Halfway Home

Yesterday was a pretty uneventful day on the road as I continued to make my way towards Thunder Bay. I woke up in Upsala to an army of mosquitoes(Good ol’ Norther Ontario) waiting for me outside of my tent and grabbed a hearty breakfast. It rained on me a few times, but I didnt’t have to deal with any extreme weather yesterday while I covered a casual 150+ kilometres. I was able to make it to Thunder Bay just before dinner time. Which means I have now officially made it to the halfway point of my solo bike ride across Canada.

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Apparently these mosquitoes want to be friends

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My Breakfast of Champions

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My timing couldn’t have been better as I had made dinner plans for the evening. First I met up with Eric Westelaken who is a good friend of my sister. They attended Lakehead together, and Eric was kind enough to host me for the night, which sure beats roadside camping.

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My gracious host Eric Westelaken

 After meeting up with Eric, it was on to my dinner plans. I had arranged to meet up with a gentleman named Dale Shippam.Dale was the recipient of a heart transplant but his story differs from what you would expect from most organ donor recipients. Dale has a real carpe diem attitude, and has definitely made the most of his second chance at life.

Dale and I discussed his experiences about what it was like to be waiting for a heart transplant, the process he had to go through on his road to recovery and how he got his life back to normal. For Dale, normal was resuming his job working as a firefighter. Additionally he started to go on a variety of trips with his transplant doctor, Dr. Heather Ross. Dale has been to Nepal and the North Pole through Test Your Limits. He travelled to the South Pole in the spring with Dr. Ross, and Matt’s Iron ring, becoming the first transplant recipient to reach out the South Pole.

Dale Shippam at the South Pole

Dale talked to me about how special Matt must have been to grab Dr. Ross’ attention and make such an impact on her. Dr. Ross acts as the transplant doctor for many patients waiting for new hearts. I’d have to agree that Matt was pretty special. He was the catalyst for my bike ride across Canada, and he passing has inspired Matt’s family, and a lot of his friends to become passionate advocates for organ donation. Dale was also happy to hear about all of the media attention that my cross country bike ride had received.

I was glad I was able to keep my dinner plans with Dale. It is great to see someone thrive after a major transplant, and to know that they can go back to a life of normalcy again. It helps to reaffirm the importance of organ donation to me, and reinforces the importance of the message on my bike ride.

Dale was also very generous as well treating myself and Eric to dinner at Hoito, a traditional Spanish restaurant in Thunder Bay. He offered me a place to stay with his sister-in-law once I made it to Sudbury  and also gave me a cheque for a donation for Give2Live. I want to thank Dale for his generosity and support, he has definitely provided  me with some extra motivation to cover the 1,400 KM between here and Toronto so I can make it to the event my teams are throwing for me next Saturday.

The Terry Fox Monument in Thunder Bay

This morning I stopped by the Terry Fox statue in Thunder bay before making my way out of town. My next stop will be in Terrace Bay as I am hoping to get another 220 + kilometres behind me today

Upsala to Thunder Bay

Total KM Biked: 3,525 KM

Cheers

Cayse

What’s Up, Upsala?

I took off from Dryden, Ontario yesterday morning biking through some rain. I anticipated I would be riding wet for most of the day based on the forecasts.  The forecasts were not correct. The rain cleared up after mid-morning, but the clouds and the humidity stayed. I am not sure if this counts as improved weather though,the rain at least helps me stay cool on my bike in this humidity. By late afternoon the sun was back out, which makes my rides a little warmer as well.

I was able to cover good distance today covering 211 of the 367 km between Dryden and Thunder Bay which landed me in Upsala, Ontario. I kept things simple for dinner filling up on a combination of energy bars, almonds and whey protein. For the weigh I just eat a couple scoops and  just wash it down with water, who has time to mix things these days anyways?

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Another night of road side camping

I spent the night roadside in my tent with plans to get going early this morning.  Although it is nice to be back in my home province of Ontario, there are bugs everywhere, and it has been very sticky because of the humidity. The roads here are also a little tougher to navigate. The shoulders are not as wide as in other provinces, and I have to be constantly on the lookout and listening for truckers It is almost enough to make a guy miss the flat plains of the Prairies…. almost.

Tonight I plan to hit Thunder Bay, in what will be the official halfway point of my trip.  I can’t believe I was able to make it this far in just 22 days. I had originally budgeted a month to get to Thunder Bay so I am almost a week ahead of where I would anticipate that I would be.

My next big goal is to get to Toronto by July 6, as my team is putting together an event for me there to raise awareness and welcome me back to the city. It will be great to see some familiar faces, and having a hard date I have to be in Toronto is a huge motivation for me when I get tired and helps me plan out a timeline and distances. I have until  next Saturday to make it 1,400 kilometres. No Pressure

In Thunder Bay I will be staying with some friends, visiting the Terry Fox statue, and going out for dinner with a heart transplant recipient who traveled to the South Pole with Test Your Limits earlier this year. I am hoping to talk with a few more local media as well to keep spreading the word on organ donation.

If you live in Ontario and would like to sign up to be an organ donor please visit BeADonor.ca

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Total KM Biked:  3,378

 

Hot Hot Heat

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A shot of the shoreline in Kenora, Ontario

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Another selfie to add to my growing collection.

Yesterday I managed to bike 140 kilometres to Dryden. This was well short of my intended goal. I had planned to stop in Dryden for lunch and continue on to make my way to Thunder Bay tomorrow, but a few things slowed me down.

I was able to connect with the a local radio station in the morning to do some outreach on my journey and organ donation awareness. Unfortunately it also meant that I was a little delayed getting out of Kenora, but the trade off to help spread my message and hopefully encourage a few new organ donors is more than worth it. I also came up against a new challenge today that I haven’t had to face on my ride yet, heat and humidity.  I found myself having to stop more often just to get some shade and re-hydrate. Combine that with a few hills and it looks like I won’t be making it to Thunder Bay for at least two more days. The fact that I re-entered the Eastern Time Zone technically cost me an hour of my day.

Stopping in Dryden however definitely did have a silver lining. The good people at the Comfort Inn were offered me a room to stay again (They have been lifesavers on this trip) and I was able to get in touch with some local media to do some additional outreach this morning. I plan on starting a little bit later today to avoid the early morning fog that settles over the area due to the current weather.

My plan today is to cover as much of the 357 KM to Thunder Bay as possible before camping roadside and finishing up the trip tomorrow. It is raining which should help with the heat, and since I will already be wet there is no reason to use that as an excuse to stop biking.

In Thunder Bay I hope to meet up with an organ donor who travelled to the South Pole with Test Your Limits. Test Your Limits goal is to raise awareness for heart failure research, cardiac transplantation and heart health by climbing mountains and skiing to the ends of world. One of the people involved with Test Your Limits is  Dr. Heather Ross, who was Matt’s transplant doctor. Dr. Ross traveled to the South Pole this spring with transplant patients and brought the Iron Ring he received from the Faculty of Engineering at Dalhousie University. Much like me Dr. Ross used Matthew as an inspiration on her journey, and also placed Matt’s ring on the South Pole when she reached it before returning it to his family.

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A picture of Matthew Antolin’s Iron Ring on the South Pole

To bike between the 150-300 kilometeres I have been putting behind be requires a lot of fuel for my body, I am pretty much always hungry and can eat like a champ. The extra work of biking all of the distance everyday only adds to my naturally healthy appetite.

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Dinner in Kenora was two medium Domino’s pizzas. Loaded with protein of course.

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Last night for dinner I had two foot long Subway subs, and followed it up with a late night snack of three Junior McChiken’s from McDonald’s. I don’t think I need to worry too much about my metabolism right now

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Total Kilometres Biked: 3,167

Cheers,
Cayse

Making more waves

It looks like Cayse’s CBC Story has been picked up by Yahoo and MSN Canada. More media coverage equals more awareness for Cayse’s story, and hopefully more organ donors as well. Click the images below to see the stories.

If you have been inspired by Cayse to become an organ donor, please share with us. We would love if you could share with us on our Facebook Page or on Twitter. Cayse is inspired to bike even harder by the people he knows have signed up. It also means an incredible amount to my family. We don’t want other families to have to feel the same pain we did when we lost Matt. Being a Donor allows you to make a profound impact on peoples lives.

Sincerely

Robert Antolin (Matthew’s Brother)

Ontario: Mine to Discover

This morning was different from other mornings when I have gotten on the road. For the first time I had company with me. Jillian of Transplant Plant Manitoba, and Joe, a organ recipient were kind enough to ride with me for a bit before I left Winnipeg today .

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Photo of Jill and I after bikin outside in Winnipeg for a bit. Photo Credits go to Joe

Jillian was super nice, and Joe was quite the conversationalist. He was really outgoing, and was always excited to talk to people about organ donation.  We took a ride out to the road in Winnipeg together, said our goodbyes and I started my trip from Winnipeg to Kenora, Ontario. I officially made it back to my home province of Ontario. I’ve switched from the flat Prairies to rocks, trees and water of Ontario. The change has been nice. I can’t believe I already put four provinces behind me and more than 3,000 kilometers. The ride was pretty easy yesterday with beautiful weather, and the wind at my back. I have included a few pictures from my travels below.

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Fun Fact about Kenora, despite being in Ontario it is part of the Central Time Zone. I didn’t even know there were cities in Ontario not on EST.

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Ontario: There are a lot of rocks, trees and water out here

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I can now say I have officially biked down the middle of Canada

I had a room offered to me at the Comfort Inn in Kenora. I would like to send a shout out to Outlive Yourself team member Dave Allingham and his contacts at the Comfort Inn/Choice Hotels for helping to provide me with a place to stay at several points over my trip. I came into this trip preparing to camp quite a bit, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have been offered beds due to the kindness of strangers, or through friends of friends. After tonight I will be camping roadside for the evening en route to Thunder Bay.

 It is nice to be getting close to Toronto and Ottawa. I have had a lot of people following me and rooting along the way, so it will be great to see everyone. It doesn’t feel like I’ve even been gone that long. But even after I reach Toronto I will have more than 2,000 kilometres to travel. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes with the Outlive Yourself Team, which has simplified the logistics of my trip for me. From finding beds, to contacting media, and responding to the people who have reached out to me via the blog and twitter. It can be pretty hard to get cell reception when I am between towns. Recently, my team has been in contact with Give2Live Campaign and Helene Campbell’s teams. Helene tweeted at me early in my ride that he had wanted to bike with me for a bit when I got out to Ottawa.

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Helene’s teams filled us in on the Give2Live campaign, and I think it is phenomenal. It supports families who need to relocate to within 2 hours of a transplant zone when they have a family member listed for an organ transplant.  A few people have reached out to me about providing financial support. If you would like to support me, please consider a donation to help Give2Live reach their goal of supporting 30 families during a very difficult time.

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Check out the Give2LiveCampaign here

My team is also putting together an event for when I get to Toronto, where we hope to raise awareness and donations for Give2Live. They are still ironing out the details, but the event will be held on July 6. Stay tuned for more information, I would love to meet the people who have been following along on my trip and are helping me make an impact.

Last night I finally got to see my first hockey game in a while, which also happened the be the last one of the season.  I am a Leafs fans, so I was rooting for the Hawks, since cheering for the Bruins would be sacrilegious. I guess Toronto’s melt down against Boston will no longer be remembered as the biggest meltdown of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs after the Bruins game six performance.  I am going to be having a quick chat with the Kenora Daily Miner before  starting my two day journey to Thunder Bay.

Ride

Kilometres Biked: 3028
Provinces Biked: 4

Cheers

Cayse