day 52

Day 52: Little Current to South Baymouth 66km

I was really looking forward to this afternoon as I was going to be presenting at an elementary school here on the island.  A teacher from the school had reached out to me initially to speak to his grade four class.  In no time, the presentation to the grade 4’s turned out to be multiple presentations to almost the entire school.  I absolutely love going into schools and speaking with the kids.  Presentations to the younger students require creativity when discussing mental health.


The school was half way through today’s short (66 km) ride.  As I cycled along, I saw, in the distance, what I thought was possibly a touring cyclist.   I don’t wear my glasses while cycling and thus sometimes find myself thinking I see something that when I get closer it is just a pole with a sign on it. Hehe.  I tried not to get my hopes up but decided to cycle faster just in case.  It turned out that I was actually right and I had seen a touring cyclist.  Alicia had just started her ride a couple days ago and was cycling home to Kitchener.  She explained to me that she had had perfect weather so far and that the wind had been on her back.  Right away I apologized that she was cycling with me because she was now going to have headwind and sure enough we did.  It was nice chatting with her and hearing about her work in one of the provincial parks up north. We parted ways once I reached the school.


As soon as I arrived at the school, a student ran out to take a photo and another shared that I was his hero because he loves cycling.  Well all my nerves of doing a presentation as I haven’t done one for students since June disappeared out the window.  It seemed like they all knew I was coming and were really excited.  I met the principal who took me around to introduce me to the teachers.  The grade four class had prepared lunch for us.  They cooked up spaghetti, garlic bread and muffins.  I was really impressed with the meal. After eating I went to do the first presentation with the grade 7 and 8 class.  I always like to check in with the teacher before regarding what I would like to say.  From my social work experience I am very mindful of how to talk to the different age groups, however, I always find it helpful to know if mental health is a topic they have discussed before.  It is especially important when it comes to suicide.  I was very impressed with this class as they were so quiet while I gave my presentation and then asked numerous, well thought out questions about the ride.


The next presentation was to the grade 4 and 5s.  For this class I did it more about feelings and how sometimes we can have struggles with negative emotions.  I also talked about how we can build up our shield of support.  To address the feelings I played a fun game with balloons to help the students grasp the concept of being overwhelmed by negative feelings.  I think that it went really well and the students really enjoyed themselves.  After this presentation I did a similar presentation with the grade 1-3 classes.  I was so amazed that in each presentation the kids listened so well and asked such interesting questions.  It really was a special experience to help share my message with the kids.  You often hear adults say what do kids have to be stressed about?  It is vital to know that a child’s feelings are extremely important and they too can struggle with their mental health.  Kids react to their environment, we may not know what is happening in their home such as their parents separating or job loss, etc. Kids deserve to know that their feelings matter and to know it is ok to reach out for help.


As I cycled away from the school I was feeling great.  My ride in so many ways has created great opportunities to give back to different populations and communities along the way.  It really has surpassed my expectations.


Shortly after I received a call so I quickly pulled over.  Well good thing I did pull over because it was the Police calling me. Not that they can arrest you over the phone or anything but he did ask if I was pulled over to make sure it was safe to talk.  He was calling to help ensure everything was going according to plan for my event on Sunday as the police are providing an escort into the park for the last leg of the ride.  As we chatted about the plans I interrupted to mention that I saw a massive animal crossing the road up ahead. Again I still did not have my glasses on so I could not tell what it was.  It seemed too light of a colour to be a bear but the officer and I joked about all the possible animals it could be.  I was at a safe distance either way though it was the direction I would be biking after the call.  When the call was done and I cycled that way I kept my eyes peeled to make sure I was safe as I kept picturing a big animal jumping out at me.


Near the end of the ride I began to feel defeated.  I just wanted to sit on the side and give up or at least take a long break.  The ride was so short this afternoon but it was taking forever.  Yes you are right because of headwind! If there was no wind I feel like I could go on for hours upon hours but as soon as the headwind hits me in the face for the millionth time I get grumpy and frustrated.  I was definitely struggling to find motivation at the end of this ride but kept taking it on pedal stroke at a time.  Please please no headwind tomorrow.