Friday, July 30, 2010

Visitors' day

Day 36. Port Huron Michigan to London Ontario. What an exciting day we had today. I didn't think it was going to be anything special, but it was very cool. Today, we crossed into Canada at the Bluewater Bridge that connects Port Huron Michigan to Sarnia Ontario. The crossing in itself was awesome. But there was one thing that made it even cooler.

They closed the bridge to all vehicular traffic while our ABB group rode across it.

That's right, they closed the entire bridge to Canada so we could cross it safely. Imagine that. The Bluewater Bridge is one of the major connectors of the US to Canada along with the Ambassador Bridge and Windsor Tunnel in Detroit, as well as the Peace, Rainbow, and Lewiston/Queenston bridges connecting Southern Ontario with Niagara/Buffalo. We lined up en masse at the motel in Port Huron and rode as a kind of "bike convoy" up to the toll booth at the bridge entrance where we waited for instructions from the bridge authorities to proceed. After traffic was held (imagine sitting in that traffic – how mad would I have been!) we started up and went over the bridge. At 2 points on the bridge we had to dismount and walk over the expansion joints that hold the bridge together yet let it flex in the wind. They had joints that would swallow a bike tire, so it was a good thing we were forewarned. It took about 10 minutes for the entire ABB group to cross. Once at Canadian Customs, the agents asked us a couple of questions and we were cleared to enter Canada.

A number of the riders hadn't been to Canada before. There are 3 Canadians on the ride and one of them (Jeff from Connecticut) grew up less than a mile from the bridge in Sarnia. Jeff asked his Mom to buy some special Canadian treats (Nanaimo bars and butter tarts) for the SAG which she graciously did. Thanks Mrs. Douglas – they were awesome! Jeff also led a side ride through some of the parks in Sarnia, which I unfortunately couldn't go on (I think I was the only one not to go). That's because I was being interviewed at 8:30 AM on CKPC FM Brantford regarding the Team Lara fundraising initiative. If I had done the interview and fallen behind the group on Jeff's side trip, I may never have made it out of Sarnia. Too bad. It looked like fun.

Here, courtesy of Jeff Douglas' bike cam, is video of us crossing the bridge:

As it was, even when I followed the original routing provided to us, there were some navigational challenges awaiting us today. As I made one turn today at the 8 mile mark, I saw tour leader Mike's wife Barb (who runs the show!) coming back towards me saying that the road was closed ahead and she didn't know where to go. We both pulled over, checked my maps on my iPhone, figured out an alternative, and got going. Then, a few miles after that the route took me through a road that was closed. I ignored the closure sign and forged on. You see, I had an incentive today.

Today was visitors day. Just like sleepaway camp! My wife The Duchess brought my Mom and Dad to see me today. The Duchess and I figured out where we were likely to meet around 10:30AM today and sure enough, like Neil Armstrong in Apollo 11, The Duchess nailed it. It was great to see my Mom and Dad and of course, my Duchess. My parents were very curious to see how the whole ride "thing" worked, so after we hugged and talked a bit, I rode on with Rick (and Dave soon after) and my Duchess took my parents to the SAG a few miles back so they could meet some of the other riders and see the "goings-on".

To any ABB riders and ABB staff reading this – my parents love you all! They could not get over the dedication and perseverance we're all showing. Plus, they thought you were great to talk to. Thanks for being so kind and welcoming. They also enjoyed coming back to the hotel (especially my 91 year old Dad who napped in my room and the lobby) and talking to whoever they ran into. My Mom especially liked hearing where everyone was from and just seeing all the people I am spending this unforgettable summer with.

But back to today's ride. After I left The Duchess and my parents, I had to talk to them on the phone to arrange to meet in Mt. Brydges for lunch. Dave and Rick sped ahead and I was quickly caught by Joe (and soon thereafter Jeff, Alex, and ABB Jeff) and we moved on to meet for lunch at BJ's Deli. Nice spot. Good chicken salad sandwich. It was nice for my parents to meet some other riders there as well. From there, Joe and I pushed on (Joe at 50% effort, me at 99.5% effort) to the hotel in London. I'm glad we didn't do much riding northbound today. The north wind around 1:30PM was wicked.

Another milestone was passed today as well. We crossed the 3,000 mile mark today just before we got to the hotel. That is a long way in less than 6 weeks.

After I got to the hotel, The Duchess' Aunt Carolyn, Uncle Peter, and Aunt Audrey (Audrey lives in London) came to the hotel to see me. Carolyn and Peter are the parents of Lara Kaufman, who is my wife's cousin who almost died this past February in a freak skiing accident. The Team Lara fundraising effort is what I am riding for this summer in support of Brain and Spinal Cord Regeneration research at the Western Hospital in Toronto. Lara's been to hell and back these past 5 or so months and a day doesn't go by that I don't think of her. Peter and Carolyn say she is hard at work on her rehab and is making slow but steady progress as she regains her physical capabilities. What a horrible thing to go through. If you haven't read her story on this web site, read it. It'll send chills down your spine.

On a happier note, I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Aunt Audrey for bringing me the sandwiches and signs of support today. Tell Milton I hope he feels better and that I look forward to seeing him tomorrow or at Nadler Day in 2 weeks.

A couple of weeks ago I remarked on this blog that this whole experience reminded me of summer camp. Now this summer is sealed in my memory as so. I had my visitors' day today.

FYI – the DQ Blizzard, milk shake, and Snickers count is static today:

11 Snickers
14 Blizzards
6 milk shakes

Now on to today's mail:

Dr. Charles (Uncle Husky) Tator form Toronto writes: "
You are amazing! You have endured several weeks of supreme effort for Team Lara and also for what drives you.
I love to see the donations mount up-we can assure everyone that the cause is right and the lab at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at the Toronto Western Hospital is the right place to put money into research into brain and spinal cord injury. We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. It will be shorter with more funds!" I'm happy to be part of the team that is raising funds for such a great cause. Hopefully you'll be able to afford a couple of new microscopes with the funds we've raised!

Here are my Garmin stats for the day:

This is Joe's blog:

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