A few weeks back, we thought it was all over...my father's bike odyssey across Canada. He had started in Vancouver, and had pedaled to Thunder Bay in the Canadian midwest. I was shocked to get a call asking if I could pick him up at Newark Airport! After 28 days on the open road, he was done. In accepting a ride to a motel in bad weather, that motel ended up being right next to the airport, and it was just "too easy" to decide to buy a ticket home.
Having done some cross-country biking myself (in my college years), I felt that, after he had lasted past two weeks, and his weather was good for the most part, that he would bike all the way back to his New Jersey driveway.
As I pulled up to the curb at Newark Liberty, and put his bike in the back of the car, he said: "I am sorry to disappoint you."
Between this year's biking, and last year's odyssey (going east to west), he had covered the entire Canadian coast-to-coast route....plus, to have done so at his age (81) is a feat in itself! Click here to read the nj101.5 story detailing the end of my father's ride!
Two weeks ago...he told me that he just couldn't "get motivated" to do anything. That he was "in the dumps" all week. By Friday it had hit him: he felt as he did because he hadn't completed his bike trip. That he had made a "mistake" coming home.
As I headed off for a week of sun and fun in Ocean City, I had my suspicions that he might do something unexpected...
Wednesday morning, I got an e-mail from my sister:
"Dad has been depressed over having quit biking so, mind made up and happier Monday as he made his arrangements (I overheard him on the phone Sunday, plus I saw his notes on his desk) he got himself together in 2 1/2 days.
I was gone most of Tuesday, so when I got home around 10pm last night, as soon as I walked thru the door, dad said, "After you put your things down can you come back please"
Very uncomfortably he began to do the hem and haw, so to relieve his discomfort I just said, "I know. I heard you on Sunday talking on the phone."
I had figured that every time I saw him walk to his bedroom Sunday and Monday, closing the door behind him - he was getting himself prepared.
By the time you see this (e-mail) - he will be on the road."
Knowing that my sister would be unhappy with his decision, he asked the neighbors to drive him to the airport.
Back to my sister's e-mail: "They left 7am on the dot.
I sure wish I'd had camera in hand as I watched him walk down the driveway to the (neighbor's) home. Wearing his "Hillier than Thou" white biking t-shirt; half of an egg shell on his head (his bike helmet); shopping bag in left hand, sleeping bag in his right; and baggy belted blue shorts with black pipe cleaner legs stretching to his sneakers (he was wearing black leggings).
He expects to get 3 hours of biking in before nightfall, and will stay warm in his brand new sleeping bag.
He is picking up where he left off at Thunder Day, (1/4 of the way thru Ontario, then into New York), He will travel a different route that is more curvy than hilly.
And that is that. He doesn't know when he'll be able to email, but expects to be done in 20 days or so."
Like he explained in his e-mail to his many friends following his decision to return home (and published here on nj1015.com): "Will people consider me a quitter? I hope not"
So, he's back on the road...and now, he's HAPPY!
My friends in Ocean City immediately start asking: "Have you gotten any word from your dad?" Like last time, I figured that word would be sparse, to start. So, on Thursday afternoon, I was surprised to get an e-mail update from my father!
This first part of the group e-mail is directed to me:
"Craig, (the neighbors) took me to Newark airport this am. We took I 287, and we arrived in 45 min. No one was waiting and the clerk asked if I wanted an earlier flight. YES!! Maybe I can catch an earlier flight to Thunder Bay. Good thought. Exit from late flight was slow and so was the border check. Thus, I missed the 10:55 FLIGHT AND DIDN'T GAIN ANYTHING TO GET OUT OF THUNDER BAY 3 HOURS EARLIER! ARRIVED 3:30 pm, AND SHOULD STILL GET 3-4 HOURS ROAD TIME BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP UNDER THE STARS, NORTH OF THUNDER BAY.
They did check my box and found the food, but I think they left the canned food in the box. The food was to let me get a head start on my 30 Km tonight (Wednesday). IT WAS LEFT IN MY BOX. WHEW!
At (the) Airlines complimentary waiting room, I grabbed 2 cans of lemonade, at least a doz cookies, and about 5 small dishes of salted almonds. Thank you to the Airlines.
Weather forecasts Tell me I should have 5-6 days of sun before a T Shower.
At home I was mopey, and now i am pumped up!"
I am glad to hear that he is HAPPY!
My father sent his latest update during a break in his pedaling on Thursday afternoon, and we'll pick up with his latest group message:
"Aug 14: While at the Toronto airport a woman looking like (one of his friends) walked up to me, and stared me in the face. Conversation ended by her drawing me a map of how to easily get into OTTAWA iF i SO CHOOSE. We also discussed a route to get across the St Lawrence River to get back to NY and NJ. The Lord seems to put people in places where I need help.
This portion is typed in in Nipigon. From the (Thunder Bay) airport I surprisingly biked 40 KM..
Permission was granted to place my bag under some big pine trees near a driveway entry. My mattress was pine needles and small pine cones. Really comfortable. I was also invited in for tea because they wanted to hear my stories.
We shared conversation. Dan used to work in a pulp mill and now drives a box milk truck 3 days a week. He likes his independence.
I finally jumped in my bag around 10 pm. Woke up to a temp around 40 degrees. I was still comfortable, til I got out of the bag. Brrrrrrrrr It is not light until 6am, so my biking days may be shorter (than the earlier portion of the ride, taking place from the end of June til the end of July).
It is now 1:30 pm and I am headed for Bearsley on hgwy 11, north of Nipigon.
Next message ??"
As always, please excuse my father's typos. He's often in a rush to get back on the road, or to send out the message before he gets kicked off the internet in a small town library, at the end of a business day.
In this leg of his resumed west-to-east bike trip across Canada, home to New Jersey, he is in the least populated portion of his entire trip. The towns are small, and far in between.
As you can see, he continues to, in his words, "live under a lucky star."
Just when you thought that was the end of the bike story...the odyssey continues!
Stay "tuned" for updates, here at nj1015.com!
And, thanks for your continued kind words, and thoughts, on my father's behalf!