What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
355 – 362: Toronto, ON – Ithaca, NY
The ticking clock meant I didn’t stick around too long in Toronto. The bike had issues leaving the city (someone should design a bike that doesn’t break). This time a split tyre near Hamilton. Tried to blag it and ride to Niagara Falls anyway. It didn’t work, at all. Should’ve known.
Do you know what happens when you ride with a split tyre and your inner tube sticks out? The split gets bigger. And bigger. And then it EXPLODES. It shocks you and anyone nearby. BANG.
So it exploded. But if you believe in fate, it then made an appearance. Glumly walking along the side of a quiet road on the outskirts of St Catherine with a post-explosion flat, the night drawing in, a car pulled up. Turned out to be a Niagara Falls local called Mike, an avid cyclist who spotted the tyre and offered a lift for the 10 miles to Niagara. So yeah, fate? He never drives home, this was an exception. On the rare times he does, he doesn’t take the route through St Catherine’s. And to top it off they’d taken the seats out of the car the night before, so by chance there was space for a broken bicycle.
During the ride to town Mike invited me over for food and to meet his wife Heather and his British mother, who in a weird ‘it’s kind of a small world’ moment, used to live in Workington, England. She lives with Mike and Heather and after 40+ years in Canada still has a strong accent.
They offered up their spare room for the night, and I woke up the next day to a bike with a new tyre, oiled chain, you name it. Totally unexpected. You guys are awesome. Pretty cool. We found out later that, coincidentally, it all happened on ‘International Random Act of Kindness Day’. Huh.
After checking out Niagara Falls (a weird cross between epic, amazing nature and Blackpool pleasure beach depending on the time you visit) and getting grilled at customs, I was on US turf once more. Big sigh of relief whilst ignoring the freezing hail. [thanks to Portage House Motel in Lewiston for a room, awesome place] Out of any markers / state lines etc, this was the biggest. It meant the Canada section was done, and there really wasn’t much left. Kind of weird to process.
Day one of riding back in the US was a shock. Upstate New York is incredibly colourful at the moment but the clocks went back the previous nights, and Canada to US means a switch from kilometres back to miles. That doesn’t sound like much, but it took some getting used to. An hour less light and distance mind games. You forget that riding 10 miles is harder and takes longer than riding 10 kilometres.
It’s been a few days of riding along through Rochester, sections of the Erie canal, and through NY wine country with another (different) tyre explosion. There’s still a bit of pedalling to go yet but it’s getting close. Approaching the end there’s some definite and unexpected internal havoc going on right now. A new article is taking shape around that so hopefully there’ll be something new to read pronto.