Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Final Day!




Day 52 – Flesherton to Kitchener City Centre (Home!)

Having once been designated the “off day blogger” it would have been fair to presume that having had over 2 weeks of off days during which to write a blog that sums up my impressions and recollections of the final day of bike trip I would have had this finished by now instead of just starting the final days blog. However, another large trip got in the way which is why I’m writing this on plane above the Atlantic Ocean on the way to Rome…
And now the Europe trip is over, the bike trip has been done for 2 months and it's time to finally post the last day's blog.

The Final Day!
The final day was an interesting one for the wake up. It was to be a leisurely day of biking, with a mere 120kms to go before rolling into our welcoming party at Kitchener City Hall at 4pm, which would normally mean a leisurely wake up time. But on this day several factors forced us to awake at an excruciating 4:15am. The largest potential factor that forced this seemingly unnecessary amount of biking hours was precautionary as you can never predict the amount of unforeseen set-backs that can happen (remember the 6 flats in one day) but we were also hampered by not being on our own schedule and not wanting to be late to our three predetermined stops. The final factor was, quite simply, Kyle’s average speed having dropped significantly over the previous week due to very understandable mental and physical exhaustion.

Upon early waking I quietly made my way (begrudgingly) out of a very comfortable bed in my uncles house and downstairs to make breakfast. Though I didn’t know the kitchen layout the habits gained on the trip were in full display as I didn’t know what else to do except start cooking in the morning. Though wonderfully, my lovely Aunt Nancy woke up shortly after that and took over the cooking, so I used the new found leisure time to hop in a hot tub and further stretch out what had now become constantly tight and sore leg muscles. After a fantastic hot breakfast my grandmother arrived with our fresh washing proclaiming how our clothes needed washing twice since after one wash she wasn’t sure if they were clean – yes our stuff was that dirty. After donning our biking clothes we had a quick photo shoot before getting on our bikes to start the day - for the last time.

Personally, I was amazed at how unimportant that moment felt. Instead of being a grand moment full of sentiment and nostalgia it was just another start to a day of biking; though the expected sappy feelings would grow at an alarming rate with each stop along the way home.
After delaying briefly to pick up our bikes and walk through an almost impassable construction sight we cycled into Arthur for our last Timmies stop. Despite Jordan having a run in with an irritable elderly lady spirits were high since this stop wasn’t a real lunch, it was just a way to use up some time before our first scheduled stop and the long awaited reunion with Lindsay – at the sight where we would officially cross Canada at Forfar St. in Elora!
After the Timmies stop we got back on the bikes to make our way to Lindsay in Elora, with a steady and determined pace we managed to get there well ahead of schedule and right before unknowingly crossing the unremarkable looking (though grand in consequence) intersection Jordan had to call out “STOP!” and we all came to a screeching halt a few feet before officially crossing Canada. After a phone call to Lindsay and learning we had more time to kill we busted out the old faithful PB&J Sandwiches to provide sustenance during the wait while sharing stories of the trip with each other and trying to temper our enthusiasm for the upcoming moment. While we were eating our sandwiches the most important non-biking member of the B4B team showed up in a car totally decked out and painted in support of the conclusion of the trip – we were going to finish with one stylish entourage.


Forfar St. Elora - the point where we'd officially crossed Canada!
After the sandwiches were done Lindsay grabbed her camera and we three grabbed our bikes to coast over the intersection and pass the point where we could officially claim the exclusive designation of having biked across the second largest country in the world! The first daily milestone was marked by more pictures and a cheers with wine flutes filled with chocolate milk. It was a great moment that was immediately ensued by joking about just getting in the car and riding to the next scheduled stops in comfort and style. After the jokes we got back on our bikes and started peddling with the flashy support car bringing up the rear (and our panniers) on the 20km stretch to the Royal Distributing headquarters in Guelph.
The bike ride continued without incident though we were forced to adhere to normal traffic rules and street lights for the first time in ages; going was slow, but despite the underwhelming pace we were all excited to make it to the Royal Distributing headquarters for our second scheduled stop of the day.
Once we arrived at RD there was a pleasant surprise. Jordan’s family was waiting dressed in “B4B Team Jordan” t-shirts and the entire RD crew were out to welcome us and their bicycles in. We spent a good hour getting interviewed and filmed for a couple YouTube spots and Jordan got to spend time catching up the members of his family he hadn't seen since the wedding.
Once we decided to get back on the road we delayed a little more to adjust for the Tri-City traffic and amend our route to take more back roads on which Jordan, Kyle and I could really stretch our legs and push ourselves as fast as we could for the final 25 kms of our epic journey. We also had the luxury of a 5 car entourage and our second member of the Schmidt family to bike with us as Jordan’s dad Lloyd hopped on his road bike and took off at a wonderfully rigorous pace as we delightedly sped towards the end of our trip and greatest milestone of our lives.
We budgeted about an hour to get to the City Hall, but, knowing we didn't have to get on a bike the next day and once done we’d actually be done, we pushed ourselves hard! It was one of the most enjoyable bike rides of my life. The scenery wasn’t spectacular, but it was home. We passed signs we’d driven by in our day to day lives for years, we passed fields and streets that had associated memories, and, we were constantly moving measurable and significant distances towards being done. In fact, with the speeds we were moving at we would have arrived at our arrival party 30 minutes early, and so, the Bike for Bricks team parted ways with Lloyd and joined Lindsay for a quick stop at McDonalds for some ice-cream and laughs, camaraderie and story-telling before once again alighting our familiar bicycles last time to go the 200m down King street to the final destination.

The final turn into Kitchener City Hall
The traffic was terrible so it was stop and go but we managed to take over the road and all three of us kept safety in the forefront of our minds, and even in such a momentous occasion habit took over and we signaled our turn into the City Hall Square amidst cheers, applause and hugs from friends and family that we hadn’t seen in almost two months.

I’m going to step away from pure narrative to say that this moment cannot really be recreated or recaptured in a way that would truly portray how significant the first few minutes off the bicycles were. There were several converging factors that culminated in the truly blissful feeling of joy and euphoria that I’ve only ever felt a few times. Having completed 52 days of grueling physical exertion and an equally trying 52 days of pushing the barriers of our mental fortitude we were done. We were within striking distance of our fundraising goal. We were receiving heartfelt and deserved congratulations from our closest family and friends and equally impressed strangers. We knew where we were going to sleep that night. We were done!

The next hour is a blur of answering questions and saying hello and feeling a little bit like a celebrity. It was all very surreal and still feels like a dream. Eventually though, the festivities started to wind down and I made plans with the 20 members of the Cadman Clan to meet for dinner and tore myself away from the admirers to say a quick and amazing goodbye to Jordan and Kyle. Except for the Wedding Weekend we had spent almost the entirety of the previous 52 days in each other’s company whether we wanted to or not and now we were parting ways. It was a very significant moment marked by a terse manly “see you guys later” and a slightly less manly hug and laugh. And then I left.
The rest of the day was, naturally, very family oriented and easy going. I went to bed way too late, I ate and drank way too much and eventually fell asleep into an easy, comfortable sleep at home.

52 days
6813kms
3 great guys
1 beautiful country
1 amazing accomplishment




2 comments:

  1. I will surely look forward to read an update about this. Good luck. Thank you for sharing.

    Jacob of biking Philippines

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