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‘Crankin ‘Cross Canada ~ It All Seemed So Surreal . . . . . . Today We’re Heading Home

It’s hard to believe a whole year has passed by. In a few weeks our bike ride across Canada May 2014 will have begun . . . . last mid-May. I think it is time to finish up my last entry in my blog.

We started the day up early as usual only savouring every moment, knowing at the end of the day we would be home. Coffee was brewing on the cook-stove, we were rolling our ensolite pads, stuffing our sleeping bags in their stuff sacks, Doug disassembled the wheels off of the trailers to prepare them for the airport as luggage and I ran extra food down the hill to the young cyclists who were still on a mission. As we packed our gear and clothing in the trailers, Caroline and Michel wandered over to bid us farewell, have a lesson in tarp hanging and share some morning java. They were preparing to continue their journey as well.

It had been misty fog and raining last night and we wanted to be sure the boxes would remain dry. We arranged to have the park staff meet us this morning, at the shed where we had stored our boxed up bikes for the night.The taxi van picked us up shortly after that, we filled the van with our gear and off we went to the airport in St. John’s. It all seemed so surreal ~ we were going home, our trip was over. We had been gone for three and a half months. Two weeks visiting family in Calgary and three months crossing over 6,000 km to Newfoundland.

It was decided days ago. We had been debating for a week how we would get home from the airport, ride home with trailers in tow to finish our travels or having someone pick us up. On the flights home, Doug started. “Do you have the route home yet from the airport? It won’t take me long to take the bikes out of the boxes in Hamilton, reassemble them, reassemble the trailers and get us on the road to ride home. We should be arriving home just before dark. It’s only 50 km or so from the airport to home, that’s nothing! We’ll have that done in no time. We’ll be home in close to 3 hours.” I tried to ignore him, all along I wasn’t too keen on this plan. Being so close to home once we finally landed, I just wanted to get home, not unpack, reassemble, and repack . . . . then bike home. It was all I could do to hold back the tears, I could hardly look at him when he mentioned it. He blurted little quips about this plan all the way flying home. I was still not convinced it was the best idea. I just wanted to get home.

Suppertime we landed. It was such a great feeling to know we were so close to home, I was smiling ear to ear. But there was still much to be done, before I’d arrive home. As we waited for our packages and bike boxes, Doug reassured me he would take no time at all and we would be on the road. He told me, just watch for the trailers as he ran to the washroom. Within minutes they appeared. As I was taking them off the turnabout, I heard from behind me, “Patti-jo, do you need a ride home?” I turned around and . . . . . Roberto was standing there, with his dark sunglasses on. I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy to be rescued from having to ride home. I hugged him and began to cry! We all laughed about Doug teasing me all day and for the last few days.

As we were walking out to Roberto’s car, Doug told us that he had emailed everyone (he thought I would ask) to let them know if I had reached out and asked them to come pick us up . . . . . that they were to let me know it was impossible due to other commitments they had. He told them he had arranged a ride for us, so not to worry or feel bad about me begging for a pick up. We all laughed when Roberto said he felt a little tear in his eye build up behind his sunglasses, seeing how happy I was.

It was so great to be close to home! The drive was perfect ~ the sun was shining, it was warm, and the garden and grass colours in the evening sun were stunning. As we drove down our road, I was anticipating seeing our house. There it was, waiting for us to return! I looked to the right side of the car, tacked to the wood pile was a 10 – 12′ long Welcome Home sign on our wood pile . . . . . I began to cry, again. Bernadette made this sign for us. It was so great to be home!! I hugged the house, the bushes in my garden, the trees on the lawn, and ran around to the back yard. It all looked so good to me. I cried again.

What a great surprise, Roberto’s Lu Lu had made us some dinner for the evening knowing we had travelled all day. As we said our goodbyes to Roberto and went into the house, there was another enormous Welcome Home sign awaiting, it filled the entire living room wall. This one was my Dad’s handiwork. On the kitchen counter awaiting was a note from Mom, “Pasta-fazool was in the fridge.” Noodles were on the counter along with a bottle of Dad’s wine and fresh Italian bread. Mmmmm!

What a great home-coming this had been!

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Day 10 ~ A Killer Last Day ~ The Day With All the Breakdowns . . . . One Of The Longest Days Ever!!!!

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Chain Lakes Provincial Park ~ Calgary ~ 117 km, 6 hour 15 minutes (supposedly)

Shortly after riding on to the Cowboy Trail towards home, Ryan yelled ahead to Doug. “My back wheel is rubbing.” We all dismounted our bikes to take a look. One of only eighteen spokes was broken and we had 120 kms ahead of us. The wheel was jammed against the frame making it impossible to proceed.

Doug jumped into millwright “McGuyver Mode.” They cut out most of the broken spoke, leaving just enough on each end to twist into loops. Before the final solution was found, a few other strategies were attempted.  After searching the shoulder of the road in both directions, he found piece of wire suitable for the job.

As the sun was blistering down on us, Doug laced the wire between the two loops and then tensioned it by twisting it with an Allen Key. I was hiding in the long grass trying to cool down behind the shadow of a fence post. VOILÀ, after a couple of hours we were back on the road!

Ryan was fairly tentative to ride on his new fangled spoke.  A few hills later, as we approached Longview, more trouble surfaced. h
He couldn’t shift into a higher gear to climb the next hill. Another maintenance stop revealed a broken rear shifter cable. There was no solution to fixing this problem . . . . . he only had two gears he could use ~ fifth and tenth. The rest of the Doug pulled out his bunge-cord tow rope to assist in towing Ryan up the hills. Several stops were made to hook up and unhook the towing rope. The day seemed to drag on as the sun began to lower toward the horizon.

As we crested one of the last hills, we could see skyline of Calgary off in the distance. We celebrated that we only 30 km left to pedal, we had so many mechanical problems today, we thought we were home free!

Not so! Ryan had . . . . . not one, not two, but three flat tires. Argh! It seemed we didn’t have enough trouble yet! We were so ready for this ride to be done. What should have been an easier 6 hour ride, was stretching out to be one of our longest rides going on 11 hours.

As we approached the last two kilometers to Ryan’s house, Doug’s chain broke  . . . . . not once, not twice, but three times. Ryan and I patiently waited while Doug fixed it.  We were so anxious to be finished our ride and couldn’t believe we had so much trouble, all in the same day.  Thankfully this didn’t happen throughout our entire ride!

We turned up the last road with a bit of an incline, about 1k left to go. We heard a crack ~ Doug’s back derailler snapped off and was hanging down, only held up by his chain. It was unbelievable!  We all stopped and looked at each other and laughed so hard. The best part wad the tow rope came out one last time to finish our ride. Marie was waiting for us at the gate to welcome us home. Our adventure was over.