Lifted by the unprecedented resonance I experienced at the Terry Fox Memorial, my ride around the northern reaches of Lake Superior felt peacefully vigorous. That rare sensation of truly going with the flow, riding with the scene, seemed within reach. I powered through the first major climbs that would mark the highway’s path for the next several hundred kilometres, all the way to The Soo. I pushed down, pulled up and around, over and again, with deeper breaths and unmatched endurance.
Cycling through Nipigon, the Trans-Canada wraps around the northernmost reaches of Lake Superior and veers southward, offering a sense of downhill momentum into the rest of Ontario. All through the province, though, green markers announce every kilometre along the highway. Depending on one’s mood, watching every kilometre pass by on a self-propelled bike can feel either productive or torturous. Fortunately, I felt my most positive since the western edges of the Rockies.
Of course, if this story were solely mine, I’d have pushed along the Trans-Canada, wonderfully alone, exploring beyond and beneath within, embracing a newfound patience and vitality. If this story were solely mine, I would have embarked on connecting all of the dots that began to shine earlier that morning, excitedly re-examining the memories and stories I’d already formed on this journey. Roots, trees, progress, and all the rest. All on my own.
Control is an ever-fleeting feeling, though. A strange feeling I was beginning to open and embrace.
The hills of northern Ontario grew more arduous and frequent around Nipigon, and I was adapting quickly to the landscape’s rolling climbs and descents.
While racing along the downside of some unremembered climb, I noticed a dot moving slowly along the shoulder up the next hill. A black dot.
Curious to conclude whether my eyes were observant or deceptive, I pedaled furiously to keep my momentum strong. Within seconds, I’d reached the beginning of the next hill and kept riding hard up the climb, my eyes looking up and ahead all the while. As I pushed closer and closer, the black dot revealed itself to be a cyclist wearing all black, riding with black panniers, sporting no helmet.
I yelled ahead as I caught up to Wildman. After three tries, he peered back, then stopped immediately. I rolled to his left side.
Dude. What happened to you?
Dude! What happened to you!?
Initial utterances of surprise were followed by matching sighs of relief:
Yeah. Good. Bike’s hurting a bit. But, good.
Reunited, once again. Turned out Wildman had bike troubles upon leaving our early morning stop before Thunder Bay, costing him about an hour to repair a broken cable. He busted his way through Thunder Bay into the night, sleeping in the woods past the eastern fringes of Thunder Bay. He never stopped at the monument.
We quickly returned to our plan to bike together into southern Ontario. I patiently pulled myself out from within to be more present with my riding companion. Knowing Wildman’s plans to break in a few days, I understood my journey would return to a solo venture again soon.
Wildman and I rode into the evening, battling and conquering climb after climb under a warm spring sun and beautifully clear skies. Views of Lake Superior and the impressive islands offshore were unexpectedly memorable, serving the most picturesque vistas since I’d rolled out of the Rockies. Ascents typically turned inland, frequently cutting through the Canadian Shield, offering glimpses into the impressive underlying layers of rock predominating the terrain. The ensuing descents often returned closer to the coast, gifting another spectacular scene of the coastal hills, forests, and wondrous islands rising out of the lake.
Hours after my greatest breakthrough within, I’d been pulled away from my own mind by the return of Wildman and the unfamiliar beauties of Lake Superior. But, man, I felt more open than ever. Get over yourself. This story is not solely yours. And, so, as best I could, I just kept riding, accepting every moment and experience as it came. Gifts and epiphanies would be most welcome, but, more than ever, I felt open to the challenges and burdens, too.