Wednesday, April 22, 2015
This morning I received the latest updates and photos of Michael and his adventures. It looks like it is going easier than in Newfoundland. But that does not mean he has made it yet. Read on to see what he wrote:
"At 6:30 this morning I woke up, I packed my gear, made some sandwiches and put my packed bike outside. It is quite cool this morning but the weather seems to be getting better. The owner of the hotel just woke up when I want to leave at 7:20 am. I hand him the key but we don’t succeed in having a conversation because I can hardly understand him. He enthusiastically waves goodbye until I disappear out of sight. For some reason or another I practically fly over the road. It is quiet and I ride without any trouble at 29 km/h. I researched the route for today, but I don't quite know what to expect of it.
It is quiet on the road and everywhere I hear the sounds of spring. Birds are singing and flocks of geese fly overhead; it is beautiful. However the beauty of spring is balanced by dark clouds that loom in the direction where I'm riding. I am not worried though, it is dry where I am. When I get to an overpass it appears the road turns into a dirt road, which is wet and slippery but thankfully not with too many potholes. A few minutes later I feel the first raindrops. Right away I decide to put on my raincoat because the sky is dark enough that I don't want to take a chance.
As I am putting on my coat on this very quiet road I notice a big animal from the corner of my eyes. It's walking in my direction but because my glasses are fogged up I can’t see it clearly. I'm a litte scared. Is it a bear? Once I’ve wiped my glasses, I see a big Bouvier dog coming at me. Time to go, I think and jump on my bike. The big black dog starts to bark. I keep hearing him bark and that's a good thing I realize because then he isn’t running after me. When I look back in my mirror I don’t see anything, everything is dark and gray. So this was my first “wildlife” experience!
I have been cycling for quite a few hours when I arrive in Hawkesbury at 11:45 am. I was here back in 2008 and I immediately recognize the hotel. I have good memories of this place. It has changed a lot and is much more built up. I have breakfast at the A&W it doesn't take long or the entire place is going crazy when they hear about my cycling tour. The best thing is two old friends of well over 60, who are both giving me some wonderful advice.
The waitress, who I gave a wrist band to, supports me with a nice amount of money! What a sweetheart! I have my picture taken with her and the other ladies want to be in the picture as well. I stay for about an hour and just about everyone in the place is involved. I am happy with all the attention and excitement after a quiet morning. Another waitress buys a wristband and all of them wave goodbye when I leave. Such nice people they are!
A couple hours later I see a bicycle shop which also houses a flea market. I decide to stop and have a look. This is the first bicycle shop I encounter in Canada. They have second hand bikes that they restore and re-sell. My bike is getting a lot of attention because it is a really strong and decent bicycle with all the bells and whistles.
The shop owner surprises me with a bottle of maple syrup which is wonderful. I also get some water and have a nice chat. Everyone appreciates what I am doing as well as my courage. I am not too sure about the latter as I am worried about the weeks ahead and the challenges I have yet to face. I take it that Canadians are not avid cyclists and that the distances are too long. After a nice conversation, taking some photos and exchanging contact information, like my Facebook page and website, I realize it has stopped raining. I'm happy to have missed that shower! Once back on my bike the sky still looks threatening though, and it doesn't take long or I hear hail ringing my bicycle bell: it is coming down quite hard.
I see a lightning flash and hear thunder in the distance. Oh dear, that's going to be interesting on this wide and flat road. I detect some very small houses in the distance and decide to pick up my speed. The bad weather is getting closer: flash, bam: it startles me. I turn into the drive way of a farm and I drive right into the barn through the open doors. Now the hail is really coming down accompanied by sounds of thunder, but now that I'm sheltered, I am actually enjoying it! It lasts about 10 minutes and then it's all over. I continue my trip and noticed that it has been pretty bad in the next village. Great big puddles everywhere and overflowing eaves and now that the sun is shining again the water is evaporating off the asphalt; some weather!!
Up untill now the biking goes really nicely but about 30 km before my destination of Clarence Rockland, I get trouble with my knee; it's getting worse and worse. I remember noticing this morning that something wasn't right when I took my foot out of the toe clip. After about 10 kms the pain starts to get worse. I realize that this road is on an incline that is hardly noticeable and soon I really have to stop. The pain subsides somewhat, but when I go back on the bike it seems to return. That does not make things better with still 8 km to go in pain.
In Clarence Rockland there appears to be just one hotel which I find after a bit of searching. It is really beautiful here and again the people are very enthusiastic about my journey. They ask if they can take pictures of me in front of the hotel to put on Facebook, to which I agree when they promiste to promote my tour. Once in my room, I check my mail and am surprised to find a response from the Ottawa Citizen, a large regional newspaper. They request to contact them for an interview. About 10 minutes after the interview, they send an email letting me know that the article will be run and that they would like to send a photographer to take some pictures. If all goes well, it will be in the Friday paper.
Here is what I plan to do in the next few days in Ottawa:
- I want to visit the statue of “The Man With Two Hats”;
- I want to see the exhibition about Terry Fox in the Canadian Museum of History;
- I would like to visit cancer patients in a Hospital to chat with them and to give them some support and hope.
That last one I am not sure if I can actually accomplish.
I have shower, I get changed, do some emails and then I go and have a bite to eat. When I go to bed I feel quite satisfied with my first 90 km trip!"
Han Schomakers, editor
Translation by Sytske van der Veen