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Day 48 June 24 Monday
Day off in Ottawa
Ahhhhhh….another day off, I so look forward to these breaks. Today I got up at about 8:00, puttered around a bit, asked myself why I was up, and went back to bed for another hour or so. Happiness is sleeping in!! Terry was out and about long before I got up.
The only things I had to do today was take my bike in for a new computer and a safety check/tune up, and visit with Anna and her daughter Alicia, friends that Patrick and I met on our honeymoon cruise this winter. She works in the same building as the National Hotel and Suites where we were staying, so she met me for breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Anna describes herself as a real “social butterfly”, which is true because she seems to know everyone! She introduced me around to all the staff. While she worked, she generously lent me her SUV to pick up my bike, which was still with the RV in southwest Ottawa, so I could take it to the bike shop. It seemed very unusual to be away from my bike, as we have been inseparable (butt welded to seat) for almost 8 weeks at this point. Did I mention that I have a name for her? It’s Pinky Tuscadero, named after a character from the Happy Days series, because she has hot pink accents. She was named by Kim, a friend of mine from our triathlon club, who christened her on a bike trip to Drumheller. Anyway, Pinky and I have grown quite close. It is at times a love/hate relationship, but that is generally related to the cycling conditions, and not my trusty steed.
I took her to Kunstadt’s on Bank Street, and Chris took great care of her.
I now have a working computer, so I am no longer in the dark regarding my speed and distance. It’s amazing how sucked in you get with technology – I think it was good for me to ride “blind” for awhile, and focus on the journey rather than how fast or far I had gone. Anyway, I think I will make it all the way without a new chain or tires. Time will tell. Thanks to all the staff at Kunstadt’s who fit me in right away to guarantee I had my baby ready to ride the next day.
While I was out gallivanting, Terry was visiting museums, and Bill was slogging away in the RV doing a few fix ups, and some laundry. He got the raw end of that deal. I don’t envy him, it was stinking hot and humid out – 32 degrees with a humidex of 40 – and I was sweating like mad just standing in the RV, let alone working.
I met with Anna after she got off work, went to her house to pick up Alicia, and met her parents. We went out for some great Thai food, which was a nice change of pace – I love Thai coconut curries! Then the three of us were off to the concert at Greenfield’s Pub. It was a great venue, the staff were excellent and the layout was perfect for the concert. They had a pretty packed house, and I can say without a doubt that everyone who attended got to see THE best local talent the Ottawa roots scene has to offer. It was a very diverse line-up, with something for everyone.
It started with Keith Glass, doing a short set of his own songs. He’s a very talented artist, as he accompanied most of the other performers all evening.
Next was Brock Zeman, who I had seen before at the Northern Lights Folk Club in Edmonton. All the performers played about 3 or 4 songs because of the packed line up, and I was thrilled that he chose to play all of my favourites.
Maria Hawkins was up next, and I found her very inspiring – she has a great energy about her, she did songs you could sing along to like “Stand By Me,” doing her own unique rendition.
There were a lot of other artists that I had never heard before, and they spanned so many different genres that I felt I had been to a mini folk-fest. Bobby Watt entertained us with his celtic ballads, Ball and Chain did a mix of inspiring and melancholy songs, including one about the last cowboy in town, and Sneezy Waters played some good old tunes and spun some yarns about playing in Edmonton in the 60’s.
Greg Werthman, the organizer of the concert who is also Bill’s nephew, played some of his original music, and Bill did a song too and spoke about the ride and the cause.
I was totally blown away by Lynn Miles – she was very honest, and has an amazing range.
All the performers were very in touch with the mental health theme, and many of the songs and stories connected to our message loud and clear. I left feeling I had witnessed something very special and unique, and I’m sure I am not alone in that sentiment.
Our partner charity this evening, Parents’ Lifelines of Eastern Ontario, had a very successful evening. They shared that many in attendance not only picked up information about their services, but had some extensive conversations with the staff, and they received many donations. It is so gratifying when the charity is able to make connections with people who can benefit from what they offer. That is one of the goals of the ride.
A big thanks to the staff at Greenfield’s, all the performers who donated their time and talent, and especially to Greg and his lovely wife for all of the work they did to organize this great event.
Day 49 June 25 Tuesday
Cycling Around Ottawa
We had more changes to our planned route today. Rather than cycling out to Hawkesbury, and shuttling back, we decided to take advantage of the extensive network of bike trails that exist right in Ottawa and the surrounding areas instead. This gave us a chance to be tourists again, and experience the beauty of all the waterways in the Capital Region.
Any one following us on spot probably thought we were riding in circles – because we were! We covered lots of areas – the Rideau Canal, Rideau River, the Ottawa River, and even a jaunt over to Gatineau,
where we cycled in the somewhat cooler shade of their forested trails. It was still hot and humid, but I was surprised how much more comfortable it was cycling than walking or even standing still, as we were creating our own breeze. We saw all the historic buildings and the locks from the river, as well as some cool rock sculptures and scads of very territorial geese along the way. And of course we had to ride down Sussex and wave to Stephen.
We made a side-trip to Dustbane, a company Bill once worked for and now has as a supplier for his business. We got to meet many of the staff, and thank them for their generous donation to the ride. It was just starting to rain as we arrived, so it was a well-timed break. It continued to rain, but it was refreshing after the hot day, and soon the sun broke out again.
I discovered that the strange squeak that popped up just before Ottawa was not resolved with my initial visit yesterday, so it was not the derailleur as I thought. Another trip to Kunstadt’s and the detective work of Adam determined it was nothing serious like a bearing, just squeaky pedals. Whew! Those guys were just so helpful and accommodating!
We cycled back to Nix and Mal’s place, and Mal had been busy preparing us another delicious dinner of salmon, rice, veggies and ice cream for dessert– how spoiled are we?!
And guess who was there to greet us? Our long (okay, not really that long) lost support driver, bookkeeper and photographer Al! I hardly recognized him now that he is clean shaven and neatly coiffed. Sounds like he enjoyed the wedding, but he missed not being part of the concert action while he was gone. Great to have you back Al!
Terry and I had to say our goodbyes tonight,
as Al, Bill and the RV were coming to meet us at the hotel in the morning, since we were heading east from there first thing. I can’t tell you how great it’s been to meet all the people we have, and I don’t think I can ever thank everyone enough for their kind hospitality.
Day 50 June 26 Wednesday
Ottawa to Joliette
We were up and at ‘em, fed and watered and ready to roll at 8:00 am when the Mothership arrived to rendezvous. Karen from National Hotel came out to meet everyone and wish us well on our journey. Thank you again to Karen, and to Anna, for arranging us to spend our Ottawa days in comfort.
With our revised plan, we cycled 122 km to la Chute from Ottawa, then shuttled the remaining distance to Joliette, which we had covered the day before in Ottawa. Soon after leaving, the further east we travelled, the more evident it became that we were heading into a predominantly French-speaking area. None of us speak French, besides whatever we remember from junior high school, but we are managing to piece together enough words to order food, and luckily we have met some English-speaking proprietors who have been able to converse with us.
We had an impromptu conversation with Andre, who we met in the town of Alfred at our lunch stop, and Sylvie the owner. Andre spoke of a friend who had died of suicide, and how sometimes it is hard to understand why this happens when a person’s life looks really together from the outside. We never know the internal struggles that others deal with, and if they are fearful to share their challenges and keep it to themselves to avoid judgment or to maintain an image of “normalcy”, they can easily slip deeper into darkness and feel more and more isolated. We really need to make it okay to speak out about our internal pain and get the medical and other support we need, just as we would discuss and seek treatment for a broken leg. I know that sounds over-simplified, but I still believe it will one day be achievable on some level.
In the early afternoon, we crossed the Ottawa River once more and made our way into our sixth province, la belle Quebec (sorry if I’m butchering that translation). It took us almost a month to get through Ontario, which is about half of the total distance we covered to date. So although we enjoyed the entire province, we are glad to have it under our belt.
Quebec has a series of biking trails called La Route Verte, which cover most parts of the province. Shortly after crossing the border, we took one of these routes. It started out as a quiet paved road, but we then ran across a gravel section for about 1.5 kms, which is not so easy to ride when you have skinny tires. So we’ll have to be careful about taking these trails until we get a map, which appears to be hard to come by in some of the info centres.
Upon arrival at our home for the night, we discovered that the fridge and freezer were not running too well, and we had a major thaw. So the first thing we did was clean out all the perishables, which meant we needed to eat out tonight, and opted for something close and accessible and an easy-to-order-from menu – McDonalds. I’ve discovered their new Vanilla Chai Latte Frappes, and I am hooked – I’m already starting to dream of them at the end of each ride. This could spell trouble for the rest of the summer, especially once I get home and am not burning off thousands of calories a day.
I spent the evening trying to catch up on the blog, especially since there was so much to share about all the concerts. I’m getting there, slowly but surely.
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