Coast to Capital

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Saturday, July 3, 2010 - Saturday, August 14, 2010

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Unpredictable Moments
Saturday, August 14
By Rachel

Whenever I call my parents to update them on how the tour is going, my Dad often reminds me to savor 'those moments that make each day'. I actually try to heed his advice, because he has some substantial bike touring cred. When he was 23 years old, he did a solo cycling trip through the Canadian Rockies, starting in Jasper and ending in Seattle, Washington. My family has managed to save a Super 8 home video from that trip, in which my Dad appears with his dark, shaggy hair at the time, a week's worth of stubble, his large-rimmed glasses, cut-off jean shorts, and no helmet. His bike (that we still have in the garage) is packed up and the road curves around to reveal the Rockies.

As I participate in my second Otesha tour, I know that my Dad's cycling adventure is partially responsible for inspiring me to do Otesha. And my Dad is right, every single day- even on those days when you are woken up in the middle of the night by the roar of a train, which makes you think that the world is coming to an end, and therefore you are tired and cranky and don't want to get up at 6:30AM to turn on the stove to cook the oatmeal for the team- there is an unpredictable moment that makes the day special. 

There were two such moments that made the day when we were staying in Suffield, Alberta. For those of you who have never been to Suffield, it is a tiny town next to Ralston, which prides itself on being home to one of the largest (if not THE largest) army bases in the country. Soldiers from all over the world come to train at this base. With a quick phone call, we were able to arrange a free pass to use the pool in Ralston. Also using the pool that afternoon was a group of U.S. Marines. We decided to challenge them to a spirited game of water polo, which turned out to be a lot of fun! They were very impressed at our stamina at treading water, as they held onto the edges of the pool quite often. I'm not sure what the final score was, but waking up that morning I never would have imagined playing water polo against a group of U.S. Marines.

The second special moment of the day was after our nightly meeting. A few people from the team stopped by the adjacent restaurant, and I think perhaps the only restaurant in Suffield, called Cactus Pizza and Subs. After a few minutes of chatting with the owner and learning about how she makes her dough and sauce all from scratch, she told us that she wanted to bring us over a snack later. At 10 p.m. when we were chatting before bed, we all grinned as four bubbling hot pizzas were delivered to our campsite. We devoured them in about 10 minutes! It really only takes a moment to make a day.


Ode to a Spoke that Broke

Friday, August 13

By Laura MacFadyen

Author's Note: Our support vehicle has a name like any other tour member. This poem will introduce her to you.

'Twas midday on the dusty prairie,
My bike packed more than she could carry.
And as we cycled from the west,
She moaned, she groaned, she needed rest.
"Hush," I told her, "don't you fret,
We have but 50 kilometres yet."
But storm clouds blocked the sky ahead,
Now, I too, was filled with dread.
Just then, a clang, a squeak, a pop,
With that, we came to a weary stop.
"I broke a spoke," she managed to say,
"Go on alone, I'll be okay".
'What am I to do?' I ponder,
50 kilometres is too far to wander.
Just then, a shadow came through the clear,
And a pickup angel did appear.
Donna was the dear truck's name,
Her paint job made her quite the dame.
She whisked my bike into the truck,
And just when I couldn't believe my luck,
Out came a Bianchi, older than me,
The prettiest ride I ever did see.
And with that, I was on my way,
It's just another fun Otesha day.


The Hunt

Monday, August 9

By Jessica Jorgensen

You get up in the morning and make breakfast. Maybe it's a Saturday and you are making the works- scrambled eggs, toast, and a bowl of yogurt- for you and the kids.  Maybe you don't have kids. You like to buy a vegan muffin at the local coffee shop next to your office.  Maybe you are going jogging, so you blend asmoothie for a grab-and-go kind of morning.  Chances are one of these situations resembles a morning of yours, but how many people can say that they wake up to share a bowl of seven grain with their dream team of 13?  Let's take it even further.  How many people can say they don't sleep in one city for more than two nights?  How many people can say they push their own boundaries every day?  How many people can say they have transformed a group of strangers into an inspiring and thriving community?  Posing these questions makes me understand how unique and powerful we are. My teammates have become like family to me and I wish we could forever be in each other's presence.  But we can't.  In 20 short days, reality will pull each of us in different directions.  Therefore, we are going to make these last few weeks incredible.  Let me share with you an example:

The Epic Scavenger Hunt

Calgary, Alberta
August 5th 2010
After one month of cycling through windstorms and sun
the first half of your trip is already done
you've conquered the Rockies and super steep hills
its been nothing short of an adventurous thrill
but long roads of prairies are what lie ahead
which fills some of us with infinite dread
yellow fields, headwinds, no protection from sun
I think this calls for some SERIOUS FUN
we are a motivated and inspired team
packaged and pressed into a lucky 13
Its time to show the world all we can do,
and with that said, here's a challenge for you!

Scavenger Tasks to Complete

1- Gather 15 people for a group shot and strike a pose.
extra points: use everyone to form a human prop (i.e. a boat, a plane)
2- Ask 3 people to write their definition of sustainability and then take their picture.
3- Talk to 3 fellow cyclists and tell them about The Otesha Project.  Take a picture with them.
4- Find a sculpture and give it an Otesha message.  You MUST embellish the sculpture.
extra points: sculpt the sculpture yourself. (use any materials except animals or people)
5- People are always donating their time and energy to our team.  It's time to give back.  Document your donation.

Each of our bike groups had incredible experiences because it opened us to new people and places.  We challenge everyone reading this blog to participate in the Scavenger Hunt.  You have until Monday to send documentation of all 5 tasks to the office at  We can't wait to see what adventures this creates for you!  We will announce the winners next Friday.
Good Luck.

The Art of Restriction

Wednesday, July 28

By Joel Robison

It's funny when you verbalize a goal or commitment, how quickly your mind seems to be drawn to all the things you've decided to put a wall in front of. Last week I put forth a personal challenge and extended it to the rest of my team: a week of buying nothing. It sounded quite simple at first; just seven full days of closed wallets and change-purses, but by the next day my own internal voice was begging for an iced americano in the summer heat. My sweet tooth, which had thus far been lying dormant, suddenly awoke with a fiery plea for anything with sugar. It took all of my willpower to ride past a candy store without veering off into traffic and shoving my pockets with all sorts of treats. It's not that I normally spend heaps of money, and even on this trip I have been quite frugal, but suddenly I was craving cinnamon buns and iced tea and I know that I wasn't alone as I watched my friends struggle with their own cravings. Buy nothing week is not easy. Especially on hot summer days with long hours of cycling, and bright window displays advertising ice cream around every corner.

Not one to limit myself to just one challenge at a time, I also (somewhat foolishly) made a goal to finish the rest of the trip in my third gear ring. Not exactly the best decision to make at the beginning of a 90 kilometer ride up to a summit with nothing but mountain riding for the foreseeable future; my thighs are not-so-quietly protesting this pledge.  

These choices to limit myself in two very distinct ways were not made to deprive myself, but more to educate myself and hopefully those around me. I wanted to be able to experience these communities without having to spend money, to take the time to ride slowly and actually see what is around me, and it didn't take long for me to see results. If I hadn't made the pledge to buy nothing for a week, I probably wouldn't have had a really great conversation with Nicole in Golden, I may not have read that really great article on mobile farmer's markets at the library and I may have been so engulfed in aniced americano that I may have even forgotten to phone my parents (but don't tell them that!) Living with restriction is actually living with a wider variety of options. It offers a whole different way to experience the world around you.

I decided to do these challenges to learn more about myself, and maybe gain a sense of understanding for those in this world that live in this way not by choice. Sure it would have been easy to silence my sweet tooth with a blanket of ice cream with the quick swipe of my debit card, and switching down to an easier gear would only take one swift movement of my left thumb - but I resisted. In the last week, I have walked and biked in the shoes of someone who doesn't have access to buying whatever they might like, and may have mountains to climb without an easier option, and I'm glad that I pushed myself and my team to join me. Buying nothing actually gave me more insight than any amount of money could have.

Merry Christmas from Otesha!

Friday, July 23

By Jory and Nicolette

Love is one of the many things always abundant among our Otesha group. For me, these last few days have proved that. On Wednesday, July 21st we cycled from Revelstoke to Glacier. It was another wonderfully sunny day with rolling hills and smiling faces. We ate the hills for breakfast and arrived at our campsite after cycling 60km (plus a few extra up to the summit, because some people are that crazy). For the first time on our tour, it began to rain. We hurried to set up our tents, and like a well-oiled machine created a tarp shelter. So there I was, sitting at the table making a bracelet out of hemp, when Genevieve and Tyler emerged from the woods carrying what resembled a small Christmas tree to support our shelter (sometimes no matter how hard you try, love alone will not hold up a tarp). Then poof! From the mere resemblance of a Christmas tree, the 2010 Coast to Capital Christmas in July was born.  Within a few minutes, Joel was busy stringing garland, and many of us were making ornaments from other materials in the craft bin. First the tree, then came along the Secret Santa project - after all, what would Christmas be without presents? We all laughed and thought it would be fun, but realistically, would it actually happen? Well folks, it did. We each drew a name for a "not-so-secret" Santa, but pretended to be surprised anyways. 
On this fine Christmas morning, we all woke up to rain and overcast dreary weather. Throughout the day, I watched as people diligently poured all the creativity they could muster into these adorable little gifts. I watched some people sew things like change purses, neat little patches, and even an iPhone cover, even when they couldn't feel their hands. All the effort and enjoyment put into these gifts touched me. I thought "Why doesn't everyone just do this all the time?" I would much rather receive something wrapped in a leaf than in flashy paper. At dinner we all came together for Lentil Sloppy Joe's, and Christmas "cake" made out of our limited supply of ingredients which included oats, seeds, nuts, honey and molasses (oh yes, and love - lots of love). It was the best Christmas cake I have ever had, eating it with my team shivering and laughing. How fitting it was that the coldest day of the tour so far would be the day we celebrate this wonderful holiday. It really struck me that even after all the killer hills, and countless challenges we'd faced, that like one big family gathered around our Christmas tree, we came together for a laugh and a whole lotta love.


Hot off the Press! Coast to Capital Tour! 

Wednesday, July 21 

Here's an excerpt and a photo from the Revelstoke Times Review, in Revelstoke, BC:

'The United Church was filled with children and their parents to watch the imaginative physical theatre. Wearing colourful T-shirts with tanned skins, the Otesha members showed what they can do with their bodies and mind.'

Click here to read the rest of the article!




Team brings hope to Hope B.C.

Monday, July 19

Check out the following letter from community member Marilyn Meden that was published in Hope, BC's local newspaper, The Hope Standard:

'Hope: the meeting of the highways. The fortunate result is that entertainers stop here. The Otesha Project last Wednesday, on the grounds of the Anglican Church was an example of a little gem that easily could have been missed by simply not checking the entertainment section or not knowing what to expect. We will not always know what to expect. That may be part of the charm. There will be other opportunities. How wonderful to have them.'

Click here to read it online at! 


The Naming of the Fawn

Thursday, July 15

by Nicolette Rignault

Determination, desperation, dehydration, and elation. These words encapsulate the journey up the mountain. In school growing up, one learns about the various rites of passage, such as individuals setting off into the wild and not returning until they have found their animal spirit. Today friends, through blood, sweat and tears, I pedaled up the mountain and found mine.

The initial climb to the first summit (of many) that day was enough to make me realize how much untapped potential I have dwelling inside. There was a overwhelming sense of pride that came along with this, knowing that only mere hours earlier, we didn't even think we could make it 10 minutes. But inch by inch, with our loaded panniers pulling us back, and the sun laughing over our shoulders, we made the first big climb to the top of Hopes Slide a reality.

With the first obstacle under our belts, we painted on our brave faces and set off again into the wild.

As we continued to ride, the landscape was painted with towering trees echoing into the distance. The heat waves did not dance on the pavement but lingered like a bad smell, hovering like a vulture waiting for its prey to give up and die. Then, like finding a four leaf clover in the desert, I saw a mother deer and her newborn safely tucked away in the trees. I then remembered who I was pedaling for. This wondrous vast landscape had a huge hole right in the center of it, in the form of a highway with gas guzzling machines.

We were later greeted by a large black bear. At first we stared in awe. Then we remembered, 'Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore'. This realization sent us scurrying like scared squirrels to the other side of the highway. The bear just strutted into the forest, completely unconcerned with the four strange creatures on two wheeled devices.

Soon after, at the top of the hill - what seemed to be a reoccurring nightmare of signless highways leading to an imaginary destination - we could barely make out what looked to be a rabbit or a fox laying lifeless on the shoulder ahead. Yet another reality of our impact on nature. It seemed to take forever to pedal towards this shadow.

Eventually my tired eyes were able to focus. What I saw changed me. Thrown to the side of the road was a baby deer, its sinking brown eyes piercing into mine, struggling with its last breaths, all alone on this empty highway.

It told me its life story. I felt so helpless, and somehow responsible. It told me of its life that had only just begun, now taken away. Life is precious. I had to keep on pedaling. Had I let myself breakdown and cry then, I would not have made it. Riding for me at this point was all mental. Every time I closed my eyes, this sullen scene was all that I could see. But then it came to me; a name for my bike. I would call her 'Fawn". Fawn and I would see all the beautiful sunsets and luscious forests that this baby deer never had the chance to experience.

Me and Fawn. Yup, we are going to take on the world.


Hurricanes and Broken Chains: Conquering the Hope Slide

Tuesday, July 13

By Nicole

The day we left Yarrow, I was again without most of my cutlery and now my meal receptacle. I packed my lunch in a salsa jar from the night before and found a plastic fork I hope to use for the duration of the trip. Unfortunately, half way through lunch I sat on the fork, making it prongless and making my cutlery situation a little more bleak; as of now it only consisted of a very shallow spoon.

Earlier that day, Kate and I discussed our dislike of hills by way of grunts and various cuss words (the latter were mainly on my part). On one such hill, Kait's chain fell off. She urged me to go on, but it was too late. I had already gotten off my bike to help. Due to my general lack of balance and the weight of my belongings, I was unable to start pedaling away mid steep hill. Using the barrier at the side of the road, I tried to balance myself, alternating my right leg and hand as a way to push myself. After several attempts and loads of laughter, Kait jumped off her bike and literally pushed me up the hill.

Over the past week and a bit, I've seen many of the characters in the play evolve. I decided that it was time my main role changed, so as we performed outside a church in Hope, the perturbed potato gardener became a hysteric yam planter (thanks to the suggestion of a new friend from Chilliwack who we will forever remember as one of the Jam Ferries). 

The next day came to be the most physically and mentally challenging day of my life. I made it up the Hope Slide purely on the spirit of my bike buddies, but about 14km before we reached ourdestination in Manning Park, I packed it in. I'm not sure if it was the length of the ride, the bear sighting, the flat tire, or watching someone else on the team jump into Donna (our support vehicle), but that was me done for the day. The next few rides were not nearly as challenging and I couldn't help but think I cheated myself. The trip to Keremeos would prove to be similar to my ongoing battle with cutlery; on any given day, I might be missing two from my set of three- meaning there will always be unexpected challenges.

Who knew that wind could travel in more than one direction at the same time? The night before, a last minute alternative route was decided on based on the advice of a local we met at the play. As Joel and I biked up and down a series of hills that climbed a mountain, he kept saying "There better be a 20km downhill after all of this." It was more like 17km, but there were no complaints until the wind started; hurricane style. I may have been pushed from my bike several times. I may have taken my right hand off the handle bar to attempt to snot rocket only for the hurricane wind to blow it right back at me. I may have cursed Joel after he told the man in a truck who offered us a ride that we were fine, but I'm glad he did, because we made it.

Windstorms can be your best friend or your worst enemy; or both.

P.S. Lanelle, thanks- Please tell Emily the camel-back is great!


Windstorms, Bunkers and Baba Ganoush

Monday, July 12

By Kait, Jess, Eliza and Rachel

A windstorm can be your best friend or your worst enemy; today was a little bit of both. As we coasted in from Keremeos to Penticton, ominous dark clouds enveloped the Okanagan Valley where we stopped for a lunch break. Suddenly, the ferocious winds picked up, and an elderly gentleman on a motor-scooter advised us to take cover and bunker down in a small shopping center nearby. Little did we know, our bunker would be an oasis of microbreweries, dark chocolate and kind strangers.
After sampling 7 delicious ales at the Cannery Brewing Co. we ventured down the hallway and stumbled upon Walla Foods where we gorged on flourless chocolate hazelnut goodness. Our handsome waiter, Ori (Kait's future husband), regaled us with his tales of cycling from Penticton to Oregon, and then presented us with a parting gift (Kait's inverted dowry) of fresh hummus and baba ganoush. As we planned Kait's wedding, a couple stopped to chat with us about their cross-Canada cycling tour. Knowing too the hardships of cycling tours, they offered to help us, perhaps get us some food. We respectfully declined, in order to prolong our escapades in the beer and chocolate, handsome waiter heaven. 
Safety is always a priority on Otesha tours. Hence, we are almost always outfitted in our reflective vests. Not only do they increase our visibility on highways, but they also ensure the kindness of strangers and nutritional satisfaction. It seems that anyone who looks upon us, with our reflective vests, assumes that we are hungry and tries to feed us. Even though we are generally well fed by our super squads, we do appreciate the effect that our reflective vests have on people.

Moral of the story: windstorm + reflective vests = kind strangers and yummy food.


Here Comes the Sun Parody

Monday, July 12

By Joel, Rachel, Jory, Sean, Tyler and Eliza

Composed in Keremeos during a songwriting competition:

Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo (2x)
and I say...
It's so hot. Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo.

Hey Otesha, we're cycling right into the desert. 
Hey Otesha, don't let the sunshine burn you out.
Hey Otesha, there's a creek, why don't you jump right in?
Hey Otesha, Donna's* just around the mountain. 

Here comes the sun, doo doo... (2x)
and I say...
Pass the sunscreen. doo doo...

Hey Otesha, I'll get the ice cream, you get the spork.
Hey Otesha, we'll share together in the park.
Hey Otesha, it's hot enough for a naked bike ride.
Hey Otesha, it's too hot to care about pride.

Here comes the sun, doo doo... (2x)
and I say...
Pass the aloe. doo doo...

*Donna is the name of our trusty support vehicle.


Scratches and bruises, the adventure has begun!

Saturday, July 3 

By Nicole  

It's only day two and I've already had to whip out the first-aid kit on more than one occasion. First, it was during the bike maintenance workshop when I tried to reassemble my breaks (that later fell completely off my bike and into my wheel) and then later that night when tour officially began. On our way to see the Canada Day fireworks my bike failed me again, separating me from most of the group. As Rachel, Jory and I searched for our group meeting destination we learned of various teenage hangout spots (better known as dead ends) and befriended a local in the fair city of Vancouver. As the local helped us navigate the several maps Rachel was equipped with, and standing completely stationary with foot still in cage, I fell from my bike, tearing a hole in my jeans and a chunk from my knee. No worries. Several hours later, Jory and I attempted to clean the wound with various dried out antiseptic towelettes by the light of her bicycle lamp. 

In the last week, I've learned more about invasive slug species and healing plants than I ever thought I would in all my life. I also completed one of my life goals without even realizing it. As we danced to 'California Girls' after our first performance, it dawned on me that I had acted in community theater! 

Today is the first day I have had all three pieces of cutlery since the day I met my group. I had a sandwich for lunch… 

Hitting the Road: Sand, Slugs, and Showboat   

Saturday, July 3

Notes from Jessica

I'm sitting at Kits Beach in Vancouver cupping a pile of sand in my palm. Fears are passing in and out of my thoughts as I gaze into the setting sun. The more I visualize the challenges that lie ahead of us, the tighter I squeeze that handful of sand until I can feel its gritty texture against my soft skin. My thoughts are a whirlwind of steep hills, cold nights, hot days, bear attacks... I take a deep breath and try to shift my thoughts to training week. It has been a happy jumble of laughter and bonding, open dialogue, play practice, and decision making. With these warm memories, I shake the sand around in my palm and slowly loosen my grip. I open my palms and heart to the blue cloudless sky, and watch the sand slip between my fingers and fall back to the earth. With each falling grain, a worry is loosened and dislodged from my thoughts. A few moments later, my hand is empty, my heart is full, and my mind is ready to tackle the journey ahead. I think back to one week ago before I knew my 12 amazing tour-mates, before I had been blessed with their unconditional support, their camaraderie, their creative energy, their smiles, and their love. One week ago I could not have tackled this challenge, but now I am more ready than ever. I look up to see hundreds of sailboats dancing on the horizon. I smile confidently as the sun sets on a beautiful day, a beautiful training week, and a beautiful group of people. 

Notes from Genvieve 

Ok, tout le monde a deja ENTENDU PARLER DE LA VEGETATION EXTRAVAGANTE de la cote ouest, avec ses arbres GEANTS et ses cours avant qui ressemblent a des jungles domestiques...mais qui soup connait qu'avec cela, venait des especes carapacese aussi demesorees? Wow, les limaces de Vancouver sent tout simplement gigantesques! Au-dessus de 5cm en longueur, et un bon 3cm en largeur!! Debile et comme le sol etait bien humide et le temps pluvieux lors de notre sejour aux fermes de I'U de C.B., on battait des mains et despieds pour ne pas les ecraser lors de nos deplacements. Ces dernieves ont suscite tentes d' y gouter...pour defi. Je ne sais pas si vous avez fait l'experience de limaces, mais elles tendent vers l'extreme gluant et visqveux, et se replient sur elles- memes lorsque touchees, allechant. Comme personne de notre groupe vient de la region, nous etions bien emballes de d'avoir parmi nous d'heureux anciencs (qui sont venus en grand nombre peur noos preter main forte) pour nous en parler davantage. Il s'avere que les plus grosses, celles qui sont vertes picotees noires sont natives de la place alors que les Noires Veloutees sont des especes invasives de l'Oregon. Semble-t-il que sur certaines fermes, les gens qui y travaillent dedient au moins 1 heure de leur journee a sectionner ces limaces en deux pour eviter qu'elles devorent les plants et leurs legumes. Aussi, il s nous ont fortemente deconseille d'en manger, (meme si cela nous perettait de remplir notre mandat: "gaspillage zero") car semble-t-il qu'une incise dans ces corps gentles provoque une fontaine de liquide collant...peo agreable...  Vive les anciens et le partage de savoir :)


Notes from Rachel 

Random highlight of the trip: Giving a great first performance at the Kitsilano showboat followed by an impromptu synchronized dance to "California Girls" followed by eating ice cream in the rain and then a massage circle.