TNTO: Mission Impossible = Mission Accomplished

Day Two turned out to be a much more eventful day, right from the beginning. On Saturday evening, while I was having dinner with Lilian, Mom and Lilian’s friend Catherine, Duncan met up with a group of riders (Sue, Edik, Matt, Justine, Janet & Rob). Their plan was to ride slowly to Burlington, and then take the Go Train back to Toronto. Since neither Duncan nor myself knew exactly what kind of shape we would be in, we decided to tag along.

Sue-and-company are very nice people, and I enjoyed my time with them. So on Sunday morning, after stopping at IHOP for breakfast, we got going. And that’s when things got interesting. Within 2 minutes, Justine got a flat front tire; she had a puncture right at the valve. Edik and Matt put in a new tube for her, then we headed downhill on Clifton St.

At the bottom of the street there was a huge bump at the traffic light, and while most of us made it through alright (it was bone shattering if you’re on a road bike), Janet didn’t. She was right behind me, and when she saw me going through the bump, she tried to stop. She must have lost her balance then, because when I looked back, she was lying face down on the pavement, with her bike on top of her. Several pedestrians stopped to help direct traffic while we got Janet off the road. She seemed okay, but she didn’t remember the accident (concussion!!), and when we looked at her helmet, we found that the foam shell had shattered. The helmet did its job, but Janet—despite her enthusiasm—was in no shape to continue. So grudgingly, we left her and her boyfriend Rob behind. By the way, you can actually see the bump right next to the white line on Google Street View.

Meanwhile, Duncan was feeling worse about the shape he was in—he may have got some heat exhaustion from Saturday—and he also pulled out of the ride. That left me with 4 new friends, heading straight north towards Niagara on the Lake. I rode slowly with Sue-and-company for the next 60km. It was rather pleasant and enjoyable. Because of the many stops we made, by the time we arrived at Balls Falls, it was already 1:30pm. I had wanted to be back in High Park by 6:30pm, and there was another 110km left, so I said goodbye to the group, grudgingly, gave Justine and Sue hugs, and “sprinted” ahead by myself.

The advantage of riding by yourself is that I don’t have to worry about matching the pace of everyone, no need to point out the potholes, no worries about bumping into someone’s wheels. The disadvantage though, is that you get lonely, and if you see anything interesting, you can’t share it with anyone.

Eventually I made it through to Hamilton Beaches, where I was passed by a group of 5 riders. They were much stronger than I was, and they were happy to let me tag along and draft behind them. This group had decided not to follow the planned route, but instead taking Lakeshore Blvd along Burlington to Oakville to Mississauga and back to Toronto. They were hoping to cut down more than 10km on the route, and I was happy to follow them. I managed to stay with them for another 15km, but my inexperience with any kind of serious group riding quickly stressed me out (I actually felt sick to my stomach from riding within inches from the woman in front), and eventually I was left behind, leaving me to cover the last 36km alone again. Thankfully, Lakeshore Blvd is well sheltered, and I did make it back to High Park at 6:45pm. Lilian and Mom were waiting at the parking lot, and we celebrated by consuming large quantities of meat at a Chinese BBQ restaurant in Scarborough.

Thus ends one of the most intense trip I’ve had in a long time. I am happy to say that the trip was a success.  I learned a lot about cycling, about myself, and I had great time too. Total distance travelled = 331.99km, according to my bike computer: 168km on Saturday, 164km on Sunday.