Sharon Hawley has finished her bicycle trip in Canada for this summer. She hopes to complete the adventure in another year. Please follow her winter adventure at

Route Map

Route Map

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Day of Rest

I am using this day of rest in Kamloops to consider what I am doing. Is it even sensible? I planned this adventure fevered with the notion of going up to Canada and riding across it. “The best of luck,” friends said, “Have fun, enjoy the country.” “You almost make me wish I was there pedaling beside you, although the thought of four months on a bicycle makes me very sore.” “After you cross the Rockies, it's all flat until the East Coast, or so I heard.” “How could we not care about such a wild woman?”

But what is really behind the friendly well-wishers and the itch inside my brain? To escape my stagnation and begin a new life? To get free from the bondage of my own identity? To be noticed as an interesting person and perhaps worthy of closer inspection? To achieve literal reincarnation in the cells of a hungry bear?

After the summer of ‘07, coast to coast, I think often of these feelings. I see and yet I don’t see. Conned, perhaps, in the year and a half at home, into thinking the real action is metropolitan, and all this was just boring hinterland. The truth knocks on the door and you say, “Go away, I’m looking for truth. And so it goes away.” Puzzling.

Many people express a romantic sentiment in connection with an older woman crossing a continent on a bicycle. They call me brave and adventurous, but a hint in the way they say it means something else. It is romantic if you are not the one doing it. All I do is pedal. Life is simple, stripped down to basic survival, my world strapped to a bicycle.

Sometimes I wish I could sit on the porch of one of the houses in a small towns where I see old-timers and children watching me, and watch me with them as I ride by. I wish I could think their thoughts and compare their assessment of me to my own. I think they would say what my friends say—well-wishers, conferrers of bravery and an adventurous spirit, and thinkers that there is no compelling reason for them to do this. I wonder if they see that although logic is right, and love of life is right, none of us are strong enough to retain these ingrained mandates under the right circumstances. So I ride on in the sweet assurance that I am only a little more ridiculous than the rest of you are in following an unreasonable dream.

I worried in the planning stages that motels could be full, that the short Canadian summer would fill them with tourists and leave me uncomfortable in my small tent and sleeping bag, which I brought for emergencies. I considered making reservations, and did so for the first night out. But reservations are risky. If I fail to arrive at a distant town and have no way to call and cancel, then the money is lost. So I have set out each morning for a town that shows at least one motel on the internet, hoping it would have vacancy. What I have found in Hope, Yale, Lytton, Cache Creek and Kamloops is half-full motels at most. And the prices are usually less than shown on the internet. Maybe the economy has most people staying home. I still worry about touristy Jasper, Banff and those three days of travel along the popular Icefields Parkway. But it is six days to Jasper, and I’ll ride them without worrying about finding a motel.


  1. "Sometimes I wish I could sit on the porch of one of the houses in a small towns where I see old-timers and children watching me, and watch me with them as I ride by."

    This reads like the start of a poem but Sharon I think this journey could easily become a memoir. It's poetic in its perception and takes the reader on a willing journey to hinterlands of the self. Enjoying this muchly...


  2. This is your day of rest, and it makes sense that you would be more introspective on this day. I think the first couple of weeks are probably pretty daunting but once you get well into the ride, then it will be all you know, there will be nothing else but the open country and all you do is ride - that is the story of your whole life - that is why you are alive - that is why you are on planet earth - to ride your bicycle - to see the world in a very unique way - when I was in Ecuador each day was like a week, it seemed to go on for ever, the struggle, but this is your life, and when we are smack face in front of it, we can't see it from the side or above or the bigger picture, and then some time passes and the perspective has dramatically changed once again.

  3. Good thoughts from Michael! And I thought you were on planet earth to help me at the Poets Salon! No such luck, hee hee... love seeing things from all your perspectives, bike level view... wish you swift and easy for days to come!

  4. Thanks Lois, Michael and Kathabela, it's good to ride with friends even if they ride from afar.