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Across to America

The celebration in St. Catharine's was quite an event. From 2 pm until 4 pm we huddled under the pavilions at Queenston park and ate peaches as the rain poured out of the sky. At about 3:50 the rain let up to a drizzle and we made our way to the natural amphitheater and stage. By the time the service had begun the rain had stopped and by 4:05 the sun was shining. Brian Walsh spoke concerning the fruits of the spirit and many of us agreed that his message was one of the best this summer. His invitation to us was to bear fruit with our lives as is instructed in scripture:

  • Be fruitful and multiply.
  • I will make of you a great nation that will bear much fruit.
  • Obey my word and you will be fruitful in all your ways.
  • You shall share the fruit of your labours, and the poor will glean from your fields.
  • Israel is a vineyard and the covenant God is the vinedresser.
  • In exile you are to be fruitful and multiply.
  • I will make the wilderness bloom and bear rich fruit.
  • They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall plant gardens and eat their fruit.

Convincing isn't it? Fruit bearing has been a part of day to day meditation this summer and I kinda felt like it would have been great to have had had these words spoken to me 8 weeks earlier. After a bit more thinking though I came to the understanding that where the rubber actually hits the road isn't on the bike tour. Things need to be thrown into action in day to day life... even more than they do while riding a bike across America because that's where I'll be in 7 days. So, while 8 weeks ago would have been nice, this week was more appropriate as these thoughts will likely stay fresher in my mind longer into September and I suppose that's what counts like I've already said.

Another bit that stood out to many of us was his use of the word generosity rather than goodness. It's a preference of translations from the original epistle (NRSV vs. NIV) but it was the source of our best conversation on the bus on the way back to the school where we were staying. I might relay a bit of that conversation at a later date when I figure it out more and have more time to type.

The departure from St. Catharine's was a quick one as our group made it's way towards the escarpment. The temperature was cool and the pace was really blazing as we made our way through the first 30 kms towards the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls. We even drafted a tiny tractor for a few hundred yards. Marc took a video which you can find here. If we thought the border crossing into Canada was smooth this one was way better. They just opened up three lanes and waved us through. No passport necessary as we had all been approved.

After checking out Goat Island on the American side of the falls we set out for Byron. We had a stiff cross-tailwind for the day and the effort to maintain mid thirties was negligible. The scenery of New York State thus far has been mostly farmland and quite comparable to Ontario but the hills seem to be getting slightly longer even though they're not very high.

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Newsletter #9

Here's the newsletter from SeatoSea communications headquarters: The link for end of week 8 which I missed linking to earlier, it's been available since Thursday. I guess I'm a bit behind the times.

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Blog Traffic

This past week I had more than two dozen people come up to me and tell me that they've been reading my blog. It's quite exciting to meet them and hear that even though it occasionally leads to a somewhat awkward conversation.

I decided to go back and look up my traffic statistics after meeting so many people this week compared with the rest of the summer. I met someone in Salt Lake City, someone in Sioux Center, a couple from near Madison and another at Palos Heights but I could count them all (and obviously still remember them). This week it wasn't quite the same. As I'm rolling up to the 15000 hits mark here's the list of cities with more than 100 website visitors.

City Visits
1 London 804
2 Calgary 733
3 Hamilton 595
4 Grand Rapids 542
5 Edmonton 269
6 Kent County 241
7 Toronto 224
8 Vancouver 192
9 Kingston 175
10 Charlottetown 153
11 Kitchener 141
12 Thorold 130
13 Mission 120

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Wrapping up the penultimate week

I departed Redeemer with Josh Nyenhuis and Bob Terpstra this morning around 8 am. There were more church stops planned this day than any before and there were only 75 kms to cover before arriving at camp. I brought zero food along and left with not even a drop of water in my bottle. I just had a wallet with my ID (which would prove useful later on) a bit of cash (which would prove useful later on) and some vitamin I* (vitamin I is what we're calling Ibuprofen around here as so many people are taking it. I would also prove useful later on).

We began with a ride along the top of the escarptment for about 30 kms. We were rolling along nicely enjoying the fact that we had less than 3 hours of cycling time to cover. George Vanderkuur caught our group and then started to push the pace just as we turned a bit and had a tailwind. Well that rolling along turned into a blazing pace as we were soon nudging the 60 kph mark on both the uphills and downhills. Tailwinds never last forever and we soon turned again and stopped for a freezie overlooking Hamilton and stopped for some cookies and water only 3 kms down the road at another farm.

I caught my best draft yet this summer behind an 18 foot high combine driving down the road at about 35 kph. It was moving at a nice cycling speed so it didn't require any effort to latch on and it was so bit I could stay more than 20 feet back and still get sucked along. Unfortunately that only lasted for about 1.5 miles.

At this point we turned left and plummeted down over the edge of the mountain towards the lake. The sign told us we had a 12% grade ahead and with a little of Jon's electrical tape, a leatherman and a little of my creativity we modified the sign to read 112% grade which seemed more appropriate. The first time down the hill was fun and I hit 79 kph sitting bolt upright and riding my brakes knowing that there was a stopsign at the bottom. After giving the hill a trial run Jon Vanderveen, David Teitsma and myself climbed back up (3 minutes 45 seconds compared to Bob's "you can't climb that hill in less than 10 minutes" estimate) and gave it a second run for the money. Without much effort at all and a lousy tuck that's manageable with a separated shoulder I still handily blasted my record out of the water for fastest speed ever. 86.8 kilometers per hour! John hit 90.2 kph!

So the next bit of the schedule I might get a tad consfused so if the order of stops doesn't match what you understand the geography of this bit of Ontario to be I apologize and you're probably right. Eritia Smit is a professional pastry chef and works at a bakery that's attached to a Dutch import store in Grimsby, both parts were worth a visit. They were serving free coffee and cake to cyclists and more than recouped their generosity by everyone stocking up on Dutch treats. It seemed as though everywhere we stopped later in the day people had a stroopwaffle in their hand from that shop or a poontsac filled with dubbelzout. Within 3 kms of that stop we rolled in to Shalom Evergreen home which is where many seniors with Dutch Herritage live from the southern bits of Ontario, they had coffee and more baking of course. Some wanted me to speak Dutch with them but I don't have the skills so I had to pass that task off to Alex VanGeest. From there to our next stop at the Grimsby CRC was one of the most entertaining sections of the day, I laughed the whole way there, all 300 meters of it. Fresh peaches and ice cream awaited us and my little group of cyclists merged with about 4 others making a pack of about 18 riders who wanted to pay a visit to one of the wineries along the road. We set out from the church and were not more than a mile down the road when Julie Zwart called out "turn right" and we pulled up to the Peninsula Ridge winery. Tastings were $0.50 each and they even let us pay with our stacks of American cash. Jonathan Stoner, Julie and myself did a tour of the red wine list and tried to name the tastes, then read the description and each then finished our glasses seeing again if we could actually taste what the sommelier described. The answer however, was not really. Over the course of the whole tasting I only successfully managed to say "cherry coke" and "A535" and "vanilla" which did match up with blackcherry, eukalyptus and vanilla. I'm 33% qualified I suppose in that sense but they get a whole heck of a lot more flavours than we could. The most interesting was green pepper which was completely correct but good luck getting any of us to identify it as such without being told. There's alot of money to be spent on this little game if you're interested in playing it. Still having an hour of riding (plus stops) ahead of us the wine tasting ended there and we were off.

About 5 miles down the road we had another stop serving actual lunch. A furthur 8 miles and we had more freezies at Pieter Pereboom's parents' house and maybe 2 miles after that had a blueberry stop at a CRC church in St Catherines. Now if you could imagine that we potentially didn't have enough stops Hans Doef and I managed to take on another and I finally got around to replacing my helmet after the crash. You won't spot me in photographs quite the same for the last week of the summer, I look a bit different and am hopefully alot safer.

So that crack on the helmet isn't supposed to be there just in case you weren't sure about that photo.

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From London...

The ride out of London began with a rather painful crawl out of my tent. A little slip on the grass with my good hand and I jarred the bad shoulder before I had put the brace on the day... not all things go exactly according to plan. I had arranged to depart camp with Andrew Aukema of Chatham for the day and we set out together anticipating that we might latch on to another group at some point. It turned out that it was Nathan Beach and Hans Doef who we caught within an hour of camp. Andrew competed in Ironman Louisville last summer about this time and has really backed off training to recover for a few months and then just to take a break from competition. It's obvious though that he's got experience on the bike, he's road smart just like George Vanderkurr and can climb rollers better than most others. While his muscles began to argue with him later in the day he's tough as nails and when he suggested "hey guys I'm hurting" and we didn't slow down for him he just bit the bullet and kept flying along. What a guy. Anyhow, we got along great and I'll have to say our group of 4 was one of the best riding crews of the summer. Andrew was out of practise, Nathan was hurting from pushing really hard in the TT the day before and I was the cripple with a shoulder brace... and then Hans Doef, well he was just Hans Doef and fit right in.

photo

The story of the day for the ride though was people people people. I counted 22 groups of people alongside the road waving and clapping from their lawn chairs as we went by in addition to the 4 "official" stops along the way. Churches from Ingersol, Woodstock, Brantford, and Brantford #2 all had baked goods and coffee and snacks and watermelon and gatorade and water and loads of other food. I never packed a lunch but brought along some leftover granola bars in my bike bag and never ate a single one.

The arrival at Redeemer was great. More food. They also gave us towels to shower with from their gym, what a luxury after using a travel towel for 8 weeks! after cleaning off I called up my cousin Carolyn who drove me out to Brampton where we visited my Pake at Holland Homes and met my Aunt Linda from Toronto. We then stopped by the cemetary where my Grandma had been buried 3 weeks prior. Of course it wasn't so easy to find the place exactly on the first try but I suppose that's appropriate. Grandma wouldn't have done it on the first try either. It was quite settling for me to stand there and turn around and survey the surroundings. I've got a good mental image of the spot which seems to bring a bit of peace. The three of us then drove back to Hamilton and saw Carolyn's house and then went with Brad for Indian for dinner. My request was "Indian or Asian, we don't get that at camp" and the choice was fantastic. I was the only non-veggie so chowed through the butter chicken alone but the rest was a few bites of one and a few bites of another from the vegetarian options, each of which was nicer than the chicken. Good thing I did them in that order.

For the night I did get another bed to sleep in as I stayed with my Grandmothers friends from Caledonia, Mike and Anne. We watched a bit of the news at 11 together to hear about the Olympics and just as I was getting up to go to bed there was a snippet saying "stay tuned for news about some cyclists riding through Hamilton" so of course we stayed tuned and it was a good thing. I was on the TV for about 1.5 seconds blasting past the camera with Hans Doef as we rode into Redeemer.

I did get a load of photos online from the velodrome and then a couple shots of the TT from Stephanie Webb's camera. I also mooched a photo of my road-rash from Eritia's blog which is also in the gallery.

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Loving the bike

The time-trial was set to go this morning beginning at 9 am and was to occur starting at the 45 km mark of the ride today. That meant I needed to leave at 7 am for sure but that was absolutely no trouble as I was staying at Cynthia Aukema's house with all of the perpetual early risers. I was on the road at a record time of 20 minutes before 7 and doodled my way along to the start point of the time trial an hour before my scheduled start time of 9:17 am. (I would be the 18th rider to leave)

I hopped off my bike and took a bit of a break for my bum and legs as more and more riders arrived. The funny one was Kyle Meyerink who was very nervous about the whole situation and wasn't afraid to let anyone know that fact. He had never raced before but is very strong and everyone was putting big expectations on him to really get out there and perform well. I on the other hand was testing out my new clavicle brace and people were just happy to see me out there going to give it a shot. Low expectations are great sometimes.

    How time trials work... at least on the C2C tour

  • Riders set off at 1 minute intervals from the start line and head down the road as fast as they can for 40 kms at which point we have our times taken which have the offset removed and we see who was fastest.
  • Normally a time trial is an out-and-back so that the wind has net-zero effect but people weren't interested in that so we dealt with a cross-headwind for the whole 40 kms.
  • Normally the race is done on a closed course but we had marshals out instead to give riders warning if they had to slow down at intersections but were ultimately at the mercy of traffic whether or not they had to stop.
photo photo photo photo

Like I mentioned I had hopes of 66 minutes which wouldn't be completely unreasonable in zero wind with my shoulder in such condition and no aero-bars which I couldn't use also because of the shoulder. (aerobars are at a minimum a mile-per-hour advantage so 2 minutes or so) I set off and pulled off equal splits for the first 2 10 km markers of 16:45. My third 10 kms had the toughest wind and I ran into a bit of trouble concentrating 17:13 seconds. In my final 10.65 kms I really had to hammer on the brakes at an intersection which torqued my shoulder and left side of my back and I was pretty sore, I collected myself well and with my finishing push managed 16:44 split there, my fastest split considering the extra 650 meters.

The results of the race were rather expected. Reuben Vyn stole the show by a full minute finishing in the 63 minute range, Jon Vanderveen claimed second a minute behind and Nick Ellens who was riding Andrw Aukema's TT bike claimed third 2 minutes back. Kyle Meyerink didn't crash into the ditch and didn't run out of steam halfway and didn't save too much for the second half, executing the race very well and proudly finishing in slot #4. I rounded out the top 5 and was content with 1:07:42 considering the headwind it would probably have been very close to 66 minutes in no-wind conditions. Eritia humbly accepted the award for fastest female.

Riding through London's Springbank park I decided to stop in at my mom's house while growing up... it's still there and I got a tour of the renovations by the current owner.

The hosts here organized a trip to the velodrome in London which is one of very few indoor cycling tracks in Canada and about 15 riders had a fanatastic time there.The track length is 128 meters compared with Edmonton's 333.3 meter track so everything feels much faster and the adrenaline really gets flowing. We got a bit of a lesson from a few of the coaches there and did a few drills riding around the track on the apron (the flat section just inside the track): accelerating and deccelerating: turning up and down over the "cote" (the blue strip) on the straightaways and doing a bit of fallen rider avoidance.

The jump from riding the apron to riding the sprinting lane on the track is a pretty exciting step, you just have to go for it. With about 7 at a time we hopped up there and all basically at the same time hopped up there. It felt a bit like this was something I'd prefer trying alone on the track but I was sandwiched right in there between Kyle Meyerink and Eritia Smit. I had to get it right on my first try and really had to hope everyone else did as well. Of course as seasoned pros it didn't end up being an issue and we were soon doing laps of the track!

After getting the first feel we each were given a chance to let it rip alone on the track and see how it felt to choose your own pace and select your own line. I felt like giving it a real shot at speed but found out rather quickly that while I of course have the legs to get that bike up there as far as kph is concerned I did not have the experience to keep it smoothly between the red and the black lines. I didn't crash but I did get the joking threat of having a chair thrown at me if I didn't slow down a bit. From there on out we rode as a group once more all in single file and by the end of that I did feel like I was beginning to collect the skills needed to keep a much straighter line. My problem had been assuming that at the end of the turn I would be spit out in a straight line and that is not at all the case. Getting out of the turn smoothly takes significantly more concentration than getting in.

Upon returning to camp I had my Aunt Anita waiting to find me... I had no idea she would be there so the detour to the velodrome perhaps wasn't such a great timeline choice but she did seem to know many people who were here and we did get to chat for quite a bit before she headed back north to the farm.

We've had a few days in a row where SeatoSea has been on the front page of the local paper. While it feels good and gets everyone excited it also does mean that the message of the tour's purpose is getting out there.

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