Photographer swaps camera for written word after cross-Canada solo cycle

Loaves and Fishes is a book full of random encounters with interesting characters — there's hardly a picture in sight — but photographer Don Martel said that wasn't his plan when he started pedalling.

Book launch will be Wednesday evening at McKenzie Hall

Windsor photographer Don Martel wrote a book about the random encounters and wild characters he met while cycling solo across Canada. (Sinan Sbahi/CBC)

Don Martel is used to telling tales through stunning photographs, but after biking solo across Canada the Windsor photographer said he was struck by the people he met and inspired to share their stories with words.

Loaves and Fishes is full of random encounters with interesting characters including cowboys, long-lost friends and a farmer who gave him a ride for 13 kilometres after he got a flat tire.

A cross-country bike trip for Don Martel led him to write a book on the many interesting people he met along the way. 8:48

The photos are few, but Martel said that wasn't his plan when he started pedalling.

"My intention was to do a table top book of colourful photographs of Canada, and I will probably still do that," he explained. "However, the stories were so amazing and the people were so wonderful I had to write ... and I am not a writer."

Don Martel took this photo while cycling across Canada to create a photo book. He ended up writing about the people he met instead. (Don Martel)

Martel said the trip taught him a lot about himself, especially when it came to dealing with loneliness. He added it took him three weeks to cross British Columbia, but he coasted through the prairies.

"In the mountains, there was one time where I didn't see a person for three days ... and no cell service," said Martel. "The prairies were lonely. I talked to the crows. The crows talked to me. I made it, and I called a few friends, let them know I arrived safely. But there was no cheering squad. There was no nothing. Just me and the Atlantic Ocean."

A book launch will be held Wednesday evening at McKenzie Hall in Windsor at 7 p.m.

Don Martel said he got a little lonely while crossing Canada solo on his bicycle. (Don Martel)