Tuesday, 12 August 2014

August 10 - Day 67 - Ride Stats - Whycocomagh - Sydney

August 10 - Day 67 - Ride Stats - Whycocomagh - Sydney CLICK HERE then link below

August 9 - Day 66 - Ride Stats - Antigonish - Whycocomagh

August 9 - Day 66 - Ride Stats - Antigonish - Whycocomagh CLICK HERE then link below

August 8 - Day 65 - Ride Stats - PEI - Antigonish NS

August 8 - Day 65 - Ride Stats - PEI - Antigonish NS CLICK HERE then link below

August 7 - Day 64 - Ride Stats - PEI

August 7 - Day 64 - Ride Stats - PEI CLICK HERE then link below

August 12 - Day 1 - Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

As I sit here looking out on Georgian Bay from the cottage, kind of a muggy day with that predictable onshore breeze blowing steadily, I can't seem to put this thing to rest just yet.

I know I forgot to thank Kathie yesterday, and recognize her huge contribution to The Ride, as she was our contact with the outside world when we were stuck in the boonies somewhere with no internet access, and minimal cell coverage, our weatherman, schedule coordinator, and planning consultant.  Thanks Kathie.......couldn't have done it without your help.  Steve and Greg at GBC have provided Sid with his blog access, and reworked the GBC website to put The Ride C2C front and centre for all to see, and to make donating to the cause so much easier for all.  Thanks for everything.

But here I sit, my bike still in pieces out in the garage after unpacking from the shipping box........needs a damn good cleaning before I put it back together.........and I'm actually thinking about going out for a ride, but my shoes are still wet from the last few days of riding in the rain so will probably pass.  I need one of those good campground hand dryers to dry them out.

I hope Sid, Kathie, and Jon, are enjoying Newfoundland, wish them well on their travels, and that Sid has a great ride into St.Johns in a few days.

Some of you have asked about yesterdays blog title - "And In The End the route you take is equal to the route you make."...........a twist on a line from the song The End, the last song the Beatles recorded collectively on Abbey Road.......fitting I think.

I took a look at a map last night, and think I will do myself a favour, and read my own blog, following the map as I go.  So many memories, and probably just as many that need me to do this to be fresh in my mind once again.  The one thing that strikes me is just how far it is from Vancouver to Sydney, and when you look at it in one big chunk, it seems inconceivable that you could do it on a bicycle, but many people do.  I hope their experience equals or exceeds mine, and their memories last forever as I know mine will.

Monday, 11 August 2014

August 10 - Day 68 - AND IN THE END, The Route You Take is Equal to The Route You Make

I was more anxious than ever to get on the road this morning and log the last 90km on this amazing journey.  Even Sid will admit he was a little preoccupied with all his family around him, and understandably so, but I think he got the message and was ready to go after scoffing down a quick banana and glass of juice. We decided to stop down the road for a proper bite to eat, and were on our way quickly.  The morning spin brought us to Baddeck, and the only Timmy's for miles so you can imagine the lineup, but the coffee was hot and the breakfast sandwich excellent as usual.......oh, they also had coconut doughnuts and I couldn't resist.  It wasn't long after that when the convoy passed us......now Kelly and Michael in the Jetta, Cindy and Ian in their SUV, and Jon pulling the trailer.......all honking and waving to beat the band.
Last Camp Whycocomagh
Da Boys
Drying the shoes

The skies opened up, but as was the case yesterday, it just meant we had to be a bit more careful on the bike.......getting a little wet was old school.  It didn't quit for at least an hour, but by that time we were well into the ride and could smell the finish line.  Our last good climb of the trip was up and over Kellys Mountain (how fitting is that?) which was a 240m climb over 7km, and very Grey Road 19'ish in how it unfolded.  It was nice to know I could still make it up a decent hill after so much flat and rolling terrain, and would love to come back and ride more of the Cabot Trail, especially the coastal route on #19.......takers?..........

Then back down the hill and across this bridge

Sid and I knew we were getting close to Sydney as the km's were counting down on the road signs.  We stopped and had our moment at the side of the highway about 5km out.........hugs, and yes some tears, and an affirmation of the mutual respect we have for one another after completing this ride.  We will share this memory, the two of us, for the rest of our lives.

It wasn't always wine and roses out there, but let's be honest, you can't put two people with the will and determination to complete a ride like this, have them live in close quarters for 70 days, making many decisions daily, and have it be peachy keen every day of the week.  There was always one part of the day, every day, that was the best, and that was when we reached camp, shook hands and said "Good ride", and that made everything, everything else ok.
Cork popping
Drinky poo
Cheers Family

When we arrived at camp the cheers were deafening, and we found the crew had been out to purchase the best champagne Cape Breton had to offer, at least at the local liquor store.  Jon, who has been such a big part of this whole journey, popped the cork, and we each had our ceremonial guzzle from the bottle.  Photos and more photos followed, but eventually I got to sit down with a cold one and just exhale.  I still don't think it has totally sunk in, and I will likely wake tomorrow ready to get back on the bike for the days ride.

I knew this was the end for me, but Sid was going on to tour with Kathie and Jon in Nfld., and would be doing a ride into St.Johns later this week to wrap up his trip, so I decided to have a little private ride down to the waters edge, and recruited a couple from Ottawa (they charged me $20) to take some pictures of me doing the wheel dip in the Atlantic, and officially wrapped up mine.   I heard some music not far off, and found some locals playing tunes on a small covered stage just down the street. Got off the bike, sat my ass down, enjoyed the tunes, and had myself a moment to reflect on the last 68 days..........

Sid and Jon's ride to Nfld arriving

 There are many people to thank who have contributed so much to this ride without riding an nch, but have done so much and are a big part of The Ride.  Our sponsors have been extremely supportive, particularly Larry/Harbour Edge and GBC, Mike/Mike Jackson GM, and CanAm RV............everyone below stepped up and helped make this happen for us....................Jon did the bulk of the driving and was absolutely fantastic all the way........... Billy D took over for the tough Winnipeg to Collingwood leg, aided by his partner in crime Bill S.........together, "The Bill's", best crew you could ever ask for.........Tony Cicco who drove us from Collingwood to Montreal, bring more sauce from Mama next time, and who also put in some serious miles in the afternoon once his chores were done, and John Whitney who joined in Sault Ste. Marie and rode us home to Collingwood, providing some much welcomed new energy to the group, as well as pulling for yours truly the whole way home.  Our friends from CCC, the Meaford, Owen Sound, and Collingwood Hospitals, combined to create a great  ride into town in mid-July, Cathy T and family for stepping out of bounds at Loon Lake, Jeff for being such a gracious generous host in NB, and there are a ton of other people whose contribution was substantial and I will thank them individually when time permits.
Many thanks from me personally to Squire Johns for getting me out there with the proper equipment. It couldn't have worked better........Shane Mark John Ben........

But most of all, and so important to me, is the support I gained daily from everyone who chimed in and read the blog.  You have no idea of the charge it gave me to watch my number of visits go up daily on the blog stats that the Blogger App provides (now over 5,300).  Your messages and comments were fantastic, and I loved the fact that I could in some way share this ride with you.  I thought about you a lot when I was on the bike.  Shit, what else do you have to do on a twenty mile, flat straightaway, in Saskatchewan.

Did I say "most of all" in the last paragraph, so sorry..........I owe many people a lot of thanks, but none more than Jutta. Although she tried to kidnap me on the way through Collingwood in July, I know she was behind me the whole way, and without getting overly gushy here, simply said, she is everything to me.  That's it.

Parting shots...........................

I just don't know!

I love this......that's an eagle in the sky to the right

Checkered flag socks - Winnipeg
Rasta Crochet Gloves - Regina (Cool Ridin's Mon)
Saved them for my last day

The wheel dip

Yeah baby.......I'm coming home


August 9 - Day 67 - Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya to, Whycocomagh

I woke early this morning, anxious I guess to get on the road for my second last ride of the trip.  The weather looked great, but the forecast was for more rain, in fact it was supposed to be raining right now.  I went through my normal morning routine, but had to do some extra work on the bike after yesterdays ride in the rain.  A complete clean and lube was in order, so I wrapped that up and headed into the trailer for some chow.  It wasn't long before Sid and I were ready to go.

Jack playing catch with Poppa........some memories here.....special moments

Our morning two hour spin went well, covering what has become the usual 40-50km, the weather was holding, and after deciding just to stick with the Trans Canada today, the roads were great.  A familiar looking grey Jetta, Kelly's car, went past us a short time later with horn blaring and hands waving out the window, followed shortly by Jon with the trailer.  Both vehicles stopped up ahead, and we were greeted by everyone, including Kelly's husband Michael, who had arrived this morning after taking the red eye from Vancouver, and a shuttle to Antigonish from Halifax.  He noted that in less than 24 hours he had just travelled what it had taken us since June 4 to accomplish.........interesting thought.  Great to see him again since we last shook hands and said goodbye in Vancouver on Day1.  After a quick break it was back on the road.
Looking back at Antigonish.......St. Francis Xavier U standing out

The skies opened up on us once again with some intermittent heavy showers, and lots of the steady variety, but luckily there was only some distant thunder, and no lightning.  The temperature stayed warmish, so getting a little wet wasn't all that bad.  Can't believe I am saying that, as I have been known to postpone a ride just because of a threat of rain in Collingwood.  All in all it was a very nice ride, crossing onto Cape Breton Island, but I was happy to see the km's counting down as we neared Whycocomagh, our home for the evening.

Bridge over the canal as we get onto Cape Breton

Our night at camp was nothing short of fantastic.  Sid's other daughter Cindy arrived in Whycocomagh with her husband Ian and family, Zoe, Jamie, and Charlie, just in time for post ride brewskies, and it definitely brought some new life into the place, with a baseball game going on in one field, a steady string of contestants at the ping pong picnic table, and plans being made for dinner.  Even the late afternoon rain wouldn't keep us down, as the group simply moved to a recreation hall just up the hill, with BBQ, food, drinks, and dishes, all in tow.  Sid took a turn on the BBQ and turned out some great burgers and dogs.......couple of salads......couple of beers.......couldn't have been better.

Family dinner

Kelly teaching Michael a lesson

Lots of chatter today with new blood in camp.  Plenty of questions about the ride, and the fact that it is over for me tomorrow.  Wow......what a journey......hope I can make it up that last hill.

Some parting shots................

Not sure if this is mussels, scallops, or fish farm

Coming up tomorrow

There is an election in these parts soon, and this candidate decorated his front lawn with cutouts of some TV stars..........not sure if this is what I would want in a politician, but sure gets your attention

I didn't get a chance to try the McLobster, but where else  wold you expect to see this

Quarrying right by the lake........no trucking involved, just right onto the ship

OK, say this fast three times