day 34

Day 34: Hadashville to Kenora 112km

I woke up excited for this ride as I was going to be cycling into my home province today and I was hoping that the wind would be in a different direction.  Well at least one of those things happened today.

The landscape changed a lot, from yesterday morning through the day.  I left the flat open space to forests and not being able to see as far.  There was something different about the look of these forests compared to the forests I know in Ontario.  It is hard to explain but I was happy to be back surrounded by trees.  I felt comfortable and protected.

I felt unprotected by the lack of shoulder this morning.  There is a lot of construction happening and it is mainly on the shoulder.  There were two times this morning that I had to quickly swerve off the road onto the gravel side.  It was pretty nerve racking.  To be honest I almost felt like I was going to pee my pants.  Not only did two cars come so close to me but they did not even slow down.  But there is good news to this story.  I eventually got my shoulder back and it was a wonderful new paved shoulder.  I hit the jackpot.  It was so smooth cycling on it and I had so much room.

The idea of crossing into Ontario kept me motivated during this nonstop headwind.  I could not believe I was about to cross into my fifth province.  I wondered what the sign would look like and how far it was until we crossed over.  Cell reception was very sketchy, so I could not search when I would reach Ontario.  It made it fun not knowing.  We came to the first Ontario sign that looked like a basic highway sign with graffiti but I was so pumped to have crossed into Ontario that I jumped off the bike to get a photo.  A few minutes up the road there was another Ontario sign that was very 70s looking but huge compared to the last one.  So again I jumped off my bike for a photo.  Though the signs were not as exciting as I hoped, I could not stop looking at the beautiful rugged landscape of Ontario.  It has been awhile since I have been up in northern Ontario, though I have never been this far north.  It was welcoming to be back.  Also seeing all the Ontario liscence plates made me feel at home.  Probably because I am surrounded by cars on a daily basis.

I met a women at the second sign who shared with me the loss of her daughter to suicide and the recent troubles her son in law was having with suicidal ideation.  I did not know about her loss when I initially started explaining the campaigna and how I want people to know that recovery is possible. I felt awful after she told me about her daughter and explaining how she wished she knew she was struggling so she could have helped her. The tears in her eyes motivated me to cycle for her.  I do still believe recovery is possible and believe there are several reasons why we have still lost too many people to suicide.  A huge one that I am trying to tackle is stigma of mental health.

Unfortuntaely as I continued on, the wind was getting to me.  My mom noticed that I was feeling flat.  At the time I didn’t realize it but I think there were a couple reasons I was not as energized as I usually am.  The wind felt like I was constantly being pushed in the face.  I would have maybe a moments break from it and sure enough it would come crashing back.  Also I think I was feeling a bit burnt out regarding all the information being talked about regarding suicide.  This may sound funny as I share my story all the time and have told you how people sharing their loss with me inspires me to keep pedaling and trying to make a difference.  But there are times when I need breaks and my usual outlets for breaks have become swarmed with negative and stigmatizing articles and comments on suicide since the tragic passing of Robin Williams.  I know that these articles as well are hurting so many other people.  I try to focus on all the positive conversations that are being created and awareness but today I just could not do this as well.  I thought about how horrible it is that there are now mock videos of his passing and articles giving details about how he passed.  There is absolutely no reason why it should be made public knowledge exactly how he passed away.  That should be of the right of the family if they want to share the details of his suicide.  In addition this can be a trigger for someone who is currently struggling.  I have never understood why when someone hears that someone has died by suicide they than ask how they did it.

As my motivation was decreasing I tried several things to help.  At one point as I was struggling up a hill I saw the same old school Volvo station wagon that my dad had with a canoe on top of it.  This made me smile thinking of him and got me to the top of the hill.  I then tried listening to Matt Mays to make me think of fun East Coast memories from Dalhousie though this did not last either. It was pretty windy and was hard to hear.  I wished I had some Nine Inch Nails to listen to.  Yes my music taste is very broad. My mom went ahead to get me Tim Horton’s to try to motivate me.  I then thought about my friend Will who is ahead of me somewhere East and thought atleast I was not on my own pushing through this. Finally I thought about all the people that have shared with me their struggles or losses and this gave me the motivation to keep going.  I thought about how this current struggle is so short and insignificant and I need to push through for them.  I finally found the spark inside me again.

My face lit up as I reached the beautiful lakeside town.  I passed by Husky the musky, their massive fish statue to get a photo. I then cycled into town to check out their country music festival that was going on.  But I was exhausted and wanted to get to the hotel to try to catch up on my blogs and emails.  Once I arrived though, I could hardly look at the screen.  This 112km ride felt way more exhausting than the 218km ride the other day.  As I sat on the couch trying to catch up on some things I checked my email.  I had received an email from my friend Will telling me that he was only in Dryden as he had stayed longer in Kenora so I may catch up with him again.  This excited me as I felt like I was given a challenge.  How could I be this close and not catch up.  I have to catch to him! It was exactly the encouragement I needed after two days of nonstop headwind and feeling defeated.

My mom and I went out for a big dinner to prepare for a long ride tomorrow.  I still find it so entertaining how much food I can eat.  I had an appitzer and a big steak dinner. Later that night I was still hungry too but was too tired to go to the car.  Now it is time to rest up as I have a new mission of catching back up to Will.

Thank you Comfort Inn and Westmont Hospitality Group for Hosting us!