Funny how everything looks so much better in the morning! While I still wasn't "happy", I wasn't so tired and what a nice feeling to stretch out in a queen sized bed with nice clean sheets, lots of pillows and OH YES - there were fluffy white towels in the bathroom. I didn't have to share a bathroom with anyone - not even those nasty mosquitos or black flies!!!! Practically felt like royalty!
Went to the breakfast room to get something to eat - may take a day or two to get the appetite back to normal. Was also hoping to hook up with the others to see what the plans were for the day. I think only three people went to Signal Hill yesterday and it was dark. So the plan was to leave the hotel around 8 AM and finish the trip. Yes - the weather sucked - it was foggy - it was drizzling a bit and so big rain gear was in order. Neil would meet us on the way as he was in a different hotel.
We made an impressive looking group - I think there were about 12 or 13 of us that made the trek. Not only were we impressive in numbers, but just the fact that we were on a bicycle. If you have ever been to St. John's you would understand why. This city is built on a HILL - a BIG HILL and everywhere you turn you have to go UP or you have to do DOWN and we are not talking gentle little hills - oh no - these hills are HUGE and STEEP.
Our first stop was the Mile Zero in the harbour. This is the spot where Terry Fox started his cross Canada run many years ago. If you think what I have accomplished is a feat - imagine running a marathon EVERY DAY for 143 days. Yes - he ran for twice as long as we rode until he couldn't run any longer due to his cancer. Those markers at either end of the country and the monument in Ontario - well if ever you get a chance to see them you should. They have special meaning to our country and now they have meaning to me.
This is one of Terry's quotations and is one the monument at St. John's
"I just wish people would realize that anything is possible is you try, dreams are made if people try. "
I really could not have said this better myself. Who knew or would have thought that six years ago when I started riding a bike that I would ride across Canada on a bike!!!!!! At the end of that first summer of bike riding, M and I rode 50 K in 3 hours and we were so proud of ourselves. FIFTY K in one day!!!!! I think every time people say "I can't", they are doing a disservice to themselves. Don't over analyze - JUST DO IT!!!!!! That is what happened yesterday - more on that in a bit.
Oh yes - as we neared the street corner where we were meeting Neil - yes - we saw Neil and he had a blasted flat tire!!!!!! Danny went to help him and the rest of us went to the monument. Loads of pictures as people wanted pictures at the statue of Terry, at the Mile Zero marker - then we had individual pictures, shots of the entire group and groups of riders. Oh yes -- we were there for a while and we had barely begun our mission for the morning.
Now in order to get to the Monument we had to go down a fairly STEEP hill and in order to go to Signal Hill - we had to go back up. Some chose to walk as the road was wet. I geared down and went for it. In a few short seconds I was puffing like I had been smoking my entire life. Then it was up the road (and MORE HILLS) as we rode to the top of Signal Hill. All I can say is thank goodness it was foggy because I had NO IDEA where we were going. Up and up and round the corners, PUFF PUFF PUFF until at last I saw the tower on my right hand side but we were NOT at the top yet. Around one last corner and then we were in the parking lot. When I say foggy - I mean foggy - we could barely see a thing - even ourselves when we were up there!!!!!
We did walk our bikes from the parking lot to the tower and then took MANY MANY pictures. I got one of me with my bike and I had to HOLD onto that bike. The wind was fierce. There was a lady in the tower who opened the door to peek out a couple of times and each time she said "oh my - it is even windier than before". Well STOP opening the door!!!!!!
Again we got individual shots, group shots, but not an entire group - there was no way the tripod was going to stand firm in that wind. Although we did miss the grand view - I will just have to come back for that another time, the thrill of being on Signal Hill was AMAZING. I remember back when I posted the Mile Zero (Victoria) and Signal Hill pictures on Facebook many months ago. And what a feeling to know that I connected those two dots on a bicycle. (Yes - that made up for all the bitter sweetness from the day before).
At last, it was time to move on. We still had to dip our wheels in the ocean. I know - there is a LOT of housekeeping to do at the end of a tour like this!!!!! Now came the scary part - descending that hill in the fog and staying in one piece. Everyone went very cautiously, but at one point, my hands and arms were cramping so bad that I had to let go a bit and I was terrified. Thankfully, the road flattens out a bit at the main parking lot, but then we had another hill to descend to get back into the town proper. Yikes - I can't hold on much longer - my arms are dead!!!!!!! But I managed - I don't know how. Where are those pedal brakes when you need them. My legs are much stronger than my arms - it would have been way easier.
Then we had to descend that bloody hill at the monument one more time in order to find a spot to dip the wheels. I took one look at it and almost chickened out. I don't think I can or want to go down the hill. BUT everyone else was already on their way down (Joyce walked) so I sucked it up and went down. Don't forget it is wet!!!!! I was fine - just being a baby!!!!!! We found a park that had some boat docks off it and zipped down there for the dipping. Naturally that wasn't an easy process to get there either. The waves were bad, the dock was a floating dock and it was a bit steep to get down and the dock was wet and slippery. I tell you this trip is a challenge right to the end!!!!!! I could just imagine someone going down that dock and losing their bike in the water!!!!!!
Dan stood on solid ground and took pictures of each of us as we each dipped our bike in the water. I don't think I was even looking at the camera, I was so focused on not falling in!!!! Some of the girls had someone dip their bikes, but I wanted to dip my own. Then I had to stand on that rocky dock for a bit holding someone else's bike while they helped the others. I can still feel that darn rocky motion. A sailor I will NOT make.
At last we were done!!!!!! The trip was ALMOST over. The only thing remaining was the brunch. Back up that STEEP hill, but we found a shorter version of it so it wasn't too bad. Arrived at the hotel with mud all over my legs. And don't forget the drizzle, although we were VERY lucky that while it was wet, we did NOT get a downpour. Oh yes - while all or most of us had our fancy jerseys on for that last effort, I don't think one person exposed themselves to the elements - all you see is rain gear!!!!!!
Fortunately, our hotel agreed to shuttle us to the restaurant which was just down the street. Yeah - we arrive in dribs and drabs. It was ONE last chance to be together (some people left yesterday). Many stories were related, many laughs, some tears, two minutes of silence for Bob and Irene. Oh yes - forgot to mention that we got some ribbon (green for Bob because he had green handle bar tape on his bike and purple for Irene because she always wore purple ) and we tied that to our bikes or helmets in honour of them as we rode up the Hill. Actually I made a curly bow and tied it to my helmet. Neil had mentioned (the day before) that if we had a tailwind those ribbons would have caused us some problems as they would be blowing in our face - well that was NOT a problem at all).
Anyway - Eric brought the "official weigh-in" scale so people could see how much weight they had lost. According to that scale, I lost 10 pounds, but I am not sure about that. I know I have leaned up a lot and I am OK with that. Now the big thing will be - how to stay that lean. Bill (our tattoo artist) brought in a poster (not sure how to call it) that had a small emblem representing all the provinces and territories of Canada. He designed each of the crests, hand drew them and hand painted them. It is truly a treasure!!!!!! Now I want each as a tattoo -- but trying to decide if I want them on my calves, my quads, my arms, my back????? They are truly beautiful and we thank Bill for offering us such a beautiful memento of the trip.
I also received my Sea to Sea to Sea pin. When I completed the Tour Arctic in 2010, a number of people on that trip (those that had already done Tour du Canada) received a pin that Bud had designed for those that have ridden from Pacific to Atlantic to Arctic Oceans. I now have one of those pins and I am VERY PROUD to have it. I think I have earned it!!!!!
Then we walked back to the hotel and I think I made my room even messier than it already was. Clark was in the hallway trying to get his pedals off. Unfortunately one would not come off and when I checked the little arrows that say TIGHTEN - he was trying to tighten the pedals, not loosen the one and there was NO WAY that thing was coming off. That freaked me out and I hurried to my room to see if I could get my pedals off. YES - they came off very easily - especially when you turn the wrench in the right direction.
OH shoot - I forgot to mention ONE very important thing about that final lunch. You see if anyone asked me about flat tires during the trip - I always said NO COMMENT and right until the end when we arrived at our hotel I NEVER said a word about tires. But I did thank my bike (and Schwalbe - the manufacturer of the tires) for a pretty trouble free ride. The only thing I needed to do was change the brake pads once and the chain - OK - so Greig changed them for me, but that was just part of normal maintenance. The bike shop in Ottawa added a screw that was lost somewhere along the way and that is it!!!!! I was one of three that had no flats - Bill, Louise and myself - no flats. Megan had the most at 10. I know - TEN!!!!!! They were also surprised that I NEVER put air in my tires. The last time that air was put in the tires was in Ottawa at the bike shop. OK - so the pressure might be a bit lower now than it is supposed to be, but there is still a lot of pressure. Maybe I am just lazy - but I always use that strategy and I have hardly ever had a flat. Great - I can see what is going to happen when I get home!!!!
Now - what to do with the afternoon. I could start to pack up, but no - I am HAPPY to be living with my stuff all around me instead of neatly packed up in a bag. I am enjoying the freedom!!!!! I will pack tomorrow. It was raining and then it wasn't and while we are not far from downtown, it is still a bit of a walk. I finally bit the bullet and walked downtown where I had a great time browsing the shops of St. John's. Found some neat stuff - some of which I bought, most of which I did not. Some cool art work, but so hard to bring home so I left it in the store, but got the contact info. Found a neat used book store that actually had the book that I was looking for!!!!! A novel - so I am now on my eleventh book of the trip.
Off to meet with some of the others downtown where we ended up a pub for fish and chips and beer. A nice way to end the day - I think we were eight at dinner which was great and great live music. The others were going to move to another pub, but I was tired and decided to walk home. It was a nice night - well let's just say that it was warm, but still misty!!!!!! Crazy weather!!!!
Of course once I got to my hotel room, I could NOT sleep and it didn't help that I had the noisiest neighbours next door. But around 1 or maybe it was two - I finally dozed off.
In retrospect, I am VERY HAPPY that the previous day turned out as it did and that most did NOTmake it up the hill on the night we arrived. It was much more fun as a group and I can say that I have finished Tour du Canada on a very POSITIVE note. I am proud of myself for making it through all that this Tour tried to throw at us. Am I better person? I don't know, but I know this experience will help me in my day to day. Don't give up! Have dreams and work towards them - and as the saying goes - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger??? Oh yes - I believe that with all my heart.
I am going to try and upload my stats from the Garmin at the hotel computer.
Have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!