Archive for October, 2011

Returning to Real Life

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

The trip wrapped up a week ago – but it’s been a long week of trying to return to a normal reality here in the real world. Of course, had I won the lottery I would still be out on the road and more than a little wet and cold right now, but I’d be more than alright with that.

I found it rather odd while out there, but the routine of packing camp, riding all day, and setting camp again at night becomes very normal. Even despite how foreign it might sound from here. But by my second week on the road I really was having trouble understanding my old routines of work each morning and an endless string of meetings – that whole process somehow seemed unreal from the road.

But in subtle ways I’m finding I haven’t returned to quite the same life – and that’s a good thing. My first shock was shortly after the best shower I’d had in three weeks…it seems I lost a little weight while out there, none of my jeans fit any more. I’m used to having to buy pants a few sizes too large to fit my cyclist’s thighs (I think there’s a business in there for someone) but I’m also now too small for my belt it would seem. But that’s alright, just need to punch a few new holes in that, there are far worse things in life. But those who know me well are used to my unhealthy addiction to coke (the legal beverage) and though there was always a bottle of flat coke in my frame bag on the road for quick hits of sugar, I haven’t been able to touch the stuff since returning. Again, this is a very good thing.

But there’s something more just under the surface – there’s something different in my mindset and attitude on life. I’m not quite sure what, or how it might manifest, but something…

In the mean time, I’ve got a pile of photos to sort through and some typing to do because I think there’s a book to come out of all this. Stay tuned. But while you’re waiting, why not catch up on my reports from the road starting from the beginning.

Another Soggy Day

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

I got a late start yesterday as I was expecting a short, easy day on the bike to get into Meaford, only about 70km away. So after some time visiting with family before leaving Wiarton I headed out and decided to take the scenic tour out along Colpoy’s Bay then back down the shores of Owen Sound. Should be a great ride.

At least that was my thought until I started descending off the escarpment and saw some dense, soggy weather settled over the South end of the bay. I ended up riding right into it. Not a normal, wet storm like I’d seen the past few days, but almost a wall of moisture, a very heavy fog, and it too soon had me soaked through. So much for the forecasted dry, sunny week.

But on the final leg into Owen Sound I found what should be a great overlook for photos on a better day, and I think a little bit of my family history. This lookout was a historic site for the Keppel Woman’s Institute, the oldest active women’s institute in the world the plaque tells me. It also told of their founding secretary back in 1897 was Janet McGregor. So since this is where my family is from in those days, it made for a kind of interesting random find.

Made the last 30km of my voyage on a nice but unremarkable rolling backroad and into Meaford early in the evening and setup camp. Each fall my parents stay at a great little campground in Meaford run by the Kinsmen club and the township, and that’s where I am now, waiting for them to arrive. We’ll spend a couple days here before heading home.

So that brings an end to the solo portion of my trip. 1550km so far, but I don’t foresee adding much big mileage with my parents in tow.

Until next time…

I Want to Ride my Bicycle

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

It seems that luck is back on my side. I’ve been getting word from all over the province tonight about heavy rains today while I had sunny skies until two this afternoon.

For those interested, the Bruce Rail Trail is mostly good but has some sections that are slow going – where they seemed to think that pouring three and four inch deep gravel is a good thing. Luckily those sections are relatively short and can be skirted around.

Today I made my way to the shores of Lake Huron at Southampton with the intention of heading North up the shore line to Sauble Beach, but while grabbing a bite there the winds were strong enough to have me unsteady even on foot. To head directly into that wind didn’t sound like a great idea, especially watching the storm roll down the lake, another reminder that weather on the lakes can be unpredictable.

Made my way inland there towards Hepworth and up to Wiarton to visit some family and spoiling myself with a hotel room and good meal, all the more important after running out of fuel for my camp stove

A Good, Blustery Day for a Ride

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

After yesterday’s little battle with hypothermia and last nights sub-freezing temperatures, I must admit that hotel bed felt pretty good this morning. So it was pretty late in the morning before I hit the road, and before it hit back. That wind was INSANE. Even as just a cross wind I was battling as though in a steep climb and struggling to stay at 12km/h at 80% effort. Then I turned the corner into Dundalk with the wind at my back and my speed shot up to 25 with a gentle spin. It actually pushed me up a small hill. I’d hate to think how slow I’d have been heading into it.

Dundalk is an interesting little farm town. The guy next to me at breakfast was dressed all in black and arrived in a horse drawn carriage. He kept looking over at me, who, thanks to the cold, blowy morning, was in full bike geek mode. Tight, thermal leggings, a bright, tight team warm up jacket, and a pair of Sidi boots that must have seemed straight off a star ship. But my favourite was still the guy who drove his lawn tractor, minus the mower, to the grocery store pulling a trailer. Why a trailer? So his two passengers had somewhere to sit.

But hit the road West again with the wind slightly at my back, until the road veered to the right a little and I had a full cross wind again. Feeling like an experiment I twisted my shoulders into the wind like a sail. And it worked! That’s a strong wind. But it made it all the better when I pulled into Neustadt and stopped by the brewery that shares the towns name. Stopped for a pint of the good stuff because how could you not?

But that’s when I noticed SPOT was giving me a low battery warning, and I didn’t have any replacements. The only place to get suitable batteries locally would be Hanover – ten kilometres straight into the wind. Now the wind had let up a little by this point, but it was still awfully tempting to just go without SPOT for a couple days.

Batteries ready I raced the run West to the rail trail that will take me to Southampton and found a place to camp just outside Walkerton. Don’t worry, I brought my own water… though I’m sure Walkerton now has some of the safest, most over-tested water in the province