I have nearly 100 km to go to get from Renfrew to Ottawa, the humidex is over 40 for the day, there are several forrest fires burning along the way, I don’t really have a route and I need to be fresh for an alumni gathering at about 6 pm. Oh my.
I start with a good breakfast and an idea of a route suggested by a Pearson alum, Lucie.
All starts well and I manage to find back roads without difficulty. Much of the route is alongside fields of wheat, canola, strawberries and more. The Ottawa river valley is quite fertile.
Labourers are picking strawberries in oppressive heat. I wonder where they are from.
After about 50 km I get my first glimpse of the Ottawa River. This and the St Lawrence River will be my companions for the next several days.
I am not completely confident about the second half of my route into the city so when I see three Lycra clad cyclists coming from that direction, I wave to them and ask for advice.
Turns out they are on a mid-day ride from Ottawa into the countryside and back. After trying to give me directions, they ask me to join them. I only have to backtrack about one kilometer then they show me roads that barely appear on a map. After about an hour together, we have all run out of water and are in need of a break.
The trio take me to the town of Carp and the restaurant, The Swan. I am treated to lunch and drinks. The restaurant is next to a very active fire station, busy fighting brush fires. The fire department has to fill its trucks so often, the restaurant does not have enough water pressure to have running water.
Another nice coincidence is that one of the cyclists lives in the same neighborhood as Francois Jacques, the Pearson alum who is hosting the alumni gathering.
My escort to Ottawa continues after lunch and I make it in time for a quick shower and I am delightfully surprised to find fifteen alumni at the pot luck gathering. What a great welcome.
The evening is full of great conversation. It is inspiring to see what the alumni are doing. I continue with my video project interviewing UWC alumni about the impact of their college experience on their lives. I hope to turn this into a documentary in the fall.
Stats – for Sunday 22 July 2012
Finish: Nepean (just west of Ottawa)
Distance: 91 km
Time on Bike: 4 hrs 30 minutes
Average Speed: 20.3 km/hr
Distance to Date: 5,762