A lot of people want to know what I do riding my bike all by myself. I don’t listen to music, however I do sing sometimes. Normally I just think.
Debates have waged as to whether I am an introvert, being able to pedal all by myself for days exchanging only a few words with waitresses at the greasy diners I stop in along the way, or an extrovert, for being able to land on the couches of randoms and connect with people I have never met before. Personally, I don’t like labels.
In my pedaling bliss I think about where I am going and where I have been. I think about the long climb ahead and the three 18 wheelers coming up behind me.
Spending time in Guelph is always great food for thought. I run into many people that I went to school with and it is interesting to see how our paths through young adulthood diverge and intersect. People like Jamie, a friend of mine doing his PhD, and Toronto Rush phenom, Cam Harris, with whom I had a philosophical lunch talking about the best way to eat a whale.
For my part, since leaving school, I have decided to take on life 6 months at a time always striving to do what is best for my personal development. I always try to evaluate the last 6 months of my life and plan for the next 6 in an effort to do what I think is best for me. The plan is to continue in this way until I turn 30 plus or minus a few years or a life changing event. I have some bigger picture goals that I would like to accomplish in that time period but why try and take on the whale that is life all at once when you can live it 6 months at a time.
My two hosts in Fergus, Hilary and Nate, have done some pretty awesome things with their living, I took Monday off in their company. Nate and I played a little tennis (Nate won) and did a tour of the gorge and then the three of us went out to play some trivia at the local bar. The next morning we said our goodbyes and I pumped up towards the Bruce Peninsula, hoping that one day my life might look a little bit like theirs as they start to settle down.
The weather was super agreeable for riding and I made camp not so far away from Owen Sound the first day. I knew the following day I would be in a bit of a time crunch as the ferry would be leaving Tobermory at 1:50 pm and I had over 100 Km to go. I had a choice to make: spending another night on the peninsula or getting a start on Northern Ontario. Rather than sitting back and enjoying the peninsula I decided I wanted to get a good jump on my trip and so I motored up and arrived in good time to catch the ferry.
I met two pretty cool cyclists on board and I was hoping we could keep one another company for a good stretch through Ontario but it turned out they were doing a loop and planned on heading East on the 17 whereas I would be turning West.
Manitoulin Island was beautiful and very cycle friendly I would highly recommend it as a cycling destination.
Coming off Manitoulin Island was a little hilly, but I am told that is just a warm up for the hills that are to come as I get farther North into Ontario. I was able to avoid Highway 17 for a little while but eventually had to give in to the TransCanada highway that will be my path for a little under 2 weeks in total until I get to Thunder Bay.
Northern Ontario is really just a few bugs away from being a paradise and there have been and will continue to be a lot of pictures that I should be taking.
It was a lazy noon tossing session that allowed me to connect with my current hosts in Sault Ste Marie. While tossing with my friend Sean, in Guelph, I looked down at the disc to see a logo for Sault Ultimate Players Association. It turns out that a buddy of mine, Jose, had picked up with the league in the Sault during a 6 month contract and had made some good contacts in the city, like the ones he connected me to: Evan and Angele.
Evan and Angele are known as Southies to people in the Sault as they are originally from Southern Ontario. They moved up here for work and picked up the sport of ultimate as a way to get to know people in the community. Ultimate being the what it is offered them the connection they were looking for and now a large portion of their group of friends are ultimate players. They have become a big part of the 150 person Sault Ultimate league, that runs two nights a week and is now starting up a youth night to try and grow the sport in the region.
Nothing promotes good relationships like shopping for spandex and I think that in the aisles of Ardene, the women’s accessory store, is where Evan, Angele, and I really bonded. I had forgotten my original leggings a few days early in a diner after changing into shorts for the hot weather. This had put me in a sour mood and although delighted to see the Ontario Bear Wise sign 60 Km later, where I first discovered they were missing, it could not replace the bottoms I had misplaced.
Both of my Sault hosts were really eager to help out in my search for a replacement and were strong promoters of the leopard print option, which, unfortunately, was not in my size. These new friends and I had only exchanged a few emails, but they opened their doors to me and have given me a place to stay for my day off and been amazing hosts. They had a BBQ last night with a theme of funny hats and we had a great time playing some cups in the backyard and then watching a movie projected onto the side of the shed. It looks like we might even get in a game of pick up ultimate and go for some ice cream afterwards.
I am now two months and over 3000 Km into this adventure. When I first started envisioning this trip, Northern Ontario was one of the scariest parts I had to plan for. Moving through the vast expanse of nothing was a daunting task and I wasn’t sure I was up to it. With hosts like Evan and Angele it definitely seems much more manageable.
So how do you take on a bike ride through a province the size of Ontario? The same way you would eat a whale: one bite at a time.