August 6, Sunday, Port Huron to London. Yes, Laura’s Ride officially became international this day. Although we were close to the Mexico border last summer, we never crossed over. This summer, we did cross the border, though the one to the north, not to the south. (I understand that Canada is planning a Wall to keep out all of the disaffected Americans who are trying to sneak in and that the plan is to get the USA to pay for it. Or maybe I am confusing that with some other crazy idea?)
Because bikes aren’t allowed on the bridge from Port Huron to the Canadian border, Ale drove me just over the bridge. The first few photos are from there.
I took off from there and enjoyed the roads, the lack of troublesome winds and the pretty countryside. I did 74 miles at 16.6 mph, which I was pleased with, especially since I did a few miles on unpaved roads which definitely reduces speed. There were enough rollers that I got in 1,550 feet of climbing. While I usually did my typical meandering up the hills, there were a couple of times that I actually pushed hard. It felt good, but I quickly talked myself out of that, reminding myself that I still have a lot of miles to go.
One photo is of Linda, a local rider I met when I lost internet service – having to do with international connections- and didn’t know which way to turn. Thank you, Linda, your directions worked and got me to a town on the way to London that had internet service, finally.
Speaking of London. My secretary, Maria – who just very recently became a grandmother due to Wyatt’s arrival – got a notice questioning whether a credit card charge in London was authorized. She knew I was in Canada, but wondered why a charge in London was on my card. That was like when i was in Canada with Sandi, Kat and Sal and made hotel reservations for Jasper, not realizing that the hotel was in Jasper, Alabama, not Jasper, Canada. That made it very awkward when we tried to find the hotel when we arrived in Jasper to start our ride to Banff.
So, once again I finished the ride feeling good. In fact, I beat Ale to the hotel because she had also lost the use of her map due to internet problems and took longer to find our motel than I did. For the same reason we didn’t meet up during my ride and I had wondered what happened to her especially since I hadn’t stopped at any stores along the way so hadn’t gotten my customary cola infusion. Probably the hardest part of the ride was negotiating traffic in London – a city of 200,000+ – to find our lodging.
Oh, I should mention having been chased by a dog, twice. The first time I was riding on a pretty country road that was bordered by farms. I heard a man yelling at a large dog who was charging at me while barking furiously. While the literature had warned of potentially dangerous dogs last summer in the South, I hadn’t seen any such warnings for this ride. Since he had the angle on me, approaching from ahead of me, I thought that trying to race him would, as Sal would say, not be prudent. So I stopped, figuring that being stationary would be less enticing than is a moving bicycle. (I have noticed that virtually all dogs have something against bicyclists, it’s just that most have been either fenced or tied up.) I have to say that my confidence in my stopping strategy was enhanced by the fact that the large charging dog was a Golden Retriever and I don’t think I have met a Golden that I didn’t like. Well, stopping worked because the dog also stopped and without me moving, he even paid attention to his owner who told me how friendly his dog is when he caught up with him. While I believed that, I wasn’t sure what even a friendly dog would do while chasing a moving cyclist.
The next dog who came running at me, also from the front, wasn’t a Golden Retriever. However, I still thought that he was likely to be less aggressive if I stopped than if I tried to ride by in front of him. So I again stopped. This time there was no owner to rescue me, but when I stopped, so did the dog and he in fact ran back toward his house. When he got far enough away I made a break for it, only to have him surprise me as to how fast he was. But I had enough distance, and the right angle, that after he initially closed the gap, I pulled away and left him behind. May all of the other dogs I encounter be while I am walking and they just want a pet or 2.
We had an enjoyable dinner at a Hungarian restaurant. I hadn’t had experience with Hungarian food, but Ale, who has lived in Germany, said it was very much like German food. In addition to having a good dinner – unlike the prior night’s very unenjoyable Thai food – we met Joe and Irene, a local couple. We learned that they motorcycle and have an adult son who is into bike racing, both mountain and road bikes. Because I had on a Laura’s Ride North t-shirt on, we ended up talking about our ride. I am in the photo with them, a photo that was taken just because we enjoyed their company and because they insisted that I be included in the photo with them. That means that we took their picture before we knew of the very generous donation they made to Laura’s Ride North through the website, a donation they must have made immediately upon getting home. THANK YOU, Irene and Joe both for your generous donation and for your equally generous comment. Both help me know that this ride has been worthwhile and the contribution is also appreciated by those who benefit through Lazarex Cancer Foundation.
After dinner we walked a couple of blocks to London’s rib fest, a carnival that featured numerous BBQ food trucks and even more trophies displayed at each truck to show the awards their various categories of food had won at fests throughout the area. Some of Ale’s photos are included.
August 7, Monday,London to Brantford. The roads outside of London started out ok; not great, but ok. And then I hit about 6 miles that made me think it was payback for the very good roads I had yesterday. 6 miles of newly graveled roads, that is. Instead of riding at 18-20 mph, I was doing 8-10 mph while hoping that I didn’t duplicate last year’s feat of falling a few times. When the gravel road finally came to a crossing highway, I stopped, determined to go left or right even though Google told me to continue straight for another 7 miles of what I assumed would continue as gravel. The problem was that the internet service out there was virtually nonexistent so I didn’t know whether to turn left or right. When a pickup turned onto the dirt road I was on, I flagged it down and got directions that turned out to be great, leading me to paved roads that were generally smooth although they did degrade to having those damnable creases that are bone rattling. That was decidedly better than the gravel had been, though.
A plus of the gravel route was that I saw a horse and buggy driven by someone for whom I think it was his only source of transportation, other than walking. In fact, there were at least a couple of road signs featuring a horse drawn buggy. The second point of interest was that I saw the first sheep I have seen on this trip, though they were domestic, not wild. Alas, no big horns while we were in Wyoming. I also saw the first goats a couple of days ago.
Despite thinking I was way to the north, and even farther to the east, I rode into Oakland today. That seemed like an awful lot of pedaling to gain so little distance.
Now, about making your summer longer. I was thinking of how often I have heard people say how their simmer had just flown by. And I was thinking of how for most of you, it seems like it has been only a short time since we left. Well, if you want to make the summer much longer, just use it for a cross country bike ride. Because for me it seems forever ago that we left Astoria. The time in the saddle seemed interminable. And I know that even the 8 few riding days that are left will seem much longer than just over a week. While I am very glad I have taken this journey, it has definitely stretched time out.
Tomorrow we return to the USA and the day after, in Niagra, will be the last rest day of the ride.
Good night for now,
P.S. I will for reasons to be explained then, answer questions about the number of flats and blown tires I have had after I reach Portsmouth.