A ped­dler comes to St. An­thony

Cal­gary man says cross-coun­try jour­ney was ‘cy­cle ther­apy’

Northern Pen - - Front Page - BY THOM BARKER SPE­CIAL TO THE NORTH­ERN PEN

It is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly com­mon for peo­ple to bi­cy­cle across the coun­try. Thou­sands have done it, but few ever make it to St. An­thony.

Typ­i­cally, cy­clists leave from Van­cou­ver and wind up in St. John’s. Few go the other way be­cause of pre­vail­ing winds and be­cause it is much warmer on the west coast in the spring when most be­gin the jour­ney.

“That was my orig­i­nal plan, was St. John’s, but then my buddy Dave said, ‘There’s noth­ing to see all the way across (the is­land) and then you end up in a city’,” Bob Edmunds, a 60-year-old, re­tired char­tered ac­coun­tant from Cal­gary told The North­ern Pen.

Buddy Dave had done the trip a few years ago and rec­om­mended the west coast.

“Be­ing on a bi­cy­cle is tak­ing that an­other step be­cause you feel the scenery be­cause you’re rid­ing up and down it and you’re feel­ing ev­ery bump and you feel ev­ery hill.” – Bob Edmunds

Get­ting to the Port aux Basques ferry in North Syd­ney from Syd­ney, where he stayed in Nova Sco­tia, was one of the worst legs of the nearly 10,000 kilo­me­tres Ed­mund’s logged over two sum­mers.

“I had about a 20- or 25-K ride and it was just pour­ing rain and wind and ev­ery­thing, so I got a cabin when I got on the ferry, sprung the 60 bucks or what­ever, best money I ever spent,” he said.

Once on the is­land though, de­spite be­ing some­what cold, the trip up to the North­ern Penin­sula was one of the high­lights of the en­tire ad­ven­ture.

“Su­per-windy, crazy windy, the whole way, but the wind was my friend, (it) gives you the dra­matic surf-crash­ing on the shore­line and be­cause I got sun­shine mostly you get the bril­liant white of the surf — the colours were amaz­ing,” he said, adding the GoPro video cam­era on his hel­met got a work­out as well. “I just film when there’s nice scenery, so I shot a lot of GoPro up this coast be­cause it’s so beau­ti­ful.”

Of course, the ob­vi­ous ques­tion for any­one at­tempt­ing a cross­ing of the sec­ond largest coun­try in the world is why?

Edmunds had a few rea­sons, but summed it up as “cy­cle ther­apy.”

He did not want to share de­tails, but of­fered a bit of teaser by way of ex­pla­na­tion.

“I kind of got pissed off at peo­ple, just in gen­eral, just through var­i­ous deal­ings where peo­ple dou­ble-cross you or what­ever and you just get tired of it and that was one of my things about the solo ride. It’s just, like, I need to re­set,” he ex­plained.

For the most part, it worked. “I’ve met so many great peo­ple on this trip, I don’t think I’ve met a bad per­son and I don’t know if I’ve com­pletely re­set, but I’ve got a bet­ter at­ti­tude to­wards peo­ple again than I did go­ing into it,” he said.

Edmunds made the trip in five legs. In April and May 2017, he rode from Van­cou­ver to Cal­gary, then took a break at home. Re­sum­ing in June 2017, he made it to Val Marie, Saskatchewan— a tiny vil­lage just north of the U.S. bor­der ad­ja­cent to Grass­lands Na­tional Park—be­fore tak­ing an­other break in Cal­gary.

In Septem­ber 2017, his wife drove him back to Val Marie where he picked up again and rode to Kenora, On­tario be­fore pack­ing it in for the year.

Saskatchewan was one of the sur­prises of the trip.

“Saskatchewan was amaz­ingly hilly,” he ex­plained. “It’s rolling land­scape, you don’t know that in a car, but on a bike you know ev­ery hill you go up and be­cause they just do their roads like a bee­line from here to there, they just go up and over ev­ery­thing, I was do­ing as much ver­ti­cal in Saskatchewan in a day as I did in B.C.”

Be­cause of the long 2017-18 win­ter, Edmunds didn’t get go­ing again un­til May of this year. On the first leg this year, he went from Kenora to Cobourg, On­tario, where he had a four-day re­union with a lon­glost aunt and cousin, then took a break, re­turn­ing to Cal­gary.

Toronto was an­other sur­prise. He thought it would be a night­mare get­ting through Canada’s big­gest city, but he wanted to see the Bruce Penin­sula, Mana­toulin Is­land and the McMichael art col­lec­tion so the “big smoke” was un­avoid­able.

“It was ex­cel­lent,” he said. “I dis­cov­ered the Hum­ber Val­ley River Trail. It’s like be­ing in the mid­dle of the coun­try in the mid­dle of Toronto. It was just this beau­ti­ful ride west of Toronto down to the wa­ter­front and then along that wa­ter­front trail that goes for­ever.

“I was go­ing to avoid Toronto at all costs, but it was amaz­ing and that wa­ter­front was just such a nice way to get through Toronto.”

Back to Cobourg in Septem­ber, Edmunds fin­ished off On­tario, rode the south shore of the St. Lawrence River through Que­bec, toured New Bruns­wick, crossed to P.E.I. over the Con­fed­er­a­tion Bridge, then back and into Nova Sco­tia to catch the ferry to New­found­land.

Un­like many of his con­tem­po­rary cross-coun­try cy­clers, Edmunds had no cause he was rais­ing aware­ness or funds for, he didn’t do it for fit­ness, he didn’t even blog the trip or share it on so­cial me­dia.

“I just wanted to take a look at the coun­try,” he said. “Cana­di­ans, they get hol­i­day time and they’re out of Canada.

“Canada’s the tar­get for a lot of peo­ple all over the world, this is their Shangri-la that they’re try­ing to get into, and we can’t wait to get out, so I just thought, I’m go­ing to do some stay­ca­tions.”

A bi­cy­cle is a great way to see the coun­try, he said, para­phras­ing Robert M. Pir­sig from his book “Zen and the Art of Mo­tor­cy­cle Main­te­nance.”

“Just be­ing on a bike com­pared to be­ing in a car and look­ing at the ex­act same scenery, (Pir­sig) said, it’s com­pletely dif­fer­ent scenery, a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence, and he was on a mo­tor­cy­cle,” Edmunds said. “Be­ing on a bi­cy­cle is tak­ing that an­other step be­cause you feel the scenery be­cause you’re rid­ing up and down it and you’re feel­ing ev­ery bump and you feel ev­ery hill.”

At the end of road, Edmunds found Dustin and Bon­nie Hed­der­son, who put him up in their Fish­ing Point Va­ca­tion Home. St. An­thony in gen­eral, and the two-story cabin with 270 de­grees of har­bour view nes­tled into the rocks in par­tic­u­lar, were the per­fect end to a on­cein-a-life­time ex­pe­ri­ence.

“This place is so awe­some,” Edmunds said. “I said to Dustin and Bon­nie, ‘Wow, this is ex­actly what I wanted at the end of this, some­thing like this.’ This was a real nice place to fin­ish it and un­wind, I’ve gotta say.”

THOM BARKER — SPE­CIAL TO THE NORTH­ERN PEN

Bob Edmunds, who cy­cled from Van­cou­ver to St. An­thony over two sum­mers, stands on the rock be­side Fish­ing Point Va­ca­tion Home where he fin­ished his cross-coun­try tour on Thurs­day, Oct. 11.

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