By Matt Lawrence
Monday, Oct. 18, 2010
Helen Kennedy woke up early in her home in Hope, British Columbia. Feelings of exertion and tiredness took over as she started to feel nauseous.
“I don’t feel well,” said Kennedy.
She laid in her bed while she wondered if vomiting was in her future. It was. She ran to her bathroom and dry-heaved for the next two hours.
The physicality of biking across Canada had caught up with her. She had only two days left and didn’t know why her body was doing this. She thought it might have been because her body knew she was home, but didn’t know it was not finished cycling.
“So we were a day late coming in because I vomited all day. It was a glamorous life.”
Kennedy, along with her friend Erika Joubert, started their cross-country trip on May 12th, 2010. Just a few days before Kennedy graduated from UPEI with a Bachelor of Arts degree. To document their many experiences, Kennedy and Joubert blogged at windatmyfront.wordpress.com
The trip took 108 days including 74 days of riding and 17 rest days. They finished the trip on Aug 10 where they arrived in Victoria, B.C.
Kennedy said the experience being finished after months of cycling was surreal.
“It seems like almost I haven’t done it, because it’s huge. I cycled across Canda. Sure people do it, but I don’t think it has really set in that I did that. It’s bizarre, especially because I get tired playing squash.”
Joubert said it was hard to remember how it felt due to the different emotions running through her at the time.
“Finishing was amazing, sad and surreal all at the same time.”
There were few occasions where both herself and Kennedy thought they were in over their head, she said.
“I can’t remember exactly where and when. but we always knew we’d push though. I know for Helen it was on day one.”
Kennedy said the worry of not being able to do it was constant through the early part of the trip.
“All through New Brunswick it was still a little bit like ‘are we going to do this.”
Kennedy and Joubert agreed that the best part of their trip were the people they met. Throughout the trip, the duo met numerous supportive Canadians ranging from people who would gladly give them their cars and even pest control drivers who just wanted to show them a piece of roadkill.
“People have no inhibition about being superfriendly, even though they kind of look like fools. I mean, I wouldn’t stop to show someone a gopher I caught even if I had been talking to them earlier,” said Kennedy.
Some even joined Kennedy and Joubert for parts of their ride. Aaron Bernstein biked with the duo between Thunder Bay, Ont. and Medicine Hat, Alberta. Bernstein was coming from New York to Alaska.
The overall cost of the trip for Kennedy was an estimated amount of $1,500, which included by sleeping in public parks and school fields.
Other major costs included food, shady motels when it rained and the purchase of an iPod touch.
“Erika’s uncle bought her one and she had recently just discovered podcasts so she got new music and new things to listen to and I was really jealous. To preserve my sanity, I bought myself a iPod touch,” said Kennedy
Music was necessary because of the constant drone of traffic, she said.
“You can still hear the important sounds of the road but you sometimes you can’t here your own thoughts.”
Joubert said biking without earbuds would’ve driven her insane.
“Maybe in town it’s dangerous, but on the highway, it really doesn’t make a difference whether you can hear the vehicles screaming past you. It’s going to happen either way.”
Considering the distance, the duo encountered dangerous situations. In Ottawa, Joubert was driven off the road and forced to throw her bike off to the side to avoid getting hit by a bus.
Kennedy said there was a definite communication issue between cyclists and motorists.
“People can be sketchy out there. Driver’s mentality about cyclists and cyclist’s mentality about drivers is a dangerous combination.”
Joubert said she sometimes heard interesting comments on the topic.
“My favorite was a comment on CBC that said something like ‘cyclists should accept the fact that they might get killed.’ Really? I don’t think I should have to accept that.”
After they finished, Kennedy spent four weeks on her couch and watched trashy television, far away from thoughts of headwind and long winding prairie roads.
Throughout the trip’s close calls with cars and ever supportive Canadians, Kennedy said the trip is something she’ll never forget.
“We met some amazing people and ate some amazing food and by ‘amazing food’ I mostly mean we ate ‘a lot of food.’”
Kennedy said she’ll never forget the people and the time she had.
“It was the greatest ride of all time.”
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