Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rogers Pass

Wednesday May 27
The ride up to Rogers Pass was a milestone for Mel and Harry.It represented one of the highest elevations so far - another long, steep ascent. (Jackass Mountain back near Lytton was unforgettable guys). Plus, the scenery was fantastic! The mountains were so close you felt like you could just reach out and grab them. The waterfalls springing out of the rocks reminded us that the snow and ice was not that long gone. In fact, the mountain chutes are still full of ice and the parking lot at Glacier Park Lodge had mounds of plowed snow.

Friend Raising

Wednesday May 27
The scenery on the road from Revelstoke to Rogers Pass is spectacular. Lindsay and I stopped numerous times to get out of the RV and soak up the breathtaking view. At one such stop we were not the only ones to have pulled over. We exchanged pleasantries with three women who were enjoying the sight and sound of spring melt waters rushing through a swollen creek. "Didn't we see your RV in Revelstoke?" one of the women asked. It happens alot. People notice us. The RV is kind of hard to miss.
"You're doing a good thing." she went on to say." We need to talk about mental illness more."
It turns out Barbara had just been through a Day Program at Burnaby General. "Best thing I've ever done." She has lived with depression most of her life and recently had to stop work because of it. Her doctor got her into the program and she said she finally had some answers, and some help.
Barbara was on her way to Manitoba with her sister and a friend. They flew out to New Westminister and were driving back with her. We wished her well as we went our seperate ways.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Tuesday May 26

By the time breakfast was over this morning the rain had started. And it didn't let up until the afternoon. Nice for farmers, not so nice for bike riders. It was also kind of cold and kind of windy. Again, not so nice.

Harry and I headed out for Revelstoke, 105 km away. In almost no time at all we were soaked with the traditional stripe of mud up our backs. There is a noticable increase in traffic on this section of the Transcanada highway. Increase in traffic and it seems like increase in speed in a lot of cases. You can imagine what that translates to on a rainy day on a bike. Not so nice.

But the other half of the glass said what beautiful country. The clouds hung low on the mountains and the overcast light made the forests a deeper green. It almost seems like a rainforest here compared to the desert like terrain back in Cache Creek and Lytton, Following the Eagle River down through the Eagle Pass we caught sight of that magestic bird gliding on the wind. We marveled at it's ease of transportation.

Carol and Lindsay made a stop at Craigalachie to check out the site of the Ceremonial Last spike that completed the Canadian National Railway in 1885. There's some historical content for you.

There were ups and there were downs on the road today but it seemed like even the downs were up. I guess it makes sense when you know where we are headed tomorrow - up to the summit of the Rogers Pass. It will be a shorter day of riding but I bet there won't be many downs.

The sun came out just as we were arriving in Revelstoke. Harry took us all out to a great dinner tonight.We have been fueling up on supersharged smoothies and pasta. Tomorrow it's breakfast compliments of Denny's.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Kam to Salm 1

Monday May 25,
We had an amazing day today starting with interviews at two radio station morning shows in Kamloops - Steve and Cheryl at B100 and Stan and Hank at 98.3 CIFM. As well there were two interviews with the newspapers in town - Dale Bass at Kamloops This Week and Michelle Young at the Kamloops Daily News. We are really reaching larger audiences in our campaign of building awareness! Doug Sage, the Executive Director of the CMHA Kamloops branch had set up the interviews by drawing upon his numerous media contacts. Doug shared his personal philosophy on "friend raising" for mental health awareness which we all agreed was very aligned with our own approach.
Harry Erskine and I then headed off toward Salmon Arm. Both Harry and I had bike issues along the way and when we arrived in Salmon Arm we dropped in to the local bike shop - Skookum Cycle and Ski. Coincidentally the newspaper office, the Salmon Arm Observer was located right next door and Carol and Lindsay stopped in to drop off a brochure and to see if a reporter would to speak to us about the Ride For Mental Health. The next thing I knew Carol and Lindsay came into the bike shop with the writer/photographer in hand to take pictures of Harry and I as my bike was being worked on and to hear about the Ride. I'm sure there will be a great article tomorrow in the Salmon Arm Observer helping to raise awareness in this beautiful town.
After 108 Km's today we start out in the morning for Revelstoke. Looks like it will be a rainy 105 Km's tomorrow. The good news is we get another day closer to Calgary.
I hope everyone is staying tuned to the website as the response to the blog updates have been positive. Be sure to check out Simon Hung's collage of pictures, music and video at It is incredible.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Kamloops - Rest Day

Sunday, May 24

Last night we had an enjoyable dinner with Roy and Betty Inouye and John and Pat Chaplin at a lovely restaurant overlooking the city of Kamloops. We learned a lot about Kamloops and heard a lot of stories about Xerox.
Sunday was a scheduled rest day and we tried to do just that, plus catch up on some emails and phone calls. Lindsay went for a run and Mel accompanied her on a bike. Some rest! I had to do it all on my own.
Roy and Betty invited us out to lunch and we really enjoyed getting to know them. They have lived here in Kamloops for over 50 years and had lots of stories to share. They are both active in the Japanese Canadian Association, in fact Betty is the Director.
Unfortunately Roy had not been out of his home since December due to an injury suffered in a car accident. It seems like the Ride has inspired Roy to get back on his feet and be with people. We could actually see some colour coming back into his cheeks as the evening passed and he presented Mel with special gift. It was 1000 tiny paper cranes which he had made and placed in a small covered glass. It represents longevity. As well they gave us a kit with step by step examples so we can get started on 1000 paper cranes ourselves.
Tonight it's off to the airport to pick up Harry Erskine who is going to ride with Mel through the rest of the mountains and on to Alberta.

Hello and Good Bye in Kamloops

Saturday, May 23
We arrived safely in Kamloops inthe early afternoon. We made record time from Cache Creek in spite of the hills. It’s amazing what a favourable wind can do to help your speed and having the encouragement and support from "the boys", Gio, Tom amd Mark.
As we rode up to the Sandman Inn in Kamloops we were surprised by a greeting committee made up of a couple of Xerox retirees; John Chaplin and Roy Inouye and his wife Betty. There were handshakes all round - two generations of Xerox. We made arrangements to meet Roy and Betty and John and his wife Pat later for dinner.
But first we spent a last few minutes over lunch with Mark and Tom and Gio. This was goodbye. There were some pretty challenging conditions for each one of the riders but they worked as a team - always positive, always pulling together. It was an amazing experience to ride with you. Thanks guys, we're going to miss you.

Lytton to Cache Creek 1.

Friday, May 22
We had a very challenging 116 Km ride to Lytton! The body held up well over a very long ride. Unfortunately one of our riders had a fall and injured his arm. Gio Alfano is the most experienced rider among the group and still had a fall, reminding us all that open road riding has risks.
We camped last night at the Kumsheen Rafting Resort outside of Lytton on Thompson River. It was spectacular, offering every imaginable type of camping to complement their rafting excursions.
Today we rode to Cache Creek, only 84 Km's. Did I say only 84 Km's? I think I'm really getting into this!
Tomorrow we go about 90 K and the hills are steep and long on the way to Kamloops. So it will be a tough day. Tonight I spoke with the Exec Director of the CMHA and he has scheduled some media appointments for Monday morning before we head out.
- Mel

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lytton to Cache Creek 2.

Friday, May 22
We'll have to come back to B.C. for all the great outdoor activities. One of those will be at Kumsheen Rafting on the Thompson River. Awesome.
The day started out well - riding on brand new pavement- a smooth ride. For everyone except Gio that is. Yesterday he saw the pavement up close - and not on purpose. He got right back on the bike but his elbow was hurting. Not one to complain he bravely led the way again, up and out of the campground and down the long road. Mel and Tom followed. Mark, as he had done the other days, drove their motorhome ahead about 50 km or so and rode his bike back to meet the others. Lindsay and I followed all of them in our motorhome, taking in the breathtaking scenery at every turn. Our routine is to then drive ahead of the riders, find a suitable and safe pullover area and wait. When the bikes arrive, the pit crew goes to work - a Gatorade over here, a peanutbutter and banana sandwich there, a few gels and a couple of boxes of raisins here and there and they're off again.
It was at one of these rest stops, after the bikes had gone that we met Peter (not his real name). He walked over to the RV and said "you've picqued my interest, what is this all about?" After I explained he shared with me that he had his battles with bipolar. He thinks he's winning now but it hasn't been easy and he still has good days and bad. "I'm almost seventy" he said "and I'm still learning how to deal with this." He has learned what works for him. "I work for my mental health." he said. "It helps keep me going."
It seems Peter helps keep others going too as he shares lessons he has learned and offers a helping hand to friends and family he knows that are also dealing with mental illness.
Peter has other interests because when a big harley pulled into the rest stop he was off to talk about a different kind of bike ride.
- Carol

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wild Rose to Wild Waters

Thursday, May 21
After saying goodbye to Roy and Bev, owners of the Wild Rose campground, and who generously supported the Ride, we started out on our first real test. The route today took us into the mountains and the distance was 116 K. As Gio aptly put it, “We’re going to bag us a mountain today.” By the time we had climbed up Jackass Mountain, it’s name was no mystery. It can kick you! Tom and Gio and Mark were incredible supporting me every pedal stroke of the way.
Our support team, Carol and Lindsay, seemed to be where we needed them every time – whether it was a flat tire, or the small crash, or when we needed protection through Sailors Gate Tunnel, or just providing more Gatorade, there they were always backing us up.
We are camping tonight at the Kumsheen Rafting Resort, perched along the Thompson River across from the grandiose White Canyon outside of Lytton. It has everything from basic camping to luxury resort facilities and of course their specialty is river rafting excursions. They are just beginning their season and again the owners, the Fandrich family, graciously supported the Ride.
We ride to Cache Creek on Day 4 which will again be a full day of mountains.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

First Few Days on the Road -Vancouver to Mission to Hope

Wednesday,May 20
Mel and group headed out of Vancouver on a sunny Tuesday boosted by the music, the energy and the support. Riding with Mel are Gio Alfano, Tom Prinster, and Mark Edwards, and accompanying Mel for the first five days of the ride through to Kamloops. Ben, our son, was with them for the first day. In the meantime Lindsay and I,in the support vehicle, were guided by Kevin Read to the "SOC", (in Xerox lingo that's the Service Operations Centre) where we met up with Mark Edwards who doubles as the driver of the second support vehicle. First destination was Mission about 85 km from Vancouver - a fairly comfortable ride to start off. Easy for me to say from the leather seated comfort of the drivers seat. There were a few showers off and on throughout the day, but it could have been worse. At the end of the day we stayed in style thanks to sponsors Sandman Hotel Group.
Day Two took the riders from Mission to Hope, another 85 km down Highway 7. In the support RV we do the leap frog thing - let the riders get ahead for a while then catch up, overtake them by a few kilometres and find a suitable place to pull off somewhere ahead and wait for them to come by. When we passed them they seemed to be flying - especially down one particularly steep hill. At least it was down. Mark actually rode up it first on his way back to meet the guys. First flat tire of The Ride was Tom's. The day before he got a staple in one of his the tires and thought that would be trouble - but the staple stuck good - it was something else. And I'm pretty sure there will be many more something else's on this long journey.
The end of the day found us in a beautiful campground in Hope - the Wild Rose Campground hosted by Bev and Roy Hickinbottom. If you are ever out this way, be sure to look them up.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vancouver Launch

We literally just parked the bikes after an incredible launch. We met at Vanier Beach to dip the wheels of my bike in the ocean.

Then a group of about 25 riders pedalled with me to the Art Gallery at the city centre. A live band, "Radio Play" greeted us and the Rebecca Sheilds, Executive Director of the CMHA MC'd the ceremonies. A city counsellor (who is also a psychiatrist) Dr. Kerry Jang, commented on the City's commitment to mental health and spoke of several initiatives. A local radio personality, Dr Art Hister, made a great speech with some humour and they gave me about 10 minutes.

I introduced my daughter Lindsay who spoke for 3 minutes and then I spoke for about 5and had an opportunity to thank the organizers and the band and the CMHA and talk a little about our objectives. Then Event Chair, Andy McKilligan, recognized the committee and then presented a cheque for $7777.00.

We mounted our bikes and rode out with several police officers on bikes escorting us out of town. Things went very smoothly and even the weather cooperated. So my quote for the day is "Thanks to Andy and the Vancouver team for an amazing launch of the Ride For Mental Health. We had a fun first day of riding, arriving in Mission about 85 K from Vancouver. There are countless hills and mountains between here and Calgary. They worry me but I'm going to knock them down one at a time. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at a great event in Calgary."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Today's The Day!

Well, this is it. In a few short hours we'll be underway. It almost doesn't seem real. We are nervous and excited at the same time. Can't wait to finally get on the road, but also more than a little apprehensive about what the next few months will hold for us. If the short drive out from Toronto to Vancouver is any indication, it will be awesome and unpredictable, it will test our strength, it will be overwhelming and it will be energizing. In short, it will be an amazing journey.

What started out as a small idea to raise awareness about Mental Health has grown into a national campaign. Our committee and supporters have grown from just a few family members to as much as one hundred hardworking, committed volunteers across Canada. From the start, Jim Doherty, Martine Normand and Sheilah Reid understood and mobilized support within the Xerox community and Deborah Deacon and Heather Armstrong from CMHA, Toronto branch have lent their expertise to this endeavour. Many thanks to all the contributors who have helped get us to the starting point, and continue to support The Ride for Mental Health. Clearly this is an important issue for all Canadians.

Yesterday, on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, we met with committee organizers Andy MacKilligan and Rob Davies of Xerox and Rebecca Sheilds of the Vancouver branch of the CMHA.(and yes, it was raining - but hey, that's Vancouver they said). What an event they have planned for the Kick Off! There will be speakers, balloons, a live band, information on mental health, and tents in case of rain because, hey, that's Vancouver. We are inspired by their dedication and enthusiasm for this project.

As I write this blog, it looks like the clouds are breaking up and the sun is coming out. Hey, it's Vancouver, and a great day for a ride.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Getting Ready

Tomorrow is the big day. It's the launch of The Ride for Mental Health. Better make sure we have everything.
Bicycle pump? Check.
Spare tubes? Check.
Gatorade? Check.
Gas in the tank, check the oil? Check and check.
Hey, wait - we have to be sure we keep lookin' good, better get a car wash. Make that a motorhome wash, but where do we find one? Good question. Asked the people at Canadian Tire but they weren't sure. The GPS doesn't distinguish between an automatic car wash or a do it yourselfer. It's not that easy to make a u'ie in a 30footer so we were going around the block and there it was - a bus wash. Lucky for us, Debbie and the folks at Pacific Coast Lines were kind enough to fit us in between the buses.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


After a long and arduous race to Vancouver it is time to relax for a day or two. However my Dad is still riding and my Mom is still organizing so that leaves me to do the relaxing.
My Dad helped me out this morning. I wanted to go for a run to relax my tense sitting muscles from all the hours in the RV. He accompanied me on his bike.
Vancouver is diverse. We ran/rode through many different areas. We made it to water and followed the harbour for a little bit. And then I ran up hill all the way back to the hotel--wasn't sure if I'd make it.
It was really striking to see the mountains and the water right next to each other... as if they were one, spreading along the floor and up into the sky.
There is a lot of construction going on, possibly to get the city ready for the Olympics. As noble a cause as the Olympics are, it was a pain to dodge the pylons and construction tape. Especially for my Dad on his bike.
We knew where we were most of the time. The map only came out once and we made it back safely.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lookin' Good

We get looks - more than usual. We can see people looking sideways at us. It must be the motorhome - it's a real eyecatcher: all red, white and blue, life sized logo on the sides, sponsors' logos prominent, "Awareness Works to Open Minds and Open Hearts" across the top. Yup, that's The Ride for Mental Health lookin' good. So good in fact we are a conversation starter. Take yesterday for example, there we were, parked in small shopping mall in the lovely Shushwap area,(Mel was taking a break from a training ride), when a car pulled up alongside the RV. Out popped a friendly, energetic person with a big handlebar mustache. Not Lanny MacDonald but close, no, make that Clause. Clause from Copenahgen. He had noticed the RV on his way home and stopped to inquire. We chatted for a while, he told us that he had worked in the mental health field previously. As a resident of the area for the past 32 years he was able to give us some good tips about the highways. We said goodbye, handshakes all round and Mel was off up another hill.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Riding in the Rockies

After driving through white-out snow conditions on Wednesday in Saskatchewan, we didn't know what to expect when we hit the mountains. Well I can assure you it's still winter in the Rockies! The campground's water and sewer facilities were still frozen in Golden and we encountered snow and rain on an off as we drove to Revelstoke through the Kicking Horse Pass and the Rogers Pass. I managed to get in a training ride for a couple of hours which was fantastic, and I lived through an 8 Km climb during the 50 K ride. The climb was beyond anything I had trained for in Ontario and I'll be back out there tomorrow for a few hours as we move along to Kamloops. Carol and Lindsay were there when I needed them for support and Lindsay will join me tomorrow for a part of the ride.
It goes without saying that the scenery is spectacular and I appreciate it even more being able to hear the streams and the wind (not to mention the approaching transport trucks).
The support from across Canada continues to build and it is truly energizing. We will try to keep you updated along the way.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A taste of the Trans Canada highway

This was our second day on the road to Vancouver. We planned 3 training sessions during the commute to the West coast and today was to be the first. As we were driving along yesterday and today, I must say the paved shoulder looked like nothing more than a thin white line and the trucks were speeding along at 100 K/hr. Where was I supposed to ride? When we found a good pull-over location to unload my bike, I saw first hand from the side of the road how fast the trucks were moving and how much air they push ahead of them. Again I wondered how I could actually ride on the Trans Canada.

A stretch of the Trans Canada highway, courtesy of

For the first 30 or 40 minutes of the ride I was almost rigid, and when I heard that first truck coming up behind me, I hung on tight and just kept pedalling. Actually the impact was not too bad. The driver had moved all the way over into the oncoming lane to give me as much room as possible. Over and over this happened not only with the trucks but also the vehicles. Coming from the GTA where there is little allowance for the riders by the drivers, I was surprised and relieved, and became more comfortable very quickly. After a couple of hours my wife Carol and daughter Lindsay caught up in the support vehicle and to top off a great ride, Lindsay joined me for almost an hour for her inaugural ride on the Trans-Canada.

Later we repacked the bikes and continued our drive to Thunder Bay. It was a great day!