Ontario

 
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Cooking dinner in a rest stop is a great way to save money on campings on long drives. We stop in a (free) beautiful spot to stretch our legs and cook dinner and keep driving. After that, it doesn’t matter much where we spend the night.

Cooking dinner in a rest stop is a great way to save money on campings on long drives. We stop in a (free) beautiful spot to stretch our legs and cook dinner and keep driving. After that, it doesn’t matter much where we spend the night.

Beautiful stop along Lake Superior.

Beautiful stop along Lake Superior.

Exploring a beautiful free campsite just outside of Lake Superior Provincial Park

Exploring a beautiful free campsite just outside of Lake Superior Provincial Park

Look at that water!

Look at that water!

Very cool Cheetos powder lichen.

Very cool Cheetos powder lichen.

Eating dinner by Lake Superior

Eating dinner by Lake Superior

Mathilde at the Horseshoe Canada Cup

Mathilde at the Horseshoe Canada Cup

The start of the Cadet expert girls at Horseshoe. Mara got stuck at the very back…

The start of the Cadet expert girls at Horseshoe. Mara got stuck at the very back…

Aïsha at the Horseshoe Canada Cup

Aïsha at the Horseshoe Canada Cup

Mara at the Horseshoe Canada Cup

Mara at the Horseshoe Canada Cup

So, how do we deal with the heat when relying mostly on solar? Even with 750 Watts of panels, we can’t run the AC in the bus. We could pay for a 55$+ campsite, but we try to find public beaches where we can spend the day and sleep in free spots. We haven’t paid for a campsite since we left the Yukon. Actually, we very rarely pay for campsites anymore since it is so easy to find free camping spots, and since at this time of year you need to make reservations in advance to have a good campsite (and in our book, if you pay for a campsite, it better be a good one). 

When we cover a lot of ground like we are doing this summer, our go-to strategy is to stop during the day (and often for dinner) at beautiful spots along the way, stretch our legs, bike, swim, and keep driving afterwards. By then, it’s dark and it doesn’t matter much where we spend the night as long as it’s not too noisy. It allows us to save money (since we are spending a lot on gas during this time) and not worry about making reservations in advance.


In Canada, iOverlander is the best app to use to find free camping spots. Be aware that most users are in vans or 4 x 4 vehicles, so scout out the recommended spots in advance if there is no information about vehicle length in the comments to avoid bad surprises.


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The XCO Mountain Biking National Championship was a bit of a bust. Aïsha crashed during her first preride and got a concussion, so there was no racing for her. She is still healing and focusing on the Western Summer Canada Games at the beginning of August. Mara felt strong and ready, but the crazy hot weather at 42 C with humidex was really rough for a Yukon kid. She battled hard, but crashed near the finish and lost 3 positions, finishing 14th over 21 strong girls. It was not the results she was hoping for and she was quite disappointed.

Mathilde is still too young to compete at National level, but took part in the Ontario Cup the next day. The weather was a bit cooler, but there was A LOT of traffic on the course. She’s still quite happy with her race.

The girls are now on Instagram and they will share their own race reviews (and lots more) there. Give them a follow if you want:
@aisha.roldan
@mathilde.roldan
@mara.roldan.mtb

 

The Hammerfest race and a visit from Grand-Père

 
The Hammerfest race was a really fun event. The course was long for the expert, but Mara had a great race, finishing 2nd in the U19 field. Aïsha is still struggling with some back issues and a vertebrae pinched during her warm up, forcing her to stop the race after one lap since she has lost sensations in both her legs.

The Hammerfest race was a really fun event. The course was long for the expert, but Mara had a great race, finishing 2nd in the U19 field. Aïsha is still struggling with some back issues and a vertebrae pinched during her warm up, forcing her to stop the race after one lap since she has lost sensations in both her legs.

Mathilde had a great race and placed first in her field!

Mathilde had a great race and placed first in her field!

My dad took the train across Canada and came to spend a week in Victoria.

My dad took the train across Canada and came to spend a week in Victoria.

He taught me to shuck oysters.

He taught me to shuck oysters.

My dad and I took a road trip to Port Renfrew. We stopped at French Beach Provincial Park along the way.

My dad and I took a road trip to Port Renfrew. We stopped at French Beach Provincial Park along the way.

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There is so much to explore on the Island and we will not see it all in the month or so we are here. I’m glad I got to see a part of it with my dad while he was here with us!

 

A weekend in Baie St-Paul

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The girls's start. I was the first time that the 3 of them were racing the same race!

The girls's start. I was the first time that the 3 of them were racing the same race!

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It's no secret that bike races (or any other sporting events for that matter) are not my cup of tea. What's not to love about being woken up on a Saturday morning at 7:15 by “Eye of the Tiger” to spend all day on the sidelines, inhaling dust while cheering people you don't know, thinking: shouldn't she be here already? Who's this again? Look at those legs and ass (OK, I know I'm not the only one, that's the only perk...), while simultaneously having a near heart-attack when they call First Aid on the course during your kids’ race? There's also waiting for the award ceremony that is never on time (except for that one time you were late), being bossed around by an overzealous 15 yo who tells everybody that is 50 yards from the trail that THERE IS A BIKE RACE GOING ON PLEASE STAY AWAY (‘cause you know, I'm standing in the mud with a ridiculously heavy camera NOT KNOWING there is a bike race). What's not to love, indeed? But you know what the crazy part is? I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else when they race by me and I see their eyes light up when they see me cheering for them.

It's no secret that bike races (or any other sporting events for that matter) are not my cup of tea. What's not to love about being woken up on a Saturday morning at 7:15 by “Eye of the Tiger” to spend all day on the sidelines, inhaling dust while cheering people you don't know, thinking: shouldn't she be here already? Who's this again? Look at those legs and ass (OK, I know I'm not the only one, that's the only perk...), while simultaneously having a near heart-attack when they call First Aid on the course during your kids’ race? There's also waiting for the award ceremony that is never on time (except for that one time you were late), being bossed around by an overzealous 15 yo who tells everybody that is 50 yards from the trail that THERE IS A BIKE RACE GOING ON PLEASE STAY AWAY (‘cause you know, I'm standing in the mud with a ridiculously heavy camera NOT KNOWING there is a bike race). What's not to love, indeed? But you know what the crazy part is? I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else when they race by me and I see their eyes light up when they see me cheering for them.

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Spotting daddy.

Spotting daddy.

“Hit the jump!”I yell like an overly enthusiastic teenager, camera in hand, as he rides towards us. He gives me a grim look as he rides around it, which brings him close enough that I can see the twigs sticking out of his helmet. “He fell on his head!” Aisha says, worried. Look closely, you'll see his branch "horns".

“Hit the jump!”I yell like an overly enthusiastic teenager, camera in hand, as he rides towards us. He gives me a grim look as he rides around it, which brings him close enough that I can see the twigs sticking out of his helmet. “He fell on his head!” Aisha says, worried. Look closely, you'll see his branch "horns".

Lots of love for papa who had two hard crashes during that race.

Lots of love for papa who had two hard crashes during that race.

Ending the day in the village of Baie St-Paul.

Ending the day in the village of Baie St-Paul.

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Gelato time!

Gelato time!

Being twins in the world of competition is not always easy. In the past, the twins either did team races or competed in different categories (in AZ Aïsha raced with the 15-16 yo). But here, it's not an option. The 3 of them are in the same category and if they want to race, they will be racing together (or against one another, depending on how you see it). It was an excruciatingly hard week for Aïsha as she is still struggling with an injury and feels like she is not in race shape… but also wants on the race experience. So, at last, she told Mathilde that she would race if she also signed up for the race. And just like that, we had 3 girls on the course at once! They each chose an achievable goal for that race and reached it! Mathilde knew she would very likely be last and she was, but kept riding with a big smile, encouraging the boys that were lapping her and receiving cheers in return. I believe we all grew from that experience as a family.

Being twins in the world of competition is not always easy. In the past, the twins either did team races or competed in different categories (in AZ Aïsha raced with the 15-16 yo). But here, it's not an option. The 3 of them are in the same category and if they want to race, they will be racing together (or against one another, depending on how you see it). It was an excruciatingly hard week for Aïsha as she is still struggling with an injury and feels like she is not in race shape… but also wants on the race experience. So, at last, she told Mathilde that she would race if she also signed up for the race. And just like that, we had 3 girls on the course at once! They each chose an achievable goal for that race and reached it! Mathilde knew she would very likely be last and she was, but kept riding with a big smile, encouraging the boys that were lapping her and receiving cheers in return. I believe we all grew from that experience as a family.

Cheering for Maghalie Rochette, their idol!

Cheering for Maghalie Rochette, their idol!

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Mara during the XCT (the second event of the race, the other two didn't race that one).

Mara during the XCT (the second event of the race, the other two didn't race that one).

Tired and proud to be 4th on 21 racers and to have been in the hot seat for a while.

Tired and proud to be 4th on 21 racers and to have been in the hot seat for a while.

Wearing her team colors for the podium. So proud.

Wearing her team colors for the podium. So proud.

My childhood memories of Baie St-Paul involve lots of not-so-great art galleries and a mosquito apocalypse in that very same Westfalia at this very same campground which led us to leave for a chic restaurant to have dinner without being eaten alive. We were on a return trip from a Gaspe peninsula tour with my dad’s partner of that time. It had already been a tense trip (she didn't care for Bon Jovi and sang off-key to old French songs and it drove me nuts, so I spent a lot of time behind my walkman, lying down on the back bench NOT looking at the landscape that she nagged me to admire). She also loathed me for my bad manners. When we'd watch a movie together, she'd spend more time peeking in my direction than watching the screen to make sure she'd catch me picking my nose and call me on it.

So that night at the Mouton Noir (see, I remember the name of the restaurant 30 years later! That's PTSD!), she threw a scene because I had taken a bite off my bread roll instead of ripping a piece off with my fingers and THEN putting it in my mouth. I was ten. You might have guessed she had no children of her own. It went downhill from there.

I'm glad to report that the Mouton Noir is still in business and that the art galleries are still thriving, as well as the mosquitoes. So long Baie St-Paul, see you in less than 30 years I hope!

 

 

 

The 24 Hours of Old Pueblo

The storm before the storm.

The storm before the storm.

Friday sunset cocktail party at the Whiskey Tree.

Friday sunset cocktail party at the Whiskey Tree.

Tying a bottle to the Whiskey Tree.

Tying a bottle to the Whiskey Tree.

Got Lobster?

Got Lobster?

Let’s go ride bikes in AZ they said, it’ll be warm and sunny, they said...

Let’s go ride bikes in AZ they said, it’ll be warm and sunny, they said...

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Jason in the stampede at the beginning of the race.

Jason in the stampede at the beginning of the race.

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I love how these guys kept themselves entertained with that "piñata" while waiting for the dad to ride by.

I love how these guys kept themselves entertained with that "piñata" while waiting for the dad to ride by.

Antonio on his first lap.

Antonio on his first lap.

That's the spirit.

That's the spirit.

The water bottles of the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo from the last 13 years.

The water bottles of the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo from the last 13 years.

Lance Armstrong!

Lance Armstrong!

The Saturday night Happy Hour crew at the Whisky Tree.

The Saturday night Happy Hour crew at the Whisky Tree.

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Diedra rocking it.

Diedra rocking it.

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The CycloKeg going down the rock drop!

The CycloKeg going down the rock drop!

Antonio and Jason on their 6th lap!

Antonio and Jason on their 6th lap!

Our friends 4-men single speed team, the Fearless Foursome, finished in 3rd place with 21 laps!!

Our friends 4-men single speed team, the Fearless Foursome, finished in 3rd place with 21 laps!!

This is E.T. It’s his 14th year of doing the 24HOP in solo. He is a fascinating man. He bought that truck brand new in 1973 (he calls it the coyote den). He is a fire fighter and was sent to help during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the big fires of California over Christmas. He’s worked in Tok, Alaska and lives in a remote rural area near the Mexican border. He speaks Portughese and Spanish and asks the most interesting questions.

This is E.T. It’s his 14th year of doing the 24HOP in solo. He is a fascinating man. He bought that truck brand new in 1973 (he calls it the coyote den). He is a fire fighter and was sent to help during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the big fires of California over Christmas. He’s worked in Tok, Alaska and lives in a remote rural area near the Mexican border. He speaks Portughese and Spanish and asks the most interesting questions.

It’s like someone had a deal with the weather gods... The weather was perfect for about 30 hours just for the race, and then it rained again!

It’s like someone had a deal with the weather gods... The weather was perfect for about 30 hours just for the race, and then it rained again!

Rain in the desert is pretty special.

Rain in the desert is pretty special.

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This weekend marked 19 years of enjoying Sonoran Desert singletrack at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. One of the largest 24 Hour events in the world, this race has the reputation of being biking’s Burning man and can be anything to anybody... pro racers, party riders, soloists, corporate riders, single speeders... but it sure feels like there are two different races going on as my friend Antonio likes to say: the Spandex vs the Monkey suits.

Away from everything, this trail is only busy one week out of the year. The cows look at us in confusion as we ride by, the jack rabbits scamper off and they all probably wonder what they did to offend the gods for such mayhem to take over their otherwise quiet home...

There’s a new record for single speed solo male this year with 19 laps!! Imagine that! 19 laps 17 miles lap in 24 hours!!

Founded in 1999, Epic Rides has become world famous for producing events that celebrate the many positive aspects of mountain biking. Events such as the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, Whiskey Off-Road, Grand Junction Off-Road and the Tour of the White Mountains are popular with participants because they offer challenging, fun riding and emphasize the joy and camaraderie inherent in the sport.