Day 141 Cobble Hill, BC: What We Learned - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

September 18, 2011

Day 141 Cobble Hill, BC: What We Learned

About People

Road Angels

You may be at home and watching the news a lot, or your day may include driving to work or the store and going through routine transactions, or you may structure your life to avoid ever being in a vulnerable position. If so, you can come to feel that people are at best superficially polite and at worst self serving and often violent. No doubt you would be right about many people. But what we learned is that there are also a surprising number of selfless, kind, and generous people out there as well.

We met these people at every turn. It begins with those that asked us the "Usual Questions" (UQs). A person who asks the UQs is one who has the power of empathy. They are trying to understand what you are doing, how it is for you, why it is, how you do it, what it would be like for them to try it themselves. Empathy is the number one trait of a "good" person. We met hundreds and hundreds of good people!

Among the good people are those will take an extra step. They will give you directions, buy you a meal, fix your bike, give you a lift, offer the use of their house or car or yard. I think some call these "road angels". We met an unbelivable number of them. Finding out about their presence and numbers in our world is the greatest thing we learned on our trip.

Road Warriors

Many people can not handle even a little bit of power. The secretary given charge of the sharp pencils can sometimes become a pencil dictator. The motorist seated behind a small Toyota engine can sometimes becomes a speeding road bully. The driver in charge of a semi-trailer can threaten the life of a cyclist without the slightest concern. Even a cyclist, given a light weight racing bike, can zoom down a park path and endanger pedestrians. This phenomenon, in the offices, roads, parks and all over seems universal. We have no idea what gets into people. That is one thing we have not learned.


You absolutely do not have to be religious to be a Road Angel. On the other hand we met a number of people whose religion helped them in this. This was true of Lowell and Vance at the Lutheran Church in Strandquist, Minnesota (Day 60). This was true of the Gannons of Fort Shaw, Montana (Day 36) and Fort Benton, Montana (Day 38). And this was true of the unnamed man who prayed for us in a parking lot in Bemidji, Minnesota. He asked that a protective shroud be cast over us. As far as I can tell, it worked.

Later we will go through and try to directly thank each person that helped us in our trip and for whom we have contact info. It will be a big job!

A special category goes to Marius and Sandra, who watched the farm while we were gone. They put up with all the stress of weather, pests, and predators while we froliced unconcerned across the continent. Thansk Marius and Sandra!

And to those Road Warriors who could have ended it in tragedy: Ha Ha, you missed!

About Good and Bad Equipment

Some of the pieces we set off with served beautifully for the whole trip, while some failed miserably. Here are the winners and the losers:

Good Stuff

BoB trailers

MEC self inflating sleeping mats

Schwalbe tires

Thermos "Urban Elements" insulated bottle from MEC

ASUS eeePC netbook

Bad Stuff

Garmin Edge 800 Cycle Computer (faults too numerous to mention)

Cabellas self inflating sleeping mats (giant bubble like delamination)

Planet Bike Cycle Computer (REI) (not waterproof)

Bell Cycle Computer (Walmart) (buttons stopped working)

MEC handlebar bags (not waterproof)

Coleman clear vinyl dry pouches Walmart (rips at the edges)

Price did not necessarily indicate which equipment would be good and which would fail. The cycling community seems to have collectively a good idea of what works and what doesn't. I guess that means brand names and reputation are good guides in choosing equipment.

About Finding the Route

This was one of the Questions We Asked Ourselves before setting out. I turns out there is no clear answer. Google Maps, both at home before leaving and on the Netbook while travelling was our greatest tool. It found routes, motels, camping, with the most reliability. From this we wrote down cue sheets, and Dodie followed these notes successfully.

The next good tool was local maps, starting with the state or province overall map and then looking for county or other free local maps. When we had "cycled off the map" we just threw it away. So we did not try to bring or store a whole pile of maps. Map segments that we had carefully cut up or scanned and selectively printed at home were abandoned in favour of folded full size maps picked up as we travelled.

GPS helped at times, particluarly in checking the remaining distance to a destination. We know it helped others to reach Warm Showers host addresses. Normally the Garmin Edge 800 directions were meaningless and/or incomplete and thereby often downright misleading and dangerous. Other GPS may do better.

About Panniers vs. Trailers

The BoBs worked great for us. They were stable and roomy. However they were also a pain to squeeze into motel rooms (espcially if on the second floor!) and to ship home. If (when) we go to Europe, it will be panniers. Since water proofness is critical, it seems Ortlieb is the best choice. They have a heavy vinyl lined classic line and an newer, still waterproof, lighter fabric. We like heavy!

About Tires

We have seen lurid photos of tires worn out after just 2000 km. Our Schwalbes had minimal flats and seems almost new after 7000+ km. On the other hand we chose wide (700C-38) ones and they weigh about twice as much as equivalently sized other tires. We would go with them again.

And Finally

Avi, Violet, Amelia, we love you more than ordinary words can tell. One day you may read this, but we hope that by then you will already have that love in your hearts and will not need this to know. Anyway, if there were some words to use to let you know what we hope for you, for your parents, and for us, they are from BoB Dylan:

"Forever Young"
May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

Actually, the last word goes to Arthur. who submits this:

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