Sunshine Coast Tour

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - Thursday, August 28, 2008

August 28, 2008 
Sunshine Coast Tour bids adieu

The audience at Victoria's Fernwood Community Centre was buzzing, as familiar faces smiled out at us. We saw family and friends, Otesha O-lumni, new friends we had met along the way, and lots of new faces, giving us the support and encouragement we deeply appreciated. The final show was our best yet; we were energized and right on cue, and a great sense of pride and accomplishment washed over the team as we took our final bow.

Our final day together was a wonderful day of celebration and achievement. We talked about our goals and what we wanted to do when we all returned home (see some highlights below!). We reminisced and laughed as we enjoyed each other's company one last time. That night we treated ourselves to some amazing pizza (vegan and gluten-free too!) at The Joint. We took over the restaurant with our big appetites and rowdy laughter and left in the rain, filled with good vibes. During our closing ceremonies we watched an entertaining slideshow, presented each other with awards, and shared some facts from the road. With one last group check-in and a big hug, the 2008 Sunshine Coast Tour drew to a close.

Over the next two days we began parting ways. Rachel and Courtney biked into the distance to catch a ferry back to Vancouver, followed by Dana, Derek and Leanne, while Nashira cycled mere blocks to her waiting home. Nicola headed back home to Salt Spring Island, Anna Lise made her way to Calgary to drive the Otesha car back to Ottawa, and Joel went back over the water to the East Kootenays. As for Wilson and Ildi, well, they didn't have too far to go, so they waved goodbye and headed back inside their beautiful home.

And now, without further ado, the 2008 Sunshine Coast team would like to share with you some of our presonal goals for the coming year (plus some fun facts from the road!):

A few of our goals

"I want to grow at least some of my own food, including sprouts and tea."

"I'm going to start thinking outside of the box for how far I can ride. I am going to start riding my bike everywhere, and I am super pumped about it."

"I want to learn how to make cob buildings."

"I'm going to put something in my backyard to collect rainwater."

"I'm going to learn to make jam and preserves."

"I'm going to take a day a week for rest and self reflection, to use as little as I can that day, and not buy anything."

"I want to help support other people in this movement or with great ideas. I felt great when people came out to our shows, and I want to help extend that support to other people and their initiatives."

"I'm going to create art using recycled or natural things that wouldn't usually be used in that way, and share them."

Fast facts from the road

Number of days on the road: 51
Nights of Camping: 31
Ferries taken: 13
Islands visited: 5
Whales sighted: 5
Otesha O-lumni visits: 7
Number of Performances: 27
Total Audience: 1,387
Flat tires: 28
Birthday Parties: 3
Visits to Campbell River: 3
Boxes of cookies consumed in one night: 7
Total distance travelled: 2,253 km
Total wheel revolutions: 1,093,400!

With lots of love, peace and bike grease!
The Sunshine Coast Tour 


August 24, 2008
Sunshine Coast Tour spins south

It is with great appreciation, pride, excitement and hope that I present you all with the final note from the final road for the Sunshine Coast Tour 2008 (but stay tuned – there’s more to come!). We last left you at Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island, slightly dampened by the rain, but excited about the final weeks of tour ahead. From Ucluelet we travelled to Port Alberni by ferry, snaking through the Broken Group Islands and into the heart of Vancouver Island. We saw lots of whales and sea lions, and ingested lots of peanut butter, too!

We backtracked over the Port Alberni Summit and through Cathedral Grove, before cycling on to beautiful Rathtrevor Provincial Park. An energetic audience of more than 100 greeted us (most on bikes!) and we were thrilled with the performance. The next day we journeyed on to Nanaimo, where we were greeted by super hosts Miyo and Roz; to thank them for their immense kindness and generosity we performed a late night show just for them. In true Otesha fashion the team raced back to town to put on two back-to-back shows at the Vancouver Island Exhibition and the "Art in the Park" programme in downtown Nanaimo.

Many team members enjoyed a scenic detour on the way back to our farm home, stopping for swimming and blackberries. With the rooster's call, the team was up early and on to Salt Spring Island -- home of the Sunshine Coast Tour’s own Nicola Temmel! The whole community seemed to turn out and we had a great performance followed by a night in.... heaven! The Temmel family hosted our team of energetic and hungry cyclists and they were more than amazing! The food! The laughter! The views! It was a sleepover in a mountain oasis. Unfortunately we could only spend one night in this amazing spot but almost all of us vowed to return. We travelled a little further south to Providence Farm near Duncan the next day. In return for a great performance most of the team spent time working in the market garden harvesting broccoli, eggplant, and peppers.

Our next adventure took us to two summer camps, Camp YES in Cowichan Lake and Camp Pringle on Shawnigan Lake. The camps were great and the team really felt energized by the positivity that was buzzing around the campers. Before we knew it we were on the road for our final big ride to Goldstream Park, just outside Victoria. Busy highways and windy roads aside, the team had an enjoyable ride to our last camping spot. There we met up with Meg O’Shea, a PhD student studying sustainability. We were just as interested in what she was studying as she was in what we were performing. The Goldstream show attracted more than 120 people; the fabulous turnout fuelled our hearts and legs for the last day of riding the next day.

Stay tuned! There’s more to come!

Peace and bike grease, 
Joel and the Sunshine Coast Tour


August 11, 2008
Sunshine Coast Tour gets wet and wild on way to Tofino

Campbell River has been nicknamed our "home away from home." We have spun through town three times now! The city has been a terrific host and our deepest thanks go out to Tara Jordan, Otesha supporter extraordinaire! We had (another) wonderful time in Campbell River, performing two back-to-back shows and debuting both a new workshop and "Bob & Rob". The morning before we headed off to Miracle Beach we were treated with an educational and powerful workshop about residential schools in Canada and the discrimination that First Nations have encountered. The whole team left Campbell River with thoughts and memories that will last a very long time.

While the weather at Miracle Beach wasn't exactly miraculous we still managed to put on a great show with lots of audience interaction. Some stellar future Oteshites gave us solid inspiration for the rides to come. The next day we set out for a learning opportunity at a sustainable woodlot, before arriving in Comox wet, but filled with the positive energy of our host, Harold.

Comox proved to be a terrific repeat host and we enjoyed the new infrared saunas at the recreation centre (especially after the rainy ride along the coast!) We had another set of back-to-back performances and we even managed to do them in two different towns! We biked to Courtney to perform for the Boys & Girls Club and then back to Comox for a performance (and game exchange) with the local summer day camp. Before we knew it, it was time to head south for Qualicum Beach.

The team rocketed along the shoreline to Qualicum Beach in record time (well, except for those who stopped to nap on the beach!). We met up with another Otesha super supporter, Yves, who helped us pick up groceries and stayed for a visit before heading back home. With the rain clouds a distant memory, the team geared up for our mid-tour retreat.

Little Qualicum Falls proved to be the perfect spot for our retreat. The river provided us with some relief from the sun as the team worked on goals and ideas for the coming month and played some games to get to know each other even better. That evening we performed to a huge crowd who all serenaded Joel with a lovely "Happy Birthday". The team returned to camp with big smiles and played some more games around a toasty campfire. The next day the retreat continued with a trip into town, where everyone worked hard (as hard as you can on the beach on a hot day!) to finish up our mid-tour duties while still managing to have some fun in the sun. After dinner the closing ceremonies began with a treasure hunt and ended with all of the team receiving their official welcome into the world of Otesha.

Despite our desire to stay in our perfect little oasis, we had to move westward to Sproat Lake. On the way we were treated with a jaw-dropping ride through Cathedral Grove. We stopped to crawl inside massive trees and felt dwarfed by the amazing old-growth forest. It wasn't long though until we found ourselves breathless for another reason, biking up Port Alberni Summit! After an intense uphill and a wicked downhill (and a stop to pick up a new camping stove) the team arrived at Sproat Lake and enjoyed the refreshing water that was just a few steps away from our camping spot. We had another great performance and it even felt like an Otesha reunion as we spotted past audience members from Miracle Beach and even Campbell River!

Now, this is where the story gets impressive. As if the Sunshine Coast Tour hadn't proven our strength and endurance enough, we biked to Tofino in ONE DAY! Planned as a two-day journey, the team rode one hundred kilometres, scaled a summit and a long and windy road, then celebrated (right everyone?) our arrival at Greenpoint Campground in Pacific Rim National Park. With the roar of the ocean waves in the distance we embraced our damp surroundings and set up our temporary village in the trees. On Saturday night, we performed to more than a hundred engaged visitors in a beautiful indoor theatre centre. We all agreed it was our best performance to date and the good energy helped the team float (or surf!) all the way back to our tents. Till next time!

Whales, Sails, and Bike Trails!
The Sunshine Coast Tour


July 29, 2008

Port McNeil to Campbell River: Anticipation, perspiration and inspiration!

We're back in Campbell River, which we now fondly refer to as home. We are looking forward to two performances today (after our star appearance in the local newspaper!). How did we get all the way back here, you ask? Well, it's been an adventurous week, complete with dancing, bears, rain, flat tires, and even a tumble - by me - down a roadside ditch!

From Port McNeil we headed across the Johnstone Strait to the beautiful town of Sointula on Malcolm Island (a strenuous 20 kilometres of ferry riding and 10 minutes of biking!). In Sointula we were generously hosted by Lara from the Living Oceans Society, who put us up in the old Medical Clinic – our own beach front property!

Sointula means utopia (Place of Harmony) in Finnish, and it sure lived up to its name. That night our Cornucopia cooking squad was on cooking duty. We had all the ingredients for a yummy quinoa and veggie curry – all except rice, when without warning, the power shut off and the only grocery store closed. With true Otesha resourcefulness we managed to pull off a great meal cooked on camp stoves in the old life boat in the beachside playground out back. We pretended we were lost at sea and came across a paradise island with Wilson's gourmet cuisine. True utopia.

The next day we had an afternoon performance kicking off the annual Artopia festival. We had a nice turnout of about 20 people; the average age was five. We adapted the play as best we could and the kids loved it. Some of the message must still have gotten through because at the end, when we were brainstorming solutions with the audience, a little boy came up and announced he was going to ride his bike more. Then he ran off with his friends to do just that.

And if we weren't energized and inspired enough by this beautiful place, that night Artopia hosted an evening art show extravaganza, with surprise guests – a traveling Carnival Band from Vancouver! We danced and danced and then danced out the door behind them and into the evening rain. We danced into the fire hall where the band was staying and they continued to play for us. It was a beautiful interplay of inspiration, expression, music and dancing. Cycling and theatre and talk of world change have been inspiring us along our way, but it was an incredible experience to get a boost of creative inspiration and energy through music.

This inspiration continued with a fantastically well-attended performance at the pancake breakfast the next morning. We got a late start to our 65 kilometre ride to Woss, but our bellies were full of pancakes and our hearts full of inspiration. The day offered up the first rain we've had all trip. It was a test of our waterproofing jobs as well as of the endurance of our spirits. We all held strong though and – despite three flat tires – arrived in Woss well ahead of schedule and relatively unscathed!

The next day I (Nashira) volunteered to take the trailer, knowing full well that it was going to be uphill for the first half of the 85 kilometre ride to Sayward. I was feeling strong, motivated by great conversation and enjoying the first half of the day. We decided to push on for another hour before stopping for lunch. Pretty soon I saw THE HILL. It loomed above me, rivalled only by the mountains on either side of it. Suddenly I was hungry and ready for lunch, but Rachel, my riding buddy, was already halfway up the hill. I have to get this hill over with and then we'll eat lunch, I told myself. I put my head down and pedaled hard.

Almost at the top, I am breathing hard and decide to stop to catch my breath. I lean to put my foot on the curb, but my legs are shaky and tired and my foot doesn't unclip from my pedal fast enough. Everything happens in slow motion. I watch my bike fall to the right taking me with it. I think calmly, I guess I'm falling, but can't do anything about it. My foot unclips and I tumble down the steep gravel to the bottom of the five-foot ditch. About to pick myself up, I look up to see my bike and the trailer sliding slowly down towards me. Without hesitation, I stand and right the trailer, remove the pile of gravel I have acquired in my bike shorts (much to the wonderment of the cars whipping by, I am sure!), then try feebly to move my bike back onto the road up the steep slippery slope. Finally I give up and decide to wander up and find my riding buddy. Rachel comforts me as I break down into shaky sobs on the side of the road. I'm not hurt. My bike is okay. I just feel so stupid! The rest of the day the ditch to my right feels like an omnipresent enemy.

But the day is beautiful and cool and we are blessed with a black bear sighting. In Sayward that night we are blown away by the attendance at our performance and by the generosity of the residents. Later that night, well after everyone has left, we receive a tray of freshly baked muffins with a note that says: "Your energy and enthusiasm is an inspiration for all of us. Thank you!" I think to myself: "Take that, ditch! I'm going to go on and enjoy this experience! Thank you, Sayward!"

How do I sum up this last week of gruelling riding and inspiring performances? I think a little boy, responding to a recent performance, put it best: "Wow! That was like fireworks!"

- Written by Nashira Birch
Sunshine Coast Tour


July 24, 2008
Sunshine warms north Vancouver Island

Greetings once again from the sunny Sunshine Coast Tour! We left you last as we said goodbye to the mainland and arrived in Comox, which oddly enough meant we were no longer on the Sunshine Coast! Our stay in Comox was brief, but enjoyable as Mandy with the Comox Recreation Centre served as an incredible host and tour guide. The team had a gear explosion and then implosion within 24 hours as we had to pack up and ride up to Campbell River. The ride along the coastline was beautiful and while some may say that our amazingly fast riding time was due to the flat terrain, we believe it's because we're now first rate cyclists able to travel 60 kilometres in just a couple of hours.

We were then greeted by our amazing hostess, Tara Jordan, the Campbell River Super Hero! After another quick sleepover, we loaded up for ferry ride number four, and then proved our cycling strength once again by biking across an ENTIRE ISLAND in just one hour (granted Quadra Island is quite small). During our second ferry ride of the day, some team members were lucky enough to spot a humpback whale in the distance! We arrived on Cortes Island and rode to the Power of Hope Camp where we were greeted by many smiling faces and plates of food. During our stay on Cortes we feasted on vegan pancakes and ate our weight in berries. We had morning meetings on a white sand beach and most team members started training for the "Otesha Triathalon" by swimming across the lake! Sadly it was time to leave the island and with a few more ferry rides (we're up to 7 now!) we arrived back in Campbell River.

Our stay in Campbell River was an incredible experience. The Youth 4 Diversity group presented us with an inspiring workshop, followed by a hearty meal of roasted veggies and homemade veggie burgers, which fuelled us for our long ride to Sayward the next day.

The ride north to the far reaches of Vancouver Island was a long one, with three 80 kilometre rides in three days! First to Sayward (though Wilson thumbed a ride after his recombinant bike malfuntioned), where we met up with Chris Hiebert a 2007 Otesha alumni, who was travelling south. Our home for the night was once again top notch; we were treated with showers, a sauna, and as much gym floor space as we could take up.

Bike malfunctions punctuated the next day, too. Leanne and Wilson both had minor crashes and Joel rode a recurring flat tire for 50 kilometres! But thankfully the broken bicycle gang was saved in the Wonderful World of Woss, by the amazing Ulla, who had everything we needed (including muffins!). We mustered up energy to perform for the crowd in Woss before tucking in to bed and gearing up for our third day of heavy riding. From Woss to Port McNeil, we sped past beautiful hills and ran face first into strong headwinds, but the team arrived with smiles and hungry bellies at the campground. 

After a semi-restful sleep (crows are effective alarm clocks), we set out for Telegraph Cove and the Whale Interpretive Centre. The emotions and information that the team gathered will surely stay with us for a long time. That night we performed to an excited and enthused crowd (including a future Oteshite!), which lifted our spirits. Today, our panniers are bursting with happiness, inspiration and passion. Now we must run to catch our eighth ferry!

Some numbers for you statisticians:

Riding Days: 16
Total Km: 700
Longest Day: 85 km
Flat Tires: 8
Bears: 1
Whales: 1
Ferries: 7
Islands: 4

Leanne's Lesson Learned: When holding a crystal ball in your lap in the sun, it may burn a hole in your pants!


July 15, 2008 
Sunshine's gonna start a revolution, up and down the coast!

The Sunshine Coast Tour has begun with an explosion of song, laughter, and bulging calf muscles. The team was excited to meet each other at UBC Farm and begin the process of creating our own mobile community while bonding with the excellent Kootenay Mountain Tour. After many great meals, some beautiful bike rides, and a communal community performance it was time to set off on the road!

With the best of intentions, the Sunshine Coast crew pedalled their hearts out through Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay to make the ferry, but alas we watched it sail off without us, leaving us with a few hours of quiet time. Gibsons holds a special place in the Sunshine Coast tour; it is where our play was created and it was our first official destination. With these symbols of new birth it is only fitting that our tents were showered by eggs in the middle of the night.

After an inspiring and welcoming first performance it was time to move on and take apart our small tent village and "Wilson's Travelling Bike Shop". Unfortunately, we also (temporarily) parted ways with Vanessa who we hope will join up with us again soon. The team pushed and pushed for 71 kilometres, and after a long hot day we were rewarded with a swim in the cool, clean waters of Katherine Lake. Trailer pullers Leanne and Joel and their super-supportive bike buddies practically coasted all the way there… right guys?

We were sad to leave our perfect little camping spot, but excited about our upcoming performance at the Iris Griffith Interpretive Centre. The great people from the centre provided us with ice cold juice, a delicious barbeque and were a terrific audience. Our hearts, minds, and tummies were full as we biked down the road to Egmont. There we were saddened at the realization that our team would be again shortened by one as we said good-bye to our acting coach extraordinaire, Laen. We will remember his love of red, his potty mouth, and all of his brilliant work teaching us this new play. After an easy breezy ride to ferry ride #2, we rode into Powell River. We were again faced with the reality of losing another one of our mentors, Darrell. Who would keep us in line, who would tell us every detail of the tour, and who would make us laugh by wearing his helmet and safety vest everywhere he went? We were most definitely losing a vital part of our team. Thank you Darrell for all your hard work!

Once we had gathered our spirits, we headed over to the marina to wait for "Coho" to pick us up and take us to the awe-inspiring Rainbow Lodge. The whole team was eagerly awaiting the campers on the other end of the lake and we were greeted with a Level 3 welcome right at the dock. Everyone at Rainbow Lodge deserves a huge thank you and a big Sunshine Hug for their hospitality, enthusiasm and energy. We were certainly spoiled!

Thank you everyone for an amazing first few days!

Joel's Lesson Learned: When changing a flat tire, always make sure you put in a NEW tube, not the one that just popped.