2015 Ontario Parks Tour: Day Six

The Day the Wheels Fell Off

Ferris to Emily Provincial Park – 98km
(7:45pm, Sept 24)

Well, that didn’t end the way we expected. we started the day well and made good time to our campsite, yet here we now sit, waiting for my Father-in-law to pick us up and take us back to Toronto.

As I said, the day started well. We slept in a little bit (to 7am) but packed up quickly and were on the road by 8:25. We had to head back into Campbellford when we left the park but decided to go straight through and grab breakfast later. Garmin made some… interesting route choices, choosing to send us along very hilly dirt roads when there were flatter regular roads running parallel to them. That didn’t make life any easier when I was still treading on eggshells around my wheel after yesterday’s spoke failure, and avoiding every bump I glimpsed.

After a particularly challenging stretch of dirt road – albeit with some lovely farmland scenery, which reminded me a bit of Cornwall – we hit a paved road again and shortly thereafter arrived in Hastings – a lovely little village on the Trent River – where we stopped for breakfast (we agreed after this that this isn’t a good approach, as stopping to eat both takes more time than cooking at the campsite, and lets your legs stiffen up).

We got going again, straight into another hill, and then not too long after that onto another side road that then turned into a dirt road with – you guessed it – more hills. Eventually we came out to Highway 7 which, despite being busy and full of trucks, was a nice respite from those rough road surfaces. After 8km or so of the trucks buzzing by, we were glad to turn back onto side roads. They were, of course, hilly – we did 25% more climbing in 80km of the main route today than in 100km yesterday.

Sooner or later we pulled onto Division Road, which became Parkhill Road and took us into Peterborough. A couple of climbs in the town there reminded me of the half marathon I ran in Peterborough a few years back (2007?) – I remember that being a hilly one, and we ran the morning after a snowstorm which was a nightmare.

After a short detour around some construction, we hopped back on Parkhill and out of town before turning right down another sideroad and shortly thereafter onto an awesome bike trail – a disused railway with some great views of the countryside – which took us almost all of the remaining distance to the campsite. One of the highlights was a rickety old bridge which both of us loved – we stopped to snap a few pics there. I think we were on the trail for 10-12km; once we turned off that onto Emily Park road, it was only a short hop over to the campsite.

The site here is nice. We’re on 317, which is just a short stroll from a beach & river in which we had a very relaxing and enjoyable swim once we arrived.

Shortly thereafter we headed into town for dinner. Both a couple of locals (originally from Liverpool, it turned out) and the park warden recommended a nearby town called Omemee – “just a couple of kilometres” away apparently. It turned out to be over eight, which was a bit of a surprise. There only seemed to be two restaurants in town – one Chinese place and one diner/chip shop, which we chose – the Chinese food was tempting but we were looking for pasta ahead of tomorrow’s ride…

…a ride which, sadly, is not to be. We were about half way home from town, on the same trail as earlier (just further along it than the main route) when I heard an ominous rattling on my bike. I looked down and immediately saw that two more spokes had snapped on my wheel – disaster. Happily we were able to tape the spokes out of the way and limp back to the campsite, but the wheel is clearly losing strength and the risk of the rim just collapsing tomorrow as we go along a busy road is just too high. So here we are – waiting for our ride home.

I’m feeling pretty emotional writing this, and torn in a couple of ways. Firstly, this has been an amazing trip. It’s been physically and mentally tough – which I always enjoy. It’s let me spend some quality time with Father and bond even more closely with him. It’s let me see new parts of Ontario, and see familiar parts in new ways. It’s been a real blessing for all of those reasons.

On the other hand, it’s a challenge left uncompleted. I don’t ‘do’ that, and it’s already gnawing at me. I was visualizing arriving home tomorrow, and telling stories of the ride, and I feel like that’s been ripped away from me.

So. This isn’t over. Not by a long shot. My next challenge is to get the bike fixed as quickly as possible and then – whether this weekend or another time soon – get back out here and finish this tour.

It ain’t over until I ride along our street at the end of the ‘day seven’ route.

More to come.

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The author

I'm a born and bred English guy - a Britnadian, if you will - living and working as EVP and National Practice Leader, Digital at Edelman in Canada. Outside work, my life splits a few ways: I'm a father, a cyclist, a video gamer and an explorer of the many ways that digital can bring companies and their stakeholders closer together. All of these bring me great enjoyment; one brings more pain than the others. Opinons are mine, not my employer's.