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Explosions, Kindness & Waterfalls

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.



Vague Direction: A 12,000 mile bicycle ride, and the meaning of life.
Available now: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com



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3 comments on this post

  1. Bill Maylone says:

    Sure has been quite the adventure. You circumambulated the whole damn country, had countless breakdowns, met a myriad of people and god knows how many free meals and strange beds. The heat, wind, rain, mother nature continually beating and chewing on you with her narly, dirty, nasty teeth, sharpened to a razors edge, daring you to peddle on. You bitch! I’m bigger, stronger and crazier than you ever gave me credit for. You’ve done your job and humbled me in ways that I never dreamed of. And now the end is in sight! Do I want this sojourn to end and return to the 9-5 existence: get up, eat, go to work, come home, eat, mess around, go to bed. Repeat. And then the realization that it was all just a dream. The exquisite present moment of emptiness becomes muddled in our dreams of the past and the future. The realization that we must forge on with our human condition that is so pervasive in its limitations.

    You must be getting close to Syracuse,N.Y. my home town. I now live in Colorado. As you pass through, give a shout-out to the place for
    for me.

    Good luck with your next venture. You never know it may be more fun and exciting that the last one. It’s all about the experience.
    Bill

  2. Gill Longway says:

    Hi Dave

    Yet another really engaging post – I’ll miss them when they stop so perhaps you can carry on for a little while and tell us what you’re doing back in the UK and how easy/difficult it is to reintegrate. It’s great to learn that people have been so kind, which makes a really pleasant change when we’re constantly bombarded with awful news.

    Take care and look forward to seeing photos of you crossing your finish line in New York. Are you having a ceremonial ditching of the bike or taking it home?

    Gill

    • Dave says:

      Hi Gill. There’ll definitely be more on the blog after the riding part is done. F’shizzle.

      As for the bike – the options range from throwing it in the Hudson to taking good care of it on the journey back – depends on how the final day goes. Just kidding yep it’s going on the plane if they’ll take it.

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