day 40

Day 40: Thunder Bay to Nipigon 108km

I wanted a late start today so I could head out on the water again for a kayak before cycling to Nipigon. Before doing that of course the first thing on my agenda, was food. We started with a bowl of yogurt with a full banana. After finishing this Will read my mind exactly and asked what was for breakfast and we made more food.

Around noon I started cycling to the Terry Fox monument. This is something I have been looking forward to the whole trip as I think of him as such a huge Canadian hero. I felt very emotional as I cycled up. It is still hard to figure out what I was feeling. On the one hand I felt so inspired and motivated by him and yet felt quite small by comparison   How inspiring that a single person made such a huge impact on Canada, Canadians and cancer. Cancer used to be thought of as the “C word” and hardly talked about. He was definitely the start of that changing.  His journey made me realize to never give up hope and to continue working on my mission because even though I am just one person I can make a difference. Even if that difference is only for a few people it is worth it. It can be easy to feel defeated when you hear people saying stigmatizing comments about mental health but it is important to focus on the positive impacts.

For example a women from Thunder Bay wrote to me about her son who had past away by suicide several years ago. I shared with her how I would dedicate my ride in memory of him today. As I cycled away from the monument I thought about him. Through the campaign I have found a way for us to not feel alone and to continue thinking of the people we have lost to inspire us to help others. When someone dies by suicide you can often feel more alone because people are terrified to say anything as they worry they will say the wrong thing. It makes you feel like you have no one to talk to when you are struggling. You also worry about reaching out to people in case they are one of the people who believe that suicide is selfish or cowardly and that is not what you need to hear while you are grieving. I still remember the exact moments when people said comments like that to me and how hurtful it was. So today when I thought about her son and I had a smile on my face because I was getting an opportunity to honour him, show his mom we are in this together which offers me even more forward momentum in my mission of breaking down the stigma.

I was also joined today by Maureen and Brian. Both live in Thunder Bay and wanted to come out to support the cause. It was great having them join though I did feel badly as there was a lot of construction and heavy traffic. I have become used to the transports whizzing by but when you don’t cycle with that every day it is not very enjoyable. It also made it less sociable.  I am still grateful for the chats we were able to have.   While my Mom waited for us, a gentleman stopped his car and asked if we take donations. When she answered yes , he opened his wallet, gave her money and said,” let Danielle use this for her ride ” when asked, he said his name was Ian Irvin. Thank you Ian.

As we continued on to Nipigon we saw a touring cyclist and biked over to find out where he was going. He was cycling to Victoria from Ottawa. We didn’t chat for too long as the women hosting us that night was preparing dinner for us and we had a late start to the day. I thought it was so lovely how Sarah offered to have us for dinner when she already had donated a room at her 8th Street B&B, Nipigon  Though I did ask Will if he thought we would still be hungry after dinner. We decided that since he was camping in her backyard he would bring his cooking supplies to his tent so we wouldn’t offend her if we needed more food. Since we were thinking about food we then talked about how amazing it would be if we were served dessert and which one we would want. We saw a Tim Hortons in Nipigon so decided we could always drive there for dessert.  This conversation was making me very hungry.

As we pulled into Nipigon it was a beautiful hilly landscape on the water. We were greeted by Sarah who was absolutely lovely. She explained what she had made for dinner and asked about breakfast. As soon as I heard all of this I said to her you must have had cyclists before and understand how much we eat. She laughed and explained how her daughter had been on a cycling trip before and an awesome kayaking adventure. Sarah herself had also done a lot of travelling before and felt it was important to pay it forward. I immediately knew we were in good hands and was excited to learn more about her and her adventures. After dinner her friend walked over with two bags. Sarah explained that it was pie for us and wanted to know if we wanted ice cream on top. At that point I had to explain to her all the conversations we were having on the bike and how she was checking off everything on our list.

It was such a wonderful evening that we spent with Sarah and I am grateful for her support.