Hooray for Thunder Bay

<- Read the previous post: Rocks and Trees and Trees and Rocks and Water

Hi all, for the sake of getting this blog out, I am foregoing the photos until I get time to post them, hopefully in a few days. This will be a bit disjointed, but I will try to get my writeups back to normal as soon as I can catch up. Life is busy on the road.

Many of you have been sending us congratulations on our efforts to date, but we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Hillary’s Ride committee, who put in tons of work before we left and continue to today. Before the trip they were fundraising, arranaging concerts and other logistics, contacting charities, getting sponsorship, and organizing everything needed to be ready for launch.  They are still busy meeting, contacting media, updating the website, watching the budget, and the list goes on and on. Many of them are members of Bill’s family and long time friends. We’re here because of their hard work. I’d like to recognize all of them:

Betty jo Werthmann, Katie Chapman, Peter Chapman, Linda Werthmann, Heather Hanson, Bill and Sharon Taylor, Randy Zutter, Donna Wiznura, Cheryl Ann Orr, Rosalie Gelderman, Terry Heisler.

There are also many, many other volunteers who have helped with our fundraisers and concerts including Edmonton and Calgary, musicians who have donated their time and talents, media folks who have lent their support, businesses who have donated money and gifts in kind.  I couldn’t begin to list them all, and I know I would forget some due to the sheer volume. Please know that your efforts have made this project happen, and we love and appreciate each and every one of you.

Day 28 June 4 Tuesday

Dryden to Ignace

Our morning started cloudy today, but it wasn’t looking like rain, so we were pleased. We were camped just west of Dryden, so as we drove through town, we stopped to see their suspension bridge. The river was really raging, I wonder if it is only like this in spring.

We met 2 guys from France who were doing the cross-Canada trip at a neck-breaking speed, about 160-200 kms a day. They were plagued with flats (about 12), and we gave them a spare tube as they had run out.  To be honest, they weren’t very friendly or talkative, so they went on their way with much conversation.

Of note today:

We all met for lunch today – our 4, Derick, and Brian and Bob (now affectionately known as Brob). Because we have the RV, and can carry food, we are becoming the hosts of group get togethers and meals. It is really nice to be able to get to know our fellow cyclists better.

We ran across a lot of bridge construction, and several trucks with arms for wind generators – you don’t see that every day.

When we got into Ignace, we all stopped for ice cream, and met 3 sisters heading from Edmonton to Moncton – Janice, Donna and Valerie and their dog Ruby.  The one sister was moving back home, and the other two were picking her up. It was unusual to see a vehicle with Alberta plates.

Brian and Bob joined us for a fish dinner at the RV, Al went for an inaugural swim in the first campsite lake with a dock, and Kaitlyn and Emily joined us for hot chocolate and cookies when they arrived later in the evening.

See some of Al’s photos from day 28

Day 29 June 5 Wednesday

Ignace to Upsala

I’d like to report that the day was all bright and rosy for me, but I would be doing a disservice if I painted this journey as only upbeat and fun, because as with life in general, “the sun can’t shine every day”.

I woke up tired, and not feeling like getting on my bike.  Although it was a beautiful morning, it was breezy yet again, and it was coming out of the east. After more than three weeks of headwind, ranging from a steady breeze to a brick wall, I had just about had it. My positive outlook was wearing a bit thin, and I was feeling grumpy and sorry for myself.

My very caring and wise husband gave me a little statuette before he left for home from Lethbridge. It was Ganesha, who is a Hindu/Yoga deity with an elephant’s head, and is the “remover of obstacles”. I thought of him while I was slogging away against the wind, asking the universe to help me remove this obstacle. Not the wind, but my resistance to it. The Buddhists believe that the root cause of all human suffering is attachment – to a person, a thing, an idea, an expectation. I was getting pretty attached to the idea of a tailwind, and I was starting to feel weak and a bit defeated. And when you are out on the road day after day with hours to think, it is easy to sink into your thoughts and let the darker ones bring you down.

I was also disheartened a bit with the response, or lack of one, we had been getting recently from people we talked to. They were friendly and supportive, but seemed to want to talk more about the bike ride than hear about the cause. I had been surprised and encouraged at how open the mental health discussions had been at the beginning of the trip, but it seemed now that maybe the taboo or the shame was still strong, and that I was being naïve thinking things were changing. I started questioning whether it was I who had changed my approach to the conversations, or if it was because we were more off the beaten path. On and on the doubts went, and I felt like I wasn’t doing enough.

We had decided to do 20 kms (10 kms out and back) at the end of the day, to make up some extra distance so we didn’t have a really long day the following day. Something got into me, and I felt like I needed to prove to myself (and the wind) that I was not going to give in to this “victim” feeling. Frustration is a remarkably good energy source, and I hammered it for the 10 kms. I still had pent up “venom” in me, so I continued on for another  5 km, just to burn it off.

Once I turned around, and had the tailwind behind me, I was flying at almost 40 km/h without even breaking a sweat. It dawned on me how hard I had been working for days, and that none of this had been coming easily for us, and all of a sudden I was just so aware of what we had accomplished over these last few weeks. I also realized that not everyone was going to open up, but maybe we had planted some seeds of acceptance and understanding. The doubt melted away, and I got back to the campsite renewed and feeling stronger. It was just what the doctor had ordered.

Of course this was just my experience for the day. We all have our own personal struggles and demons, and I can only imagine what Bill, Terry and Al face inside on a daily basis. I think we are all learning more and more to have compassion for each other and our inner world. This is a journey on so many different levels.

Everyone had moose sightings today except me. I found my elephant instead.

See Al’s photos from Day 29

Day 30 June 6 Thursday

Upsala to Thunder Bay

We woke up to mist on the lake, it was so still and peaceful by the water, early in the morning.

More animal sightings today – moose, badgers, a big turtle, even a black bear in the distance. I have still not seen any of these. Maybe I should lift my head up from the road a bit more often……

And we passed the point where all streams now flow to the Atlantic – so we must be half way to the end, right?

We met another cross country cyclist, this time heading west from Michigan to Seattle.  Aaron said his friends all told him he was going the wrong way, but he has ended up having the wind on his side (or should I say his back), so who is laughing now? We are finding an entire bicyclist community that tours across the country, and I feel like I am part of some well hidden secret club. At any given time there are people on great adventures all around us, and we don’t have a clue. Makes you look at strangers differently, wondering what their stories and journeys are.

We had a climb up to the KOA campground we were staying at, but at the top was treated to our first amazing view of the vast Lake Superior, and the “Sleeping Giant”, a peninsula that looks like, well, just that.

We decided to rent a minivan for our day off, as we are trying to save gas and mileage costs on the RV. Bill rode his bike to Enterprise to pick up the van, and then we all dropped off our bikes off at Rollin’ Thunder bike shop, for another safety check up. Thanks to Dan for his expertise and time – all gratis!!

We went to Boston Pizza again for dinner. We like it because it has a diverse menu, for all our different tastes. And the management again gave us a discount – thank you BP Thunder Bay! After dinner, we took the scenic route home along the lakeshore, and stopped at the cascades, backlit by the setting sun. Across the road, there was some remote car racing going on – perfect after dinner free entertainment. Wow, can those things go.

See Al’s photos from day 30

Day 31 June 7 Friday

Day off in Thunder Bay

I think we were all really glad to have a break. After a morning of laundry, we all piled into the minivan to be actual tourists. We left finding a restaurant for breakfast a little late, thinking we would find one in Thunder Bay quite easily. But not so. I was ready to gnaw on someone’s arm, as was everyone else, so we stopped to ask a local the best place to go. She recommended Tiffany’s just down the street – and then of course we were all singing “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to take our minds off our hunger, while Bill found it on the GPS and started heading there. Turns out Tiffany’s was closed down, so we went to Tina’s instead. It was not just down the street, so by the time we got there we were about ready to go in the back and take the cook hostage. It ended up being worth the wait because it was really good.

We then headed to Kakadeka Falls, about 20 mins out of town. Impressive falls, met up with Kaitlyn and Emily and the friends they were staying with. The sun was bright, it was a great day for touring.

Then massages was in order, and we all got in at 2:00 to see different therapists. Then groceries.  On the way home, we stopped at a monument that is very meaningful for all of us – the Terry Fox Lookout. It is the area where he ended his Marathon of Hope due to return of his cancer. We all reflected on his courage and how he inspired his fellow Canadians, including all of us, to challenge personal limits and be of service. There we met another trio of cyclists making their way across Canada – 3 gals from Victoria. How’s this for an unbelievable coincidence… they were cycling for Need2, the charity in Victoria who put on our wonderful kick-off concert.  They had left on April 27th, and it was just by luck (or divine luck) that they met up with us at that time.

We got home later than planned, so had to hurry back to the car rental place. We were going to have them drop us off at the bike shop, so we could pick up our trusty steeds and cycle back home. I took a chance and asked our driver Mallory if she would let us load our bikes and drive us back to the RV site. I really didn’t want to ride on my day off, and get all sweaty again, and get home later for our BBQ dinner. She was happy to, which was wonderful as we had a great conversation with her about mental health issues – she is taking psychology at university, and emphasized how important it is to go out to the schools to talk about these issues with students. This will help increase understanding, and also help peers recognize signs of depression or other illnesses in their classmates and friends, so they can help rather than ostracize others for behaving differently.

We had a great barbecue of hamburgers and hot dogs (thanks for doing the flippin’ Brian) back at the RV, and finished in time for Bill to do his phone interview with Andy Donnelly on CKUA. He had been trying to do it for 5 weeks now, so we were happy when the planets lined up and cell phone reception cooperated to make it happen. We all crowded around the laptop to listen to the Celtic Show stream, as Bill walked in a nearby field as he chatted with Andy.

So, another rest day come and gone quickly. Onto the next leg of our journey.

See Al’s photos from day 31

Read the next post: The Long and the Flat of it ->

9 thoughts on “Hooray for Thunder Bay

  1. Mary Clark - sends you hearty congratulations on the fantastic work you are doing. on said:

    Hi Sue – Has anyone told you that you have to also cycle back home to St Albert? Keep uo the good work, and one day at a time. Each day passed is one day less you have to journey……

  2. Dear Sue and Team,
    Thank-you for taking the time to post the ramblings. I enjoy reading them. I can only imagine the personal journey this trip is turning out to be. No doubt there are highs and lows. We had a great turn out for Robbie’s walk for ALS today in Edmonton. Very inspiring the courage and strength. So much wonderfulness is happening everywhere.

  3. You are all so amazing…I can’t believe it’s been a whole month since you have started….what progress you have made, not just in mileage, but in the way people are opening up to you about mental health. You are bound to run into a lot of people who don’t want to talk about mental health, there is still such a stigma around it….don’t get discouraged….Angels who left this world too early because they lost their battles with mental health are watching over you and cheering you on…keep on keepin’ on

  4. Hey there Sue, Still checking in daily to see how the adventure is going for you all and I am enjoying seeing Canada through your words and photos. As usual you guys are doing awesome and continue to inspire me with your journey. I love the daily blogs and I especially loved the honesty of Day 29 June 5…. it was very insightful and really, how can there not be tough days in this big challenge. Thanks for the honesty and for sharing this journey with us all! Hugs to you all! 🙂

  5. Hi Sue,

    It was great to hear your voice yesterday and read your blog today. We all had extra dessert in honour of you and your team. Love to read your posts. Keep up the good work and let Ganesh remove all obstacles in your path!


  6. Enjoying very much reading your updates and continuing best wishes on your journey… look forward to seeing you in Halifax.

  7. Dear Sue ,
    I was at the Victoria concert and having been following your Ride for Hillary . I must say that I am truly inspired by this cause . My friend Paddy Miller lost her son Michael to suicide and she and a friend rode across Canada in his memory and to also raise awareness.
    Thank you for writing your blog – I am enjoying it immensely and you know that there are many of us cheering you on . Bravo to you and the boys !
    Kakebeka Falls is beautiful .

    Veronica in Victoria

  8. Hey guys…. following your movement across this nation… I am so IMPRESSED!

    As I get ready to depart overseas this coming Father’s Day for my latest tour of duty, I am sending you best wishes and god speed. I will track what I can and look forward to sharing your story and cause with my compatriots…Hillary’s Ride deserves a nod, even from those of us in a land where such an activity is impossible at this time….so, despite trials and tribulations, persevere!… I look forward to sharing, in some way, your elation that will surely erupt at the finish!

  9. It’s hard to believe how far you have gotten in such a short time. I hope you are all feeling stronger than both physically and spiritually.
    Be glad you don’t have the spring weather we’re having today—cloudy and cool with a breeze.
    Soon you’ll be practising your French and then the end is near.
    Bonne Chance (I think that is correct),
    Lots of love from Alberta,
    Grace and Andrew

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