Last night we went out to an Italian restaurant where we met up with some of our other Brazilian friends who have also moved up from Brazil to work with Bombardier. I got to brush off some of the dust that's accumulated on my Portuguese and later got to catch up with my buddy Troy who I studied with at Carleton University.
The ride yesterday was fairly relaxed. I started from Montebello on the north side of the Ottawa river where I'd spent the prior evening with André and Daniel, friends of my friends Lucy and Dave out of Minneapolis. André and Daniel were great hosts - they have a place that they are renovating up on a lake just outside of Montebello. It's an old conference centre that has a lot of wide open space inside. After a swim in the lake they cooked me a great pasta dinner and we shared a bunch of travelling stories. They have spent a lot of time travelling around Central America. If you need a place to crash for a night you can find them on Couch Surfing as DosGringos. In the morning they made me a great omlet breakfast and we shared some more travelling stories. I was on the road again at about 11am for the 110km ride to Montreal. The ride was really nice - Quebec - from what I've seen so far is much more bike friendly than Ontario. I've been riding on a bike trail or 5 foot wide paved shoulder since I crossed the river at Ottawa. For lunch I stopped at a farmers/flea market that seemed to be really busy. I bought a bratwurst with sauerkraut and then some cherries and strawberries for desert. As I was preparing to get back on my bike a man came up to me and, in French with a really thick Quebecois accent, asked where I was riding. Two of his friends came up to see as well. One of them was a cyclist and shared a little about his riding experiences. I told them what I was doing and they gave me $10 and wished me well for the rest of my trip. Riding on toward Montreal the wind shifted and I found myself pushing through a stiff headwind. All was well though because I only had 30km to go. What was more worrisome were the storm clouds that seemed to be closing in on me. A few rain drops fell, but that's all. There are a lot of really nice houses on the north part of l'île Bizard. Apparently Montreal is home to the most expensive house in Canada. I had a short ferry ride that cost me a whopping $1.50. It was a short ride across the river and it saved me about 20 km of riding. A few km later I was at Valder's house.
Let's go back to my departure from Dunnville. I was on the road by about 9 am and had been meaning to stop by my friend Rachel's place since I heard that she had cancer about a year ago. She lived just down the road from my parents and in the past year I had driven by a few times but never found the time or the guts to stop and say hi. She used to pick berries at our farm when we were growing up and I always had a crush on her - my dad got lots of blueberries picked by me when Rachel was working :). In a last minute show of bravery I asked her to the prom.... we kind of lost touch after that. So, I finally stopped by to say hi and found that she was not there. I spoke to her dad who told me that she was in the hospital and had maybe two months to live. She has a brain tumor and it has robbed her sight and a lot of her ability to speak. I didn't get to see her but told her dad to say hi for me. Lesson - take the time to visit your friends and family while you can.
Moving onward through Binbrook a car stopped in front of me and the guy in the car had seen the sign on the back of my bike and wanted to know what I was up to and where I was riding. I told him some of my story and he wanted to help - he gave me $20 and wished me well for the rest of my trip.
Before I left Dunnville my mom had contacted her Mary Kay director who lives along the Lakeshore in Burlington to see if I could stop by for lunch and deliver a small package of Mary Kay product. Their names were Janice and Mike. They let me take a swim to cool off in their pool an then fed me some really delicious tomato sandwiches. We took a picture of me in the pink Cadillac and Janice with my bike. Cool people.
Riding through toward Toronto I was contacted by three different newspapers. One of them called me while I was riding and I tried to stop to answer the phone but my fingers hadn't healed yet and I didn't have enough strength to stop my bike before going over a curb. I didn't fall but the impact pinched my tube and bent my rim - thus, flat tire number 4. Luckily I was able to straighten my rim and get back on the road. Unfortunately, I missed the photographer for one of the papers. Then met another photographer for the Mississauga paper. He took my picture as I rode toward him. I stopped and introduced myself and he said I could continue riding and he would drive ahead to snap some more pictures. It was funny because for the next 7 or 8 km I kept seeing this photographer shooting pictures of me from the bushes, hanging over the railing on the underpasses and driving by my while shooting out of his window. I laughed.
I finally reached Toronto and went to Mountain Equipment Coop to meet Tim, the Toronto Huntington's Chapter President, and another photographer from the Toronto Sun. They were waiting for me as I rolled up to the MEC entrance. We shot some pics and conversed a bit and then I went in to the store to get some new waterproof shoe covers, a new pump, and restock my supply of energy bars.
Then I rode up to Tim's place at Yonge and Sheppard and we went out to a local Irish Pub for dinner and to meet some more of the Huntington's Chapter members. They're a really great group.
The next morning we had another meeting with the press at the North York Hospital and Tim decided to ride with me to Whitby. In Whitby I stopped by my cousin Heather's house to see my aunt Caroline who has Huntington's and who I hadn't seen for over 10 years. My mom and dad and sister came up to have lunch with us and give me another send off for the last part of my trip. Heather made us an awesome lunch and I got to visit a little with my aunt. It was quite surprising to see how much my aunt has changed since I saw her last. Huntington's disease has really taken it's toll. It gave me renewed drive and purpose for my trip and my cause. During the visit another newspaper and a local TV station came out to do stories about my ride - check out my press and contacts page to see the newspaper and TV clips.
I was back on the road by about 2pm and had an additional 90km to cover on my way up to Peterborough. It was a really hot day and I had no idea that there were so many hills on the rural roads between Toronto and Peterborough. During the ride a thunderstorm rolled over me that lasted for about 30 minutes and I got to test my new waterproof shoe covers - my feet stayed dry!
When I arrived in Peterborough there was another reporter waiting for me and some of the Peterborough Huntington's Chapter members were also waiting for me and applauded as I rode into the park where we had arranged to meet. June had arranged the meeting and offered to let me stay at her appartment. I got cleaned up and we went out for dinner to meet some more of the chapter members. They really looked after me and were all quite inspired by my ride. They had collected some money for me to support some the expenses for my trip - what a wonderful group of people! Thank-you for looking after me June!
The next morning we had arranged to meet with a paper in Cobourg, about 50 km south of Peterborough. Pat, June's brother in law, had offered to give me a ride to Cobourg and back in order to meet the paper. We met the paper, I gave them my story and then they had me ride around the fountain a few times while they snapped some pictures. Pat then drove me back to Peterborough and dropped me off on the far side of the city past the major traffic areas. On the way through we stopped to take a picture of the world's tallest lock - 45 feet.
Now I was on toward Madoc - it was a short ride of 70 km. I had arranged to stay with the son of a friend of my dad's, Jeff, who I knew worked for the Ontario Provincial Police but in what capacity I didn't know. Turns out he was a police officer and he had been following my progress on line. He timed is so that he arrived in his police car just in time for me to be going down a hill in a 50km/hr zone while I was doing 62 km/hr. He played it well and made me think he was giving me a ticket - then he introduced himself - we had a good laugh. He said meet "me at the station down the road and we'll cruise around until the end of his shift. When I got to the station we took a picture and then went out to deal with a domestic dispute between two neighbors. After the shift we put my bike in his truck and drove to his house about 25km south of Madoc. I met his fiancé and her son and friend. We took a swim in their pool and then had barbecued chicken and rice. We had a good visit. In the morning Jeff gave me a ride back up to Madoc where I made my way to Ottawa.
During the 180 km toward Ottawa I made good time despite a nearly constant 20kph cross wind. Jeff had stocked me up with turkey sandwiches, bananas, and an apple, so with my stockpile of Cliff bars I didn't need to stop to buy anything. I stopped a couple times to eat and was also stopped a couple times by motorists who wanted to help by giving me money. One was a fellow cyclist who was curious and eager to help with a donation of $20 and the other just drove up beside me with $5 in their hand and promptly drove on. I arrived at my sister's house in Kanata just before 6pm and had stopped at the store to get her a card because she had to put her dog, Tundra, down that day. I played with my niece, Riley, for a while and Shari ordered pizza for us. That evening I helped my brother in law install one of his garage doors. The next morning I played with Riley some more and visited with my sister. It was a good visit. Then I was off to the other side of Ottawa, Orleans, to see my friends Wayne and Sheri and their kids Liam and Taylor. On the way through Ottawa I stopped to take some pictures along the river and in front of the Parliament buildings.
At Wayne's we had a good time playing with the kids. Wayne and Sheri also fed me well. Sunday was a break day. I uploaded a few pictures and we went to the store to run some errands. Then we went to MEC to get new tires for my bike. When we came back, our other friends John & Heidi, Kin, and Don had come over and we made dinner and had a good visit. Oh, and the Ottawa Citizen came out to take a picture for the newspaper.
Looking at my map for the next day and the fact that my destination of Montebello was only 57 km from Wayne's house I decided to ride back in to Ottawa. It worked out well for me to meet with Sebastian, one of the other cyclists I had met riding across the prairies. We met at Second Cup on Dalhousie and Rideau St. We caught up on the details of our respective travel adventures and then rode together until Masson-Angers on the Quebec side of the Ottawa river. We had lunch at a little Chinese restaurant and then Sebastian caught the ferry across the river for his ride back to Ottawa. I continued on towards Montebello. At Montebello there is a Fairmont hotel which looked interesting so I rode in for a quick tour before heading out to the other side of town to meet André and Daniel.
Now we're doing some laundry and waiting for Valder to come home for dinner. Tomorrow I will be heading off toward Quebec City. I should make it to Trois Riviers tomorrow. It's funny, I've been speaking Portuguese all day and my fingers keep wanting to type Portuguese words...
Até logo amigos!