Day 44 – Owen Sound to Toronto, ON – 198km

My dad was kind enough to give Tom and I a drive into
Owen Sound at quarter to eight in the morning so we could start where we had
left off. Stacy McDougall and her mother were waiting in the Farmers’ Market
parking lot. We said our farewells, and then we were off in the morning light
to begin our long pedal to Toronto. It was difficult to leave Owen Sound, but I
was also excited to be arriving at my house later in the day.

Departing the Owen Sound Farmer's Market in the morning light

Highway 6/10 from Owen Sound to Chatsworth was junk. It
was rutted; there was minimal shoulder, pot holes, and coarse gravel for good
measure to frustrate the roadies. Luckily, the road was deserted on this early
morning and any traffic was going in the opposite direction, escaping to the
Bruce Peninsula for the long weekend.

After 20km of pedaling on the main highway, Tom and I
turned onto a quiet, paved country road. We took up the whole road, cruising
and weaving across the whole road, enjoying the weather. Our mellow paved road
turned into an adventure. The pavement ended, and surface became finely packed
dirt—quite do-able for road bikes still. Then the steep rolling hills met us.
Pedaling became less efficient but more exhilarating. Then the rutted pot holes
and coarse gravel began. The road decided it didn’t want to be straight. It
started weaving. I swear it did several U’s, putting us back in the direction
we came from. We saw signs that said “no trespassing” nailed to trees. We
wondered if we were going down someone’s really long driveway. There were still
signs marking the sharp turns in the road, and we didn’t feel like pedaling
back over all of the loose gravel, pot-holed, rolling-hill, mysterious road we
had been cycling—sunken losses. We kept biking on this road that no road bike
with slick skinny tires should ever ride. Tom and I are mountain bikers and
bmxers at heart. We didn’t slow down. We were speeding down these steep hills,
swerving around pot holes, bunny hopping over loose gravel to the next patch of
packed dirt, uncertain where this unmarked road would end up. Eventually, we
ended up at a road with a name I recognized. No more back roads. It was time to
make some better time and make our way back to the highway.

We cycled to Flesherton, about 60km from our start point.
At this point, Tom hopped in the support vehicle. He promised me a 100km that
day (200km on his second day of road riding was pushing it a bit). He wanted to
join me for the last 50km, so I was alone for the middle portion. There wasn’t
much wind, so I cranked it south and made some great time. By now, the Canada
Day traffic was intense, but it was going in the opposite direction. My side of
the highway was empty. Normally there are a couple cars at the most every
couple of kilometres on highway 10. Today there was literally a
bumper-to-bumper traffic jam from Toronto to Owen Sound. I was coasting by all
these frustrated drivers, feeling quite grateful that I wasn’t part of their
bumper parade.

Not far from Toronto, but still in the country, I was cycling
on a side road near Caledon. A silver Pontiac Sunfire passed me. It had 4 or 5
people in the car. Some prick decided to toss a drink out the window at me.
They missed me. However, they weren’t too clever, like most people who risk the
lives of others on the road. We were going down a hill. I was going about
50km/hr. There were speed bumps on this hill, that don’t mean anything for
bikes, but certainly know how to retaliate against the speeding car. I watched
this car awkwardly speed away from me and then slam its suspension on a speed
bump. There was a hamlet at the bottom of the hill. There was a 4-way stop sign
intersection at the bottom of the hill.
They had to come to a stop and I caught up. I pulled up beside them—a
bunch of 16/17 year olds cowering, trying not to make eye contact. So many
options: the old unscrew the water bottle and splash it; I had a melted
chocolate peanut butter power bar in my back pouch that could make a mess of
any upholstery. I could ignore them, but that wouldn’t be fun. I could flip out
and go ape, but I don’t consider violence. I started with a glare. I loosened
off the muscles in my face, and grinned slightly: “you missed me”. I think they
were astounded by my reaction. Then I gave the kid in the front passenger seat
a squirt from my water bottle. He didn’t get soaked so he didn’t have much to
be angry about, but my message was clear. I think I made him look pathetic in
front of his friends. I don’t want to make strangers angry. As a cyclist, I
have the most skin to loose. It’s important not to antagonize strangers driving
thousand pound objects of metal, whose temper I don’t know.

Tom got back on his bike just north of Brampton. We
cycled the 50km into Toronto on unusually quiet suburban arterials (due to the
long weekend escape). It was fairly uneventful. After passing through coastal
mountains, Canada’s desert, the Rockies, the Prairies, and the shores of
Superior and Huron, I was alas at home…That sentence had a tone of “Hooray!
Hoorah! I’m done!” but I assure you, I’m fully aware that I’ll be departing
again on Monday to embark on Part II of the journey. My whole family will be
with me, so this portion of the trip will have new routines and vibes.



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