Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Today is the start of the 4th fase of Michael’s challenge. Everyone who follows Michael was very curious to see if was going to bike again today. I was too, so read on to see what Michael had to say:
"This morning my phone woke me at 5:30 am. A message from my wife set off the ringtone. After a few messages back and forth I decide to give her a Skype call and we discuss family issues and my challenging trip.
Now that I have decided to stay and continue my journey, I put my bike together. It looks good, but it takes more time than I expected. I shower, have breakfast and check-out. All and all I am on my bike at 10:15 am. It is raining. Not too hard but steadily. As I bike through the streets it looks like I am in an expensive neighbourhood with beautiful homes on the water. I am enjoying it tremendously. What a difference with Newfoundland. I ride much more relaxed here. I don’t mind being alone and it is actually agreeable. Unlike when you are alone and are forced to make important or difficult decisions all by yourself which can have dire consequences. In Newfoundland the circumstances where tough and an incorrect decision could have had a bad outcome. I realize that I have been in such tense situations before. You learn a lot about yourself this way, maybe I am not such a here after all…
Suddenly a cyclist passes by. Yes, the first bike I see! He asks me something in French, but thankfully he speaks English as well. “You are going to bike across Canada?” “Yes”, I say “I am going to Vancouver.”
I have been thinking about it for a long time, but I haven’t done it yet, of course. While we are biking, I take a bracelet from the bag on my handlebars and hand it to him: “Here, this is for you and please regard it as an inspiration to follow your dreams”. “Do you sell those? Do I have to pay for it?” “No” I say, “See what it brings you”.
He is clearly surprised, but very happy when I tell him that if he puts “www” in front and “.com” at the end, he will be able to visit my website. Later that night I see a message from him on my Facebook page and he has already shared my page with his friends. He sends me a nice note:
“It was nice to meet you this morning sir, and thanks again for the wrist band! Too bad I was hurried to get to work and we couldn’t chat a little more. Didn’t even have time to introduce each other!
Anyway, I don’t believe in coincidences and not later than yesterday was I thinking about planning another trip. The fact that I met you this morning is very symbolic to me! Have a great trip sir!”
In the meantime, I am riding in circles it seems. When I ask for directions, a lady tells me that I am going the wrong way and have to bike back to Montreal. I can hardly believe it, but today I can’t rely on my GPS which seems to only want to direct me to the Highways. I am allowed to bike on them, but try to avoid them at all cost. They are a big grey mess in the rain, with lots of big trucks passing on all sides.
I end up in a shopping centre and get a drink and some bread. A very sweet lady explains to me that I actually am going in the right direction. Just follow along by the water and you will get to the bridge you need to pass, she tells me. The first lady must have had another bridge in mind and likely could not imagine that someone in this horrible weather would want to bike to that other bridge.
I have been biking along the water for a while now and there are all kinds of beautiful big mansions. I can’t believe it. When I arrive at the bridge I am impressed by the violent force of the water. It is unbelievable how much water is thundering through here. I had already read an article in the newspaper about big chuncks of ice creating havock in the rivers.
En ik zag gisteren uit het vliegtuig bij Nova Scotia allerlei wegen onder water staan en nu hier zoveel geweld. Wat een land! Wat wonen wij toch eigelijk veilig, want dergelijk natuurgeweld heb ik in Nederland nog nooit gezien. Tegelijker tijd wordt ik gesterkt in mijn beslissing om naar Montréal te vliegen. "Goed gedaan Mike!" denk ik...
Yesterday, as we were flying over Nova Scotia I noticed all kind of flooded roads and now this violent run off here. What a country! It makes me realize how safe and protected we live because I have never seen this kind of natural force in The Netherlands. At the same time I am reassured that it was a good decision to fly to Montreal. “Well done Mike”, I think to myself.
Just past the bridge the bicycle path ends and my GPS seems completely mystified. It starts to rain harder as well. What misery! Just down the road I spot a mailman who does his best to speak English. It is hard for him. I have to go to Rigaud, but likely am pronouncing it wrongly. In the end he understands me and says: “But sir, that is quite far away”. I am getting nowhere with this man. In the meantime, I feel myself getting irritated with all the wetness and getting cold. I will just have to buy a map. They don’t appear to have any at the gas station, where they direct me to the village. After trying three stores I finally have a map. I decide to have some lunch at Wendy’s.
It is noon and I stay inside for an hour to dry and warm up a bit. In conversation with the owner it appears that he has Dutch parents, his last name is ‘van Loo”. He says he volunteers to raise money to fight cancer after he lost a good friend of his. He asks if the media are paying any attention to me here. I tell him that I have not been able to organize that since the sudden change of my trip. He says to have connections to some people in the media in Montreal, but realizes that I have already left the city, and it may be too late. In Canada the media work very locally. He promises to do what he can.
After I am dry and warmed up and having enjoyed a free coffee and even received a donation from the owner, I get back on the road. He gave me exact directions and I suddenly feel like I am flying over the road. I can do speeds of 23.5 km/hr here. I could have only dreamed of that in Newfoundland. I don’t see any aggressive drivers; they all carefully drive around me. I see several police cars and they seem to be alright with me riding on the roads and there is no reason for that to be any different. I notice that the sky is darkening ahead of me; that is not good news. But, although I drive over some wet roads later, it does stay dry where I am. Lucky me!
Around 4:00 pm I arrive in Rigaud and soon find a motel, simple but cheap. Unfortunately the Chinese owners only speak Chinese or French and just a few words of English. They are very friendly and impressed by my bicycle which they all come to see.
First I have a shower and a little futher downthe road I have dinner. The weather is great now and I am seated at a table behind a sunny window. Wonderful! After I eat I go back to the motel and send out several emails to different media outlets. It is quite time consuming. I then write my blog, read the reactions on my website (which I love reading) and check Facebook after which I realize it is already 10:30 pm. Time to get some sleep. Tomorrow will be a new day and a long distance bike ride. Goodnight!"
Han Schomakers, editor
Translation by Sytske van der Veen