This weBLOG contains writings and comments about all aspects of this adventure. Starting from early on in the application stages I'll keep comments here regarding fundraising, training, and ultimately the bike ride itself. It won't all be pretty: $10 000 is an enormous fundraising goal, 9 weeks on a bike is not a walk in the park, and living with a bunch of other crazy cyclists for 2 months is likely to generate some stories.

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This webpage is currently configured to extract blog entries using my journal management software that are indicated to be on the topic of SeatoSea. You may also be interested to read other blog notes about Cycling or Triathlon on my personal website.

End of SeatoSea Blog

I will no longer be updating my Sea to Sea blog as of the end of September 2008. If you've been a regular reader over the course of the past year I suppose I invite you to continue reading what I consider to be my "regular blog" on my "regular website" as I have returned to what we referred to all summer as "regular life". You can get to there by clicking on www.krabbe.ca

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Back on the Bike

I got the OK from the physiotherapist to get back on the bike after taking a solid 2 weeks off. I've done two sweet rides since getting the OK (and raced my first XC race of the season, which resulted in a sore body and did a bit of aching muscle recovery in there too).

The first bike ride was a late afternoon cruise through the river valley on the fixed gear. I filmed three segments of video on the trip and basically now have videographic proof that Edmonton is the best place in the whole world to live between the 10 of September and the 20th of October each year. Other dates are up for debate, lots of Colorado, Wisconsin, Upper New York State and Washington State are in pretty close contention after riding my bike there this summer.

This weekend I also had the opportunity to pay a visit to Rocky Mtn House. Intervarsity Groups from around Alberta have a tradition of meeting up out at Pioneer Ranch camp on Crimson lake on the third weekend of the school year and having a sweet weekend away from school before the homework crunch begins in earnest. I wasn't exactly up for a day paddling a canoe and didn't want to risk the possibility of slipping and bracing myself against a fall while climbing a ridge so I opted to take my bike out and go for a ride. I offered to drive a group out to 2 O'clock ridge at the west end of Abraham lake and then proceeded to bike all the way from there back to Rocky Mountain House. The scenery along the whole drive out was spectacular and figured I would be able to see the most of it if I rode point to point instead of doing a loop. I hopped on the bike with my camelback (first time ever riding with a camelback) a couple roast beef sandwiches, 3 bananas and a few sweet and salt bars. The sun was shining and for the first 90 minutes or so I had a light tailwind to push me along. I averaged 35 kms per hour for the first hour, loving the opportunity to ride in the aero-position and looking at the green and gold countryside roll past.

fall ride fall ride fall ride fall ride

All told the trip was 160 kms, yet another century to tack on to the stats for this summer. That makes 18 century rides for 2008, a tough record to break! My ride time was sub 5 hours (4:50 ride time, 5:19 under the gun), I didn't quite match my performance in east colorado with the total time under 5 hours (4:48 ride time, 4:56 under the gun). The lack of support vehicles meant I needed to stop in at the grocery store in Nordegg to stock up on water (and a pepperoni stick) before heading out on the stretch of road with no services for 92 kms!


This was my first ride this season with aerobars on and I didn't really consider the ramifications of that until I had proceeded to get an achy lower back and neck. It typically takes a few rides to get those muscles used to the aero position and they typically happen early in April so I'm not in good enough shape to bite off a century anyways. This wasn't exactly the case, I probably rode aero a bit too much for the first half of the ride as I needed to hop off the bike and stretch out my back with about 40 kms to go.

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A video from the archives

I found a video on my SD card that I hadn't watched... ever. I filmed it on the morning of the day my "original" camera this summer broke. When I transferred that SD card over to my new camera it was formatted differently and was never retrieved and can't be viewed on the Canon, it can however be viewed on a computer so when fishing through that folder on the PC I remembered filming it.

It's a song/prayer/hymn that was sung at Roseland Christian Ministries in south Chicago while we were passing through there. It's not the greatest at capturing the moment but if you're in doubt as to whether or not it was a powerful experience ask any of the cyclists.

And a few other things I've realized never made it onto my blog following the summer. My net gain for each thigh circumference was 2.3 cms (almost an entire inch!) and 1.6 cms on the calf. The total mileage covered by myself is 7105 kms and ride time of 250:56 hours:minutes putting my average pace for the summer at 28.5 kph. I also found myself featured in another Youtube video thanks to Stephanie Webb from way back in Washington State while we were horsing around on the slackline waiting for church to start. It's a shame this video didn't start 3 seconds earlier because I made a sweet jumping start onto the line which is only captured right at the end. So be it I guess:

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The tour actually seems over

I gave a presentation at my sponsoring church, River Park CRC, in Calgary Alberta on Sunday morning. I think it went well, plenty of people thanked me for sharing so that's nice. It came in two parts, first me having a bit of time to talk and then during the offering I had a few ppt slides to show what day-to-day life was like while on the road. I thought I had covered the bases pretty well with the slides but when watching them during the service I realized it looked like I was generally riding with a group of about 10 people. Not quite the case, the average for the summer was probably closer to a group of 2.7 considering how often I rode alone of with just one other person.

At any rate, driving back north to Edmonton that afternoon it really started to seem like the Sea-to-Sea bike tour was part of the past. Something it hadn't felt like before. It was more along the lines of "just finished" even two weeks later.

I've included here what I said (or at least what I thought/planned I was going to say) during my 7 minute slot.

Last summer the news of the 2008 Sea to Sea bike tour made its way into my email inbox. I was intrigued by the idea of getting on a bike and heading out across north America. It would be a summer of riding every day - a pretty serious challenge that I felt like I’d like to tackle, I would have the opportunity to live with a group of other people, other cyclists and other Christians. It was going to be good. The tour also had tied up in it the idea that we’d raise a bunch of money, that we hoped to raise awareness and funds to combat poverty. I was happy to have the issue of poverty along for the ride. It gave the trip a real purpose and for that I was grateful.

Arriving in Seattle - the summer’s ride started to play itself out - after so many months of anticipation it was living up to every expectation. Right away on Day 2 we climbed more than 5000 feet of elevation and it really felt like we were thrown headfirst into the adventure. I made great friends from all over Canada and the States and we were really soaking up the riding aspect of the summer. We found ourselves putting in extra miles for the pure joy of riding our bikes.

Early on it was really true however that the issue of poverty wasn’t doing much more than being “along for the ride”. While I can’t speak on behalf of every rider, the general sentiment around camp was just “Bike Bike Bike Bike Bike”.

It took more than 2 weeks for things to begin to shift. Answering the question “Why in the world am I biking across the country?” was something I found myself doing as I tackled 100 degree Fahrenheit weather and miles upon miles of sagebrush. The more times I answered the question while talking with someone the more I began to really identify with my answer. “We’re riding in support of the poor. We’ve been raising funds for organizations to tackle some of the underlying causes that keep people who are poor trapped in cycles of poverty. There are 150 cyclists on the road today from all over North America who are doing the same thing because it’s something we believe in. - Poverty and injustice cannot go unaddressed.”

I was riding by myself into Salt Lake City on one Saturday morning and got passed by a local cyclist out for a ride by himself. I decided to catch up with him and we spent the next 5 miles talking - about the cycling community in Salt Lake City, about the bike ride I was on and about poverty. Leaving Salt Lake City we had a huge hill to climb and I had spent a lot of that day’s energy just trying to keep up with this local. The Sea-to-Sea rider who I had joined still had fresh legs and left me behind on the hill. Normally I would have felt lousy to get dropped right at the start of a 10 mile ascent but I didn’t care. That conversation had been worth it.

I continued to ride far more than necessary for the next few weeks, tacking on trips up ski hills and over mountains, we took roundabout ways across Nebraska and spent a portion of a day lost in Chicago. I spent more and more time each week talking to locals in coffee shops, restaurants and gas stations about why we were riding our bikes across the country. We were on the biggest newscast in Chicago one evening and the next day it seemed as though everyone we met along the road wanted to stop and chat for a bit. The reasoning behind our ride was becoming more and more important, although in reality I hadn’t quite made the shift in my head, poverty was still “along for the ride”.

I was riding another Saturday morning, the day we were to ride into Grand Rapids, with a group of guys intent on going quick. We were flying down the road and I wound up on the pavement. I had a few parts of my body bleeding, my helmet had a pretty good crack in it and my right shoulder didn’t look quite the same as my left. I was off to the hospital in a vehicle for an X-Ray and suddenly the reality set in that I wasn’t going to have biked every inch from Sea to Sea.

With the conclusion that I hadn’t broken my shoulder and I had a separation rather than a full blown dislocation I was allowed to ride the following Monday. I could continue but I was resigning myself to a stretch of 40 kilometers in west Michigan, I wouldn’t ride every inch of the tour. I would be struggling to finish the ride each day and I would be one of the people around camp needing a helping hand more often than I would be able to offer one.

I finally had priority number one nailed down and it wasn’t going for a bike ride. It was participating in the tour, it was being a part of the wave of attention that swept across Southern Ontario the next week and onwards to New York City. Having been part of a huge fundraising effort and now participating in a cross country awareness event was more important than the cycling. It was the participation not the peddling of the bike that was my response to God’s call

    Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked

As the tour began to come to a close, my shoulder became a bit less of an obstacle. I still had a few fantastic days on the bike but they were just bonus. My perspective had changed and I was excited to have the opportunity to continue Christ’s work when the tour wrapped up. My favorite discussions became not “bike bike bike” but what are the ways the tour had changed how us as cyclists are going to think and live.

Finally I want to say thank you to this church. I want to thank you for your prayers for my safety this summer, and your prayers that I would be challenged and grow. I also want to thank all of you who sent encouragement notes my way at some point during those 9 weeks. I also want to thank those of you who contributed towards the fundraising of the bike tour, River Park Church made a big impact on the $15 400 raised towards my goal. The final tally from the summer isn’t exactly complete but between all of the riders it’s somewhere near 2.2 million.

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Update on the shoulder

The traffic to this website hasn't really slowed down much since the tour wrapped up more than a week ago. My guess is that lots of the cyclists on the trip got home and are suffering a bit of SeatoSea withdrawal and as a result are poking around online and reminiscing on the memories by reading one another's blogs. Well I'm in the same boat and have found myself poking around on Flicker and looking at some of the 5000 photos posted there once or twice already. At any rate I just wanted to give a quick update on my shoulder since returning to Canada.

I had my first Physio-Therapy appointment at the University of Alberta's sports medicine center this morning (it was along the time schedule of Pete VanNoord, Barb Mellema or John Vandersteen... ie. earlier than I would have liked). I have been taking it uncomfortably easy since returning to Edmonton. My arm's been in the sling for most of the day each day. I have avoided the temptation to do all my unpacking at once. I have been riding my bike a bit, my commuting bike (Fixed Gear) and have been doing so with one hand only. My cervelo has remained in the box (which is partly due to the fact that I'm missing a few parts). My room still has a bunch of boxes in it because I just didn't want to overdo it right away.

So the message from the physiotherapist is basically that I've had enough rest with the shoulder and need to start using it more. I do have a "classic" separation of the AC joint and the step deformity in my shoulder is going to be there for life. I likely do not have a torn rotator cuff (which was questioned by a family friend surgeon) as I still have a significant amount of strength in there. If I can build strength in that shoulder over the next few weeks she'll write off that possibility but if not she says she has excellent connections through the Glen Sather Center to get that fast-tracked. The separation was so "classic" that she went and got the student interns there to come have a look at it and then showed how pushing my shoulderblade in at the bottom made the step go away. So all the while I've been saying that my clavicle is "up", that's not as true as this one bit of my shoulderblade that pokes through the middle of my shoulder is hanging too far "down" and makes the collarbone look like it's too high. Luckily that little demonstration didn't hurt so bad... some of the other stuff did and wouldn't have been so happy to have the whole thing replayed for this other guy.

Basically my prognosis is: No running allowed. No swimming. No riding my racing bike but I am allowed to commute as I have been doing. I've got to make an effort to sit up straight in my chair with my shoulderblades pulled together and down my back as much as possible plus some similar motions I'm supposed to do every hour of the day. I'm still to wear the sling when transporting myself from place to place but am not supposed to keep the arm supported when I'm at home or doing something. I also have a bunch of strength building exercises to do once a day. The prognosis was good and she's happy that I will be swimming once again eventually as it should build more muscle in the area. My shoulder bulk is WAY DOWN! from the beginning of the summer (especially in the last 2 weeks I'm sure) and even though building those muscles back won't erase the deformity it should make for a better shoulder in the long run. I guess I'm not allowed to go the Duathlon route... Triathlon was pretty much a prescribed activity for the long term.

If you'd keep the healing process in your prayers I'd be appreciative. I jarred the shoulder quite bad yesterday and it is still capable of causing a boatload of pain when it's not happy but on a day to day basis I'm completely off painkillers and it's not more than a mild ache.

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A first retrospective

The discussion about wrapping up the tour began in earnest on Monday of the final week. At that time it seemed so early to be thinking about finishing things off. I just was recovering ability to shift gears with the correct hand as I recovered somewhat from the bike crash earlier on. While it seemed early to start thinking like that it wasn't too early at all and now that I'm "off the tour" and won't wake up tomorrow to a full day of bike riding I'm so grateful that we began that discussion as early as we did. The end was a highlight rather than a downer. When we were camped at Samson State Park (Wednesday Evening) our small group discussed what we'd be taking from the tour. While we did a bit of discussion around the theme the question we were really answering wasn't "what have you learned" but rather "what did you learn that you're going to actually remember". The difference is huge. After spending 9 weeks on the road out of normal routines, normal activities, normal circles of friends, normal sleeping schedules and normal diets... I've learned an outrageous amount of stuff.

To start listing all of the little things that I've gleaned from this experience is a waste of my time typing and a waste of your time reading. The wealth of experience that the past nine weeks gave to me is very valuable but not all of it really counts. Some of the things I learned while on the trip aren't particularly valuable back at home even though they were valuable while out on the road.

Back to last Wednesday... our basic conclusion was that it's going to take a couple weeks and likely a couple months before we can look back on the tour as a whole and identify exactly what it meant for my life.

  • What I learned about living in Christian community
  • What I learned about dealing with physical challenges (huge passes in the mountains)
  • What I learned about perseverance towards a personal goal (riding in excess of 1000 kms in 6 days)
  • What I learned about being a voice for poverty while existing far from it
  • What I learned about perseverance in the face of tough times (shoulder trouble)
  • What I learned about deferring the glory of my accomplishment to one who is greater than me
  • What I learned about "doing" fundraising
  • What I learned about inspiring others and encouragement (cyclists on the tour as well as meeting people and having them suggest they're encouraged to respond)
  • What I learned about personal relationships as friendships grew quickly within 9 weeks
  • What I learned about integrating new people into a community (60 new riders in Grand Rapids)
  • What I learned about saying goodbye
  • What I learned about taking one day at a time (dérailleur trouble)
  • What I learned about God's faithfulness to me through a tough week in Nebraska (death of a Grandmother)
  • What I learned about bringing a great chapter in my life to a close (this one is just beginning now)

I've written now and again about things that I feel like I've really had the chance to grab hold of this summer and I feel like really only a few of these thoughts are fully forming at this point. At this point in time I feel like I can really only give those brief glimpses as to how I've personally benefited from the trip. I realize that I basically just said what I feel like I've learned about and not even what I exactly learned about it. I just haven't had enough time yet to process many of those thoughts but do hope to do so and will likely write here in the future some reflections as they become more fleshed out. Or in the world of Len Reimersma, when I've got three points about each one.

One other video that's worth showing though displays the state of my front rim after the bike crash. While it's mostly funny (the movie that is), that crash really did affect the way this summer wrapped up for me. As I believe I've alluded to; even though the crash was lousy it wasn't all bad.

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