I am a French student in a mechanical engineering school in Lille (north of France) named ICAM (Institut Catholique d’Arts et Métiers). ICAM was built in 1898 by manufacturers and Jesuits in order to form engineers in the industrial sector, sensitive to social justice. Nowadays it is still a school directed by Jesuits. Students join the school after the “baccalauréat” for 5 years of studies. Between the 3rd and 4th year we have the opportunity to carry out a 4 month individual project usually called “experiment”.
For my “experiment”, I have chosen to cross Canada by bike! I can briefly explain how I came to this decision.
I wanted to do something sporty and discover a country composed of several amazing landscapes. I was looking for a way of travelling that facilitates contact with local inhabitants. At first I thought of running because I love running but it was not convenient at all for my luggage! With a bike I can do longer distances and discover more landscape! I like to excel myself physically and mentally even though the first goal is to meet new people and discover Canada.
I started my trip in Vancouver. I arrived there the 10th of June and have been hosted by the Jesuit communities. I spent few days in Vancouver in order to reassemble my bike, check all my equipment and visit the city. I left Vancouver the 13th. I have reached the Rockies quite fast and started to meet people on my way. I was pretty satisfied because my “experiment”was going as I expected and I have found that people around me were very generous. It makes me feel confident for the rest of the trip.
Some days in the rockies were quite hard especially that I was not trained at all. Nevertheless the kindness of people I met gave me strength to go on. I was biking for 70kms a day but once I have reached the prairies I was biking for 90-100kms a day.
After 23 days in the Rockies, I arrived in Calgary. It was the beginning of the prairies. Going through the prairies was not so boring. The immensity of the land was impressive but what I will always remember is the bad weather. I have been through lots of rain, storm even tornado watch. Of course I have experienced the head wind several time and without any doubt that the worst thing for a cyclist.
10 days after leaving Calgary, I arrived in Regina. There I have stayed in the Jesuits community. It was a great opportunity to rest and try to re-gain the weight that I had lost. After almost one week in Regina, I had to hit the road again. to Winnipeg.
It took me 7 days to reach Winnipeg. Even though the road was very flat the weather made it hard. Hopefully Canadian were here to help me, inviting me for supper or to stay in their house.
Finally I arrived in Ontario and all his lakes. I have been through Kenora, Fort Frances and then Thunder Bay. The road was gorgeous.
Between Thunder Bay and Sault St Marie I had to deal with big hills. Of course they are shorter than the one in B.C but they are way stepper. It was pretty hard physically because of the hills but also the temperatures at night were very low. However it is probably the part of the trip that I have preferred. Following lake Superior was just amazing.
Since I passed Sault St Marie the road are flatter so a little bit less interesting.
I have arrived in Espanola the 19th of August and I was glad to be able to stay at the retreat center because I really needed some rest. I have been very well welcomed and the staff made me feel at home.The simplicity and the beauty of the place was all I needed (and even more) to rest and have time to think about my trip. It was a peaceful time to remind me the simplicity of the relations I had with the people I have met on my journey. For on time I was able to see the nature from a lake and not from a road… I enjoyed the silence. I have spent some really nice evenings with David Shulist and Howard sharing about our own experiences. I would like to thank all the staff who give me the opportunity to stay at the center, for their hospitality and their generosity.
I have done about 4200kms and still 1000kms to go. I have enjoyed my trip so far. I am very sensible and grateful for the generosity and the kindness of people I have met on the road. Without all of them, my journey would have been way much more difficult.