Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 34 - Thunder Bay - Nipigon

We got off to a late start today. Again - the indoor stay (while very welcome) is disruptive to the routine. It takes a while to get reorganized. It was a short day - only 105 K, but there was a MASSIVE head wind the entire way. It was FEROCIOUS. It came from the front - it came from the side and very rarely came from the back.

We had to ride up some hills to get out of Thunder Bay and went to see the Terry Fox Momument. What an inspiration, although very sad that legally it is not possible to get to the monument by bicycle or walk. OK - so we broke the law to get there, but we had no other choice.

Very inspirational to see the monument and think about all that Terry did and how much continues to happen because of him. I cannot even beging to imagine running a marathon every day!!!!!

Instead of heading back to the bypass road, we decided to continue on the freeway which soon turned into a regular highway.

We had OPP pass us and we were not kicked off so I guess we were OK. We had a bit of construction to go through and with the wind, that was a bit dicey, but it was OK.

At one point, Michel and Neil turned off to stop at a restaurant that was closed so I continued on where I met up with Megan and Greig and Bob and Irene. I was surprised to see Bob and Irene ahead of me and it was only the second or third day that I was able to spend some time at a rest place with them. They  had been to see the Terry Fox memorial last year so they headed straight to the bypass route, hence they were ahead of us. They were making excellent time.

I ended up riding by myself for part of the day and when I stopped to eat, Bob and Irene passed me and then I passed them a while later.

I arrived at camp around 3:30 PM. The truck had not yet arrived as Adam had a lot of  errands to do. Greg, Megan, Greig, Michel and Neil had arrived. Then shortly after me, Becky and Clark arrived. About 5 K from camp, a police car went screaming past me with its' lights flashing. Then another, then an ambulance. This was NOT good news as I knew there were still a lot of cyclists behind me.

As we sat in the deserted campsite, more cops and ambulancees and fire trucks went screaming by and we got a bit more worried. OK - we were a LOT worried by this time. Becky and Clark had talked to Bob and Irene shortly before and they should have been into camp by now. Of course NONE of us had cell service with the exception of Clark who has Manitoba Tel. After we noticed that the traffic that was going west was starting to come back east, Greig took off on his bike to see if he could see what was happening. Meanwhile, Clark was on his phone, calling the hospital, police and finally we knew something had happened to someone from our group, but no details.

We finally got the details from Clark through the phone and Grieg confirmed that something bad had happened. It was surreal to say the least. How could this happen??????   We were all stunned and no idea what to do!!!!!!!!    Our truck was behind the accident (actually pretty much right at the accident). We knew from an OPP officer who stopped that the road would not be open for hours and ther was NO other way around.

Thanks to Clark who let us use his phone so we could all make one phone call home to let people know that we were OK.

Finally made the decision to go to the Husky station which was just down the road. It was getting late by this time and if we didn't get to shelter - it was going to be a long cold night. Although the once deserted campsite was filling up with people who had nowhere to go for the night. Some people walked their bikes the couple of K to the Husky, but I decided to ride.

As we got closer to the Husky, we could see that the place was a parking lot. There were trucks everywhere - they had no place to go. There were trucks lined up everywhere. It was a HUGE mess. On our way in, a totally IGNORANT truck driver yelled at Neil and myself to GEET OFF THE ROAD and BLAMED the cyclists for tying up the traffic. It wasn't pleasant. I just ignored him.

We sat in the Husky and soon someone from Victim Services in Thunderbay came to see us. The rest of our group who was stuck on the other side of the accident was coming through. There was a small off road route through a field that allowed them to bypass the accident as well as the Victim Services people. It was a tearful reunion. Everyone was upset  to say the least. Victim Services took very good care of us, as did the Town of Nipigon. They took us to the arena where they got blankets and pillows from somewhere. We slept in one of the rooms.

As soon as I got a blanket and a pillow and a mattress, I crashed. It was a pretty emotional day and I was EXHAUSTED. Still in shock as to how this could have happened.

The one funny thing that did happen in the day - before the other group left the truck, they decided to bring us a change of clothing. So several of them went through our shelves to find clothes that we could change into. Well - that was hilarious as I can see them rummaging through everyone's different organization style to find shirts, bras, underwear and pants. Thanks to Myra for organising that. And then they had to carry all that stuff with them. Thank goodness for back packs and panniers.

The shoulders this day were pretty good on the highway - ranging from 12 inches wide to 6 feet wide of pavement. Although in some spots the strong wind blew us off the narrow shoulder and onto the gravel shoulder.

I also have to commend Adam. He is our truck driver. He is 20 years old and one of the most reponsible people I have met. He was on the scene shortly after the accident happened andwas level headed throughout the entire ordeal. Thanks Adam for all your support - you will go far in life.

This is a terribly sad and tragic occurance. Bob and Irene were wonderful people. Irene was always giving you a hug and calling you LUV or giving you a big kiss on the cheek and thanking you for doing something for her and Bob. And funny - we never talked about Bob and Irene seperately - they were a couple. They were deeply committed to each other. Bob was always happy and they were both strong riders. I am so sorry that this happened, but I am happy that they died together, they did not suffer and doing something they loved. REST IN PEACE BOB AND IRENE. We miss you and there isn't a day goes by that I do not think about you!!!!

While this was a tragic event, life has to continue. I am sad, but am thankful that I got to know Bob and Irene.

Have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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