I’m DONE! I don’t really know if I believe it myself yet, but I am finished there is nowhere else to go!
This write up doesn’t count as a two for one because I woke up on the 25th and, except for a couple of hours, hasn’t really gone to sleep yet. Why, oh why would I do this to myself you ask, was I really so desperate to be finished that I rode through the night and subjected myself to unnecessary anguish just to finish a few hours early. The answer would be no, I was on the longest ferry ride of my life; what was supposed to be a nice relaxed 14-hour ride, turned into a marathon 18 ½ hours.
I woke up in North Sydney at six the morning and walked down to the ferry for the 8 o’clock departure. I was immediately thrilled to meet a very nice couple from Montréal on a bike trip of their own. One of the greatest parts about completing a trip like mine is the other bikers and travelers you meet along the way, and sharing your different adventures. It is fascinating how people on very similar trips can have completely different experiences, a portion of road that was hard for me was easy for them, or different luck with the weather.
The ferry ride was uneventful, but fun; spending our time-sharing stories, talking about sports and work, reading. The morning and afternoon passed by quickly and everything was great. Mid afternoon we got the bad news that the ferry was going to be late (or should I say early) getting into Argentia. Luckily I had booked a bunk to sleep in so I headed off in the early evening to try and get some rest; sleep was not going to be my companion though and I spent the night tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable.
In the end we didn’t get into Newfoundland until 230 in the morning (we lost an extra half-hour because of the newfie time zone) and I hadn’t gotten any sleep. Luckily Newfoundland hospitality came out in full force to welcome me to the island and one of CAHPERD’s many wonderful members came out to the ferry to help me find where I was going and offer me a room for what was left of the night. After all the hours of tossing and turning in a marine bunk, I quickly passed out in the great bed that Dave’s son was kind enough to offer me for the night (and at the time it was the most comfortable bed in the world). So, I will take this opportunity to thank Dave and his family for making the last night of my trip (as short as it was) one of the best ones yet.
Morning came far to soon, but I had a long way to ride and not very long to do it. I was expected at Cowan Heights Elementary at 11 o’clock and that was only four hours and 120 km away. Luckily Mother Nature had finally decided that she was alright with me finishing my tour and in return for giving me such a hard time the last couple of months she came through and gave me one of the best rides I have had in a long time. The sun was shinning, the temperature was cool and the wind was blowing…from BEHIND me… HARD.
Today brought one of the strongest tail winds I have had yet and I finished the day with time to spare at an average speed of 40 km/hr. It was like I was being lifted up the hills and pushed down them; at some points, as my speedometer push past 65, 75, 75 km/hr and the car suddenly weren’t going by so fast, I actually put on the breaks to slow down my rocket ship ride.
I was greeted at the school with a reception fit for a king. The students had a ribbon stretched across the driveway and I road across, breaking the finishing line and symbolizing to official end of my tour. The students swarmed me like a visiting celebrity, barraging me with questions and high-fives; it took every teacher available and about ten minutes to get them back it to the gym for the assembly.
The assembly was all I could have ever asked for to finish off my tour. We were part of the students end of year celebrations, and celebrate we did! Local media and dignitaries were out and they had the pleasure of seeing the wonderful effect a good phys ed. program and dedicated teachers can have on students. We had presentations from the schools skipping club that blew us away and demonstrated a level of coordination that is well beyond me (although, some of the girls coned me in to a little Double Dutch afterwards and I think I did pretty well). After the skipping the entire school and visitors were lead in a dance routine by a seriously impressive group of grade two students.
Without fail, every school I have gone to that has a good phys ed. program and a good staff have happy and energetic students. Cowan Heights is the home of one of CAHPERD’s teachers of the year, and it shows. The students are happy, lively, and involved in every extracurricular activity in awesome numbers. Most impressive and a credit to the teacher, was how all of the leaving grade six students brought him cards and gifts, many of them crying at the prospect of not having him as a teacher any more. I can only hope that I will eventually develop the care and dedication that he has to his job.
After the presentation I wasn’t done yet. Cape Spear and the most eastern point in North America was only twenty km away, and according to the local there were only a couple of “small hills” in the way. Well, if those were what a Newfoundlander calls a “small hill” I would hate to see what they call a big one. I think about fifteen of the twenty km were uphill and they weren’t holding back on to the steepness. Arriving at Cape Spear was accompanied by the biggest feeling of relief I have ever felt. Exhaustion flowed through me and I put away my bike for the final time.
I don’t really think that the reality of what I have done will sink in for a while. I have been so focused on the day to day of the organization and execution of the tour that I haven’t had time to look back and take in the whole scope of the operation. Before I go any further I need to thank all the people that have been looking at the big picture and who have helped me get through the last few months. First and foremost I need to thank Stef, Sharon, and the who crew at CAHPERD who took a chance on a crazy idea and devoted amazing amounts of work to helping me. Stef, without your amazing organization skills and great energy I would have never been able to do this. Also Silken Laumann and Silken’s Active Kids for supporting me early on. Next I need to thank my family, who have always supported me in all my crazy endeavors and who dedicated their time to come along with me on my journey. All my friends in Victoria who have followed my tour and supported me during the planning, who have believed in me and offered endless words of support to get me through me dark times; Sandy, with out your support I wouldn’t have made it through the training and you always go above and beyond to help in everyway you can. To everyone that has followed my tour, donated you hospitality, kind words, or money, you have my deepest thanks. Last but not least, all the schools, teachers and especially students who listened to my message with such enthusiasm, I hope you enjoyed having me as much as I enjoyed visiting you.
To everyone, stay active and healthy and I am sorry if I missed anyone or sound too much like an Oscar speech. That’s all I have for now, I think I will need about a year to decompress the last few months so you may still hear from me in the future. If you are organizing your own tour or any event and need some help or just want a sounding board feel free to drop me a line.
Activity tip: I’ve done my part, now you do yours. Get smart, get active. Save the excuses, I’ve heard them all. Lace up your shoes and enjoy this fantastic country we live in!