Home > Day to Day > This was the first time I thought “I would rather not ride…” — Thunder Bay to Nipigon

This was the first time I thought “I would rather not ride…” — Thunder Bay to Nipigon

The mental fatigue expressed in the title probably had something to do with another truly restful day off. Everything went easy by choice – I didn’t go to downtown T. Bay, didn’t socialize, didn’t do much of anything. And I felt rested. To the point that the morning after I simply wanted to keep resting! But this feeling soon passed.

The morning’s excitement was ‘the truck’. Its status wasn’t clear – we saw it drive in the evening before and yet it wasn’t’ anywhere to be seen this morning. Nor were Nieka and Chelsea. So as we lined up for breakfast to beat the large groups that were certain to descend on the place, the firefighters and the swimmers, I placed a call to Margo at CycleCanada. “The truck will be in front of the residences between 08:00 and 09:00.” We finished breakfast around 08:30 and then the girls came in: “The truck has been in the garage since last night. We don’t know what will be done with it. Leave everything in the residences – we’ll take care of the gear.” Talk about lack of communications. This will be the topic for a whole separate blog!

So we rolled away. A motorist saw us trying to figure out the map’s instructions and stopped. He figured out where we wanted to go and said: “Just follow me” and then drove us all the way to the road that would access the highway! I feel so much gratitude to all the Good Samaritans we met along the way.

Most of the roads we have traveled in Ontario are undergoing “construction”. The extend of the work varies – anywhere from small local patches and all the way to tens of kilometers of resurfacing, lanes being added, new bridges being built and so on. And this impacts traffic. And it impacts cyclists even more, because what may seem like an inconvenience to a driver can be challenging, even scary, to us.

We traversed a major construction zone and exited to the Terry Fox Monument. The beautiful statue is surrounded by explanations: about his heroic feat of running over 3,300 miles (over 5,000 km), at the rate of a marathon a day, on one leg and one prosthesis while suffering from recurring cancer; about the tens of millions of dollars his effort eventually raised; about the honors he received; and about his complete focus on his purpose.

At the park we met Sam, a dashing, tall, clean-cut and very fit man who looked like a poster boy for the military or police. He was cycling across Canada with two full panniers and a bob-trailer…and was staying in motels! So what was he carrying? Perhaps his modelling portfolios? In any case, he pulled ahead of us and literally ‘took off’. Despite his heavy load he set a furious pace and was soon out of sight.

The ride was pretty uneventful. An 18-wheeler came toward us in our lane, overtaking another vehicle. Owen decided that the truck wouldn’t return to its lane by the time it reached us — so he rode onto the gravel shoulder and skidded to a halt. I waited another second or two, realized that Owen was right, and then did likewise! A later another truck passed us leaving a gap of less than 30 cm! These ‘experiences’ are few and far between, thankfully. The psychological impact is huge: a set of massive rolling boxes traveling at about four times your speed shoots past you, almost touching, while creating enormous turbulence that shakes and rattles cyclists for many seconds afterwards! Thankfully most truckers and many other drivers are very considerate and give us wide berths.

The temperature reached 35C. In the early afternoon we saw the CycleCanada truck go by. Later on we learned that this was a different truck, yet very similar, and that a crew had transferred all the internal shelving, fridges etc. had while the original truck was being towed (to Winnipeg?) – quite impressive.

As we neared the campsite I realized that it was situated before Nipigon…and I had an interview at the Nipigon Gazette. I thought about inviting Pam, the Gazette reporter, to visit me at the campsite and then discovered that I had no cellular signal. So it was either ‘no show’ or ride another few kilometers –which was what I opted for.

At the end of the interview Pam mentioned that we would face some challenging climbs the following day. ‘Not steep, but endless’, were her words. Oh oh.

On the ride back I stopped at Tim Horton’s and picked up a box of 40 Timbits for the gang. And this was very appreciated by the ravenous gang awaiting dinner!

 “Fueled by Equator Coffee!”

imageA true (Canadian) HERO — memorial to Terry Fox
imageAn innukshuk (Inuit place and way marker) atop a roadside rock face. We passed hundreds of these in Ontario so far. There is something that makes people want to state “I was here!” This is a lovely and creative way to do so. Sadly, there are also numerous such statements spray-painted on rocks, usually in big white letters. Now had they used a chisel and hammer… there would be a better chance of catching them! :-)

Fabulous red rock faces, topped by thick forests — for hundreds of kilometers!

Categories: Day to Day
  1. darylwood
    July 22, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Dear Ilan, You are indeed mirroring the tremendous courage that Terry Fox represents. I’ve stood in that same place and know the power of being there at the critical junction in his journey. And now I wonder if the smoke from the northern forest fires will impact your ride. Four more sleeps before we see you in Tobermory. A delicious dinner and yummy dessert await. Warming up the drums for “letting go” around the campfire. Hugs, D&D

  2. Rod Miller
    July 21, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Ilan – you are in Terry and he is in you! And the world is a little bit better place for it. Thank you.

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