I sat sleepily in my seat, slumped against the window of
the Chi-Cheemaun ferry taking me from Manitoulin Island to Tobermory. Half
awake, I watched the open water of Lake Huron churn in the sun light. There
wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The Fathom Five islands near Tobermory were becoming
less hazy as they rose out of the water until I could see the rocky escarpment
shores and the stubby cedars. This was the moment I had been visualizing for
weeks. Thank you to the Owen Sound Transportation Company for the complimentary
Close to 10:30am, we unloaded from the ferry and waited
in the tourist town of Tobermory for my brother, dad, Tom, and Mia to arrive. I
put my bike together next to several people suiting up in full scuba gear.
Tobermory has lots of in-tact ship wrecks in the clear waters near its harbour,
so these waters are a popular destination for scuba divers.
Our family’s green, wheelchair accessible van pulled up.
I was feeling excited just waiting. Now the moment had arrived and I felt
overwhelmed. I couldn’t think clearly. I couldn’t say anything intelligent, or
much that was comprehensible. All I could do was smile and hug the people I
loved and had missed. Slowly, the situation became real. My chocolate lab,
Sandal (I know, weird name for a dog, but we had 2 cats, Sneakers and Slipper,
so we had to keep the theme), was totally confused that I had mystically appeared
in this foreign place after disappearing for so long.
I don’t think I’ve been away from my brother or dad for a
lengthier period in my life. Mia, Kerr’s communication assistant and family
friend had come up as well. Tom, my friend and co-worker from Cyclepath Yonge
and Eglinton (the bike shop I worked at in Toronto), had come to welcome us as
well. Tom is bmxer, not a road biker. He’s done long day trips mountain biking,
but never road biking. Today would be his first century ride. The weather couldn’t
have been better—not a cloud in the sky, a gentle westerly, and the perfect
temperature. The road we were on, Highway 6, was also pleasant to ride. It had
a smooth paved shoulder about 2 bikes wide. This was a huge improvement from
the last time I pedaled this road.
Kerr, my dad, and Mia drove back to our cottage, 100km
further south on the Bruce Peninsula. Tom and I began our pedal. It took us
over 60km to properly catch-up with each other. After Wiarton, about 15km from
our final destination, Tom and I acquired some company. Tracy (the president of
ISAAC Canada—our partner organization for Km4C), Burns (my dad), and Kerr had
pedaled out from the cottage to meet us en route. We switched Kerr’s Wike
Trailer over from my dad’s bike to my bike, and we were on our way. It felt
like the home stretch. I was hammering away, eager to arrive at the cottage. I
was so excited to get to my destination that Kerr and I got a ways ahead of the
group and ended up racing a school bus. It would stop, let a kid off, we would
pass it. It would pass us, and then stop…and so on. Eventually, the moment
came, and we cycled down the shaded dirt road to our cottage.
My mom (Gail) and Mia were waiting at the top of the driveway
for us. We all pedaled in, unpacked, changed, and then relaxed and caught up
properly in comfort; except for the mosquitos.
I also got to see our Kilometres for Communication
T-shirts for the first time! I had a sense of what they would look like, but
it’s not the same looking at proofs on the computer. Seeing the shirts in front
of me was another “Oh my gosh, this is happening” moment.