What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
348 – 355: Sault St Marie to Toronto.
Spooky moments. There’ve been a few over the last few days. It snowed a lot leaving Sault St Marie, and several hours into the slowest ride ever it was obvious that rather than make minimal ground and camp in the open, it would be wise to seek shelter if any became obvious.
Being in farmland there weren’t many options, other than a single barn on a side road. It looked like it didn’t see much action so I resorted to the age old tactic of – ‘as long as you pack up early enough it’ll probably be fine’. Luckily it worked and the combine harvesters didn’t slip.
It snowed on and off for a couple of days, but other than that the ride was pretty much plain sailing (except for a bizarre night in the town of Espanola which is a story for a separate post coming soon). To make up some of the lost snow time, I opted for a train ride again to increase the chances of being able to cycle into NYC to finish up. It would suck after so long to finish by train or hitchhiking. As always seems to happen, it’s the time off the bike that provides most of the stories. Fittingly, being halloween and all, what happened next wouldn’t be out of place as an introduction to a horror movie.
The train was scheduled to leave a small station on the outskirts of Sudbury at 1.30am, and looking at the map, there was a 24 hour Tim Hortons a few km away. Seemed like as good a place as any to wait until the early hours, so I left downtown Sudbury and began cycling to Tim’s. It was late, and at a traffic crossing I very briefly bumped into an older gentleman out for a walk. Then a few minutes later in the cue at TH, he was there too.
“Are you travelling somewhere?”, he said.
We chatted for a while and it turns out he’s a friendly chap called Bruce who’s been based in Sudbury his entire life, except for a 10 day hitchhiking trip he took around the Great Lakes as a 24 year old. Since then he’s been living with his wife and they’re content in the city, scratching any travel cravings with online photos and by chatting to people who are passing through town. He’d been working night shifts so this was his afternoon, and he generously offered to go get his van and then drive me to the station as it’s hard to find. We started walking to the his house to pick up the van and somehow the conversation turned to movies and axes.
“You know, I gave my daughters boyfriend a fright a few months ago. We watched a movie, and the main character is sent a message from God that he has to remove some evil souls from the Earth. One day he’s driving along a country lane and see’s a beam of light land on a barn. He goes in and it’s shining on an axe. The movie is about the guy’s task to kill various people.”
It’s 12.30am. We’ve just met and are walking back to Bruce’s house, where he’s going to pick up his van and drive me to a train station on the outskirts of town. He’s explaining the plot to a movie where a man is tasked to kill people with an axe. Anything suspicious going on here? Then came the kicker.
“Oh, by the way I’m not an axe murderer or anything. Although I could be. You’ve just met me. Or you could be a murderer. It’s hard to tell.”
Hmmm, where’s that bear spray? Should I just leg it? Had a moment of woah-this-is-a-bit-intense, which is laughable now because it turns out Bruce is a truly awesome dude, with a lovely wife called Brenda, crazy kindness, a real van, a knowledge of out of town train stations, and no axe in sight – you had me there for a second Bruce!
The train showed up at 3am. On at Sudbury, quick snooze, off at Toronto. Magic. Quite convenient timing as far as trains go because it meant waking up and starting the day in the city, instead of arriving at night with no time to explore properly. And what a place. Incredible downtown architecture and amazing graffiti dotted around. Had a fun morning getting lost and then stumbled across a park where there was a bunch of people walking dogs and taking lunch breaks, and in the corner there was a guy doing insane tricks with a frisbee.
Jolan Canrinus is a freestyle frisbee expert, and in this Vague Direction People video we chat about how he ended up learning such a unique skill. It was frickin’ cool. (If you’re reading this in your email browser, click here to watch the video)