Posted by: Silver | March 5, 2012

Amherstburg to Highgate

Distance cycled: 103 km
Ascent: 327 m
Cycling time: 9 hours, 3 minutes

After a couple of months off from the cycling aspect of this journey, and after a week or so of coughing and spluttering my way through a bad cold, I was deeply shocked to find that my legs weren’t quite at their most powerful when I set out for the first ride of the new season… I was slightly more genuinely disappointed to discover that the westerly winds that had been blowing almost every day during my time in Amherstburg chose the very day of my departure to pirouette through 180º, just so they could look me in the eye as they tried to make my life a misery.

However, much to their chagrin, I’m sure, I had finally come to the important realization that cycling into a headwind isn’t actually difficult: the only thing that’s difficult is trying to cycle into a headwind at a normal speed. Thus, I simply reconciled myself to having rather longer than usual to enjoy the passing scenery and just kept pedalling as best I could.

But then it started to rain.

The forecast had promised me a little light rain towards the end of the afternoon, but the reality was neither light, nor long after lunchtime. But still it was OK: the temperature was a good few degrees above freezing, and it’s not as if I’d never been through this sort of weather before, so when a kind police officer stopped to check if I was alright, I really wasn’t lying when I said I was.

But after a couple more hours of increasing rain and wind, and with not a gas station or store in sight, I finally took the decision to try knocking on a house door to see if I might be able to take a few moments to dry off, change clothes and reassess my situation. However, from the moment the door was opened, it was obvious that there was as little warmth of human kindness behind it as there was warmth in the body standing in front of it. Maybe I just inadvertently turned up at a really inconvenient moment, but when the woman who answered the door refused to even take one of my cards by way of explanation for what I was doing out in such patently uncyclable conditions, my optimism finally deserted me and, after sploshing dejectedly back out into the wind and rain, I called on my reinforcements.

Any of you who know me will know what a failure that made me feel, but I knew that dying of hypothermia wasn’t going to help anyone and it was getting to the stage where that possibility was no longer necessarily just a rhetorical exaggeration. Since my back-up was coming from Amherstburg, though, my rescue was still some way away, so I pushed on for another couple of hours on the theory that as long as I kept moving, I would keep generating at least enough heat to keep me functioning. By the time I finally ran out of daylight, however, my exhaustion had overcome my reluctance to risk knocking on another door…

Fortunately, the second door I found myself at was opened by an extremely kind gentleman, who immediately ushered me into his kitchen and made me a mug of steaming hot chocolate while we waited for my petrol-driven, internally-heated chariot to arrive. I couldn’t drink it for a little while – not because it was too hot, but because I was shivering too much to hold the mug without spilling it – but by the time my knight-ess in shining armour arrived to drive me the final 25 km to Highgate, I was already feeling slightly more human.

And so, all’s well that ends well: I made it to my destination in one piece, my Amherstburg host got an excuse to go to London to visit her baby grandson, and my faith in the kindness of strangers was restored. But I will leave you all with a question to ponder: if a soaking wet, shivering cyclist appeared on your doorstep, how would you respond?

Not only did the second couple whose house I knocked at take extremely good care of me, but it also turned out that they run a home-based business making all-natural, gluten-free flapjacks (or 'cookies' as they seem to be called over here)! And, not content with saving me from the cold and rain, they sent me away with some samples too! So if you ever happen to be visiting Kitchener Farmers' market, look out for these goodies: they are genuinely very tasty, and made by some very, very kind people

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Responses

  1. Dear Silver….
    what an unbelievably difficult day! Sorry to hear about the challenging elements and people that you encountered today. Envisioning a great day tomorrow- no rain, much less wind, and a welcome as warm as your second one of today!

    …So humbled to think of all you are doing for SOS-
    thinking of you.
    Kimberly

  2. Silver……..it saddens me greatly to think that someone could turn you away!!!!
    I hope you continued success in your journey!

    Take care and be safe
    Stew & Dianne Gilmore
    Guelph

    • Well, you never know what another person’s circumstances might be, and she *did* let me quickly use her bathroom, so maybe that was just all she was in a position to offer at that moment.
      Lovely to hear from you anyway, Stew! And of course, it’s all onwards and upwards for SOS from here 🙂

  3. THANKS to the kind strangers who opened their door to you.
    yeahhhhhh, cookies!

    • I second that! My eternal thanks to the kind strangers who kept me alive! And the cookies really were yummy 🙂

  4. I would, and have, opened my house…got in the car to drive people where they need to go, made up a bed or what ever is necessary. I am told that it is a dangerous and naive thing to do…possibly but I will continue to do it. So…you don’t have to challenge the worst weather of the winter to show up at my door. I will let you in.

    Glad you are safe. I am sorry that you had to have that kind of hospitality. Maybe that woman has followed the advise of people who strive to keep her safe.

  5. Oh Silver I am so glad you made it alright in the end..Good on you tiny soldier…I am shocked that she would turn you away in such weather when it would have been clear to see how cold and wet you would have been…Like they say enjoy the Nice people when they are there and to the others it is their loss !!
    What a way to start the New cycling adventure huh..well warm Hugs from Hope to you…Take care of you ok…With Love ,Graham

  6. Oh goodness, I see what you mean about not having had such a good day! Thank heavens for your second attempt working out so well; those flapjacks look delicious! Do they do (overseas) mail order? 😉

    Sounds like all was well that ended well, but I have to say I would definitely have let the cyclist in, whether they were you or anyone else.

  7. Hi Silver,
    It’s too bad that lady would not let you in – she could have made a new friend and had a great story to tell (as we did). Glad to hear you are back on the road.
    Keep smiling!!!!
    Sandie, Grant and Ryley Harris


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