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CKAP LOGO Andre Marier - CKAP 989
2008 - Across & Around Eastern & Mid-West America (5,806 Km)
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2007 - France & Spain, Gibralter & Portugal (4,403 Km)
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2006 - Australla Eastern & Southern Coasts (6,363 Km)
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2005 - Mexico: State of Guerrero & Yucatan Penninsula (1,589 Km)
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2004 - Ottawa to Vancouver & New Zealand both Islands (9,500 Km)
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2003 - Across Americas West Coast & St. Louis MO to Ottawa (5,904 Km)
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              2002 - Across Canada (age 65) Victoria to St. John's NFLD & back to Ottawa (9,380 Km)

2008 Across and Around Eastern and Mid America

Written by : André Marier CKAP 989

2008 was my 14th consecutive year of adventure bicycle touring in various places around the world. To date, this amounts to a total of over 59,000 kilometers of adventure touring. The following are a few photos along the way, and a few comments of this 2008 tour/adventure.

A few Statistics and Comments:
Duration of trip: 86 days - In saddle/riding days, 61 - Saddle hours 375 total
Total kilometers of ride: 5,805
Different Hotels/Motels slept in: 59
Number of States cycled in and/or across: 18 and 1 Province.
States with best roads from a cycling point of view: Arkansas, Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania, in that order.
Pleasant memories: Too numerous to mention. Unpleasant Memories: Hardly none
Would I do it again? Of course, in the blink of an eye.
Things I might do different on next trip: Leave tent, sleeping bag and cooking utensils at home and replace some of that weight with a small notebook computer; most handy to search out routes and accommodation along the way.

Have Bike, Will Travel
Anywhere and Everywhere by Bicycle

This 2008 trip consisted of 5,805 kilometers. Starting in Ottawa, Ontario; heading south across eastern USA to Florida, West to Orange Texas via New Orleans and Lafayette Louisiana; North across eastern Texas to Texarkana, east to Mississippi, North to Memphis Tennessee, then North West to Springfield Missouri. From there I dismantled my bike and continued back home to Ottawa by Greyhound bus The adjacent map has various trips highlighted. The green highlight on the Eastern side is that of this trip. The others trips are to be reported on later

September 6th, 2008-7:00 AM Elmvale Plaza Ottawa, Ontario: Leaving in the rain along with well over 100 other riders headed to Cornwall on Ottawa Bicycle Club’s Summer’s End Century. I didn’t ride with the group as I was on a heavy touring bike, loaded down with 80 pounds of gear. I left 1 hour before the first starting riders, in order to arrive at day’s end destination more or less at same time as most of the other riders. Needless to say, there were many teasing comments from many of my buddies on their lightweight road bikes.

Photo of September 10th Highway 30 NY Adirondack Park Long Lake to Speculator NY. Leaving Cornwall Ontario September 7th, I stopped to overnight in Malone NY. September 8th got me to Tupper Lake. A storm came up overnight and I woke up to a downpour. By 10:30 AM it looked like it might clear up so I left the dingy motel that kept me dry overnight. No sooner did I get underway the rain started up again, therefore I only rode 41 kilometers to Long Lake

September 11th Leaving Speculator NY, Hwy 30. Cool, however sunshine, low traffic and smooth pavement with good paved shoulders. Approaching the end of Adirondack park riding along the Sacandaga river making it’s way to the Hudson makes for more downhill than up.

September 11th Leaving South End Adirondack Park Hwy 30 near Mayfield NY. Noon saw me out of the park. The terrain flattens out here for a while and This is a welcome rest, as tomorrow I head up into the Catskills.

September 11th Crossing Interstate 88 on Hwy 30A, north of Schoharie NY The pumps indicated that gasoline is at over $4.00 a gallon; even the interstate is void of traffic. I however will continue to seek out quiet secondary roads as much as possible as they are more scenic. Schoharie is in site and it’s 5:00pm. Time to look for overnight accommodation. A Holiday Inn Express is on the horizon. I decide to treat myself. Although it’s a bit above my budget, it does include a hot breakfast and has a business center that I take advantage of as I haven’t checked my e-mail since leaving Ottawa.

This wooden bridge across Schoharie creek was built in 1855. A sign tells me that at 232 feet, it’s the longest single span wooden bridge of its type in the world.

Highway 30 heading to the Catskills is not as demanding as I had anticipated as it follows along Schoharie creek for many miles. It’s just a long gradual climb. The scenery is very nice. The weather however starts to close in and shortly after leaving Grand Gorge, now on Highway 23 it starts to rain. By the time By the time I arrive in Windham, it’s pouring. I’m looking for a motel when along came Steve, a motorist who stopped me to chat. He also had crossed America on his bike many years ago. After a brief conversation, he invited me to overnight at his place. I accepted. It was only a few km to back track to his place.

Steve Jarossy who rescued me from the rain pictured here with my bike in his backyard. It poured all night and it was sure nice to be in a dry bed instead of my tent. Steve a NYC fireman, lives in New York, however he also has a home in the Catskills where he was spending the weekend. He prepared a wonderful supper that evening and breakfast the next morning. We had many cycling stories to exchange. It was already 11:00 am by the time I got away. But hey, this is not a race; it’s a relaxing adventure.

Up to now, Highways 30 and 23 have been mostly gradual uphill. Approaching East Windham that’s about to change. It’s an approximate 500-meter drop over 6 to 7 km heading down to the Hudson Valley. At the bottom of this beautiful descent, I turn unto quiet county roads making my way to Woodstock NY. By the atmosphere, it seemed that the 60’s music festival was still in full swing. I was going to spend a bit of time here, however there was no accommodation to be had therefore I continued another 15 or so km to old highway 209 and Interstate 87 where I came across a motel and spent the night.

September 15, New York/Pennsylvania border, I cross the Delaware river at Port Jervis. Yesterday I felt a bit under the weather and only rode 66 kilometers. I stopped early to eat and rest. Today I felt much better and got twice as far. The section of Highway 209, to Stroudsburg PA runs through the “Delaware River Gap Recreational Area” beside the Delaware river. A good section of this road has new smooth pavement and had very little traffic. However, in navigating through the city of Stroudsburg, I took a wrong turn and unexpectedly found myself on Interstate 80 for 7 or 8 kilometers before I got to an exit. Not pleasant, even though there are paved shoulders, they are covered with litter and there is a lot of traffic noise.

September 17th, Turning off of Hwy 443 unto 183 there was a 400-meter climb and as it goes, what goes up must come down; on a touring bike with 80 pounds of gear, at 70 kilometers per hour it gets quite exciting. After crossing Interstate 78, Route 183 changes to 419. The next few days I ramble around Lancaster County Pennsylvania in Amish country, the terrain is rolling There are plenty of good secondary roads with mostly horse and buggy traffic.

Route 419 entering Lancaster County Pennsylvania. Good weather and nice rolling countryside.

September 18th, I left the luggage in the motel room and spent the day exploring several traffic-less back roads in Lancaster County

One of many covered bridges in the area. The one pictured here is on Belmont road between the town of “Intercourse” and Paradise. That was after leaving Liltiz. I did however avoid “Blue Ball. Some towns do have strange/interesting names!

No mechanical power here. Baling hay with 4-mule team. Amish farmer, Lancaster County Pennsylvania.

September 19th, leaving Lancaster heading south on a myriad of back roads, crossing the Susquehanna river on route 372. There were no long hills today, however many short steep ones

Making my way from York to Gettysburg Pennsylvania where I had intended to spend some time touring the old battlegrounds and museums. As it turned out, there was a re-enactment of the civil war going on and the accommodation was inflated 300 to 400%, therefore I continued across the “Mason Dixon Line” to Thurmont Maryland.

Crossing the Mason-Dixon Line on Highway 15. The Mason Dixon Line has a long history. It however best known for the boundary that divided the North and The South at the time of the civil war.

Leaving Thurmont, I headed West crossing the Catoctin Mountain on Route 77, then South on route 67 towards West Virginia. I take rest stop and watch a horse show.

Crossing the Potomac River from Maryland to West Virginia and on to Virginia heading for Front Royal, the start of the Skyline Drive.

September 22: View of The Appalachian Mountains from old Highway 11 (that parallels I-81), just West of Front Royal. At first I had intended to travel on Skyline Drive and the Blue ridge Parkway as I had done previously on my 1997 trip in this area. However, there is very little inside accommodation on the parkway proper and at this time of year the nights can get quite chilly, therefore I decided to cycle the Shenandoah Valley bouncing from East to West of the parkway.

Rte 252 Staunton to Natural Bridge Virginia. I was pleased with my decision of staying off the Blue Ridge proper. This allowed several options of secondary roads, never too far away form the major highways (I-81 and Hwy. 11) where I had an excellent choice of motels.

Still on route 252 as was suggested by the hotel manager in Staunton; I find that it’s just as scenic as having traveled on the ridge. Amenities are more readily available and also a few natural springs with cold clear water were quite welcome

Natural Bridge, spanned by highway 11, is 215 feet tall and 90 feet wide. It was formed when a cavern collapsed a very long time ago It has been included in the seven natural wonders of the world, sharing popularity with Niagara Falls as two of the most visited places in USA. This was very appropriate place to wander around and stretch my legs.

Leaving highway 11 at Roanoke Virginia, I crossed the Blue Ridge via Highway 220 heading towards Rocky Mount. I had traveled this road in 1997 when it was 2 lanes with a good shoulder. However, since then this road has been widened to 4 lanes by robbing all of the shoulders. It also now has very heavy traffic with many trucks. It will have proven to be by far, the most dangerous piece of road on this trip Once on it I had to continue for 15 kilometers or so before being able to exit on a secondary road. An hour before arriving in Rocky Mount it started to pour. I held up there for 2 nights.

September 27. Routes 623 and 57 from Rocky Mount to Stuart Virginia. It was on and off rain for most of the day. It was nice to get off of that crazy 220 Highway and now on roads where cars were almost non-existent.

The weather cleared overnight and I got an early start. As I wanted to get to Lexington, 130 kilometers away, to spend the night. As well I was somewhat unsure of exactly how/where I would get across Greensboro and Winston Salem, 2 large cities. Shortly after crossing in to North Carolina, I met up with Mark, a local cyclist out for a Sunday ride. After a brief chat he offered to escort me on what turned out to be quiet back roads avoiding the city centers. After 40 or so kilometers, we parted company. I was most grateful for the guidance and company. I made it to Lexington one hour before nightfall.

I spent an extra day in Lexington NC to visit with my brother’s widow and to pay my respects at his grave. He died here in 1999.
September 30 I left Lexington NC heading South and South West to visit with my nephews in Douglasville Georgia, just west of Atlanta. The major hills were now behind me and had pleasant rolling countryside in the foothills on the southern fringe of the Appalachian and Smoky Mountains. Staying clear of Charlotte NC, by skirting around north of the city. Two days cycling got me to South Carolina and two more to the Georgia border at Hartwell.

Quite appropriately, while humming in my head, Ray Charles’ song “Georgia on my Mind”, I entered the State. In a straight line, Atlanta was in the middle of my path to Douglasville. I now turned due West to avoid this large city by circling North of it, then due South to Douglasville. Seven days since leaving Lexington NC, in a zig zag fashion I arrived at my nephews’ homes. I stayed with them 4 days and then continued to my next planned destination rest stop; Panama City Beach, Florida.

Except for a bit of periodic drizzle, rain has been absent since leaving Virginia. That all changed in Douglasville. It poured for two days. Luckily they were planned “Non Cycling days” while visiting.

Cotton Harvest time in Georgia

A long ways from Texas, however longhorn cattle start to appear.

Ready for harvest. Cotton fields abloom, but I didn’t pick anymore cotton!

Entering Florida from Georgia, crossing the Chattahoochee river to Highway # 2

Approaching the Gulf of Mexico, the terrain become perfectly flat.

October 14th. Douglasville to Panama city beach took four and half days, 3158 pedaled kilometers since leaving Ottawa, and now one more time having officially crossed America. Although there’s beautiful sunshine, temperature in the 80°, still It’s low season; therefore first class accommodation can be had for very reasonable prices. I decide to relax here for a few days in a beachfront hotel with a fantastic ocean view.

Life doesn’t get much better than that. Sitting on the balcony having a cold beer and sipping on wine while watching the sunset. Feasting on meals fit for a starving teenager. But hey, I’m doing enough exercise so I convince myself that I deserve it!

Photo of entrance to Choctawhatchee Bay at Fort Walton.
I had contemplated going south to Miami and the keys, however leaving Panama City the wind was blowing from the East, therefore I decided to head West out of Florida, across Alabama, Mississippi and on to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Offshore drill rigs on Mobile Bay. There’s a ferry service from Fort Morgan to Dauphin island across the entrance to Mobile Bay. This was a bit of a shortcut, however more important is that, it avoids going through the center of Mobile, a fairly large city.

Photo of bridge from Dauphin island to Alabama Port taken from ferry

The bridges across both Biloxi Bay and Bay St Louis were completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 1995. I was lucky. My maps indicated that these bridges were closed, however they just had recently been rebuilt and were now passable. The scenery along the coast is so much prettier than going inland through the swamps. The photo on the side (taken from the new bridge across Biloxi Bay) shows the piers of the old bridge. The surge from Katrina destroyed all of the concrete decking and deposited it in ocean.

Crossing the new bridge on Bay St Louis. These new bridges have dedicated pedestrian/cyclist lanes protected by a concrete wall from the motor vehicles. I missed this path on the first bridge, however it had wide shoulders and not at all intimidating.

Post Katrina, homes are built up high to (hopefully) avoid flooding if/when another similar hurricane hits again. No basement to flood here!

Starting a new construction. There is still a lot of un-cleared rubbish, even more than three years later

Highway 90 is the best route to enter New Orleans by bicycle. It is also the closest to the ocean at “Chandler Sound. This was where Katrina hit full force and left people isolated for many weeks. There are plenty of reminders of this devastation, i.e., what once was a luxury pleasure yacht was deposited on the roadside approximately a mile from the water. It was just left there.

Horseback police Patrol on Canal St New Orleans. The city proper shows no evidence of Katrina like it does around the parishes that I cycle through. It likely got more attention, also it did not get hit near as hard as the outlying area northeast of the city along the coast.

St Louis Cathedral at dusk in
New Orleans on Jackson Square

Four days (and nights, this is New Orleans after all!) of walking the streets of New Orleans exploring the French Quarters etc., it was time to leave. My bike had enough rest and I was full of Jambalaya and Crawfish pie!

Gretna Ferry at the bottom of Jackson Avenue Crossing the Mississippi River.

Looking back from the ferry at the main bridge that crosses the Mississippi at New Orleans.

It was overcast Saturday morning when I left my hotel in the French Quarters heading to the ferry dock The traffic out of the city was light. Shortly after the ferry crossing I traveled upriver towards Baton Rouge on the levy, which was beautifully paved (no motorized traffic allowed).
After approximately 30 kilometers I went back on the roadway heading further south, deep in the Mississippi delta to explore the heart of Cajun Country. The cloud cover was gone by noon. The sun shone for the rest of the day. I spent the night in “Houma”, the southernmost city in the Louisiana Mississippi Delta.

A nice clear Saturday evening; the city of Houma was having an open-air community party called “Cajun Cook off”. Food samples prepared by local cooks were available for a nominal fee. By means of a ticket system. Each cook prepared one of his/her own specialty. The cook who had most repeats, having sold more tickets won the event. The people here in Cajun Country are very friendly. It was reminiscent of cycling through Newfoundland back in 2001. Notwithstanding the numerous samples that I consumed, washed down by a few cold beer, I managed to hit the road by 7:30 the following morning.
State Highway 182 along Bayou Black Louisiana

State Highway 182 meanders along Bayou Black through mostly sugar cane plantations. There are no hills. A gentle tail wind and clear skies make for a very pleasant ride.

Along the way, some homes are very humble

Other homes are quite ostentatious.

Highway 182 also known as the
“Old Spanish Trail” runs from Houma to Lafayette. It’s a nice quiet road to cycle on, passing through the towns as it parallels
the busier highway 90. Several townspeople as well as a few motorists stop me to chat, curious
of my journey.

Another of the numerous old plantation homes of the deep south along the way, dating back to the mid 19th century.

Plantation homes tool sheds and slave quarters of Yesteryear

560 kilometers over 9 days elapsed since leaving New Orleans before getting to Texas. Three and half of those days were off the bike. I stopped in Lafayette to visit with my nephews’ in-laws, Jim and Dee Weber. My hosts were most accommodating, introducing to many of their friends, making acquaintances with descendants of the Acadians that were exiled from the Canadian Maritimes two and half centuries ago. One memorable highlight was visiting St Martinville, on Bayou Teche where Longfellow immortalized the legend of Evangeline. From Lafayette US highway 90 parallels interstate 10, a fairly pleasant cycling road with restaurants and accommodation along the way. At Lake Charles there was no choice but to travel on the interstate to cross the bridge. It was quite busy and had several wheel sucking expansion joints. The motorists however were considerate and gave me leeway.

Again, in order to cross the Sabine river, at the Texas/Louisiana border, I had to leave Highway 90 and go on interstate 10. Here however this bridge has wide safe shoulders. It is now October 31st Welcome to Texas.

Shortly after entering Texas, before getting to Houston, I turned North staying close to its eastern border. Unlike most of Texas’ wide-open spaces this area is woodland with gentle rolling hills all the way to Texarkana. Although the traffic is heavy at times, there are good wide shoulders free from any debris. My bike is starting to need attention. My rear wheel is shot; 2 spokes have pulled through causing a slight wobble. I can no longer use my middle chain ring as it’s completely worn out. I now have to get used to a new shifting pattern, going from my granny gear to my big ring and vice versa. With care and caution, I’m hoping to finish my journey before having to do any repairs.

Lafayette to Texarkana took 8 cycling days. It was time to take a rest day and get caught up on e-mail. I check in to a Ramada Inn where a computer terminal is available for guests. I spend time planning potential routes where accommodation might be available as this could be a problem on the back roads of Arkansas and Missouri. It’s November 7th. Having traveled approximately 600 kilometers north from the coast, the weather is getting cooler. It’s now time for jacket and leg warmers.

Traveling east, across southern Arkansas is pleasant. The roads in this state are the nicest from a cycling point of view so far on this trip. Most have smooth pavement with good wide shoulder. The farm roads without shoulders are almost traffic free. In Georgia, the dogs chasing me were a concern. Here in Arkansas the dogs are friendly. This big friendly red dog kept me company for approx. 6 kilometers before deciding it was time to return home

Bridge crossing the Mississippi river on US Highway 49, Helena. Arkansas to the state of Mississippi. I lost track of how many bridges I had to cross; at times with some apprehension, however once in the thick of things, it isn’t that bad and all turns out OK.

This area of Mississippi along US Highway 61 is saturated with casinos. Lodging and meals at these establishments are of high quality at very reasonable prices. It’s the lure to get you to go gambling. Not being a gambler, temptation would not be a problem, therefore I checked in at the “Isle of Capri” It started to rain so I remained there till it stopped. Three days later, in the early morning fog, I left headed for Memphis on highway 61 Now in Mississippi, the roads had absolutely no shoulders, however the motorists were amiable. I arrived at Graceland that afternoon where I remained for three days. I met up there with my friend Henk who was touring by car with his wife, retracing his steps where he had cycled from New Orleans LA to Dawson Creek British Columbia in 2007. Henk and I had cycled together for over a week in 2002 while on a Cross Canada tour.

Elvis Presley’s final resting place. I spent the following day touring Graceland; it’s museums as well as the mansion.

Front View Graceland Mansion. On the second day, I moved from Day’s Inn to Heartbreak Hotel. As the popular 1956 hit goes; it isn’t at the end of lonely street but at 3677 Elvis Presley Boulevard

November 16th was a Sunday morning. The traffic was light on I-55 to get back across the Mississippi river back into Arkansas The rain has now stopped completely and as it turned out I will have sunshine for the rest of this trip. The weather however is getting colder.

I am still in the vicinity of the Mississippi river therefore the terrain is still very flat. This however will soon come to an end as I approach the Ozarks of Northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. For the last 2400 kilometers, since leaving southern Georgia I haven’t seen any hills to speak of. The Ozarks hills will be welcome. Flat terrain without the use of a middle ring is difficult on a heavily loaded touring bike.

Entering Missouri from Arkansas on US highway 63 at Thayer

Now deep in the Ozark hills along US 160 there are many hillbilly homes. The terrain is very rugged however no really high mountains; it’s just continuous up and down all day.

Six & half days after leaving Memphis, I arrived in Springfield Missouri where I spent a week with an old friend from the Sudbury area. Although we had kept in touch every Christmas, we had not seen each other for 40 years. We spent a lot of time reliving memories of our mining days when we were both in our twenties. I spent (the American) Thanksgiving with them and their large family. How time flies! That young couple of yesteryear with 4 pre school age children were now transformed into Great Grandparents!

With one pannier as carry on luggage, my bike and the rest of my equipment in a box, in the belly of the bus, I left Springfield on December 1st. When I got to Toronto, (my 4th & last bus transfer) my bike box was missing. Feeling somewhat (as you all can imagine) upset, I was advised by Greyhound customer service to file a lost baggage report at my final destination, Ottawa. This I did and then patiently waited. Several days went by and I was starting to accept that my luggage would never show up. I started surfing the net and planning what I would change in building a new touring bike. 8 days after my arrival, I got a bittersweet phone call; my luggage had arrived in Ottawa. Bitter, because now I wouldn’t get a new bike; sweet, because all my high lighted maps and notes (irreplaceable) from my trip were once again in my possession. I quickly reassembled the bike and brought it to “Bertrand’s bicycle hospital” as it now needs a major transplant of several new parts before I can do another trip!

André’ Marier’s European 2007-2008 Cycling Adventure Reports:
Prologue: 18/Aug/2007
"Under Construction Photos 2009"

Shortly after my last group message of 29 January, 2007, from Australia, I returned to Ottawa. Three days later I flew to Vancouver, British Columbia and spent three weeks with my daughters and grandchildren.

Arriving back home at the end of February, there was no time for skiing as I was into my busy tax season; lasting until the end of April.

The first two weeks of May, I did my annual cycling excursion in Prince Edward County/Bay of Quinte (North shore of lake Ontario for those who are not familiar with the area) and visiting with my sister in Orillia.

I was filled with good intentions of getting a fair amount of cycling done this summer, however I was interrupted/blessed with a three-week visit from my two oldest daughters and six grandchildren. And yes, I do mean blessed; it’s wonderful spoiling these young ones and telling their Moms that they’re just getting paid back for years gone by! For you younger folks, just hang in there. Believe me, it’s a lot more fun “grand parenting” than parenting.

Now we’re in August and I’m still trying to find time to do my spring-cleaning and purging of unneeded/no longer used items. It never ceases to amaze me how my old business suits just keep on shrinking while hanging in the closet! At least, my current wardrobe of spandex, cycling clothes just stretch to accommodate the growing boy!

Now for another (interim) adventure; I leave by car this Wednesday August 22nd, driving to the West Coast. My middle daughter Lulu is arranging to present me with my 7th grandchild (her third). She’s expecting around mid September. I’ve been recruited to baby-sit the other two (Gabrielle 4 & Tila 2). Julie, my oldest, now has 4 children, ages from 1 ½ to 8 years old. Michelle, (Miss twinkle toes) my youngest is still performing musicals in Europe. I plan to take 10 to 12 days to get to Vancouver. I’ll be stopping to visit old friends and relatives along the way. Driving across Canada should be different. My two previous, Cross Canada, land trips were by bicycle. It’ll probably seem longer by car.

I’m hoping to get back in Ottawa early in October. I don’t plan to hang around too long with the coming of cold weather at that time of the year. I’ll be packing my bike and heading for warmer climes. If it’s still warm enough, perhaps starting in Ottawa heading down the East Coast of USA and into Mexico. Or, perhaps Southern France, heading to Southern Spain and Portugal, then again, I’ve never been to Africa nor Greece. I guess I’ll have to wait till the time comes to see what the weather is like and which direction the wind is blowing from!

My next report should tell you where I’ll be going or perhaps, where I happen to be at!
Until then, keep the rubber on the road, André Marier

Report # 1- From Montpellier France: 26/Oct/2007

Bonjour all,
Since my previous message, I took 12 days to drive to Vancouver BC. I stopped and visited with several friends and family along the way. Some of you I missed as time seems to fly faster than I do.

I spent 12 days with Julie and family, then on to Victoria for another 10 days with Lulu, to assist her in the transition from "Mom of 2 to Mom of 3. Julian, her first boy arrived 12/Sept/07 at 7 lbs. 12 ozs.

I got back to Ottawa after 5 days drive; at the end of September. I started to prepare for my European adventure, mixing in a few rides to try and regain some sort of shape; after 6 weeks off the bike, just adding to my "Belly Muscle".

I left Ottawa 18/Oct/07 in the morning, arriving in Marseilles France on 19th in the morning. All in all the trip went reasonably well, except that in Ottawa, security didn't like how my panniers were lashed together ( making it too dense for the x-ray I believe) with 15 meters of cord (my clothes Line). I had to untie it all for inspection, then retie it all over again. I had plenty of time, therefore no problem. However, somewhere in transit, (probably USA) again it appears that security didn't like my packaging. My panniers arrived in Marseilles lashed together with packing tape; but now I had 17 pieces of clothes line, miraculously still measuring 15 meters in all.

I took a day trip (no luggage) from Marseilles to Cassis, over "le col de la Gineste". If memory serves me right, it appeared much flatter on TV when the "Tour de France" went over it last summer! I left Marseilles 22/Oct. and toured many of Provence's back roads, at the mouth of the Rhone, through "La Camarge". The weather has been cool but sunny for most of the time. Today is raining in Montpellier, however it's an "off the bike day".

So far I've been taking it easy. I usually ride 40 to 50 Km in the morning, then indulge in what appears to France's National pastime; "Eating well"; a good meal, with wine of course, then riding for another 40 Km or so, while digesting, looking for a place to spend the night, probably my biggest stressor; as in this cool weather, I sure don't feel like tenting. So far all has turned out good.

I may leave here tomorrow, then again perhaps the next day, heading south of course with hopefully a tail wind and warmer weather; exactly where? I don't know yet, I only get to find out when I get there, wherever that might be!
Cheers for now, André

Report # 2- 12/Nov/2007 From Barcelona Spain:

I left Montpelier Oct/28; after a few more days of fairly flat cycling to Narbonne, I decided to vary a bit and headed inland to do a few mountain passes in the Pyrenees. After a few days and approaching the snowline, I wimped out and headed back to the coast. This however, didn't mean flat country. At the French/Spanish border, the Pyrenees end abruptly with various capes and headlands crashing into the Mediterranean Sea. This however makes for fantastic scenery.

This trip to date has been relatively easy. On one hand the daylight hours are quite short and on the other hand, I've been doing a lot of stopping to visit many ancient and medieval cultural sites, some dating back to the Roman Empire. This (combined with good meals and fine wine) makes for low mileage days. The most impressive (but not that old, relatively speaking) I believe, has been the "Sagrada Familia". Construction was started in 1882 by Gaudi. It is scheduled for completion and hence it's first religious service to take place in 2037. I'm not sure if Gaudi planned it that way for my 100th birthday! If I plan to attend, I’ll probably need a new bike by then!!!...

Having been in Barcelona for 3 days now, I plan to leave tomorrow, heading further South. Fortunately, I seem to be traveling faster than the weather. It is getting warmer as my trip progresses. Yesterday I was doing a local ride by the seashore while watching the start of an around the world sail boat race, due to be back in Barcelona in 3 months. Although not warm like midsummer, there were still many bodies at the beach in various stages of dress and undress taking in the sun, while others swimming. When I started this trip in France at the end of October, the beaches (although quite nice) were completely bare of people.

All in all things have been going quite well, my leg muscles keep on building while my belly muscles are decreasing. Perhaps it's because I'm drinking less beer, but on the other hand more wine. After all, it's on par in price with water, therefore not a difficult choice.

In closing, a word of thanks to Gilles Bertrand and his capable staff and mechanics for keeping this fine touring bike he built for me, in good working order. Approaching the 1000 kilometer mark for this trip, my biggest problem so far, has been oiling the chain and topping up the tire pressure.

To all you recipients in my part of the country; if it's too cold to keep the rubber on the road, then get those skis waxed up. Till next report, Cheers,André

Report # 3 From Valencia Spain: 20/Nov/07

Riding South out of Barcelona (Spain’s second largest city) requires nerves of steel and a four leaf clover. There are (to my knowledge) no bicycle friendly routes out of the city as there were coming in from the North. I would advise anyone, regardless of cycling experience to take a train out for 20 kilometers or so.

To add insult to injury, I left Barcelona with a lump in my stomach, the size of a watermelon. Right after sending my previous report, I went to a sidewalk cafe for lunch. While in the process of paying my bill, I was gracefully relieved of my wallet. Luckily, the waiter was processing my credit card inside the restaurant, therefore it was not lost. I had been contemplating another sightseeing day in Barcelona, however this mishap took all of the wind out of my sails and left me with no motivation. After a mostly sleepless night, I set out the following morning, determined to ride out my frustration. Once out of the traffic zoo that was Barcelona, I was faced with approximately 20 kilometers of ascents, descents and hairpin curves, which I actually appreciated and welcomed. This type of terrain requires your full attention and usually comes with fantastic scenery and this was no exception.

Dropping down into the seashore town of Sitges, it was "hungry time". After a delicious 4 course meal, including a large seafood salad and pork loin smothered in a Roquefort sauce and only an inch or two left in the bottle of wine that had been put before me, I felt that I had better ask for the bill as I still wanted to ride for another 20 kilometers or so before nightfall. To my surprise, at 8.50€ (less than 12.00 CDN$), things didn't look so bad after all. I was compelled to leave a tip! The watermelon lump in my stomach was now down to grapefruit size.
br>I arrived in Tarragona before noon the following day. Tarragona was a Roman stronghold starting a few centuries BC. Many of the old structures remain in excellent shape. I managed to find very nice accommodation at a very reasonable price, right on the old town square. I stayed here an extra day to further explore.

Sitting down in the Roman ruins of the old amphitheater, right where Julius Caesar and/or Augustus may have sat, watching public executions or man against man or wild beast, fight to the death, (not unlike a heated NHL game; imagine if you will, Eddie Shack (for the old farts) and Bertuzzi, both back on the ice, 13 seconds after serving a major penalty!!!...). Things for me weren’t that bad after all; they started to look brighter.
I still had my credit card.
My Birth certificate can be replaced when I return home; in the meantime, I know who I am!
My driver’s license; who needs one? I’m on a bicycle!
My Health Card; I don’t intend to get sick.
Plus I have photo copies of everything.
As for the 100 or so Euros; well they may be feeding some poor mother’s hungry child, and again, maybe some druggie is on the trip of his/her life. I hope it’s the former, although I’ll never know.

Life is wonderful again. The rest of the ride to Valencia was quite relaxing. Relatively flat, seaside rambling through rice paddies and Olive and Orange groves. No major events except for one wrong turn that took me through a maze of traffic less roads through approx. 15 kilometers of orange groves (and yes, they are nice and juicy and delicious right off the tree!). Depending on my compass for proper direction, I knew that I’d eventually get out; and I did!

Once again, fully motivated, I plan to spend a few days exploring around Valencia before continuing South.
Till next report, Cheers, André

Report # 4 From Malaga Spain 8/Dec/2007

Buenos Dias all,
From Malaga Spain, the birthplace of Picasso. Situated on Costa del Sol, which boasts more than 325 days of sunshine per year. Here I sit (drafting this message) on the balcony of my hotel room, overlooking the Mediterranean port of Malaga, across the ¨Paseo Maritimo¨ (a wide pedestrian walkway), lined with Palm trees and beautiful flowers, all decorated for the upcoming Christmas season. At the 2300 kilometer mark of fantastic seaside and at times mountainous cycling, not once (yet) being caught the rain nor having to resort to my tent for accommodation. Life is great. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I left Valencia quite content. My (newly acquired) wallet (albeit, now emptier than my old one) safely tucked away in my pocket!. Compared to Barcelona, leaving Valencia by bike was a dream. Right from the city centre, there is a wonderful cycle path heading south for 20 kilometers, well out of the city traffic. Except for a few minor hills, the next 4 days were relatively flat. Approaching Cartagena, I could see mountains looming in the foreground. At the port of Mazarron, I asked a local if there was any serious climbing to get to the next town. I wanted to insure that I could make it before dark. He told me (a typical non cycling motorist) that it was downhill all the way. When I pointed out the mountain ahead, he agreed that there might be a wee climb first. Well after a few hours and 600 meters of altitude, I got to the top of that wee climb. The next 30 minutes can best be described as ¨orgasmic¨. All you cyclist readers will understand; dropping from 600 meters to sea level on a gradual descent, over 20 kilometers long, without hardly turning the crank can’t be described any other way.

The next 4 days were a series of hills and tunnels, (lots and lots of tunnels). Being a glutton for punishment, at approx. 100 kilometers east of Malaga, I decided to leave the coast and go North over the ¨Sierra Nevada which boasts having the southern most ski resort in Europe. The summit at almost 3500 meters is Spain’s highest peak. I didn’t have my skis with me, therefore I stayed below the snow line.

Like most Spanish cities, Granada has many monuments and historical sites. The highlight here has to be ¨The Alhambra¨. This palace dates back to the 9th century. It was first inhabited by the Muslims, Arab Sheiks. It’s rooms, walls and ceilings are mostly intricately carved from fine wood and marble. Later after the Christian conquest of the Muslims, it was occupied by Spanish Royalty. It felt sort of strange, being in the very room where Queen Isabel of Spain and Christopher Columbus negotiated his exploratory trips that led to the discovery of America and that the world was in fact round!

Leaving Granada by a secondary mountain road was another series of climbs and descents, culminating in an exhilarating descent of curves and switchbacks from 1200 meters to sea level. Once back on the coast, the entrance to Malaga was now flat with a tail wind, a very welcome change. I expect it to remain flat for a few days at least as I ramble on Westward along the Sunshine Coast.

I leave here in the morning, but I’ll be returning to Malaga in early February/2008 to further explore it and to fly back home on February 7th. From here, I plan to go and check out the ¨Rock of Gibraltar¨, then North again along the ¨Guadaquilvir¨river to Seville. After that I haven’t decided yet.

In closing, I have to mention, the further South I go, the prettier the girls seem to be. Obviously the Spanish lads must think so as well, as (unfortunately or perhaps fortunately) most of the pretty ones are pushing late model baby carriages! And it wasn’t me! Oh well, life goes on! Till next episode, Cheers, André

Report # 5 From Tenerife 3/Jan/2008

Happy New Year all,
From Tenerife Sur, (The Canary Islands). My bike was requesting a rest and some off time. So here I am, suffering in the sun at an all inclusive resort (with my daughter Michelle) where it’s an open bar from 10:00am to 1:00am. While I’m rebuilding (belly) muscles with fine food and wine, my bike is recuperating in storage at a hotel in Seville.

Leaving Malaga on the morning of December 9th, it was beautiful sunshine. However, the Sunshine Coast up to Gibraltar did not have any cycle friendly roads. It is a very touristy area with ¨Butter Box on top of Butter Box¨ type of Condo construction. The Rock of Gibraltar was however quite interesting. I did manage to get to the very top while my bike rested at the bottom. Most interesting were the tunnels inside the mountain with cannon ports overlooking the Straights. In exploring this area, one can see why, throughout history, Gibraltar was so impenetrable.

Having had enough of ¨near motorway roadways to cycle on, I headed North again on beautiful quiet country roads for another stretch of riding in the mountains, in an area called ¨Los Pueblos Blancos¨(White Towns).This stretch away from the heavy tourist areas, through picturesque towns like Ronda, Grazalema and El Bosque, to name a few, then through Cork Oak forests where the cork was being harvested to seal this year’s batch of fine wines (Screw tops and synthetic corks are still quite unusual here in Spain). Although quite demanding, cycling in the mountains, it was still very relaxing, being that the traffic was very light and the scenery spectacular.

I spent a few days in ¨Jérez de La Frontera where I indulged in a tour of the ¨Gonzalez Byas¨ cellars, where, amongst several other Sherries, the world famous ¨Tio Pepe¨ is made (Needless to say, I did sample a few!!). I then continued south to ¨Cadiz¨, navigating once again through some hectic traffic. Finding Cadiz a bit disappointing for my taste, I just had lunch there then took a Ferry to ¨El Puerto de Santa Maria¨ to avoid a 2 kilometer, heavy traffic bridge that had no shoulders, that I had to cross to get to Cadiz. The next 2 days (should have been one, however a wrong turn added several kilometers of very rough roads) got me to Seville.

On December 24th, my daughter Michelle joined me in Seville where she flew to from Berlin. We explored around Seville for a few days then took an excursion to the Canary Islands on December 29th. We leave here on January 6th, back to Seville where Michelle flies back to Berlin, and I, on my bike to wear off the previous few weeks of indulgence.

I plan to mix some coast and some inland riding making my way to Lisbon Portugal. From there I plan to make my way back inland over the mountains (and there are many in Spain) to Malaga to prepare for my flight back to Ottawa, where I’m hoping to find a bit of time to get some skiing done, Cheers André

Report # 6 From Malaga Spain 2/Feb/08:

It´s Saturday morning. I´m sitting in the same hotel room that I was sitting in when drafting my December 8th (#4) report. This hotel is located in the centre of the old historic town, therefore of course, there´s a MacDonald's next door. Across the road, I see a bunch of approximately 75 cyclists gathering for a group ride. About an hour ago, a smaller group (probably sportif) all decked out with fancy matching outfits, mounted on their late model Carbon Fibre bikes, took off. If it wasn't´t for the palm trees, the cruise ships pulling in to port and the gentle breeze blowing from the Mediterranean´s Sunshine Coast, this could very well be the OBC gathering at Billings Bridge for a Sunday ride around Ottawa!! If it wasn't´t for my quickly upcoming departure, with many things left to do, I´d be tempted to join them.

As I mentioned in my previous report, I left Seville on January 7th. heading West, through the city port of Huelva to visit the site that Christopher Columbus sailed from in 1492. I continued on to the South Eastern tip of Portugal then headed North to Lisbon, where I stayed four days socializing with other hostel guests and walking around town. The ride from Seville to Lisbon took 7 days. There were a few days of hills in the Algarve region of Southern Portugal. The rest was moderate to gentle rolling countryside, relatively close to the coast.

On 18/Jan, I headed East across Portugal then South East to Cordoba Spain where I spent another 4 days. This leg was also 7 cycling days. Leaving Lisbon city centre there was a dense fog with only 40 or 50 meters of visibility. The traffic was heavy and I was having trouble with my cleats. The left one was completely wore out and was continuously unclipping. After 3 kilometers of this, I came upon a train station and took a 20 kilometer train ride out of the city. Luckily I had a spare set of cleats with me, which I changed and was on my way. As is the case in most European cities, Cordoba has many historic sites to visit. Most notably here, the ¨Mezquita¨ (Mosque). It´s roof, originally supported by close to 1300 stone and marble columns (of which approx. 850 still remain). The rest were destroyed sometime after the Christian conquest, when a Cathedral was built in part of this Mosque. It is often referred to as the Mezquita-Cathedral.

Three and a half more riding days (with a 2 day stopover in Antequera) brought me to Malaga. There were a few sections in the high South Central plains of Spain of flat riding. I could very well have been in Saskatchewan; but alas, they only lasted for 20-25 kilometers. Then like a crash, came the mountains. I took a day trip (without luggage) out of Antequera up to 1300 meters of elevation to El Torcal¨. Millions of years ago, this was a limestone seabed, now sculpted by the elements into all kinds of weird and fascinating shapes. After an hour or so of hiking through these rock formations, I had an exhilarating descent back down to Antequera (I think I might need new brake pads!) where I visited some ancient tombs dating back to around 2500 BC.

Leaving Antequera, I took a narrow sinuous mountain road through ¨Garganta del Chorro¨; a gorge at times only 10 meters wide and 400 meters deep, very spectacular; a very popular place for rock climbers. Along this stretch, (approaching the small town of ¨Valle de Abdalajis¨) on one side of the road was a high cliff and the other side, a steep drop, I encountered a wild boar, about the size of a full grown black bear. He was grunting and snorting, what appeared to me quite angrily. He was sauntering from one side of the road to the other, obviously wanting to go in the opposite direction that I was. Now I´ve been told that these creatures can be quite dangerous. I did manage to take his picture; just in case that he decided to charge, and certainly I would have been the loser. I thought that the picture would let you folks know what had happened to me. After a few moments (which seemed like an eternity) he walked by me and we both went on our way without incident. The rest of the day´s ride out of this gorge was also magnificent mountain scenery, punctuated by the almond trees in full bloom. After all this was the end of January!.

At only 4330 kilometers of cycling (and hoping to add a bit more in the next few days if I have time) this has not been one of my longest trips, but certainly a very pleasing and satisfying one in that I visited many historic sites and learnt many things that I never knew about past history.

They say 13 is an unlucky number. Well this being my 13th consecutive year of having done a cycling adventure somewhere in the world: this is the first time that I have completed one with - 0 - (YES ZERO) flat tires. For touring (and this is not a paid commercial) , ¨Bontrager Satelite Hardcase¨tires made with a puncture resistant construction are highly recommended.

Just in passing that after starting to cycling at the tender age of 57, and keeping a log ever since, just yesterday I surpassed the CKAP 100,000 kilometer mark, of which in excess of 52,000 has been fully loaded adventure touring. And still quite young, why I won´t even be 71 for a few months yet!

I hope to see many of you soon. For you folks back home and for all you others somewhere around the world, keep the rubber on the road and the wind at your back! Stay tuned for perhaps another escapade before too long. For now it´s back home and on to the joy of preparing income tax return! Cheers,Andre Marier

André’ Marier’s OZ Cycling Adventure Reports:
OZ Prologue: 14/Sept/2006
"Under Construction More Photos 2009"

Gidday Mates,
Once again (for the 12th consecutive year) I'm planning another adventure. I propose to leave Ottawa Canada on the morning of September 20th, 2006 for Cairns Australia and returning to Ottawa at the beginning of February 2007. As usual (of course) I'll be getting around by bicycle, carrying my home and belongings with me. I'm hoping to explore some of the outback, the Great Barrier Reef and much of the East and perhaps, Southern Coasts.

I plan to send the occasional e-mail report to this list of friends and other people that I've had the pleasure of meeting during my travels. I just want to keep you informed that I'm still alive and haven't become some crocodile's lunch.

For some of you, this might be just additional clutter for your mailbox; if so, send me an e-mail and I'll remove you from my list.
Conversely, if any of your friends that are not on my list and would like to be, having then send me an e-mail and I'll add them. Until my next report from DownUnder, André ajmarier@rogers.com

OZ-Venture Experience Episode 1 - Mon, 25 Sep 2006

G'Day Mates,
After leaving home at 4:30 am last Wednesday morning, I got to the airport to find out that my bike box was 2 kilos over the allowable overweight limit. I had to unpack the bike and remove some items. This now gave me 2 pieces of carry-on luggage to lug around. Not a good start!. After repacking, security and customs etc., I did get to the gate with 10 minutes to spare. 45 (actual) hours later (airport and travel time) I finally arrived in Cairns; almost like a "Zombie", however on the bright side, my luggage intact, bike and all. I immediately assembled my bike, but put it to rest for a few days.

To paraphrase Lance Armstrong, "It's not just about the bike". Here in Australia there's "Cold Beer and Crocodiles, the Great Barrier Reef and beautiful Rain Forests, the latter 2, being World Heritage sites. There is also very fine wine, and yes did I forget to mention Cold Beer.

I did spend one day snorkeling and Scuba diving the reef just a bit south of where the crocodile hunter met his fate. Luckily the sting rays would have nothing to do with me. It is a site to behold, swimming amongst these thousands of multi coloured corrals and tropical fish in crystal clear waters.

My trip to the Daintree Rain forest included an hour on the Daintree river, where a few crocs; one old salty (apparently the most dangerous kind) measuring approx 6 meters long according to the guide. There were also numerous other wildlife, like snakes etc.in the mangroves and rainforest.

Today is sort of a rest day, Internet session and getting organized to start my journey South, along the East Coast, in search of more sights and adventure.

Cairns is a real party town; 40 or 50 years ago I could have just stayed right put, in a place like this. But now, getting on the bike and pedaling 100 kilometers a day seems a little more restful.

Till the next report, keep the rubber on the road, Andre
PS. Thanks to the many of you who replied to wish me well. In essence of time I can't reply to each one individually. I hope you understand.

OZ-Venture Experience Episode 2 - Tue, 10 Oct 2006

G'Day again Mates, Camped in a Billabong
Resting in the shade of a Coolibah tree
And he sang, and he danced, and he watched until his Billy boiled
Oh! won't you come a’ waltzing Matilda with me!

Leaving Cairns on the morning of 27/Sept, a light drizzle (however, not enough to get soaked) started and lasted approx. 4 hours. The winds, always in my face, ranged from calm to 30-35 kilometers per hour, since starting on the bike. As planned, this is not a race, but an enjoyable adventure, letting the wind blow me wherever it will. I arrived in Airley Beach yesterday at the 725 kilometer mark (including a few side trips). Apart from my departure day, it has been beautiful sunshine with daytime highs in the high 20's and nighttime lows (pleasant for sleeping) in the low 20's.

So far the cycling route, although always relatively close to the coast, has not had many ocean views. The country side has been mostly through banana plantations, sugar cane fields, mango orchards and various produce fields and other fruit trees as well as many small Aussie towns. To date, the Aussies have been very friendly.

Not being in as good a shape as I should have been to start; 65-75 kilometer days were somewhat trying, considering the head winds and loaded bike. However, I am gradually transforming the "Belly Muscle" from my above the belt fuel tank, to more efficient leg muscles!, such that 100+ kilometer days (when cycling) are more in order.

Stopping in small (Non Touristy) typical Aussie, small towns, make it quite interesting. One such town by the name of Ingham; it would seem that someone stopped the clock around 1952 and forgot to turn it back on. A high ceiling, fan cooled hotel room cost $14.00. Now there was no phone, no T.V. nor were there any little chocolate wafers on the "satin" OOPS! Cotton pillow and sheets. But there was clean bathrooms down the hall. This gave you a sense of adventure and exhilaration as you trekked down the hall in your undies whenever nature called.

I arrived in Townsville, second largest city (Brisbane being the largest) in Queens land. Majestic Island (a little paradise, NO high-rises and still very pristine) is just 8 kilometers from the mainland (Townsville that is). Between these 2 places, I spent 6 nights and 5 days exploring, short bike rides, Bush walking (hiking), snorkeling the inshore reef, swimming and spotting wildlife on the bush walks, such as Koalas and Kangaroos etc.; not to mention, rebuilding some lost belly muscle with good, cold Aussie liquid refreshments. The next 2 1/2 days (291) kilometers of cycling brought me to Airlea Beach.This is a touristy place, reminiscent of Myrtle Beach NC. Again a party place (swarming with mostly younger people than myself) which I seem to miss, as the party usually gets under way after I've gone to bed. Airlea Beach is also a departure point for various sailing, snorkeling and diving adventures on the Great Barrier Reef and around the "Whitsunday" islands. There are 74 islands making up the Withsundays, many of which are uninhabited. A true South Pacific Paradise, I'm told. I’ll be finding this out first hand, as while my bike is resting in storage; I leave this evening for a 3 day & 3 night sailboat excursion to explore and enjoy the above mentioned. I'm very much looking forward to lazing around and enjoying the heavenly bodies in the clear, unpolluted nights, and also, most likely some not too shabby "Earthly Bodies"!!....

In closing, I just have to mention that it's a very small world we live in. While enjoying a cold one in a typical small town Aussie pub, a couple, seeing my loaded bike and Canadian flag, came and sat down at my table to chat. They told me that they were from Waterloo Ontario. As it turned out, the lady's ex works for the same company that I used to. She and her beau just jumped on their bicycles one day and were off on a worldwide adventure. Here halfway around the world we met. For you "Clarica" readers, you can keep guessing; Remind me when I get back!..

Got to go now to get in some more sun and also get my sea legs in shape for this evening,
Cheers from DownUnder,Andre

Brisbane Australia
08th. November 2006

OZ-Venture Experience Episode # 3 - Wed, 1 Nov 2006

G'day all ye Mates,
The adventure continues. Presently in Noosa Heads; approx. 150 Klms. north of Brisbane. I arrived here yesterday. I've only 2000 kilometers cycled so far, as I'm also doing several other diversions. It seems that the bike has become a method of transportation to get from activity to activity.

Cycling the Bruce Hwy. in Northern Queensland can get a bit tricky. Fighting with road trains (huge trucks pulling several trailers) for your share of the road is one thing. However getting attacked by magpies as you cycle along, swooping down at your head is another. I don't know if they are protecting their territory or if it's the fancy OBC clothing that attracts them. One thing I know for sure, you wouldn't catch "Les Humphreys", nor even Avery Burdett, on this stretch without a helmet!...

I've also done a few walkabouts/bush-walks (hikes ) and several scuba dives and snorkel ling expeditions. I've taken a few boat trips as well as a plane flight to one of the coral islands. I haven't done that much swimming since I was a teenager. There is something magical, floating around for hours, snorkeling, looking at the thousands of multi coloured fish and coral, hoping to get a glimpse of "Nemo" and/or perhaps the Little Mermaid!.. Not to mention, soaking your saddle sores in the warm, salty Coral Sea does wonders for a sore "Butt".

For approx. the first 1,500 kilometres of the trip was fairly flat, however with a constant head wind made it a bit tough. Now the terrain has gotten hilly, however with more options to get off the busy highway and in bush land, sheltered from the wind; somewhat similar to Vermont terrain makes it much more interesting.

Tomorrow morning at 6:00am (while my bike is resting) I leave for a 2 day 4 wheel drive tour of the "Cooloola coast Rain Forest then on to Fraser Island. I'll then be just 2 short cycling days to Brisbane where I'll probably spend a few days before continuing South.

All in all, everything has been just great. Knock on wood, not even a flat tire yet!..
Till next report, Andre,

Approaching Harbour Bridge
Sydney, OZ
27th. November 2006

Oz-Venture Experience Episode 4 - Wed, 29 Nov 2006

G'Day Mates & all,

Noosa Heads to Sydney. Arrived Sydney 27/Nov with 3300 kilometers cycled to date. Roughly 2/3 of the time on the bike and 1/3 doing other fun stuff; such as having a cold beer or two (rebuilding my belly muscles), at a seaside cafe, listening to the crashing surf and enjoying the scenery (both stationary and mobile!...), after a long swim or perhaps along Beach/Bush walk. It's almost as pleasant as having wild abandoned sex on the beach!.... Well, let's not get carried away now; however, certainly better than chocolate!...

I've stopped and spent some time at most of the popular tourist destinations as well as several typical outback towns where the real Australian lives. It has been quite interesting. The cycling portion since last report has been the best so far. More rolling hills in scenic countryside, less heavy headwinds as well as running into previous acquaintances, for the 2cnd and 3rd times. One most pleasant instance was; for the past 2 days, co-incidentally, I joined up with a young lad from Calgary (10 years my junior), that is touring Australia with his wife. They are using motorized transportation this trip. What made it so pleasant is that he and I had met and rode together for 8 or 10 days back in 2002 when he also was doing a Cross Canada trip that he entitled his "Freedom 55 Tour, when he retired at that age. The three of us toured Sydney, had dinner together as well as they invited me to a musical performance in a beautiful theatre. Re-acquainting ourselves certainly was one of the highlights of this trip. We both agreed to keep in touch and perhaps do another bike tour together sometime in the future.

I plan to leave Sydney by bike, on Saturday morning, 2/Dec., for Melbourne, then on to Adelaide, via "The Great Ocean Road" on the Tasman Sea, reportedly the nicest coast ride in the world (at least according to the Australians). As I have cycled several, I 'll have something to compare in order to make my own judgment. Assuming no unseen delays, I propose to arrive in Adelaide prior to the 15th of January. There is a 7 day professional bike race taking place then; a 5 day stage race, preceded and ending with a criterium in Adelaide. There are to be several well know pros participating, including (I'm told) Robbie McEwen, a tour de France participant. For those interested bike nuts (like myself), you van check out www.downunder.com.au .

For those of you in Ottawa, please arrange for good snow conditions for me in the Gatineau hills. I plan to be back at the beginning of February. Gotta get back and do a bit of freezing, in order to really appreciate the balmy tropical weather I've been experiencing!..

Gotta go now, It's time for another walkabout while my bike is resting.Andre
PS. I must of lost my sex appeal or perhaps my flashy OBC clothing is fading out too much; as I haven't been attacked by magpies for almost 3 weeks now.

Off The Pavement
and away from traffic OZ
14th. December 2006

OZ-Venture Experience Episode 5

Once again, G'day all, from Melbourne at the 4,700 (cycling) kilometer mark.

First, I want to wish each and everyone of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

It did seem odd, while approaching Melbourne a few days ago, in 35 plus degree weather, listening to Jingle Bells and sledding through the snow!!!!...

The weather here on the South Coast can vary considerably, while reaching in the 40's one day, then you get an icy blast from the South (now that's an oxymoron for those in the Northern Hemisphere), then on the following day, you need to wear a jacket and leg warmers.

After leaving Sydney, the terrain went from rolling hills to more serious climbs, as the Great Dividing Range drops off into the sea. After over 1000 kilometers of this, it's nice to be back in flat country; although I'm told to expect more hills as I travel along the "Great Ocean Road". on my way to Adelaide. The latter portion of this leg will probably be in desert outback conditions.

The ride from Sydney to Melbourne was (although demanding) quite pleasant. Meandering through several National Parks and Rain forests; climbing hills to lookouts that exposed most beautiful Landscape and Sea Scapes. Exploring back roads and rail trails with very little or no traffic opened up many opportunities to see wildlife, like Kangaroos, Wombats, Lizards, Snakes etc., however no more Crocodiles this far south. The wildlife on the beaches however, although not as prolific as that of the Northern Beaches is also pleasant to look at, and furthermore it doesn't run away and hide in the bush the moment you stop to look at it!!!...

One thing that doesn't change here in OZ, most people like good wine (and there are plenty of wineries) and cold beer. Also everyone is very friendly and go out of their way to help with direction, when asked.

In closing, I would like to thank the many of you who dropped me a note wishing me well. Although I can't answer each one personally, I want you to know that it's appreciated.

Until next time, Cheers, Andre

Great Ocean Road
Australia
28th. December 2006

Oz-Venture Experience Episode # 6 - Mon, 29 Jan 2007

G'Day all,
Well here I am back in Sydney once again, waiting to catch plane back home in a few days. All too soon, this journey's almost over. After almost 6400 cycled kilometers, my bike is all packed in box and resting.

The weather can vary a lot in this part of the country. I left Melbourne on boxing day wearing a jacket and leg warmers at 15 degrees in headwind and light drizzle. I would have stayed longer until the weather changed, however due to the Cricket Match, (worse than Stanley Cup fever) there was no accommodation available in Melbourne.

As I had been told, the Great Ocean road is indeed the most spectacular ocean ride I've seen. A bit reminiscent of the Oregon and California coasts, yet somehow different. I took a few days off the bike here as well to do some bush walking and also to get over "New Year's Eve!!.". I spent New Year in Port Campbell, a most picturesque seaside town. I haven't been swimming lately as the Tasman Sea is rather cold for my liking, however now back in Sydney, on the Pacific, I hope to get another swim in before I leave.

I had one slight mishap, in that I lost a bolt from my front derailleur, which caused me to cycle 15 kilometers to the next town, stuck in my big chain ring. Thank God there were no major hills. I managed to find a cheap derailleur that fit and allowed me to finish the trip.

At Port Mac Donnell, I headed inland to Mount Gambier, renowned for it's crater lake that changes colour twice a year; gray in winter months then deep blue in the summer. It was a beautiful blue when I went through as it is summer here downunder. I continued North West through the Coonwara wine region, along side mile and miles of vineyards and wineries, such as the well known Penworth vintners.

I then headed back to the coast towards the Fleurieu peninsula, south of Adelaide. By now, the post Christmas cold spell was over, I arrived on the peninsula with my bike mounted thermometer reading 49 degrees. It did cool off however, to 43 degrees parked in the shade. It was around noon, and I had only cycled 45 kilometers that day in somewhat desert like Outback country, when all at once, just after crossing the Murray river, a small country pub appeared. It had Air Conditioned riverside cabins, cold beer and served very affordable large meals of steak and seafood. Only a fool would have gone on further. The next morning at 6:00am, the somewhat cool traffic-less road and back in wine country was like cycling in heaven.

I did a 4 day side trip to Kangaroo Island to explore as well as kill off time waiting for the Tour Downunder. I managed to see the last 3 stages of this 5 stage tour; getting away early each morning and chasing them down to the next location. It was quite exciting seeing many Tour de France riders participating. Stage 3 (128 Klms) had a challenge tour following the same route as the pros, but starting 4 hours ahead of them. There were approx. 2000 "Wannabees" trying to match the pros' time; None did. Stage 5 was a 19 (4 1/2 Km) loop criterium in the city of Adelaide. I had a very envious spectator position. Front row, 30 meters past the finish line. In true form, Robbie McEwen came from around 20th position in the sprint to the finish line to win the stage by a bike length.

I was doing my last ride around Adelaide (with no load on the bike) when I got my second flat tire of the trip. My rear tire had gotten paper thin, so I decided it was time to dismantle the bike and box it. With the bike at rest, I took a wine tasting, bus tour of the Borossa Valley wine region which include several scenic lookout stops. We visited 4 different wineries, starting with Wolfblass. In all, I did 25 to 30 different tastings (I lost track). Thank God, my bike was out of reach!!. I'm still confused as to which wine was the best, but heck, it was a very good tour and good value. It also included a very good meal at one of the wineries.

From Adelaide, I took the "Indian Pacific" train on the "Red Kangaroo Service". It took 24 hours to Sydney, stopping at Broken Hill for a few hours. Back in Sydney, I'm just lazing around doing a few typical tourist activities.

I expect to get back in Ottawa late Wednesday, 31 January, however, if I can arrange a last minute affordable flight, I may go to Vancouver to visit family for 8-10 days before my busy work season starts. It's been a great trip and can't wait to plan another one.

See most of you soon. Cheers from Downunder Andre

André’ Marier's New Zealand Tour:
New Zealand -2004
"Under Construction Notes not available to James at this time"

Auckland, New Zealand
Ferry Docks
27th. October 2004

Whitianga, New Zealand
Leaving Hostel
14th. November 2004

New Zealand's South Island
West Coast - Lunch Time
15th. December 2004

Andre
Can I try your bike?
27th. December 2004

André’ Marier’s Cross Canada Tour:
From West Coast to Newfoundland & return to Ottawa -2002
"Under Construction Notes & Photos not available to James at this time"

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