When asked if I would write something about cycling I was given guidelines. What they asked for isn’t me. Isn’t my cycling journey. Isn’t my life. Mine is seeking out adventure, places and people to engage with. I want to learn the stories of those I encounter. The history of the places I visit. I’ve been on the bike at -50C and 50C and loved both equally while wanderlusting this county. Seems the harder the journey the better the memories. There’s several different cycling journeys, solo, small group, and sometimes with several companions. Mine journey is owned by me and hopefully what you’re about to read is entertaining, intriguing and inspires you to own yours.
Someone asks about favourite rides. There’s no clear favourite. Maybe five in total come to mind. What you should know is I love weather extremes. Hell look at my IG and I think that’s apparent. It’s the fury that nature can throw at us that draws me. To challenge it and myself. I get so disappointed when a storm doesn’t live up to the weather’s prediction. The one I’m about to recall did!
There’s a winter phenomenon called a polar vortex. It brings down the coldest temperatures imaginable from the Arctic. A vortex can last days and even weeks. There’s never snow with them but quite the opposite, sunny days. The sun in those temperatures is only a source of light. There’s no warmth!
It was a Saturday and the temperature had plunged to a never seen before -52C. Now you have to know I had been keeping a riding everyday streak going and maintained it for three full years. Three years of riding at least two kilometers everyday. Sounds easy till you have the flu or a brutal cold. So this -52C wasn’t going to end the streak. Late afternoon I decided to go for it despite warnings to stay inside. I started with my Merino wool base layer and then covered every centimetre of exposed skin with multiple layers. Strapping on the helmet, I pushed up the garage door and jumped on the fatbike. Off I went!
I didn’t feel the cold but then again I don’t feel cold like people say it feels. As I was pedalling, the countryside took on a frosty beauty I’ve never witnessed before. The air was full of ice crystals that sparkled and danced like summer fireflies. I was hypnotized by that dance. I became acutely aware of the danger. A breakdown or crash and I could be in real life threatening situation as there are great distances between farms and possibility of seeking help or a place of safety was remote. I totally forgot about the cold and revelled in the magnificent challenge I had put myself to. Physically, the primary challenge was pulling apart my frozen together eyelids as I rode along. It was eighteen k to my destination and the distance passed to quickly. The destination was a heated bus shelter in Cobourg. I opened the door and stepped into the blast of warm air coming from the vents. I sat and waited for my ride thinking I had probably done a ride I’ll never again get to challenge.
A forever memory.
A big part of my cycling life is doing everyday things by bike. Shopping, chores (one day I will perfect raking the lawn while cycling) and visiting friends. There’s a lot of different routes to Cobourg, or Port Hope and which one I take depends on the available time. I love my rides to Port Hope. Challenging hills and I get to see Juno. I didn’t see Juno for the longest time and missed her running the fence line barking at me as I rode past. Then one day she was back. She was sitting on the porch and waiting for me. When I got closer I called her name and the chase began. I stopped and asked her owner why I hadn’t seen her for so long and learned it was because of hip surgery. Her owner said Juno wasn’t allowed to run for months and would whine when she heard me call for her as I went past. Then I was told a sad story how other cyclists yell and swear at her. She’s no harm and can’t get out to the road, so I’m not sure where the nastiness comes from.
The great part of riding from where I live to either town is it’s mostly downhill, but this means coming home can be a struggle uphill loaded down with things. The one road I never miss a chance to ride is the Seventh Line from Highway 28 to Highway 10. When I first moved here a cycling couple who had travelled the world said if a cyclist can ride that, they can ride anywhere in the world. After doing both, I know it’s so true! There’s a series of hills that represent a huge challenge with the payoff being once you reach Highway 10 the downhill trip to just south of Canton is thrilling. It was riding downhill to the Fourth Line I met Greg.
I actually had met a guy called Greg before when cycling, but that was in Durham Region and it was just a brief talk. As we rode the Fourth Line east towards Sylvanglen Road we started to introduce ourselves. He told me he owns the Bualai Taste of Thai restaurant. As we rode down Sylvanglen and over the bridge that crosses the Ganaraska River, I for some reason mentioned I was a windsurfer at one time. He said he was as well. I told him I windsurfed in Ajax. He said he did to. OK. I asked him his name and he said, “Greg.” I told him the only Greg I knew drove a blue Honda Civic. He replied “that was me.” From that point forward we’ve reconnected and become great friends. Greg has an incredible collection of bikes and constantly gets on me about how dirty I keep my bikes. I’m getting better at cleaning and ride far less dirty than formerly.
Once in Port Hope I stop in to see my friend Rob at Dwellissimo. Perfect place to take a break and have a catch-up about what’s happening and what’s new on my bike. One day Rob told me I needed to meet someone. This someone is a legendary director, cinematographer and photographer. Rob figured this someone could help me with my photography skills. Award winning skills by the way. Just won my first contest. Anyway the man’s name is Bob Perks. I met him and from the very beginning we’ve become close. I think he’s the best friend I’ve ever had. A mentor for photography and life for me. We’ve headed out on photo shoots of me riding in our beautiful Northumberland County. So if you see some old dude yelling instructions at a cyclist on the side of the road that’s us! Feel free to stop and laugh at our never ending banter or catch our act at The Beamish House in Port Hope.
Cycling and photography. I haven’t talked much about that side of my riding yet. I post photos of me riding our County and they get a lot of attention around the world. I carry a tripod and Bluetooth remote with me. I set my iPhone upon the tripod and then mark the road where I want me to be. I ride to the spot and hit the Bluetooth remote and hopefully the iPhone takes the photo. Lots of times it doesn’t. 🤣