Troy Media publisher Doug Firby and travel editor Lisa Monforton are part of a group of Canadians who call themselves ConnecTour. Starting in May in British Columbia and ending in October in Newfoundland, they hope to make an 8,000-km bicycle journey across the country, discovering how the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped our lives and our sense of community. Watch for their reports on Troy Media. More information on the cycling tour is available at ConnecTour.ca. To help them meet their goal, click here.
It certainly didn’t. Ever the optimist, I was excited to start the four-month ride to discover our beautiful country with Doug and our friends, and meet people from all walks of life.
Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling of being sidelined after a fluky fall off my bike on a secondary road south of Saskatoon in which I broke my collarbone and was unconscious for several minutes. Every day, I’m grateful I didn’t end up with a brain injury.
Life is all about adapting to surprises, good and bad. And after spending five hours in the emergency room getting a battery of tests, I left Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon with an arm sling and a plan. I’d fly to southern Ontario to stay with my mother, see my three sisters and heal up until I could rejoin the ride.
Naturally, everyone was at first alarmed and worried about me but was more than delighted with my plan to hang out and heal. For the next six weeks, I tried not to feel sorry for myself but rather look at this as a way to spend time with my 83-year-old mom, my three sisters, brothers-in-law and get to meet some grand-nieces and nephews I hadn’t yet met.
I also had a plan to rejoin the ride down the road, but nothing solid – until a couple of weeks later, when I woke up in the middle of the night with an idea. I would buy a used minivan (I was in Windsor after all, the minivan-making capital of Canada) and drive to meet the gang in Tobermory, about six hours north.
With the help of one of my sister’s friend’s connections, I bought a snazzy 2016 Grand Caravan Crew at a reasonable price. (Thanks to Craig Lanoue, owner of Amfar Auto Sales and Leasing in Tilbury, Ont.!) Then we’d sell it in St. John’s or drive it back to Calgary. We will cross that bridge later.
Meanwhile, I’m thrilled to be reunited with Doug, Rick and Tanya McFerrin – even in my support vehicle role. (I hope to be back on my Surly bicycle in a couple of weeks, in time to ride the beautiful Eastern Townships of Quebec and beyond to Atlantic Canada.)
No, driving the van is certainly not the same as getting up every morning and cruising down country roads with the sun on your back or sweating up endless hills on your bike. But I’m here in the company of good friends – and more to meet along the way.
Two big thank yous: To all my friends who reached out to me on Facebook, by phone and email, and invited me out for dinner and drinks in Windsor. And to my family, I can never repay you for your warm welcome, everyday help and just being there when I needed you.
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