You could take a nap while riding on a shoulder that size. Sadly, the sweetness didn't last.

This day was a hard one for me. It was a stretch from Thunder Bay to Nipigon that we didn't start riding until 3pm. I honestly thought we were going to die out there. There were tons of cars, and even more transport trucks. You really don't know fear until you've had a semi buzz within feet of you travelling in excess of 110 kmh. The shoulder along this highway may as well have not existed, as what was there was so poor it offered us zero respite from the onslaught of bloodthirsty motorists and truckers. For the first time during the whole trip I actually considered taking the bus.

Here I am during happier times. This was taken along the north shore of Superior—a very hilly and beautiful part of northern Ontario. A stranger took this photo. He told me to "look studly". Mission accomplished.

This is one of our many illegitimate campsites along the shore of Lake Superior. When I first rolled into Terrace Bay—the location of this photo—I enquired what the cost of a night at the local RV/campsite would be. $20!?! Twenty dollars to sleep in what amounts to little more than a bug infested parking lot with a couple trees? PEACE SUCKERS! I'll take the free beach with ample firewood and natural bug repellent: the wind. The downside was it rained hard all night, meaning we had sand all over our gear after packing.

Same location, different view.

One of the many tiny lakes found along Highway 17.

Another one of our beachside campsites, this one located outside of Wawa. It was rather challenging to get to, but well worth the effort.

Another shot of the lake from the southern end of Lake Superior Provincial Park.

As usual, we're still on the road come dusk. Throughout most of Northern Ontario we put in long days. Combine that will our late departure times and we often found ourselves riding at sundown.

Lake Superior Provincial Park.

The Midwest

Everything is big in Alberta

You can't actually see them in this photo, but way off on the horizon stand dozens of huge wind turbines. Unbeknownst to me, Alberta has developed many large wind farms that stretch for kilometers along highway 3. Kind of puts the lone windmill on the Toronto waterfront to shame.

My second stealth campsite in Alberta. Finding stealth sites in eastern Alberta is always a challenge, given the complete lack of trees and endless barb wire fence. Not such an issue if one were travelling by foot, but it makes for difficult movement when hauling a 100lb bicycle. This site turned out to be quite good as the farm equipment blocked me from a secondary road and it was well removed from highway 3.

The bar tender and myself outside "The Boars Nest" in Seven Persons, Alberta. Seven Persons is a tiny little town just west of Medicine Hat. From my brief observations, I could see only two businesses in operation there: Premium Sausage (A sausauge emporium) and The Boars Nest (Local watering hole and the only ATM in town). I was starving by the time I reached Seven Persons, and as much as I love all sausage lunches, I opted to dine at the nest. Once inside I was greeted by Gord (loyal nest patron), the owner and bartender. These three helped turn what was up until that point an abysmal day, into one of my most memorable. Good food and beer—which Gord graciously bought for me—along with good conversation put me in high spirits all the way to "The Hat." If you ever find yourself in Seven Persons, I highly recommend The Boars Nest bar and grill.

Not as big as Alberta's.

Contrary to popular belief, Saskatchewan is NOT flat. The only land I crossed that seemed truly flat was in Eastern Alberta. All of saskatchewan—at least the portion along the Trans Canada—is gently rolling hills.

My campsite in MacGregor, Manitoba. This was a campsite owned and operated by the local legion. It was only $10 and it had free fire wood, washrooms and showers. A far cry from the $28 campsites with pay per use showers here in Ontario. MacGregor was a lovely little town that seemed immaculate in it's cleanliness and order. I got the impression that the residents really cared for both their private, and communal property. Also, a nice woman came by my tent around dusk and gave me a bag full of homemade cookies. SCORE! Here's how I looked post-cookies: