It was pouring with rain, and within less than an hour I found out three things:
1. Rain is worse than snow.
2. My boots are not waterproof, neither are my gloves. Don't let me get started on my jacket.
3. Setting up a tripod when it’s cold and wet is not fun. - but I did it anyway!
The CN tower, or what you can see of it. Right as I left it started raining. I still had 100km to go and with the short winter days that meant riding in the dark.
And then my tire's sidewall blew up. I was lucky that I had a friend in Ajax, who drove me to the nearest bike shop to get a new tire.
Yup. Definitely riding in the dark now.
7pm. It’s pitch black dark, the road is icy and it’s cold.
My 32mm tires slip on the ice when going uphill so I have to walk. Downhill is worse, I put both my feet down and slide, hoping that I don’t fall.
The oncoming traffic and their bright lights terrify me, I can’t see anything and if there is a car behind me they probably can’t see me either.
As I was moving slowly near the top of one hill, I saw lights behind me, and I decided to go on the icy shoulder. Bad idea. I nearly fell and had to put both my feet down, I wonder what the driver thought.
As I got closer to port hope lightning struck the cloudy skies, but there was no thunder. There was no electricity either.
Through warmshowers I got in touch with Bart, who just like me cycled The Dempster Highway in 1988, but unlike me he spent 9 years in Inuvik, Northwest Territories.
The storm left over 600,000 Ontarians without power, Port Hope was not an exception.
I am normally shy and anxious, but if I can cycle through ice storms I should be able to overcome that. So here I was, in the company of strangers and having one of the best Christmas dinners in my life.
I've had one Christmas dinner since I left Bulgaria, 10 years ago.
I spent a century looking for the sun.
If I wanted to avoid camping I would have to ride 165km today to near Kingston. How’s that for motivation?
A Canada Post car was stuck beside the road, I offered to help but the driver already had people coming.
“You shouldn’t ride in this weather, there are crazy drivers on the road.”—she said.
Being on a bike in the winter and during an ice storm, I was crazier than them.
I took the wrong turn at Napanee and I spent the next few hours in the dark on small roads. I rode in the middle where there wasn’t much ice and I constantly looked back checking for cars. The roads had no signs, or if they did I didn’t have a good light to see them. I was relying on my phone’s GPS to guide me in the right direction.
Then the stars came out. Its been a while since the last time I was outside in the cold and in the dark, looking at the stars. How about you?
Despite the headwind and the low of -15ºC, the sun made this one of my best days so far. Also, it was Christmas and I had found a place to stay at Perth, only 75km away.
I wasn’t doing too good—there was nowhere to stop and I haven’t had lunch yet. My hands and feet are cold. Luckily there is a gas station where I go to warm up and eat before I take on a hill with the sunset at my side.
A car passed by, but took off before I could reply.
...and it was Christmas after all.
When thinking about this trip I was very worried about the holidays and if people would want a stranger in their house. I was again welcomed and treated like a part of the family, this was truly an amazing evening and well worth battling the freezing cold all day.
There was turkey, potatoes and ooh: homemade one-bite cheesecakes!
One-way ticket from Halifax
Ice storms, icy roads and -20C. I've made it through some bad times. It was time to book my airplane ticket from Halifax. There was only one way to go now.
"You are lucky, I was going to take your bike but you had a Canadian flag on it."--a homeless man approached me.
"Yup that and the police car over there" there were a lot of police around Canada's capital for some reason.
He also asked me for some change but refused my offer of food. I know many view homeless people as lazy but in reality many of them suffer from mental problems and addiction.
Ottawa: not the side you would hear about in a travel magazine.
And while on the subject, one of the bicycle tourers I met, Kevin Downey is cycling around the world and fundraising for Depaul Ireland. Although... he is somewhere warmer.
Then there is Quebec. With my grade 9 french all I remember is to ask how to use the toilet. But it can't get worse than riding through an Ice Storm.