Monday, July 9, 2012

The End of the Beginning


As we roll towards Cape Spear, the most eastern point in North America, there is a lot going through my mind. It seems so long ago Dad and I dipped our tires in the Pacific Ocean to start our journey, yet so many of the days are still fresh in my memory as if they just happened. Even as I write this final recap, it’s tough to sum up the entire trip. We’ve seen so much, met so many people and pushed our bodies and minds to an entirely new level, leaving the task of getting it all written down and doing every moment justice is near impossible.

When I think back even further to all the things that happened to our family to lead us to this point, it’s truly overwhelming. That line from Forrest Gump keeps replaying in my mind, “You’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on,” and for each of us who are part of this ride that phrase takes on its own meaning. Whether it was the financial and physical hardships we had to overcome, or the changing personal relationships with the people we left at home, we put a lot of miles between us and the past. We set a monumental goal and we are only miles from achieving it. Surely each one of us has changed on some level, I’m just not sure I know quite how just yet.

One of the most common questions we’ve got along the way is, “What has been the best place you’ve seen?” Seems easy enough but I assure you, there is no easy answer. How do you compare the pure bliss of riding through the desert in the sunshine on 5A towards Kamloops with the sense of accomplishment you get summiting Roger’s Pass? Can one possibly rank the feeling of a perfect descent with a sweeping view of Lake Superior going into Montreal River versus the awe inspiring scenery of Gros Morne National park in Newfoundland? For every diverse climate we’ve ridden through in our glorious country, there is a day that could be listed among our best. Here’s my best attempt, in no particular order, at a list of our top rides

·      *Merrit to Kamloops – riding along the quiet highway 5A was the day I truly fell in love with my new Trek 5.2 Madone. Rolling hills through the desert climate with beautiful lakes along side us brought back the pure joy of riding a bike.

·      *Rogers Pass – Pat and Dad climbed one of the toughest passes in the Rockies bordered by head high snow banks and rain and wet snow falling from the sky. Just witnessing this incredible riding by those two makes this a highlight for me.

·      *Riding into Calgary – Nothing makes you feel like a big shot more than having the Calgary police block an entire lane of the Trans Canada Highway including every on and off ramp so you can ride your bike into town with 30 supporters. The reception we received at the Boys and Girls club was an unforgettable moment. I only wish every person could experience that to understand how truly special the Boys and Girls club is.

·      *Riding into Brandon – The prairies were supposed to be boring but in reality they were anything but that. The vast open skies inspire a sense of awe and wonder and with the wind at our back we covered a massive 360km in no time at all.

·      *Lake Superior Provincial Park to Sault Ste. Marie Just like the prairies, we hadn’t heard too many positive things about Northern Ontario. To our pleasant surprise, riding along Lake Superior was both challenging and beautiful. With rolling hills that added up to enough elevation gain to rival the Rockies and unbelievable views of the largest of the Great Lakes, this ride was one of my most difficult and favorite rides of the trip.

·      *Ontario Small Towns – I’ve driven the 401 between Ottawa and Toronto hundreds of times but until this ride most of the small towns were nothing but names on a highway road sign. Discovering how beautiful these towns was like finding a small treasure in my own backyard.

·      *Kingston Parade – Seeing a town come together to support a cause like Kingston did for us was one of the most special moments of the trip. Huge thanks to Rick Smith and everybody who arranged a full parade into town complete with military band, fire trucks, local hockey players, mounted police, war veterans and hundreds of people.

·      *Ottawa Reception – Coming home is always special but riding right onto centre ice at Scotiabank Place to the incredible reception the Senators put on was amazing. The plaque signifying June 4th, 2012, as "Brad Marsh Day" will always have a special spot in the Marsh household. 

·      *Highway 132 to Riviere-du-Loup – This place is almost indescribable. The majestic St Lawrence River winding alongside me as I rolled through beautiful French Canadian towns will never leave my memory. That road seemed to be made just for me, and might be the best cycling road in Canada.

·      *Epic Day – When Dad set out for “Epic Day” from Truro, Nova Scotia towards North Sydney, I was fast asleep. He started as the sun came up and we rode well into the dark of night. Our first major day with all 5 of our riders and three support cars. It was a new personal longest ride for almost all of us and even with that, our totals were still over 100km short of Dad’s ride. As our friend and support car driver, Johnny Barrett said, “I can’t believe what I just witnessed, that’s absolutely incredible.”

·      *Gros Morne National Park – Riding in Newfoundland you truly get the feeling that you are discovering another world. All we needed was Dr. Allen Grant there and I would’ve believed we were entering Jurassic Park. The climbing here is incredibly difficult and the boys pushed hard to conquer the overwhelming landscape. The Viking Trail gets Pat’s vote for the best cycling road in Canada.

Obviously, I could go on for days about the incredible rides we’ve had all across Canada. All I can say is that our country has so much to offer and every person needs to see as much of it as they possibly can. As we approach the end (surely another day I’ll never forget, no matter how many celebratory beers we have on George Street), I turn my thoughts again to how I’ve changed. This trip has been every bit as challenging for me mentally as it has been physically and it is still hard to put it all in perspective. When I get back will things be the same? Do I want them to be the same as they were? Part of me worries that I won’t be able to fit back into my former lifestyle, flawed as it may have been. It may not be a bad thing but after all this transient living, I’m hoping I can settle back into a little bit of normalcy. For personal reasons, I’m not sure that it will be possible but after this trip but I know I can handle anything thrown my way. As much as our journey is coming to an end, it is only one chapter in our lives. We’ll all get home and keep on going. The next challenge will be set and the next goal will be in our sights. Life keeps on going, 90 days at a time.

Erik Marsh (co-pilot and son)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Technological Advancement


Brad's new BFF

The past few months I’ve been lucky. I’ve had the opportunity to ride all over Canada with my Dad and from time to time my siblings have also joined the trek. I’ve always loved going for a ride with my Dad and my brother (its been nice getting to ride with Maddy the last few weeks too!) but since we’ve left Vancouver, something has been different from those childhood excursions. As far back as I can remember those rides, I always remember Dad on the same bikes: a red Bottecchia road bike, a red Tesch road bike and Bontrager Mountain Bike. All three bikes were top of the line when Dad got them (as he always reminded us) but the newest of the bunch, the Bontrager, he received in 1992 as a gift from his Red Wings teammates for playing his 1000th game.

It was a thrill when I grew tall enough to ride those bikes but as a young kid I never did fully appreciate their “vintage” appeal. That said it was a little strange to be out for a ride with Dad and see him riding on his new bike; its carbon frame with black on black finish far different from the steel tubing and red finish of those old bikes. I’m just not used to seeing Dad being up with the newest sporting technology. Heck, up until last year he had the same Micron Medallion Skates he wore when he taught me to skate 23 years ago. He was finally was forced into a pair of Zdeno Chara’s old Bauer’s and when I asked him about the new skates he said, “I’ll be dead before these are broken in!” The stick he used when he played seemed more like a piece of lumber than a scoring weapon, his shoulder pads have numbers from each team he played for written in Sharpie on them because he hadn’t gotten a new pair his whole career. All you need to do is look into his hockey bag to see that Brad Marsh is a traditionalist when it comes to new technology.

This time though, it seems to be different. He has a little extra power up the hills, he is a little quicker to match the tempo when Pat tries to take off and drop us. Maybe this is a symbolic turning of the page. After all, this year Dad has finally wrapped his head around Facebook (not Facepagebook as he used to call it) and he even has a Twitter following. He’s got a smartphone and no longer asks if we have the UPS with us on a long drive (it’s a GPS, Dad). Maybe Dad is proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks, or maybe he’s been training harder than ever and that’s why he looks so fast on that new bike. Either way, Dad is looking right at home on his Trek 5.2 Madone and I can’t wait to tackle “The Rock” and finish off the 10th and final province of our ride.

Erik Marsh (son and co-pilot)

Friday, June 22, 2012

BRAD MARSH NEEDS YOUR HELP! SUPPORT THE RIDE! DONATION DAY TO TAKE PLACE WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27, 2012


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BRAD MARSH NEEDS YOUR HELP! SUPPORT THE RIDE! DONATION DAY TO TAKE PLACE WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27, 2012

Brad Marsh’s 90 Day Challenge to ride his bike across Canada to raise awareness and funds for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada gears up for the longest day on the bike yet and we want YOU to be part of it by showing your support for Brad and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.

There have been lots of hills, windy rides, rainy days, motels and hotels, big trucks, tons of floor hockey, one bear sighting and lots and lots of big smiles from the kids along the route and now Brad is attempting his biggest challenge of all as he gears up for his longest and most challenging day on the bike so far.

On Wednesday, June 27 Brad will peddle his longest distance yet. He will be on his bike for 10-14 hours and cover 330 kilometres in one day! It will be a huge accomplishment for a great cause and we want you to be there to support it!

How can you ‘be’ there? On Donation Day we are asking all of Brad’s supporters and followers who haven’t already donated to the ride to consider making a donation on that day by clicking on the ‘Support the Ride’ button on his Facebook page and leaving a comment on his wall. Then forward this to all of your friends and family to help raise the awareness of the Boys and Girls Clubs. All donations made on Donation Day will also be entered into a draw for some great prizes.

Join us throughout the day on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates and interviews and feel free to Tweet and Facebook updates on your own pages to help spread the word. You can tweet this release using this url http://sdrv.ms/KYNlo4

To support the ride with a donation go to:


You can also donate directly from Brad’s Facebook page and don’t forget to leave a comment on his wall.

Team Marsh thanks you for your continued support!

Follow Brad’s “Living the Adventure of Life ONE 90 Day Challenge @ A Time” by becoming a fan at www.facebook.com/BradMarsh90DayChallenge and on Twitter @BradMarshNHL to keep up to date on this and future Challenges

Contact:                                                                                                                                              Laurel E. Anderson                                                                                                          Communications Director
613-889-1555                      ###

Monday, June 18, 2012

Once a Family, Always a Family


Once a Family, Always a Family
Written by Erik Marsh

When Dad retired I was only seven years old. It’s safe to say any old hockey stories I know or retell, I don’t know from first hand. More often than not I’ve collected the story after sitting around the table with a couple of cold beverages and my Dad and his buddies as they talk about the good ol’ days. What’s most incredible however, is not the stories themselves. It’s the camaraderie that is truly amazing. It doesn’t matter if they played together or against each other. It’s not even important that they played in the same era, for these guys it’s about sharing a common bond that lasts a lifetime.

I’ve learned from an early age that whenever there’s an opportunity to follow Dad around and get a privileged glimpse into the inner circle of the NHL brotherhood, I tag along without shame. At 26, some might say I’m getting a little old for it but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Through all of this tagging along I’ve learned that for every superstar there is an underrated linemate, for every wound that time has healed there’s likely a grudge that will never die and for every player lucky enough to play in hockey’s greatest league, there’s a team of mentors that got them there. The true insights into how the game is or was don’t come from commentators and analysts but from the men who were there long before outrageous contracts and composite one piece sticks.

The NHL Alumni is a strong family encompassing everyone lucky enough to make a living playing the game they love at the highest level. Each team’s Alumni is special in their own way but the Ottawa Senators Alumni is truly an exceptional group of guys. When the Alumni was formed it consisted of former NHLers who now call Ottawa their home. Most of the guys never played together and in the beginning, very few even played on the Senators. Despite the differences in where and when they played, these men came together forging a unique bond to make a difference in the Ottawa community. As the history of the Senators gets richer and richer every year, new players are joining the Alumni not only to give back to the city that cheered them on in their career, but to restore that kinship that only a hockey dressing room can build.

I can barely put into words the feeling of riding into Scotiabank Place June 4 with my Dad to the encouraging crowd awaiting our arrival. The outpouring of support has been incredible and truly appreciated through our entire ride from everyone but the Ottawa Senators Alumni especially have always, and continue to go above and beyond in helping this cause. Whether it’s as big as arranging an entire parade including military vehicles, a police escort and hundreds of people or being the first to offer a place to stay or just taking time out of their day to come say hi and show their support, the Ottawa Senators Alumni have the most heart in the league.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Thoughts from the Lanterne Rouge by Maddy Marsh


Erik, Maddy & Brad make the ride a family affair.

Most professional cyclists will probably list yellow as one of their favourite colours. This is because the leader of the Tour de France wears the maillot jaune, or the yellow jersey. In fact, the lead of each category in the Tour comes with an associated colour: the green of the Points Leader, the red and white polka dots of the King of the Mountains, and the white of the Best Young Rider. But there is one colour that is not sought after by the riders of the Tour: the red of the Lanterne Rouge. Named after the red lantern on the back of the caboose of trains, this title is earned by the rider in last place. And on the 90-Day Challenge ride across Canada, I am going to be the undisputed Lanterne Rouge.

After spending a few days on the ride, two things have been made clear to me: Canada is very big, and I am a lot slower than the men in my family. Although I spent most of my time on the bike drafting behind Erik, I still found myself having to crank it in a high gear to keep up. So somewhere between Kingston and Ottawa I made the decision to approach this as more of a mental challenge than a physical one. On a particularly difficult stretch of the road that had my legs burning, I turned to an old strategy that I had used during my time as a rower. I used to make a mental list of reasons to keep going, whether it was a person who inspired me or a personal goal I wanted to accomplish, and dedicated 10 strokes of each race to each of the items on the list. On the bike, I broke it down into 10-minute segments.

The first 10 minutes was a no-brainer: my dad. For obvious reasons, he is a huge inspiration. His commitment to the community, to the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs, and to his 90 day challenges is more than reason enough to keep the legs pumping. In the interest of time and space, I won’t go into all the details but will simply say that he is one of the biggest inspirations in my life and helped me get through those ten minutes in the same way that he has gotten me through innumerable situations.

Next I pedalled for the Boys and Girls Clubs. It sounds silly to say that I dedicated 10 minutes to them when the entire ride itself is devoted to them, but during those few minutes I spent some time thinking about what exactly it meant to be riding for them. I thought of the stories my dad had told me from the clubs out west, the little boy in the bike parade in Kingston who showed up dressed like Batman, and the look on a little boy’s face when he scored on a penalty shot during floor hockey. Those 10 minutes were when I truly understood what my dad had been saying this whole time about how the kids make it easy to get on the bike.

In the next few segments I rode for each member of my family who has contributed in some way to the trip, for our family friends who have supported us in countless ways so far, for the chance to see our beautiful country, and maybe a little bit for myself and my pride (Sorry, Erik, but I just couldn’t let you have the satisfaction of dropping your little sister).

While my first two days of riding certainly weren’t easy, they were a ton of fun and I can’t wait to get back on the bike in Moncton. Instead of one 90-Day Challenge, for me, this will be a succession of 10-minute challenges. Hopefully my mental lists will help me claw my way to Newfoundland, and maybe by the end of the trip I’ll be able to upgrade from the red of the Lanterne Rouge to the white jersey of the Best Young Rider.

Maddy

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Warm Welcomes


Team Marsh is picture perfect!

Any time you’re away from home for a long stretch of time, it doesn’t matter what you miss about home in particular, when its boils down to it its really just a feeling of belonging. It’s the feeling of being comfortable putting your feet up on the coffee table and watching whatever you want on TV. It’s the feeling of walking into the kitchen and grabbing a snack. It’s the caring people around you that greet you with a smile and ask you how your day was. On the road it can get hard. You’re away from loved ones and friends and its hard to find a time and place where you can truly comfortably relax. It can wear you down mentally and make it hard to keep on going.

Luckily for us we’ve met up with some amazing people along the way that have gone out of their way to make us feel at home even though its been well over a month since we’ve been in Ottawa. When we rolled into Toronto ahead of schedule we called up my cousin Melissa and she and her husband Mark rolled out the red carpet for us. They had a comfortable place for Erik, Tory and I all to sleep and an incredible dinner on the table. We had a great time at dinner catching up and they insisted on taking care of us for the remaining two nights we’d be in Toronto. From there we were off to Belleville, where Senators Alumni and Lieutenant Colonel, Ed Staniowski took us in. Ed cooked up some steaks and we all sat back, relaxed and watched the hockey game. Admittedly, there was more than a few “back when we played…” type comments, we had a fantastic night. In the morning, I made my bed but I must say I was a little nervous as I’m not sure it was quite up to military standards.

Great Kingston Welcome 
Rolling into Kingston was truly one of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve had. Rick Smith, another member of the Senators Alumni, teamed up with his buddy, Inspector Brian Begbie of the Kingston Police to plan a full day of festivities celebrating not only my ride and the Boys and Girls Club but all the leaders and mentors in the community. We arrived at our “RV point” (that’s what Ed said, I’m assuming its military for “rendezvous”) to an entire crowd of people cheering and before I knew it I was at the front of an entire parade! A military band marched at the front filling the streets with music, followed by dozens of cyclists, police escorts, firefighters, mounted police, military vehicles, ambulances and hundreds more marching, including some Junior hockey players from the Kingston area.

The kids were raring to go when we finally arrived at the Boys and Girls Club and we had a fantastic floor hockey game and celebration to recognize the importance of leadership in the community. Everybody in Kingston did the city proud and I can’t express how incredible the reception there was. Inspector Begbie was proud of the leaders in his city too and told me, “Alright Brad, now if anyone tops that welcome, you let me know and then come back here and we’ll do it all over again!”

Huge Welcome at Scotiabank Place 
After Kingston it was on to Ottawa, my hometown. Erik, Madeline and I fought the wind the entire way. We battled and battled and finally rolled up to Scotiabank Place (maybe it was a good thing they built the arena out in Kanata) where we rode right into the Zamboni entrance straight onto the Arena Floor. The new Jumbotron was lowered and said “Welcome Home Brad!” The Senator’s Alumni was there to greet me as well as friends of mine I know through all sorts of things. As I stood up to give a quick speech I couldn’t help but be a bit choked up by the massive outpouring of support. The mayor declared June 4, 2012 “Brad Marsh Day” in Ottawa and Cyril Leeder, President of the Ottawa Senators presented Erik, Maddy and I with sweaters to take along for the ride. The media support was fantastic and we had a great time before we hopped on the bikes again for a quick 20km ride with some friends to the Boys and Girls Club. Johnny Barrett won the prize for best bike accessory as he strapped a case of beer to the pannier of his bike.

Once again the kids were fantastic and really had us running but thankfully I could lean on my Alumni buddies to take a shift for me every once and a while. Now I won’t start any squabbles between Inspector Begbie and the Ottawa team so I won’t say one was better than the other, I’ll just say that the support that everyone showed in those two cities especially means so much to me and everyone involved in this ride. The headlines the next day said, “Making a Difference” and with all the help we’re getting, this trip is becoming even more of a success.

As I said before, the distance can be hard, but with the warm welcomes we’ve received everywhere we go, we can always feel at home, even if my house if 4000km away. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has welcomed us into their communities and their homes, and lent us a hand with whatever it may be, you are what keep our pedals turning.

Brad

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Vlog about progress and butts!

Picture Perfect
Update from Team Marsh from Riviere-du-Loop gives a review of the ride so far and also the added bonus of a butt update! Also notice the snazzy Marsh cap and Sens biking jersey and leave a comment and let us know what you think! Watch here

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Day for Brad!

It's officially Brad Marsh Day today in Ottawa! Brad rode into Ottawa this afternoon and literally rode right into Scotiabank Place for a warm welcome! Stay tuned for media updates.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Old Man Strength


Erik, Brad and the wind.

Every sport has this guy. He looks to be about a hundred yet somehow manages to make you look like a complete novice while your jaw drops to the floor in disbelief. Whether it’s a cyclist on an old steel bike with panniers effortlessly blowing past you while you suck wind on a hard ascent or the Grandpa that hits every fairway and green on the course to destroy you by ten strokes, Old Man Strength is real. This phenomenon is especially prevalent in sports where endurance and intelligence are rewarded.

I seem to see it every time I’m out for a weekend ride. How can these old guys, more than double my age, just keep going and going while my legs scream at me to stop pedaling? Maybe they’ve tuned out their pain receptors the same as they can tune out a bunch of kids making too much racket or a nagging spouse. Maybe the beer belly and sagging skin is perfect insulation for the super-muscles they have hiding beneath the surface. Whatever the answer is, it’s no less frustrating every time one of these guys leaves me looking at his rear end as he rides away into the distance.

Isn’t everything supposed to be cyclical: The young boy grows up emulating his Dad, then comes the day he can finally best him only for his own son to overtake him when that fateful day comes? Why then am I finding it so tough to hang on to Dad’s wheel? Sure he put in more training hours than me but I’m young and full of vigor! Shouldn’t he be the one asking me to slow down? Realizing I won’t play in the NHL like Dad was disappointing but discovering he also has the rare genetic predisposition that is Old Man Strength might just be too much.


Erik Marsh (Co-pilot & Son) 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Awe of the Wind


Wind

In our vast country we are blessed to experience many different climates, diverse environments and a variety of different weather. We’ve already seen the Pacific coast, mountains, prairies, desert, and the boreal forest of the Canadian Shield. Of all the different things Mother Nature has thrown at us, wind presents the biggest challenge by far.

A little reminder of Mother Nature and her wind here as told by Brad

Must always be ready for Mother Nature!
Whereas a mountain looms high above you, its imposing stature striking fear into your heart, it has a summit. Get to the summit and your legs stop burning and you can bask in your accomplishment on the descent down the hill. Wind, on the other hand, does not give you a preview of what’s to come. There is no summit to strive for, not an indication of gradient to tell how hard the next section will be, just a brutal soul-crushing force working against you, making every pedal stroke a battle. Imagine balancing all your weight on two points of contact no bigger than a few square inches and then trying to get where you’re going and there is an invisible force pushing and pulling you at over 70 km/h. A headwind can make it feel like you’re towing a tractor trailer behind you and crosswinds feel as if an invisible team of strongmen are having a tug of war and you are the flag in the middle of the rope.

As with many physically demanding feats, when battling wind the rider must look within to have the strength to succeed. There are a few techniques that may help get a rider where they need to go while in the grips of a gale:

1.    The Lieutenant Dan: Remember that scene in Forrest Gump when Lieutenant Dan “makes his peace with God?” Yelling and screaming with each torrent thrown their way, Lt. Dan Taylor begs for more, insisting that the storm isn’t that that bad. In riding terms it translates to refusing to shift to a lower gear, gritting your teeth and attacking into the wind as if you’re trying to catch Mother Nature herself to give her a piece of your mind. Swearing and yelling may accompany this technique as well, though passing motorists may alert the authorities that a crazy man is on the loose.
2.    The Little Engine That Could: Let the power of positive thinking wash over you. Click into a gear you can spin in comfortably, don’t let the lack of speed get you down and push play on the imaginary reel of inspirational movie quotes in you head. It may be hard riding and it may take you a while but you set a goal and through positive determination you’re going to make it.
3.    I Doubt I Will But I Might: This technique usually rears its desperate head towards the end of a long ride. You’ve eaten all your bars, your bottles are almost empty, you have no money and you’re feeling so fatigued you’re seeing spots. At this point you’re considering ALL your options to get you to the end of your ride: I could fake a mechanical breakdown, I could knock on a stranger’s door (despite his mean looking dogs), I could rob a convenience store for sustenance, I could call a cab, hop on a bus, call my roommate or friend or even a hated enemy. In the midst of weighing all these options, you’ve fought the wind the entire time and you now find yourself close enough to your destination and you’ve made it, barely.
4.    The Quitter: You’ll never need to know any of these techniques because as soon as you see the wind blowing, you aren’t leaving your house. You will certainly have a great excuse like, “I had a big day yesterday,” or “I won’t be able to train in my appropriate zone in that wind,” but everyone knows you’re too chicken to willingly put yourself into that kind of difficulty.

Anything you can do to get you through the wind is a good thing. Every day you fight the wind should bring you closer to the exhilaration of a tailwind. For all the times you can hate the wind with every ounce of your being, they all seem to fade away when you turn that corner and the wind is at your back. With that glorious blessing at your back, you can fly faster than your legs alone could ever take you. Whether you’re 10 years old or 50 years old, you can’t beat the feeling of pedaling your bike and going fast.

Erik Marsh (Co-Pilot) 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

From the Ferry and More

Team Marsh recently entered Brad's home province of Ontario and as he heads toward his hometown of London Ontario, also the home of the London Knights Junior Hockey Club where Brad played out his junior career, Brad shares an update from the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry to Tobermory here 




Brad Marsh as a London Knight
Brad made a stop in Durham, Ontario, hometown of best friend Dean Hopkins. Brad and Dean played junior hockey together with the London Knights and have remained best buddies. Dean's mom hosted Team Marsh for the night! Shouting out a big thank you for the great hospitality! Watch here

Team Marsh

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sault Ste. Marie and the Power of Lake Superior


'Friends' along the way!

We had initially pegged this section of our tour as 1500 km of boredom and we couldn’t have been more wrong. This rugged part of the Canadian Shield has been difficult and challenging but above all, beautiful. Our ride yesterday took us through the scenic Lake Superior Provincial Park and up and down a lot of rugged climbs. As we rolled into town with my legs burning from all the climbing, my thoughts turned to our days in the Rockies. Were those days this hard? Have we climbed like this before?

As soon as we got in I checked my trusty Strava cycling app and learned that in 135km I had climbed over 1 200 meters. After some clicking around I discovered that’s not far off the amount of climbing Pat and Dad had covered from Revelstoke to Golden in BC over the infamous Rogers Pass. I was surprised yet it did seem appropriate. Rogers Pass was the final and most difficult section of the Trans Continental Railway to be completed and the ground we just covered near Lake Superior was the final and most difficult section of the Trans Canada Highway to be finished. Crews had such trouble forging the way through the dense forest and rock that the final stretch of highway wasn’t even paved until 1967. For all its hardships however, cyclists are rewarded with breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the various coves and bays along the shoreline.

The storied Lake Superior is massive. The world’s largest lake by surface area, biggest of the Great Lakes, it stretches on beyond the horizon as if you’re looking across the ocean. I passed the Chippewa River and for the rest of the day I had Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” in my head. While I tucked into the breathtaking descents that seemed to go right into the lake before turning at the waters edge I kept hearing the line, “Superior, its said, never gives up her dead.” Needless to say, I took extra care to keep my tires on the road and the bike upright at those spots. I learned later that the reason they say the lake “never gives up her dead” is because the natural water temperature is so cold that a body in the water sinks as opposed to eventually floating as would happen in most other bodies of water.
New friends Matt & Berny are biking & camping. Check them out at
 www.berny-matt-velocanada.blogspot.ca

The big lake they call Gitchee Gumee has served as an incredible backdrop to our riding in Northern Ontario. As we’ve travelled west and south on Highway 17, one look to the right over the blue water glistening in the sun or lush forest growing atop the rugged rock faces is a great reminder of the natural beauty of our country. It can be enough to put that little extra into your legs to get you over the rolling hills or that little push you need to throw it into a bigger gear to race around the corner to see what vista might be there to greet you. Northern Ontario has truly been a highlight of our trip so far and I won’t soon forget the unbelievable rides we’ve had in this great part of our country. 



Erik (Team Marsh Co-pilot) 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Phase 2 Ride Update & Phase 3 Intro from Brad!

Brad @ The Terry Fox Monument!
Team Marsh has finished Phase 2 of the Brad Marsh 90 Day Challenge to Bike Across Canada in Support of the Boys and Girls Clubs.
Now entering Phase 3 and Brad's home province of Ontario!


Listen to an update from Brad Listen Here

Friday, May 18, 2012

My Hardest First Week of Training Yet by Patrick Marsh


Son Patrick with Brad!
When my pops first mentioned to me that he planned to ride his bike across the country in support of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada I must admit, I thought he was joking. But after many subsequent emails and phone calls I knew it was something he was dead set on doing. Having ridden with him many times over the past few years I was a little worried how he’d make out. After many nights attempting to plan the logistics of the ride and hearing him say many times “the ride is actually going to be the easiest part” I was very concerned that he may have been underestimating how hard the ride was going to be, particularly the high mountain passes. Even though over the last number of months my dad had been transforming so much of himself into the best condition since his playing years, he was still no Andy Schleck. Furthering to my worry, I’ve seen my old man ride steep roads in the past, particularly at last years Penticton Gran Fondo. I witnessed his unique climbing style: a combination of foul language, pedaling squares, nearly bonking, and zigzagging across the road. Fast forward to April 29th of this year and I was truly set up for some serious surprises.

Due to training and work commitments I was (and am) unable to join my pops for extended periods of time to ride with him. However, I managed to time my first week back at training in my 2012-2013 speed skating season with a week off of work. I was planning on riding with my dad through some of the hardest high mountain passes on his journey. Meeting him in Revelstoke, BC on the 29th of April my brother and I joked that ‘the super-domestique’ had arrived to ferry my dad across the mountains. To be honest, I was expecting just that. I was expecting to be dragging my old man up and down mountains while never putting myself in too much physical strain.

Patrick & Brad bonding on the bikes!
However, starting my first ride of the training season on April 30th we set off to climb Roger’s Pass. Besides riding in snow and rain the ride was actually quite enjoyable. I’ve said it many times, but riding your bike is truly one of the greatest ways to see the country and despite freezing rain and snow, we were actually making great time. Every time I seemed to push the pace, Dad followed no problem. Then around 50k into ride and after many waves and honks from the national speed skating team en route to a training camp in Penticton, BC, we set up the final kick to the top of Roger’s Pass. Two things stood out to me. First, climbing Roger’s Pass on your first day of training is hard. Really hard. Second, my old man was not showcasing the unique (and hilarious) climbing style I had witnessed the previous summer. He got into his own rhythm, focused on staying in that rhythm and began to make his own way up the final kick. Once we got to the top I had truly noticed the biggest change in my old man. Waiting for a hilarious and likely politically incorrect statement about how hard the climb had been he rolled into the parking, unclipped and said, “That was sweet!”

Surprised, hungry and cold, I joined him and my brother for some lunch at the top of Roger’s Pass before finishing our ride to Golden, BC. Over the next few days, we would be climbing several other mountains, getting rained and snowed on much, much more, battling some of the worst head/cross wings I’ve experienced and being spoiled with one of my most memorable moments on a bicycle yet: a police escort through Calgary. One thing never did happen in my days with my old man though. Never did I once get the sensation that I was ‘dragging him through the mountains.’ Every time I felt as if I was pushing the pace, he’d surprise me again by taking the lead and pulling for a while himself.

Once arriving in Calgary and getting the chance to meet everyone at the Boys and Girls club I saw first hand the absolute best part of this entire journey: little kids running circles around my dad.

Pat Marsh (Team Marsh Member and son)




Follow me