Bill Parker of Edmonton is living the cycling dream. Or nightmare, depending on your point of view.
He's spending the bulk of this year riding from Edmonton to Newfoundland, in the not most direct of routes.
A marriage breakup meant "it was time to start something new," he said, when I got him to pull over on Homer Watson Boulevard in Kitchener a few minutes ago.
In March, he set out from Edmonton, with the goal of visiting a few addresses in Newfoundland. He may not make it quite that far, depending on how long his money and the goodwill of the people he meets hold out.
He's slept outside in minus 30 degree weather, in $100-a-night motels and in spare rooms and rec rooms. One family in Winnipeg -- "And their last name was Alberta" -- put him up for nine days of bad weather.
In eight or so bags, he has his life packed on a Trek Navigator 100 with a step-through frame: 170 pounds of bike and gear, including his shaving mirror, a crank flashlight and a tiny Casio colour TV. The 47-year-old Parker himself is only 135 pounds.
Today he came into the Waterloo Region from the Niagara-Hamilton area, using the rail trails. He's heading for Toronto, and then north into Barrie and Orillia, seeing the sights, meeting people, and covering about 80 or so kilometres a day.
The worst part of the trip? "The north. So isolated. Nothing to look at. You look forward to seeing a radio tower."
The next big goal? "Montreal. I haven't been since Expo 67."