Thursday, May 28, 2015
Yesterday was a day of rest for Michael and he did not ride a stage. Today he continues on. Michael obviously meets the necessary interesting people.
"I wake before my alarm goes off and first I have breakfast then I pack up my things. I ride out of the village of Schreiber at 8:30 AM.
Right away I am faced with some good climbing work but it doesn't go too badly. The weather is beautiful, but it is still cool. I enjoy the lovely weather and the beautiful surroundings. I have forgotten about the bears a little bit which makes the cycling much more appealing.
After the first long climb I descend into Pays Plat, a first Nations village. The crow is back! It is as if he is leading the way. Really, I have written about it before, there are a lot of crows around here. But I just seem to be unable to take a picture of one in such a way that it would describe my experience. Not that I have to, but I would really like to, because it is very special. Today I finally succeed! The crow is screeching and pointing me into the direction of the First Nations gas station. I stop by and have a cup of coffee.
I meet some First Nations here and I end up having an interesting conversation with someone. I ask him if he is Ojibwe and he confirms that he is half Ojibwe and half Crow. I also meet other First Nation people and have my picture taken with the man I spoke to about my tour and my healing here. Out of respect I cannot add those photographs, but he is a very special man. He exudes serenity and chooses his words carefully. True wisdom is what I want to call it and a very special experience that I would not have wanted to miss. When I sit outside quietly for a shile, I suddenly realize what it is I need to do and put some tobacco under a stone, right by the sign where I saw the crow. I am very grateful for all these beautiful moments.
Soon after I get back on my bike I am faced with another climb that is quite intense and I actually take off my coat. It is truly kilometers long with about 5 to 6% slope. That is quite tough. Thankfully I am also pleased to see a sign that tells me there is a 7% decline coming up!
I race down the hill with a top speed of 62 km/h. The view is beautiful, but suddenly parts of the road have very bad surface. I can't break in time, because there is too much loose gravel. Thankfully it goes well. I am so happy with my bicycle. It is really, really strong.
When I stop a little further down, it is as if I hear someone say: "There is a rock for you to take with you." But there's nobody there, it is really crazy. I look around and think that I might be taking these things a little too seriously. When I want to continue on, I see something glistening from the corner of my eye. Between all kinds of dark and red rocks is a small white stone partially translucent. That's it! I know exactly, that's the one. How strange is this? Sometimes I think it’s a little creepy, but it feels good.
I keep going for a while. I have to make a sanitary stop. When I get back on the road I see a cyclist approaching who is going rather fast.
It is Dave, he's from Ontario. He is biking from Halifax to Vancouver.” I have been trying to catch up with you all day”, he says. “I heard about you and I just wanted to meet you”. Dave tells me that he changed the course of his life rather drastically. He sold his house, his car and everything else and bought a bike and supplies to bike to Vancouver and to start a new life there. He is 30 years old and has been on the Canadian marathon team for years. We talk a little more and decide to continue on together. Dave is a good guy. He also met Oliver for a moment recently, and he was doing well.
The afternoon is going by quite fast and just before we reach Nipigon a car stops. In it are Dutch people. We have a short and interesting chat with them. They are from Schreiber, they know Morgan who I met yesterday and they had also heard about me. The man says he will give my card to King Willem Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands who are visiting Ontario and they will see them tomorrow. Fantastic!
Later Dave asks me how long I have known these people. “For about two seconds,” I say. He can hardly believe it. “What is it with you that you attract so many people?” “What do you mean?” I ask. I don't see it that way. Dave thinks it is weird that no one ever speaks to him and that I get so much attention...
A little later we arrive in Nipigon. I check into the motel and take my stuff inside. Then Dave and I go to eat something. Dave wants to ask if he can camp at the motel. We're expecting rain and even before we leave it's already raining. When we ask the owner, whose name happens to be Bearman (!) he offers to give me a different room so that David can sleep indoors. Dave asks if that's okay with me and I say “absolutely!”
We go to the new room and I show Dave my website. We talk a little longer about all our adventures. He is impressed with my website and my initiative and goal, and thinks I am very inspiring. “There is something about you that has helped me”, he says. “I was feeling tired and down, but after speaking with you for a couple of hours it's like I've been completely recharged.” I feel honoured.
Tomorrow we will try to reach Thunder Bay. According to the weather forecast that could mean biking 113 kms in the rain!"
Han Schomakers, editor
Translation by Sytske van der Veen