Ride for Africycle 6.0 Day Five: Presquile to Peterborough

I find that the last day of a ride is always mixed in terms of emotions. On the one hand there’s the ride which is itself a glorious thing. Then there’s the knowledge that the freedom and camaraderie that goes with a long ride is coming to an end. Then there’s the knowledge that some creature comforts which matter a lot are returning. Then there’s the matter of returning to loved ones . . . . So in a word emotions are – mixed

Packing up the tents and bins went fairly quickly. We were getting much better at that part of the morning routine. A good breakfast and some goodbyes, and off we went.

We had decided beforehand to take the shorter route up the East side of Rice Lake. The ride home passed through Brighton . . .

Which has its own fair share of lovely old homes . . .

Up and over the 401 we went . . .

A really quaint little home somewhere in the hills between Brighton and Hastings . . .

Here’s Devon Code – drummer, published author, super strong bicycle rider, and a really good dude . . . .

In Warkworth we stopped here . . .

and here . . .
for some really good road fuel . . .

That got us through to Hastings where we ate lunch down by the river . . .

and then made our way to the Bridgewater cafe where good pizza, pastries, americano’s, espressos, and all sorts of other stuff can be bought and consumed. Here are a couple of action shots of the RFA 6.0 team fueling up and discussing the route ahead . . .

For the final leg we rode through the rolling countryside just West of Keene.

The headwind and the hills became more of a factor in our ability to stick together . . .

But we worked together and eventually arrived in Keene . . .

Where we stopped for a snack and some restorative liquids . . . .

Back on the bikes and we rode quickly West towards Peterborough. Soon we were riding on the familiar gravel roads of the south end of the City . . . .

And soon this gravel road turned into paved road and the paved roads all link together and it seemed like no time passed at all before we were riding through the South end of the city of Peterborough and aiming for a cold beer at Michael and Andrea and William’s home . . .

Where, like so many memorable, beautiful, incredible rides before, we ended up to share the little stories . . .

And watch the sky pass by . . .

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Ride for Africycle 6.0 Day Four: A day off at Presquile

The tradition of a day off riding is a well-established Ride for Africycle feature. It usually takes place somewhere nice so there’s all sorts of options that can include just lazing around, reading, taking photographs, going for bike rides, or napping. Whatever you wish!!

This day started relatively early as little William had big plans of his own . . . . I got to take him for a trip to the Lake which included looking at trucks and campers and flowers and tents and birds and bugs and trees and people and dogs and all sorts of eye-catching mind-blowing stuff. Being with a little dude like William is the best and quickest reminder of how amazing this world really is!!!

We walked past people making their coffee and bacon and stumbling around in their jammies, eyes half open.

We shared the shoreline with a slowly rising sun as well as a large group of Canada Geese and seagulls.

William was fascinated by the water of course, and wanted to make closer contact with the seagulls. Unfortunately his wishes were not matched by theirs and so no matter what he said, they flew away . . . .

We headed back to the camp where there were signs of cooking – the day before, Jerrett and Ben had bought six pounds of bacon which we were gradually chiselling at, so the wonderful smell of bacon filled the air! Around the breakfast table we discussed various possibilities for the day. Kris wanted to head off on a long bike ride. Others were up for reading, playing board games and maybe a shorter bike ride later on . . . .

I read for a while in the sun and wrote some notes about the ride and soon enough it was lunch time which was awesome burgers and salad and chocolate milk. After we’d finished lunch, a group of us headed off for a ride around the park.

First we headed off to see the boardwalk through the massive wetlands at Presquile. To be totally immersed in massive tall wild grasses is a truly stunning and beautiful experience. Helpful guide notes along the way pointed out some of the other features of the wetlands.

From there we rode to the Camp store where we bought ice cream! I chose a flavour – chocolate-caramel surprise. The surprise? There was no chocolate or caramel anywhere to be found in it. It was vanilla ice cream! I love it!!! Happily there was cold Coke to wash it down.

From there we went to the famous Presquile lighthouse.

The lake was calm and the sky was soft. The stories posted around the lighthouse suggest that this isn’t always so, as countless ships have sunk in this stretch of water . . . .

Leaving the lighthouse, we followed a shoreline path that gradually took us back to our campsite and some cold beers! Our last night together unfolded with an amazing meal of steak, baked potatoes, corn on the cob and lotsa laughter as we set up a great big canopy tent over our meal as it started raining. A lovely end to a beautiful day!

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Ride for Africycle 6.0 Day Three: Kingston to Presquile (Pt.3)

Well! In all the excitement of posting yesterday’s chapter of the Ride for Africycle 6.0 tour of epicurean and velocipede-based pleasures I neglected to mention a relatively brief but delicious stop in at Norman Hardie’s winery!

Yes, we made a slight detour off the route (and wouldn’t you?!!) to pay our respects to Norman once more. We were greeted by one of his staff who treated us to three spectacular cheeses and some bright red crabapples that we washed down with some astonishing and chilled white wine!! What a day of good eats and good drinks!

So, back to the present. A night at Presquile is always a pleasure. This year we had elected to be on a smaller set of sites which were closer to the shoreline, and we could hear the waves not very far from where we pitched our tents. Between that and the wind rustling the leaves it was nothing short of idyllic.

Now for those of you who remember the weather of that week we rode in, you’ll be wondering what the weather was like for the riders. Surprisingly for our supporters in both Peterborough and Toronto (who told us later of endless rain), we remained almost entirely dry. Here are the tents showing a little bit of rain on them . . . It was a blessing – one of many – that this happened when we weren’t on the bikes – in fact the two nights we were at Presquile it rained (and not heavily) and I love rain falling on a tent at night so it was an absolute pleasure!!!

After a long hot shower and shave I took a walk down by the Lake.

Dinner our first night at Presquile was spaghetti and you know that there was tons because Jerrett the Wonderchef knows, we burn the carbs and we’ve got to replace them . . .fast!!! Settlers of Catan made an appearance and I struggled to grasp even the basic concept but it’s a cool game and one that I want to learn more about . . . .

Bed came early for the riders.

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Ride for Africycle 6.0 Day Three: Kingston to Presquile (Pt. 2)

Continuing on with our journey West towards Presquile we found ourselves at Barley Days Brewery. You might recall that we somehow blew by the place on our way East earlier in the trip and had a bit of a wake up call about what exactly this ride was all about…. So this time we stopped in . . . !

It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but once inside you know that you are in a fun and warm brewery with an equally fun and warm guy named Jeremy behind the bar!!!

I had met Jeremy a few months before at (of all places) Norman Hardie’s winery where he and I had sampled a few odds and ends as part of an event involving running on a very hot day, great food and a lot of wine, cider and Barley Days Brewery products. Jeremy is a good dude with a great sense of humour!!

This time round he served us up some samples and then we dove in and joined him in a bit of beer consumption . . . really good beer by the way!!!

Back out on the road. We made our way a little further West until we came across a Ride for Africycle favourite place that serves (among many other things) homemade sugar donuts. They are served up in a brown bag and are truly amazing . . . !!!

With lots of delicious but empty calories to burn we continued on past lovely old homes . . .

And into the immediate environs of Presquile . . .

which are truly beautiful . . . . We rode quickly past the entrance

along a glorious park road until we found our campsites which were ready for us to pitch our tents in and came . . .

complete with the awesome and wonderful Ben and Sheila who had biked down from Peterborough to meet us!!!

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Ride for Africycle 6.0 Day Three: Kingston to Presquile (Pt. 1)

I experienced an earlier than expected awakening as Joe Machinery arrived downstairs with his Very Big and Noisy Truck, delivering a pile of stone for the to-be-repaired front entrance of the building I was sleeping in. It’s all too easy when on holiday to forget that my time schedule doesn’t match that of the working world’s. Ben Voss was still trying to dial in a few zzzzzz’s across the room and didn’t appear to hear anything!

Eventually, I hauled my bin of stuff and my bike downstairs and after a little while, everyone else met up in the parking lot at the back of the College where Jerrett the Wonderchef was busy assembling his kitchen and cooking up a massive bucket of oats.

Soon we were finished breakfast, packing the vehicles with our stuff, and then back on our bikes heading West this time. Here’s my bike pointing West down by the Lake!

We rode slowly through the outskirts of Kingston, past the beautiful and beautifully landscaped limestone houses that characterize the architecture of this beautiful town. Then past the massive penal institutions and sprawling factories, until we found ourselves riding through open fields . . .

And then alongside the Lake.

Heading West (for Lake Ontario afficionadoes) means heading into the prevailing winds …

and the indominatable Kris Seiber pulled almost the entire way! Respect dude!

Every so often we passed through lovely little towns like Bath.

It interests me just how much these little places look like upscale versions of their counterparts on the other side of Lake Ontario. I noticed that along the shoreline and especially into Prince Edward County there’s an awful lot of property for sale . . . I wonder what’s going on . . . . ?

Meanwhile my eyes continued to be captivated by the little old buildings by the wayside . . .

We stopped briefly at a fruit stand to pick up some field fresh melon which I carried in the back of my shirt. Before long we were back on the Glenora ferry heading West and listening to one of the ferry staff telling us stories about all the amazing old cars he’d see on the boat.

I forgot to mention that we had been passed by countless antique vehicles who often honked at us or waved at us. It was very cool to hear their so different sounding engines sometimes struggling with the inclines or their ahhhhoooogah horns honking at us!!!

On the other side of the ferry we agreed to climb up the small hill that leads to Lake on the Mountain, a beautiful spot which features a beautiful lake at the top of a two hundred foot hill (a tarn) … cross the road and on the other side you can look almost straight down the same height to Lake Ontario. On this day we were sharing the picnic spot with a pile of the antique car drivers who were very fun people!!!

There are beautiful views from up top!!!

Tomorrow we’ll go to Presquile!!!

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Ride for Africycle 6.0 Day Two: Norman Hardie Winery to Kingston (Pt. 2)

On the other side of the ferry there are washrooms and so along with a break to use those facilities some discussion took place about moving the lunch spot from right where we were, to a spot maybe twenty kilometres down the road. Those present were in agreement as we’d had a pretty sweet ride to that point with a nice pushing from behind wind and smooth roads, and barely any climbing to speak of.

We passed several quaint little houses that might have seen better days but which still possessed the charm of a time gone by . . .

By this point we were all feeling really hungry. Maybe more than “hungry” actually, so seeing this sign was truly uplifiting, and we piled off the road and started eating right away . . . After an amazing lunch at which my first attempt at a cheese, cold meat, lettuce, tomato, cuke, mayo, and macaroni salad on a bun met with resounding success, we got back on the road and moved closer to the Lake once more.

And soon enough we were working our way into Kingston where we were to spend the night at the Victoria Hall residence of Queen’s University.

A change of clothes and showers and then a walk downtown to find somewhere to eat worked wonders as did the beer and burger at works burgers followed by a walk to a the tir nan og irish pub

After that we wandered around the waterfront

and then I headed back to my room where I read for a while, wrote notes for this blog and finally slept fitfully in a student room that took me back to simpler times!!!!

Tomorrow back West to Presquile Provincial Park!!!

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Ride for Africycle 6.0 Day Two: Norman Hardie Winery to Kingston (Pt. 1)

Leaving Norman Hardie’s we turned back onto the Loyalist Parkway and headed south through beautiful rolling countryside and past massive fields . . . I’d been told by one of Norman’s staff that these were some of the original one hundred acre allotments given to the original settlers.

The road was fairly quiet and the morning unfolded gently and soon enough we found ourselves rolling into Bloomfield, home to the internationally adored Bloomfield Bicycle Company!!!

The bikes all hung out together while we went in and said our hello’s to these awesome people who are an annual tradition for us to reconnect with as we pass through on the Ride for Africycle extravaganza and epicurean road show . . . .

It seems that they’ve bought a new truck . . . it’s covered in cool bits and pieces . . .

By a cool coincidence, we met up with a rider who we had met earlier and who had told us at that time that he was from “near Rochester . . . Irondequoit Bay actually”. Now that’s a name that strikes terror into Ride for Africycle riders who have come down through the valley of the shadow of “the bridge” and known the early morning horrors of Rochester intimately. (No offence intended – dedicated Africyle supporter and reader, Rochester Rick!!). Anyhow, we met up with this same guy at Bloomfield and he drops on us that he actually lives in Webster, NY. “No way” we say. “Yes way” he replies. Webster is forever enshrined in the hearts of the RFA 5 riders who stayed in the fire hall in Webster, NY and experienced a level of hospitality and care that was nothing short of astonishing! If you’re intrigued by that story then you should read this and this. It’s a great story!

Back to this story then . . . a litle look skyward revealed one wheel that needed truing . . .

and we picked up the bikes and left Bloomfield slowly passing its many gorgeous homes and gardens . . . en route to the ferry in Picton. Astonishingly we blew right past the Barley Days Brewery who are renowned for their generous and tasty free samples of beer. However, when we realized the error of our ways, we agreed to make a stop in on the way back!

We rode carefully through the busy streets of Picton until we saw the sign for the ferry. Each time I see this sign I think it’s around the corner, but in fact it’s miles away. No matter, more riding time is a good thing! Soon we were lining up with the campers and motorcycles and carloads of travellers at the ferry.

The ferry awaited. So after the four-wheeled vehicles had piled on, we joined them.

It’s a short but beautiful journey . . . .

Tomorrow onwards to Kingston!

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Ride for Africycle 6.0 Day One: Peterborough to Norman Hardie Winery (Pt. 4)

We turned off Loyalist Parkway and down this quiet gravel road, lined with big old trees . . .

The sign back at the turn indicated that we were 1 kilometre from our end point for the day . . . Norman Hardie’s Winery!

Upon arriving we were greeted by our host and shown where we’d be pitching our tents. So first we put the bikes down for a nap . . .
Then we each picked out our little patch of land on which to pitch our tents . . .
Here’s my home away from home . . .
That’s Norman’s winery in the background . . .

Norman invited us to have showers in his house which is actually built into the building behind my tent. The barrel storage, wine making, kitchens, wood-fired stove, outdoor eating . . . everything . . . is in that building!!

After I scored a shower, Norman invited everyone to head to a nearby beach for a swim . . he also asked for two of us to stay back and watch over the food that was cooking for the evening’s dinner. I volunteered along with wonder-chef Jerrett who arrived at Norman Hardie’s with his Dad (Frank), and Africycle CEO, President and wonderboy Ben Voss.

Jerrett and I were invited to help ourselves to wine while they were gone . . HA! Are you kidding . . . not a problem!!!!

First we moved the bikes indoors to snuggle up against the barrels . . . That’s about ten thousand dollars worth of bikes leaning against a billion bucks worth of wine!!!

Norman, his staff and most of the Ride for Africycle team, left for the beach, while we stayed back and watched the evening roll in . . .

and sampled some pretty spectacular wine . . .

The riders and vintners all returned full of stories about how amazing the beach was and it turned out that they too had been treated to some of Norman’s wine!

Dinner appeared around 9:30 so we were super hungry! We ate steak, chicken, pasta, salad, roast beets, yellow beans, and corn. It was all locally sourced in fact the salad was picked right before our eyes! The food was astonishingly good . . . like seriously really really good! There was lots of wine to help it on its way and the energy around the table was super high and fun with stories of all kinds being traded back and forth!

Here’s an action shot provided through the generosity and keen eyes of Handsome Dan!

After dinner we chipped in to clean up everything and pack everything away. Some riders then headed off to bed while others stayed up and assisted at a wine tasting event that lasted until the early hours of the morning.

The morning arrived very early . . . Jerrett banged out some awesome French toast and one of the winery staff put out cider as “an excellent way to begin a day if you’ve put back a lot of wine the night before!” . . .

Here’s Ben carefully huffing back a hunk of French toast . . .

And here’s the winery hound waiting patiently for something, anything to fall . . .

The last time I was at Norman’s winery I enjoyed wood-fired thin crust pizza with herbs and vegetables grown right in front of the winery . . . I parked my bike in front of the wood stove . . .

which is a thing of beauty in itself . . .

As is Norman the man . . . He’s a super-good dude!

The culture he has established at his winery is extremely cool and a model for how a business can be successful, produce an incredibly high quality product and maintain the loyalty of its staff through care and investing in their skillsets in a positive and human manner.

Dave Barber had stayed the night with us. Dave’s one of my favourite people in the world. Right now he’s in Zambia working on a project to create fuel pellets from waste by-products of corn and other materials. Here he is teaching little William how to build an Inuksuk

We were somewhat reluctant to leave but we committed to stop in on our way back from Kingston in two day’s time!!! Wouldn’t you?!

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Ride for Africycle 6.0 Day One: Peterborough to Norman Hardie Winery (Pt. 3)

After a truly awesome lunch provided by the generous and thoughtful Silver Bean Cafe (I ate a giant black bean, sweet potato and avocado burrito – sayyyyyy “Oh mannnn that was incredible!” and you’ll be close to the little ecstatic mumblings that managed to escape my mouth between bites), and a quick photo shoot –

we got back on our bikes and headed east out of Cobourg. I’ve ridden this stretch many times and I love it! Why? Because there’s something very magical about riding next to water . . . it’s hard to explain but it has something of the past about it . . . . ahhh well whatever, I love it and I’ll leave it at that!

The countryside south-east of Cobourg is an interesting mix of massive relatively new houses and wide open old fields. Quiet little villages that have probably been subsumed under the name of one town were quickly passed through, some with gorgeous old homes that have surely seen so much in their time.

We went past one house and Michael’s eyes were drawn to a wooden rocking horse with a “Free” sign on it. Michael cannot pass up anything by the roadside that has value and can be transported on his bicycle. This was no exception. He hauled the rocking horse up onto his handle bars and rode with it a handful of kilometres into Colborne where he met Andrea and strapped the wooden horse to the roof of her car. It was like a mascot for the ride from that point on!
We’re always looking for and interested in alternate routes, so periodic check ins with the handily placed waterfront trail maps took place . . .
I’m good with whatever route we take, especially when we pass through beautiful countryside . . . filled with cute little barns . . . and roads that run straight and smooth allowing for conversations. Soon, we entered that beautiful sweet spot of riding bikes where water and the beauty of your surroundings are the only fuel you need . . .
We rode past the entrance to Presquile Provincial Park which we would be camping at in two day’s time. These are the wetlands just east of the Park . . .
It wasn’t long before we came to the World-famous Randomly Exploding Bridge! We agreed that we would cross one at a time . . . here’s Handsome Dan about to take his chances . . .

Later on Dan learned about the dangers of remaining clipped in to his pedals while travelling at slow speed on soft grass . . .
After a bit more riding across some long sweeping hills and at one point down a sort of maintained rail-trail . . .
we arrived at the Loyalist Parkway where after a long day of riding – over 140 kilometres – pit stops were necessary . . .

and before we knew it, we made it to Norman Hardie’s Winery. I’ll tell you all about THAT tomorrow!!!!

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Ride for Africycle 6.0 Day One: Peterborough to Norman Hardie Winery (Pt. 2)

Stopping at the Pastry Peddler in Millbrook is a no-brainer. The food is good, the coffee is always good and the people – Colin and Deanne – are truly good people! But there’s a price for stopping and every cyclist who’s done it knows what I’m about to say.

The time comes when you stand up to take your mug and your plates back inside and there’s a funny sensation from the hips down. It’s as if someone has just poured a small amount of wet concrete into your thighs. The caffeine and sugar you’ve just put away says GO!!! GO QUICKLY!!! But your legs say uggghhhhh!!!

This is compounded by the simple fact that Millbrook is situated at the bottom of a deep valley. No matter how you cut it, you have to ride out up a long steep hill. And so it is that we dragged our fueled up selves up Cty. Rd. 10. The feeling of relief as we each crested the hill was palpable along with the slight fuzz of a sweat cloud that encircled the heads of each rider!

Some several dozen slight hummocks and valleys later we passed into the Ganaraska Forest . . .
here’s Dan finding his groove . . . Andrea lets her hair fly . . . and here are some of the riders enjoying the hush of a sun-warmed forest . . .

Soon after we left the Ganaraska we passed through the sweet little Hamlet of Welcome . . .
which is within a handful of kilometres of Port Hope.

after roaring through Port Hope – I love that long hill down into Port Hope except for the traffic lights at the bottom . . .

Have you ever noticed that in every town where there’s a long fast hill there are lights right at the bottom . . . hmmmmmmm . . . anyhow, no stopping at Dreamer’s for crazy cookies for us . . . nope, on we went along the bike lane placed right next to highway two . . . which is curiously marked for riderless bicycles only . . .

and on into Cobourg where I stopped for my annual Ride for Africycle hug with my Mum and then raced off through the lovely streets of Cobourg . . .

on my way to Victoria Park where lunch was being prepared when I arrived. and off we went . . .
next post – Cobourg to Norman Hardie’s . . .

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Ride for Africycle 6.0 Day One: Peterborough to Norman Hardie Winery (Pt. 1)

As with the previous two rides I’ve enjoyed with the RFA team, sleep was virtually non-existent the night before. So that “waking” was done at three thirty in the morning for this one, came as no surprise to me! Happily and wisely, my bin had been packed the night before and along with my sleeping bag, pillow, camp chair and tent was sitting by the front door waiting to be transported to stately VanDerHerberg manor down on Perry Street.

Here are the wheels all ready to go and waiting patiently for the motor to get on board . . .

After hugs and kisses with my children, I set off into the cool morning air, riding through the relatively quiet streets of Peterborough and groggily made my way to The Silver Bean where the riders and a small group of well-wishers were gathered and where most importantly, mugs of coffee were already emerging from the Bean itself.

from l. to r. Devon Code, Andrea VanDerHerberg, William VanDerHerberg, Michael VanDerHerberg, and Handsome Dan Fraser.

from l. to r. Michael, Handsome Dan, and Kris Sieber

To our joy and surprise, we were joined by some of Peterborough’s beautiful people including Sheila, Dave Blondel, Keith Anderson, Kai, Chris Vyn, and Maryam.

After a relaxed start to the morning, the little group of riders made their way out of the City along the bike path by the Otonabee River and then across Lansdowne, down River Road and out of town along the smooth sweeping curves of Wallace Point Road.

We crossed the Otonabee River a couple of times – here’s a nice arty Black and White pic I took on the fly as we crossed the bridge not far from Squirrel Creek Conservation Area . . .

After we crossed the bridge, a little spitty rain fell on us but not enough to bother anyone. The bonus – a beautiful rainbow followed us for a few minutes!!

Soon, we were in Millbrook, home to the wonderful Pastry Peddler . . . purveyor of super good caffeinated beverages’s and very tasty pastries . . .

Next up, out of Millbrook and down to Cobourg!

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And we’re off!

We left this morning (Saturday, August 11th) from the Silver Bean Cafe just after 8:30 AM and were happy to have Maryam Monsef, Keith Anderson, Kai, Dave Blondel, and Chris Vyn ride us out of town.

Here are our riders from left to right:

Steve Leak, Kris Sieber, Devon Code, little William VanDerHerberg, Andrea VanDerHerberg, Michael VanDerHerberg and Dan Fraser.

*Photo compliments of Maryam Monsef!

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers and check out our giving pages at http://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPageSearchResults.aspx?data=africycle&ptype=-1.

Much love,


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RFA 6.0

Ride for Africyle 6.0 will take place from August 11th to 15th, leaving Peterborough on a sunny Saturday morning and riding towards Kingston.  We have the first night lined up at the Norman Hardie Winery in the heart of Prince Edward County.  We will be off to Kingston on day two and we intend to stay at Queen’s University for the evening.  Registration will be up soon and information will be available all over Twitter.

The two day ride option ends here.  The whole ride option will then return towards Prince Edward County, staying in the beautiful Presqu’Ile Provincial Park at the end of the third day.  The fourth day will consist of a tour of Prince Edward County on the bicycle with the fifth day returning us to Peterborough.

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Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day Nine

The sun rose bright and full on this day and came streaming into the tent at a fairly early hour. Our last day. It’s always a mixed-feeling as I know that something very special is coming to a close but then I get to see my family and sleep in my own bed and return to familiar surroundings . . . . . The house gradually came to life as everyone in their tents starting packing bins and admiring the gardens.

A huge breakfast was prepared and we were invited to join the family and friends inside the house where a lot of food was put back pretty quickly. Soon, it was time to say goodbye so bins were packed for the final time and bike tires pumped up and chains lubed and off we went. Our route was largely undetermined and figured out along the way. I remember passing through some little towns and certainly I remember one epic climb up a hill on the North side of the Mosport racetrack. Otherwise, I couldn’t tell you the route we followed. It was super hilly and there were some breathtaking views and speedy descents.
Eventually we arrived in Millbrook and paid a visit to our friends Colin and Deanne at The Pastry Peddler.

Here’s Michael’s bike waiting patiently while its owner puts an Americano and a pastry where they belong!
(Photo courtesy Ed Kwaka)
Soon it was time to clip in again and head up the long steep hill East out of Millbrook and catch the awesome tail-wind that often waits at the top. Sure enough (and thankfully!) it was right there. Scotia then made history with an epic pull that began at the top of the hill and ended at the VanDerHerberg residence in Peterborough. Speeds sat around 40 -45 km/h much of the time so we were there very quickly!
Friends and family were waiting there for many of the riders so a few beers were hoisted and there was a little celebration. We heard that the bus had broken down near Port Perry and that our bins of gear were being brought up in a van and so the celebration lasted a little longer as we waited for its arrival. Not a problem as Andrea magically hauled some chocolate cupcakes out of nowhere to continue the celebration!
My wife came to pick up my gear and after lots of goodbye hugs with the riders and support crew, I got back on my bike and rode home, West into the afternoon sun. Another amazing ride – my second – over too soon.
Next year, for Ride for Africycle 6.0 we will ride to Quebec City. It will be an epic, life-changing ride.
(Ed and I are planning on riding back as well).
If you’ve followed this story and are curious, or feel the itch to ride with amazing people and have incredible never-to-be-forgotten experiences, then you really should consider contacting the Ride for Africycle people.
A big thanks to the Voss family for their support of our ride. To Dave Barber for all his quietly incredible extra efforts and for being such an awesome man. To Jerred our chef for the excellent food. To the good people of The Next Church in Kingston for being so accommodating. To our many generous sponsors! To all of you who prayed for us and sent us your good thoughts.
These rides are entirely possible only because of the many good people who
generously provide their love and support.
My Love and thanks to you all.
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Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day Eight

Early morning in Bronte Creek.

Waking in Bronte Creek Provincial Park to a cool morning. The distant muted roar of traffic. The much closer sound of birds and people grudgingly extracting their bodies from sleeping bags.

My point-and-shoot camera battery said “no more” just after I woke up, so most of today’s photographs are from the camera of Mr. Ed Kwaka, my biking buddy extraordinaire.

Here I am hauling my pillow over to my storage bin in exchange for a bowl of porridge.
(Photo courtesy Ed Kwaka)
The morning is a fragile place but there were always people laughing while they parked
back a couple of cups of coffee. (Photo courtesy Ed Kwaka)

Today’s ride had been the topic of much discussion as we were unsure whether to skirt North of the GTA or to cycle right through its heart. There are benefits to both routes of course but the decision was finally sealed by the Amazing Ben Voss who invited us to spend that night at his parent’s home in Claremont. Our route there would take us directly along the Lakeshore until somewhere East of Toronto at which point we would turn North, ride past the Metro Zoo and then wiggle and twist our way through Concession and County roads until we would arrive at Chez Voss.

Most of the ride alongside the Lake followed the Waterfront Trail, a well-maintained and well-signposted route that we left when necessary as it does deviate away from what we thought was the best and most direct route for us.

The ride along Lakeshore Boulevard through Oakville and Port Credit was fast. A smooth uncluttered road with beautiful old trees on either side and of course, vast mansions whose wrap-around driveways are parking lots for Bentley’s, Aston Martins, the odd Lamborghini and lots of other toys that are well beyond my experience. I wonder how the lives of their owners might be changed if they were to come along on an Africycle ride?!

Eventually the edge of Mimico arrived and we passed into the older parts of Downtown Toronto where the road was a little more broken up and of course bisected by streetcar tracks. I really enjoy riding along here – although the last time I had been on this stretch on a bike would have to be thirty years ago – it looked essentially the same. A lot of cool little shops seemingly untouched by the passage of time and very obviously deeply embedded as the anchors they are for the little communities they serve.

Shortly after passing through Mimico, we crossed the very stylish bridge over the Humber River.

Just up ahead and on the right are Dave and Mel enjoying the view across the Lake.
(Photo courtesy Ed Kwaka)
The views across the Bay to the Downtown skyline were really good!
Downtown Toronto skyline. (Photo courtesy Ed Kwaka)
We stayed as close as possible to the Lakeshore and blew past the Sunnyside Swimming pool, weaving and dodging through the bladers, runners, walkers, and other cyclists until we reached the bottom end of the Don Valley Parkway where we picked up the bike trail that would take us to our Lunch spot at Ashbridge’s Bay. At Ashbridge’s Bay we met the bus and the guys had picked up some roast chicken and fries and buns which was so totally unexpected and awesome! The park is huge and there were rugby games, a skateboarding park and all sorts of mega picnics and whatever else going on.
After Lunch we headed across the middle of Scarborough using the Danforth and Kingston Road – huge entertainment quotient there as bikes are definitely not expected and especially not welcome. This is a car and truck road and people are motoring along and have places to go and things to do!!! So, I was super happy when my front wheel turned North andI knew that we would pass by the Metro Zoo and head out into countryside pretty soon. Of course country roads are a bit rougher but there are all sorts of visual distractions that make it all worthwhile.
At one point we came across a countryside hazhard – the bridge was out. Not wanting to take the long way around we agreed that no matter what, we were getting across that river even if it meant we had to wade or swim across with our bikes!
Happily neither was necessary as the bridge had handy dandy planks where its paved span would normally be so we were able to walk across and remain nice and dry!
Here’s Michael VanDerHerberg taking the difficult route across.
(Photo courtesy Ed Kwaka)

Here are the rest of us taking the easy way across. Is there a life-lesson there? You be the judge!!
(Photo courtesy Ed Kwaka)

From here some long smooth roads led us to the beautiful little town of Claremont where the bus was parked.

The bikes were put away in the garage for the night. I’m sure they had some amazing discussions!
(Photo courtesy of Ed Kwaka)

After we’d all enjoyed a couple of rehydrating beers, Ben’s sister provided superb massages to all who wished! She worked on my shoulders which hold a lot of tension when I ride long distances and it was as if a weight had been lifted off them by the time she had finished working her magic!

Then we all gathered in the beautiful back yard of this gorgeous home for a candlelight feast that was beyond comparison, around tables filled with the most amazing people. We ate and drank and laughed our way into the night and then retreated to our tents for the last sleep of this year’s ride.
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Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day Seven (Part 2)

Night falls at Bronte Creek

Riding across the top of the Niagara Escarpment, you get some pretty good views of Lake Ontario and bits of the Golden Horseshoe conurbation.

After riding through a lot of countryside, the scale of  cities always comes as a surprise.

Eventually we arrived above Hamilton and made the big decision about which road to drop down into the city on.


The picture below shows Dave Blondel scouting the terrain to determine which tarmac ribbon would get us the closest to the shoreline of the great Lake. This scene reminds me of those paintings of Columbus, Cartier and Cabot that have the great explorer standing on the prow of their ship while the scurvied lackeys wait anxiously for him to announcethat indeed we have arrived at the New Land …..

Dave’s choice was a road that descended at a ferocious, brake melting rate with – bonus of bonuses – a sharp right about four fifths of the way down that cars coming up the hill left their lane and crossed into ours to take at a faster clip!! I was so nervous coming down that I didn’t fully appreciate it and I hope that one day I can return and let the bike do its own thing!

We raced through the streets of Hamilton which were pretty clear and in surprisingly good condition.

We made our way to the Lakefront trail which is a wide paved smooth and very fast ride but on this day was also fairly well populated with roller bladers, runners, walkers, families, little and big dogs and so we picked up speed where we could and were careful everywhere else.

At this point last year it was the only cold and rainy day of the ride.

This year it was beautiful and so we were able to appreciate the mega-structure of the Skyway …

Soon after passing this great big bridge we crossed another great big bridge. This is the lift bridge that you can see when you cross the Skyway by car. Some of us rode across it and some took the sidewalk. If you’re thinking of riding across it I’d suggest taking the sidewalk! I’ve done both and the sidewalk feels a whole lot better under the wheels than the interlocking metal grid of the roadway!!

From here we continued along the Lakefront park trail which became even more densely populated. At one point we saw two women walking along it in scuba diving flippers ….. and eventually the trail ended and we came out into Burlington where we stopped at a favourite pastry and coffee stop of Ride for Africycle riders – the Lakeshore Coffee House.

Here we were able to strech out and put back some tasty Americano’s and I believe that most people parked a slab of cheesecake back as well.
From there we rode on caffeinated legs at a very good rate of speed along Lakeshore Boulevard, and then North towards Bronte Creek. Bronte is an improbable park, located smack dab in the middle of suburbia. But you would never know there were housing developments within a kilometre of you at all times through some cool trick of nature that has placed trees, small rises and a really beautiful setting to distract you.

We set up the Ride for Africycle tent city …

and watched the sun go down behind the trees.

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Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day Seven (Part 1)

Crossing the border day! Our destination – Bronte Creek Provincial Park in Oakville.

But first, getting the body back in gear – there’s cycling to be done today and lots of it! The process of preparing for a day of riding becomes so much easier as you establish the little routines of bike maintenance, organizing clothes (trying desperately to keep the smelly ones away from the clean ones…), and packing up the camping gear, becomes secondary to enjoying the sleepy banter of a dozen people getting revved up for a ride.

Today’s ride began gently with our wheels turning along a beautiful parkway that more-or-less parallels the Niagara River. We passed through the beautiful town of Youngstown – I’d love to spend more time there sometime.

Image courtesy Ed Kwaka

It’s the strangest thing to look across a river at the opposite shore and realize that it is not simply “the other side”, but another country.

We rode at a good pace and after the big climb up the side of the Niagara Escarpment …

Top of the Escarpment (Image courtesy Ed Kwaka)

we were on the Robert Moses Parkway. Another post-apocalyptic riding experience that saw us using a former Expressway that runs right alongside the Niagara River but is now entirely abandoned and given over to runners, walkers, and cyclists like us. The views were a bit industrial, but then I find that stretch of the River with its massive hydro-electric facilities a lot less than natural!

Here’s Ed Kwaka putting the Big Ring to work

After a little fun trying to figure out how to get onto the Rainbow Bridge, we found ourselves riding alongside happy tourists who were bemused to see a team of cyclists making their way across the border.

This is what you see half way across the bridge!

This year we had agreed that when we got to the Canadian side, we would stay on top of the escarpment and only drop off it when we were near Hamilton. The route was tricky at times but between the pre-ride support of Evan Taylor of the Niagara Freewheeler’s Club and our very own live-action sort-it-out-on-the-fly cartographer Michael VanDerHerberg, we made our way under the Welland Canal …

and through little towns, beautiful countryside, along sometimes busy but always lovely little roads ….

until we came to the drop down into Hamilton.

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Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day Six

Look carefully - you can see Toronto (if you want to!)

Waking to our much looked forward to “Day Off” was a strange sensation. Really, I wanted to ride, but I also wanted to wander around the Park we were in and then I had heard that we were near Fort Niagara which I had seen many times from the Canadian side but never actually been near or in. So I figured some combination of those three things is how I’d spend my day.

A hot shower, fresh coffee and a simple breakfast and then I caught up on the notes I was compiling in my little red Moleskine ( a gift for this ride from my Daughter). Along the way I’d also been reading “The Rider” by Tim Krabbe. I’d not made a lot of progress with the book because by the time I crawled into my sleeping bag, I was simply too tired to focus in the half light provided by my flashlight. So I read a few chapters (it’s one of those books that you re-read sentences, paragraphs, chapters over and over again just to really enjoy the brilliance of his writing)

As I walked off to find the beginnings of a trail that led through a wetland I heard that a group had left for Niagara Falls, NY in search of food, bike parts, and a view from the American side of the Falls. I decided to head down to the Lake where a bench that Dave Barber had claimed was beyond awesome was placed with a sweet view of the Lake. I walked there and sat down and wrote stories and a few poems and took in the mellowness of a family playing in the waves below.

After a while I made my way over to the start of the “Nature Trail” and found myself immersed in a beautiful wetland bisected by a dusty trail, rippled with roots and rocks, and all the while I was wondering if perhaps the original occupants had come this very way through the wilderness.

no wonder they stayed …

I started to get hungry again and was thinking about riding over to Fort Niagara – which I think was about ten km away, so I returned along the same path and found Chris and Paul pretty much ready to go on a ride to the Fort. The Fort has great presence and I was absolutely taken by the amount of original detail still available to be seen and touched.

Here’s the entrance:

Inside the barrack house:

The view from the barrack house:

For more images of Fort Niagara please visit my Photobucket page here.
After a thorough, self-led tour of the Fort we biked back to the campsite and enjoyed another astonishing Jerrett-made meal before setting off to sleep knowing that tomorrow we would be returning back to Canada across the Rainbow Bridge.

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Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day Five: Part 2

The Lake Ontario State Parkway is essentially an interstate that has been let go. Paved with concrete that has cracked in many places such that it looks as if it has been forgotten or as Dave Blondel put it (when I suggested that perhaps Cormac McCarthy had passed along it and gained inspiration for his book “The Road”) “this is The Road Steve”!!!

Dave (in his own blog on the Ride for Africycle experience which you can read right here) said,

“The Lake Ontario State Parkway. Wikipedia it. The most post-apocalyptic-feeling bicycle riding experience you will have (this side of the actual apocalypse).”

It’s funny how scenery like this:

and this:

can almost completely take your mind off the fact that you are riding on this: (here it is without people)

(and here it is with people – truly awesome people!)

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the headwind. This was what we referred to as “our long day”. 160 km approximately. When we got onto the L.O.S.P. we fought a headwind that stayed with us for much of the day. Occasionally it slanted at us from just right of centre which has its own special challenge as you push slightly into it and hope that the route doesn’t turn back into its face, but for the most part it was an invisible pair of hands pushing at chest, face, helmet – anything wanting to move forward. We hugged as close to each as we could to grab some sort of draft and people were really good about taking turns at the front.

But somehow it found each person and ground us down, one-by one.

During the whole time we were on the L.O.S.P. maybe a handful of luxury cars with heavily tinted windows flew past.

The post-apocalyptic vibe was enhanced by the gathering stormclouds in front of us.

RFA 5:  Riders of the Post-Apocalypse (Image courtesy of Dave Blondel)

We stopped for Lunch at Hamlin Beach where we had a superb meal and there was tons of great energy in the air which was grabbed by the Incredible Ben Voss who for a dollar took on the dare of riding a bike down a slide in the Park.

Here’s the evidence provided by the awesome Ed Kwaka.
1. 2. 3. 4.

After Lunch we headed out onto The Road again – the wind was every bit the same and there was an endless false flat also to contend with. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right?!!!

Eventually The Road came to an end and we dove off onto some small rural roads that more-or-less paralleled the Lake. We stopped for a pie (a whole pie that’s right) and coffees at Burnap’s Farm Market – a lovely fruit stand that has somehow become embiggened and offers all sorts of other stuff that is tasty and can be consumed immediately. A good place to stop – but we had a long way to go still. We rode through endless cattle farms and fields and really it was all so very lovely but it was such a long day and the wind had taken the edge off us but still, here we were living the dream. We stopped in one place for Cherry Dr. Pepper and chips. Stopping in rural America for anything simple results in the richest slice of life you can possibly imagine. All is revealed!!

The bucolic scenery contains stories that could easily become novels.

But, the ride must continue and so it did as we gradually made our way in small clusters to the beautiful Four Mile Creek State Park.

Jerrett decided to try deep-frying a whole turkey – and folks he did! It was absolutely awesome and combined with fresh beans, broccoli and beers and especially the knowledge that tomorrow was a day off riding – a “rest day”, we all relaxed and I’ve got to tell you that I enjoyed the best sleep of the ride that night!!!

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Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day Five: Part 1

Waking in a conference room in a fire-station in Upper New York State. Well, it’s all part of the Ride for Africycle experience! Jerrett was hunkered over the stove, banging out some oatmeal and toast while the team gathered up sleeping bags, mattresses, and the various odds-and-ends that had somehow made their way around the room in the night into our respective bins which we stacked at the back entrance to the Fire-hall.

The firefighters who had worked the evening shift dropped in to say hi and make acquaintances – all of them were really welcoming and friendly! We gathered the bikes and the bus in front of the firehall and took a pile of photographs with the guys of the Northeast Joint Fire District.

The Big Black Bus outside the Firehall

Finally came the time to get back on the road. Today, a 160 km ride to 4 Mile Creek State Park along the Empire State Parkway – surely one of the strangest roads I’ve ever ridden on. I recall it from RFA 4.0 but that ride was done in sweltering 45 Celsius heat. This ride was way more comfortable and we were able to look around and see the Lake. It’s an interesting to me feature of the ride that it was really cool – exciting even – to actually see the Lake. You’d think that after seeing it a few dozen times you’d get tired of it but I found that I was actually really glad to see it.

The weather forecast was suggesting that there was a very good chance of rain and thunderstorms. Oh boy! The longest ride of the RFA 5.0 wonder voyage and it was going to be wet all over again. But you know what? The power of positive thinking kept the clouds – which literally gathered all around us – at bay. We had a super good headwind for the whole day which made every kilometre a prize to be gathered and stored in the warehouse of trophy experiences. You know, the “I pushed through something that was bigger than me” vault.

The day had lots of flats, a couple of broken spokes but it also had sweet smooth roads. Beautiful scenery, beautiful little houses with gorgeous fairy-tale gardens and best of all, after following Rochester Rick’s detailed instructions generously assembled by Rick in his spare time, we made our way through Rochester’s most beautiful streets,

a little bit of her parkland and then out past a beach that I could happily paste myself to and spend days grilling on!

We made our annual stop at Sips Coffee Shop, although this was a much shorter visit as the day was a long one in terms of distance. I still managed to put away a phenomenal and giant cookie alongside an Americano.

Fueled up with sugar, carbs, and caffeine we headed out and turned towards the Lake to pass through the harbour and then cut across through the beautiful town of Greece. If you looked South you looked over little lakes.

The little cottages that sat on the shore of Lake Ontario were truly beautiful.

Eventually we came to the end of this little heaven on Earth and rode onto the Lake Ontario State Parkway. More about that in the next post!

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Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day Four: Part 2

Pulling out of Oswego we were warmer, we could feel the coffee and tasty food  racing through our veins, and most importantly we were for the most part much drier. It was still raining of course but we had also left behind the sketchier part of the road work.

Our next destination was the little town of Wolcott. We visited Wolcott last year for Lunch and there’s a little park down the hill from the main street with a covered shelter – perfect for our needs. Wolcott has a strong sense of history about it – you can feel that as you ride in. I didn’t really get a sense of that last time I was there so I took this blurry rain-soaked image of a little information board the locals have put up. (If you click twice on the image you’ll eventually get a version that you can read!)

The rain was bucketing down as we glided down the steep hill into the park and the welcome sight of Ben’s car and the Bus was truly awesome. Even better was the sight and smell of barbequing burgers! There’s not much better than hot food when you’re cold and soaked although I’d say that the smiles and good vibes from the riders and support crew was just as awesome as when we took turns standing by the barbeque to get the warm drafts from it. This was truly a day to remember. The ride really came together for me in that little town in Upper New York State. A bunch of people taking care of each other, supporting each other, and having a really good time no matter what. Oh and before I forget – here’s the waterfall right next to where we ate.

Leaving the relative dryness of the shelter was a bit of a challenge but we found our pace and working together we struck out for the town of Webster where we were planning on staying in Webster Park a facility dedicated to providing shelter for campers, people passing through, cyclists and whomever else. Ben and Dave Barber and Jerrett had thrown out the option of staying indoors and we knew that Webster Park had buildings that they rented out. We learned later that apparently they had nothing of the sort available to us and that we would be obliged to camp out. Not a big deal but not the very best option.

Ben went ahead and then wandered through the town of Webster asking people if they knew of somewhere indoors where the cycling team and support crew could cook some food and sleep for the night. Somewhere along the line Ben ran into someone who suggested trying the firehall. Journeys are made of moments and this is one moment that will stay with us all for a long time. Ben and his Dad went by the Webster firehall and were welcomed in no uncertain terms to encourage the team to make their way and bed down for the evening.

We didn’t know about all of this until we had found our way into Webster, a truly lovely town with that fascinating mix that so many upper New York State towns have of the beautifully maintained (or restored) clapboard house with a big old front porch and massive gardens, side-by-side with a little mall or an auto shop.

On the ride into Webster itself, the team somehow got split up into little groups but we eventually found each other and rode up somewhat curious to see what Ben had lined up for us. At first sight and thought, a firehall seems like an improbable place to spend a night. I mean would you?! But these guys were so welcoming and genuinely warm. They really respected what we had ridden through and what we were trying to achieve and it showed in the way they opened the facility up to us, encouraging us to use their showers, to help ourselves to their clean towels, to use the kitchen, and to set up our sleeping bags in their conference room.

Once we had set up our sleeping situations, Jerrett got onto the matter of dinner and of course we were really hungry and thirsty. It couldn’t come fast enough!!! Our bikes were stored in a garage area of the firehall. We were given a complete and very thorough tour of the entire Hall which is an incredible state-of-the-art facility. It has everything you can imagine in terms of creature comforts which makes sense if you think about the the brave guys who head out on the trucks to face danger without really thinking of themselves.

Sleeping quarters (Image Ed Kwaka)



The Voss boys getting the tour! (Image Ed Kwaka)

Inside the fire-engine bays (Image Ed Kwaka)

Heart and soul

After the tour we gathered around the maps for tomorrow and looked at some possible routes – a long day ahead of us – 160 km. Hopefully a lot drier!!!


To see more and read more of Chief Akins and the amazing guys at Webster Fire check out their webpage right here.

The generosity and kindness of the men in Northeast Joint Fire District Enderlin Station completely underscores the pride, generosity, and care that firefighters around the World are renowned for.

Thanks for taking such good care of us Boys!

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Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day Four: Part 1

The weather for Day Four was looking and feeling like it was going to be a whole lot wetter than we had experienced so far. For me rain puts a damper on bike riding and I know that’s a cheesy line and reflects more of my inner wimp than I really should share but it’s the truth. If I’m alone and it’s going to pour hard and there’s no reason for me to ride – then I don’t. However, if I’m in the company of good people then the ride is definitely on. Push on regardless. Find the joy!

Because of the rain there are very few pictures of this day. I have a picture in my mind that I’ll share with you of riding on some very smooth bike lanes and then entering a construction zone. The two lanes each way roadway narrowed to one lane each way with the side where the shoulder should be marked by orange pylons. Trucks were hissing past leaving great clouds of spray in their passing which didn’t really matter in terms of getting wet because everyone was already soaked. A couple of riders flatted out and several riders noticed they were chilling down and needed to get their rain gear off the bus so we contacted Dave and Ben up ahead and arranged to meet with them at Port City Cafe – a planned stop – in the lovely little town of Oswego.

Last year when we arrived at Port City the air conditioning was a blessing. Stepping from the 45 Celsius humidex into the impossibly cool atmosphere of Port City was amazing! This year with the temperature some 20 Celsius cooler and with several riders really feeling the rain, the experience of stepping inside was a whole lot different!

Some of us decided to try the place next door. An unassuming little bagel shop named the Oswego Bagelry and Sandwich Shop. We were just about to open the front door when a guy came out and noticing our distinctive apparel, got talking to us about our ride. He said that if we needed any repairs done on our bikes that the labour would be free, just bring the bikes down to Murdock’s Bicycles and Sports and he’d take care of us. He also said that the Bagelry was amazing. He was totally right! Wickedgood homemade bagels, homemade cream cheese, great coffee and most important of all – it was warm inside!!

The two guys running the place were very cool and fun and one of them showed us a “Made in Canada” tattoo on his arm because he was actually made in Canada! Scotia, Dave, Mel and Ed and I hunkered inside a booth and scarfed down a pile of truly fine food and coffee and laughed our way through a really funny table cover made up of old newspaper clippings and advertisements from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. We were joined by some of the other riders shortly afterwards. It was perfect for lifting our spirits.

Then we walked the bikes down the street to Murdock’s where they encouraged us to use their facilities and make ouselves at home.

They took care of some repairs for us and I bought a happy-making rain jacket and a pair of riding gloves that would see me through the rest of the day in warmth and dryness.

Everyone put on their rain gear and set out once more in a better frame of mind to continue our journey to Webster where we planned to stay at Webster Park. There was talk that Ben and Dave were going to go ahead and have a look to see if we could perhaps rent one of the shelters at Webster Park given the difficult riding conditions and general moistness of the day. I was pretty pumped for the idea of staying indoors! I’ll let you know how that one all worked out with the next post!

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Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day Three: Part 2

It’s always hard to get up and get going after you’ve settled into a really good chocolate croissant and an americano but that’s the nature of the Ride for Africycle beast. It’s what separates the I’m-just-here-for-the-perks chumps from the it’s-all-about-the-ride chumps.


The bottom line is that getting going after getting all relaxed is tough. I find it takes me anywhere from five to ten kilometres of riding to get my legs going at the same pace as my heart and lungs and mind. Younger readers – be warned and prepared!!!

We set off through Cape Vincent and turned left onto NY 12E, a beautiful smooth road that traces the rolling contours of the countryside that lies about ten km back of the Lake Ontario shoreline. People who admire homes that have been abandoned will appreciate the many old houses and barns that are gradually being reclaimed by Nature and Time.

Eventually we arrived in Dexter.

The bus hadn’t made it this far so while we were waiting, several riders opted for the ice-cream pleasures that are happily dispensed at the Lickety Split ice cream hut.


Great Ice Cream! Photo - Ed Kwaka










Jerrett preparing Lunch. Photo - Ed Kwaka
















Time was ticking though, and we left this idyllic spot for another year and put the bikes back on NY 180 which melds eventually into NY 3. Riders who had ridden this stretch of road before had been talking about a “huge climb” that was coming up – and it’s a good hill to be fair – but we were all surprised when we finally started climbing up it just how not that big it actually was.

The view from the top this year was really good (last year it was entirely obscured by the humid haze that lay over everything) as you can see if you embiggen the images and look past the dilapidated structures!!









The road conditions for cyclists in this part of New York State are amazing – super clean, smooth, and wide enough so a cyclist doesn’t feel like they’re squeezing cars out of their lane. We moved along at a good pace, taking turns at the front to pull until eventually we arrived at Taco Bob’s Wayside Inn. An oasis that magically appears just as you feel you can go no further without refreshment!









After a quick round of cold Gennie’s, all attention was shifted to the shuffleboard table where last year I had been thrashed by Michael VanDerHerberg.











Sadly – and not surprisingly – I was whipped once more by the VanDerHerberg juggernaut. Does he lose at anything?!!! Fortunately I have arrived at an age where I can accept defeat graciously – I have plenty of practice when I hang around Michael!!!

From Taco Bob’s we set out for the final stretch of riding – a series of long rollers that taxes both mind and body and which you begin to believe will have no end until all of a sudden there’s the right-hand turn into beautiful Selkirk Shores State Park.











The park was really quiet. Dinner was amazing once more with fresh fruit and vegetables making a welcome appearance alongside some excellent pork chops. A camper generously donated a pile of wood to us so we had a beautiful campfire before turning in for the night.


Tomorrow we ride to Webster Park.

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Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day Three: Part 1

Sleeping in the pew was a bad idea but it had to be done. The opportunity might never present itself again. I kept telling myself that as I slowly dragged myself out of the half-sleep I’d experienced through much of the night as people shuffled to the washroom and the kitchen, started packing up their stuff and generally started the day.

Jerrett the wonder chef appeared with aviator glasses on that did not leave his face for a very long time. Jerrett scored major cred for preparing a huge batch of French toast while being seriously worse for the wear after a very long night out with Dave and Ben.

There were several reminders to make sure we had our passports handy as today we got to cross the Lake into the U.S. The Ride for Africycle is really well-organized, but it can be a very laid back affair in terms of getting started each day. This was no exception! After saying our goodbyes and thankyous to the good people at the Next Church,

we eventually made our way through the sleepy streets of Downtown Kingston to the ferry, which we observed making its way across the outer edges of Kingston Harbour. It had left about fifteen minutes before. The next ferry? Fourty-five minutes.

For future riders, here’s a handy-dandy ferry schedule! Oh well. Michael, Ed and I decided to go for a little ride and made our way through downtown and then along the shoreline, picking out little paths and byways until we got back to the ferry dock. After a bit more waiting, the ferry returned and we walked our bikes on and found places to enjoy the brief journey to Wolfe Island.
Wolfe Island is home to a massive windpower generating project. Wiki says there are 89 towers. The RFA wind turbine counting team says easily more than a hundred.
When we got to Wolfe Island we got back on our bikes and rode across to the next ferry which would take us across to the U.S. When we got to the dock we could just see it making its way into the harbour on the U.S. side. No problem! Look at the beautiful day we were getting to enjoy! Even the bugs sitting on this capstan knew enough to just chill and enjoy the sun.
Eventually the little ferry returned and the Captain remembered us from last year! How cool is that! Here he is (in the window) and there’s Scotia. We’re right on top of the border.
Passage through the little shack at the border was quick and easy and we made our way over to our favourite cafe in Cape Vincent for coffee and baked goods. A slow day slowed down even more and when we realized what time it was (a couple of times) we got back on the bikes and started off for Selkirk Shores State Park.

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Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day Two

When you reach the advanced age I’ve attained, a night on the ground in a tent necessitates something of an acceptance of pain or at the very least, discomfort. But that quickly disappeared as I woke up and remembered where I was,

why I was there, and who I was with!

The weather for today was expected to be on the gently moist side, so after breakfast, we set off along the bike path out of Presqu’ile

to hook up with Hwy. 2 headed for Kingston. There were smiles everywhere and lots of quiet early morning talk and beautiful rural scenes helped the kilometres go by.
This is Stephen VanDerHerberg who joined us for the two day ride.
We’re hoping that he can join us for the full ride in 2012!

The drifting rain eventually stopped and we dried out as we rode.

The stops along the way are almost as important to the ride as the cycling itself. On this day there were two key stops. The first was at this fruit and vegetable shop where superb homemade donuts are sold in paper bags to people who honestly think that six is all they’ll need!

The next stop was at the incomparable Bloomfield Bicycle Company. For those of you familiar with “The Hobbit” it draws a close comparison to Rivendell in its fantastic almost magical qualities.
Here are the Ride for Africycle bikes all gathered together on B.B.C.’s cool rack. After a nice chat with the owners and a guy cycling from Calgary to Montreal, Ed set a new local record for the most graceful flattening of a bike display by selecting the key bike in a row of bikes and sending eleven others that were somehow linked together, in a slow-mo tumble to the turf!!

After reassembling the display, we headed out of Bloomfield to catch the Glenora ferry that would carry us across the Bay of Quinte. We were super happy to find that lunch was waiting on the other side, nicely set-up inside the RFA Hospitality Tent by Dave, Ben and Jerrett.

Without getting too graphic, by this point my butt had developed a problem known by many terms – “Monkey Butt”, “Rider’s Rash”, etc. etc. It’s an exquisite sort of pain (if you’re into pain and I’m not really), comprised of thousands of red-hot needles stabbing into the fleshier portion of the butt area. The solution is simple – chamois cream. The timeline is undetermined as far as when the relief begins. Much to the delight of my fellow cyclists, I shared the process of repair and the suffering in detail.

After Lunch we rode along County Road 33, a beautiful stretch of road that is locally named The Loyalist Parkway. and before long we were riding past the beautiful limestone buildings that Kingston is famous for while working our way towards our evening accomodations at The Next Church who had graciously offered to have us back again!

An awesome dinner of the most incredible beef stew was followed by some quiet time and then we headed out to enjoy a little bit of Kingston night-life. My set-up: a church pew, a copy of The Rider, a beer, and a container of Pringles.

Tomorrow we take the ferry from Kingston to Cape Vincent, NY, USA!

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Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day One: Part 2

As I mentioned in the previous post, I dropped away from the official RFA route to see my Mum.
Here we are sharing a hug. There’s a combined 134 years of mutual admiration looking right at you!!!

From my Mum’s place I rode through downtown Cobourg until I got to Victoria Park where the Bus was already parked, lawnchairs were set up and lunching was well underway. My Mum and Aunt made their way over to say hello to the Team. After a superb lunch of salad and potao salad made up by Jerrett the Wonderchef, we made our way out of Cobourg using the fantastic bike lanes that are a part of the Lakeshore Bike Trail. I’ve used this route several times to get to and from Kingston and I highly recommend it.

The weather held nicely and we made good time through to the little town of Colborne where a stop at Gilligan’s loosened limbs and tongues and replenished lost fluids. It’s always fun to walk into a bar in lycra bike shorts. I can’t get enough of the laughter and the soto voce comments as you leave.

The ride from Colborne to Presqu’ile isn’t that far but the ride in off Highway 2 and then past the camp’s main gate to the site was amazingly long! I figured we were pretty much out near the tip of the point of the park. Looking at this map – we were within walking distance of the lighthouse – I’d say I was right!! But you know what. I’d love to be biking along that road right now! We got a huge campsite and quickly pitched our tents.

The bikes all gathered together for a talk about the riders , the scenery, and the next day’s ride. Michael made sure he got a really good faceful of woodsmoke … it’s way cheaper than smoking.

On tomorrow’s ride we make our way to Kingston!

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Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day One: Part 1

Morning’s somehow feel colder when I’m leaving to go somewhere. This one was no exception.

I had spent the evening before packing up my tote box. I’d live out of that tote box for the next nine days so my choices of what to take had been very carefully considered. using last year’s list, I felt fairly confident that I’d have what I need and wouldn’t be taking anything extra or forgetting antyhing crucial.
Astonishingly, I slept most of the way through the night. I had trouble eating breakfast but after the painful goodbyes to my children that I dread more than anything about travel, I got on my bike and pedalled off downtown to meet up with the rest of the Ride for Africycle Team.
We had agreed to meet around 8:15 a.m. at B!ke’s new location and as I rolled up I noticed that I was the last one there.
My wife rolled up with my tote bin in her car as well as my sleeping bag, tent, sleeping roll and camp chair. I loaded those up by the side of the bus and introduced myself to those members of the team who I had not met yet.
A couple of get-to-know-each-other rides in the week before had helped to bring together the newer members of the ride, so there was a lot less of the awkwardness that goes with setting out on a huge endeavour like this with people you barely know.
The press arrived eventually so a photo and video shoot was set-up.
Then it was time for hugging and waving and whistling and cheering and off we went.
We waved at everyone we passed, talked to people just cracking their first bottle of beer for the day, out walking their dog, or just plain sitting on their porch letting the Sun do the work of waking them up gradually.
No gradual wake up for the riders though as we were soon past the City limits and out onto Wallace Point Road working the kinks out of riding, taking turns up front, getting some photographs, and taking in the beautiful countryside.
One of the highlights of the morning ride was riding along one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever ridden on – my camera was in my back-pocket and on this day was coated in my sweat so the images have a sort of fuzzy quality about them which in my view just adds to the magic!
I ducked away from the team just above Cobourg and raced into town for a visit with my Mum – an annual tradition – where I grabbed fresh water, a hug, and a photograph of course! I nipped by Monk’s Cove and then hurried along the Main Street to join my fellow riders at Victoria Park for Lunch. Lunch was our first taste of Jerrett the cook’s food. It was amazing and yet somehow Jerrett outdid himself with each meal after that!!! Next post – from Cobourg to Presqu’ile.
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The return of Ride 5.0

Support Team and Riders outside B!ke ready to head out on Ride 5.0

The Ride for Africycle 5.0 team arrived back safe and relatively sound in Peterborough on Sunday, August 14th!
The ride was awesome and fun and filled with memories. I’d do it again. Right now in fact!
The weather was really kind to us this year with only one day of torrential rain and one day of headwinds and cross-winds to contend with.
We met all kinds of lovely, fun, and kind people along the way.
The food was nothing short of incredible! Having Jerrett the pro cook along was a total gift!
The support crew – big Dave Barber and the incredible Ben Voss – were super good to us also.
Over the next little while, i’ll put together the stories and photographs from the trip and share them here so check in every so often to see what’s fresh.
A huge thankyou from the Ride for Africycle 5.0 Team to all of you who supported the ride
with donations, prayers, and good thoughts.
All are received with equal gratitude.
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Less than thirty days!

I can remember getting off my bike last July – actually it was on this very day – and wishing the ride hadn’t ended. I was so happy to be home, to see my family, to tell all the stories, to unpack my bin of stuff which smelt like the very worst swamp on the hottest muggiest day, to sit down on a soft chair, to … well you know, there’s a long list of what you do when you get home from riding 1100 kilometres. But to be honest, I was already thinking about the next ride.

Well, it’s almost here again!


I’ve been out on several rides, alone and with friends, getting my legs and head around the idea that some hard work is heading their way. Actually, you might be interested to know that I’ve heard that Africycle rider Dave Blondell may be putting together some pre-Ride for Africycle rides to get people together so check your texts and e-mails in the next little while. Speaking of Dave, I was invited to attend an organizational meeting for the Ride with he and fellow ride coordinator Michael VanDerHerberg at Dave’s minimalist palatial graphic design studio.

Here’s Dave unfolding the six foot long legs that will drive him around the Lake.

Here’s Michael striking a classic pose replete with perfect (and I believe on this occasion, product free) hair.

There was much discussion about the route, campsites, support requirements, riders, and all the other details that go into getting a team of riders around Lake Ontario comfortably while having a good time. It’s going to be absolutely awesome!!

Here’s an action shot of us Google mapping our way around the South side of the Lake.

One detail that became obvious during our discussions is that we would like to take more riders on this trip. If you are uncertain or if you know someone who is thinking about going but who themselves are unsure then encourage them (and feel encouraged yourself) to contact the Ride for Africycle by dropping a line right here. We’ll give you whatever information you need and do lots of convincing!

I’ll be posting a list of items I took for last year’s ride, (so you’ve got a bit of an idea about your own packing decisions) in the next blogpost here so stay tuned!


Keep riding!!


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5.0 comes alive!!!

The ride is quickly coming alive with little snippets of information surfacing about the names of riders, jersey talk, practice rides, and I myself have started fundraising.

As a feature of my life, I like to help raise money for worthy causes.
Three causes draw my attention – Pediatric cancer, Huntingtons, and Africycle.
Each gets my attention in a different way,but the one I wish to draw your attention to here
is the piece with Malawi.
It’s a little country, very far away.
Of course it’s very poor.
But. There are people there.
People with spirit and ambition that doesn’t easily compare to that of their Western counterparts because the model on which their scope and expectations are based is much different.
My work to support their work is very simple and in my own view very lovely.
Because it involves bikes.
Visitors to this blog may not know that I have never owned a car driver’s licence.
A strange and yet irrefutable fact that becomes more incredible when you learn that my family used to own and race vintage Jaguars and has always had a taste for nice cars.
I own two bicycles.
One is a road bike I saved up for for two years.
really good road bike that propels me around the countryside at great speed and in comfort.
That’s the one i’m using to get me around Lake Ontario in August of this year.
As you know, the plan is to complete the 1120 km journey in nine days.
Eight days of riding and one day of rest.
Oh boy!
The Ride For Africycle is in its fifth year.
I blogged last year’s ride
If you’d like to read and see that ride then you can start right here.
The Ride for Africycle supports Africycle who in turn support The Zomba shop, and Grace orphan care.
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under sixty!

last year’s ride was made even more amazing and cool by the stops we made.

for the world cup

fresh made beer with free samples!!!

fresh-made donuts

and the coolest bike shop in prince edward county.

and i’m not even going to mention the sweet pastry and americano shops we stopped in on a regular basis.

oh no. those are the jewels in the crown folks!! wait and see!!

i wonder where we’ll stop this year?

really i do!!


get out and get riding!

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Under eighty days until we ride!!!

On the beach

I remember this moment. The Fourth of July on the American side. We had a rock skipping competition then we watched the fireworks along the entire American coastline. I’m pretty sure that the guy at the back – Dave – blew everyone away by firing one across the Lake that ended up at the base of the C.N. Tower.

So wow! We’re under eighty days until we ride down George Street and head out again, on the adventure of a lifetime!

I ramped up my own riding today with a sweet journey up to Young’s Point. A round trip of seventy plus km along roads very similar to those I remember from last summer’s Africycle ride on the American side of the lake. The ride back into Peterborough was punctuated by some really nice sunshowers. The light broke through the clouds in awe-inspiring silvery grey bands and to cap it all off, the trip was made all the more sweet (literally) by a stop in at Michael and Andrea’s Silver Bean Cafe where a restorative Americano and a superb peanut butter and chocolate chip granola bar put some energy back into my jelly-like legs.

I love this pic from last year as we rode the ferry from Kingston past Wolfe Island and into the States.

There’s Ben, Michael, and John Paul.

Michael and Ben crossing the border

I had the pleasure of sitting with Michael for a few precious minutes today during which time we came up with a really brilliant wheeze along the lines of asking for prospective Africycle riders to bring some special skill with them. Maybe you’re really good at making s’mores, or maybe you’re really good at getting people’s hair done before photo shoots with the local press, or maybe you’re really good at skipping rocks across Lake Ontario. Bring a skill and we’ll celebrate it at the right point in time!!! But we need to know about it!

If you’ve signed up and you’re reading this then e-mail me at sleak8@cogeco.ca and let me know a little about yourself. I’d like to post some rider profiles here so I’ll need to know a little bit about you. If you feel comfortable, attach a photo. If you’re not comfortable, then attach an image that says something about you.

Here are a few prompts to get things rolling:
Who are you and what do you want where do you come from?
What Where did you first hear about Africycle?
What made you decide to come along? (you can get cerebral and emotional here if you wish).
The key question really . . . . What special skill or gift do you have that will show up at some random or pre-ordained point on the Africycle ride?
Besides accepting ridiculous challenges like riding around Lake Ontario in the middle of the Summer, what do you do for fun?
Describe your bike. Does it have a name?
If you had one wish – o.k. three – what would they be?
The last bit of this is open to you. Add stuff that you think might astonish, shock, or add colour to the image the other riders are building of you.

Thanks and I look forward to sharing a little bit of you right here!!!

Ride often. Ride for fun!

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90 days!

There are less than 90 days left until the click of shoes locking into pedals reverberates around the streets of early morning Peterborough. Yes, the 5th Ride for Africycle is getting closer and closer. I am really excited (really!) and I wanted to share with you what I’m doing to get my body ready for this beautiful and challenging ride.

Just to give a little context here, I’m a 53 year old plus guy who works full time for a living. I love to bike and usually do so on my own. I like to ride with people but the alone times are very special, verging on the sacred. It’s a good space for me to come to grips with the stuff of life.

I commute to and from where I teach each day. This only amounts to eighteen to twenty km a day but given the hills, the wind, the rain, the sometimes cold mornings and the potholes (are you crying yet?) there’s a training effect which I am ramping up on weekends with rides out of the city that are slowly moving past the fifty km mark.

I love to wave at fellow cyclists riding through the same conditions wherever I go and I especially love it when there’s a return wave and a smile. It’s like fuel for the motor that keeps me going no matter what.

When the Summer gets here I’ll ramp up to longer rides because I’ll have both the time and the energy and then also because this is a beautiful area filled with amazing scenery, excellent bakeries, superb coffee, and lovely establishments that pour out outstanding handcrafted beers if you wish. I love to take photographs and to find surprises as simple as a brightly coloured door on a little church at the top of a Cavan hill, a run down cabin in the Ganaraska forest, or a sudden flickering of light on the surface of a little pool of water.

I’m on this year’s Ride for Africycle because I know that all of this will be a part of the experience but more importantly because I have come to know my bikes as tools for bringing good into this world. To know that my fundraising will help the people of Malawi, will bring goodness to a part of the world as deserving of that condition as any, is the same sort of fuel as I get from the smiles of the cyclists on Lansdowne. It reminds me that the very beautiful, very intimate experience that is bicycling is also about something much greater and world-changing.

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Moments to remember



Moments. It’s hard to imagine committing to a ride that is 1100 kilometres long and remembering moments, but when I think back (and look back) on the ride I completed last year, it’s the moments that are the glue holding the whole together.

These are just a few.

The moment of leaving; hugs from well-wishers, the sight of people I barely know and several I don’t know at all, all wearing the same jersey as me. All riding down the main street of Peterborough with the goal of raising money for something good. Very good. A dream I have held for years coming true right before my eyes.

The moment of rounding a bend forty kilometres south of Peterborough and seeing together with cyclists becoming fast friends, a view that I have treasured on many solo rides before this of Lake Ontario – just a slight, pale-blue sliver, but magic as pure as any kid’s journey to the beach could be.

The moment after racing across Wolfe island to catch a ferry ride past the incredible Kingston wind-farm and stopping for an Americano in one of several unexpectedly lovely and good little coffee shops strung like pearls across the Upper New York State side of Lake Ontario.

The moment of watching the Fourth of July fireworks shows scattering like flowers around the Southern shore of that very same Lake with people whom I had only an hour before shared a deep tangerine and salmon pink sunset setting across the Northern shore of our home country just thirty or so miles across the water.

The moment of flying down the Niagara escarpment screaming with a combination of fear and exhilaration hot on the wheels of riders more fearless than myself bent on cracking their own personal top-speed records.

The moment known until now only by my own family of me walking in the door of my home, yelling with joy and pride and amazement at the simple fact of achieving the achievement that I had felt so unlikely at the beginning of this incredible adventure. My children and wife holding onto my words in genuine bewilderment as I began to unravel the stories – unlikely and yet entirely true – of the adventures that have become part of the fabric of my life story.

That’s why I’m back. That’s why I have trained on a trainer through the Winter. That’s why I am riding whenever I get the chance. That’s why I urge you to come along with us. To gather moments that you will never forget!


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Registration is up!

You read that correctly! Rider Registration for both the full, and 2 day, Ride for Africycle 5.0 is now online. Here is what you should do: 1. Decide that you are going to participate in the Ride this year. 2. Fill out the Registration form. 3. Start getting those legs ready.

See, it’s as easy as that. We look forward to seeing you on the ride.

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Now We Are 5.0!

Good afternoon, Internet!

Things are starting to come together for Ride For Africycle 5.0! True slueths will learn there are a few gaps on the site right now, small details like the route, rider registration, etc. Know that we are in the process of getting the ride sorted on our end and will be able to tell you everything you need to know.

Today we had a meeting where we finalized a number of things . . . and let me tell you, this ride is shaping up to be quite nice!

Let’s make a plan to meet back here soon and we will tell you all about it . . . Done and done!

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Steve Leak – Blogging the Ride

Steve Leak, one of this year’s riders, has been treating the internet with a “blow-by-blow account of the 2010 Africycle travelling wondershow on one of my blogs. If you’re curious – then pop over here and give it a look-see-read. There’s no dirt, no secrets revealed, no he tells it like it really was kind of crap – just a hand holding you along through the sheer amazement of travelling 1100 kilometres on a bicycle with astonishingly cool people!”

It was a pleasure to ride with Steve – his enthusiasm for the ride was incredible, and seemed to make the hot days more bearable, and his encouragement for other riders went a long way.  I’m glad one of us took the time to document the days of the journey so well.

click here to read his words.


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Home.  We basically raced home this morning, trying to get back in time to watch the World Cup finals.  Let’s be honest, this has not just been a cycling trip for Africycle.  This has been a World Cup fiesta with the odd cycling here and there.  There was a little spill on the road this morning which split up the groups a bit, and John Paul spilled on the way into downtown (instead of being hit by a car at the crossing).  What to say?  Seriously, it was a great trip.  We had some good laughs, great meals together, and friendships grew on the trip.  It was a pleasure to arrive into Uxbridge to a waiting crowd.  Ben Voss put together some bands for us and had hamburgers and hot dogs waiting in vast quantities.  I’d like to take this time (and space) to thank Dave Barber for his excellent bus driving and support crew skills.  You didn’t cook, but man, you did everything else, and we greatly appreciated it.  As for next year, if you’re not in, I think we’ll have to have 3 or 4 people to fill your spot.  But hopefully you’re around for another year.

Will this trip happen again?  I hope so.  It’s the highlight of my year.


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Ride Update!

Friends and Wellwishers, I just received this email from Vanderherberg. This is what is up on the ride.


We’re leaving Queenston this morning. Finally the weather has turned. We’re going from 36 degree heat into rain and clouds today with a possible thunderstorm.

The trip has been great despite losing three people to various reasons. Of the initial 14, 11 are left. A highlight has been the newcomer, Steve Leak. The positive attitude and camaraderie that he has brought to the group has been really encouraging.

Another great addition has been watching World Cup Soccer in the afternoons. We had a few 5:00 AM mornings just so we could make it to a pub to watch the 2:30 PM game. So, if you see photos later on of our trip, and they’re all of us cheering for the Netherlands at a pub, please know that we actually did ride our bikes. 3 days left.

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2 days before…

Friends and Well Wishers, we are getting ready to leave.  

The Ride for Africycle 4.0 crew will be heading out from City Hall in Peterborough at 8:30 AM on Friday, July 2nd.  We will have lunch in Port Hope and finish in Presqu’Ile Provincial Park.  Keep us in your thoughts and prayers and give generously through our giving pages by clicking the Donate tab above.

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Meet a 4.0 Rider.

Ride for Africycle 4.0 is starting to come together. A few people have already thrown their chips in the hat and have committed themselves to participating in this years ride.

One of these people, Steve Stienstra, was the 12th person to confirm a spot in this ramshackle peloton. While Steve is a nice guy and good friend, it wouldn’t be too far off the mark to perhaps, at first, balk at his involvement in an activity consisting of sustained physical exertion. Such as a 1000-ish km bike ride.

Steve doesn’t mind me saying (I checked with him) his participation level in sports has been minimal. I can quote Steve here; “I only play sports where I can smoke and drink at the same time”, thus limiting our fair Steven to Bowling and Sunday afternoon pick up Baseball.

However, in the last year and a bit, things have changed for Steve. He read a book which had such an effect on him, his diet was drastically altered and he dropped weight in a fast, yet healthy manner. I think he cut down on smoking (but probably not) and has found a renewed sense of physical prowess. Not too mention, he is much better looking than I recall.

Steve should be an inspiration to you.

I think it’s safe to say, within your circle of friends, you dropped a bomb on everyone by signing up for Ride for Africycle 4.0. What led you to this decision?
Over the past year I’ve decided to get healthy. It started with making better food choices. Since then I’ve lost 70 lbs. Now I’d like to do something more athletic. So I’ve been biking a lot around Toronto and really enjoying it.

Then, on “Awesome Internet Site” I kept seeing things popping up about the Africycle ride. I started playing with the idea in my head and decided to go for it, to challenge myself with something I think is going to be fairly difficult.

To date, what is the longest bicycle ride you have ever gone on?
Last year I probably rode a total of 150 – 200 kms. I’ve definitely rode that much in the past two weeks. My longest ride has been about 40km’s or so and I am building up from there.

At the moment I am just trying to be on my bike as much as possible.

What bicycle are you planning to ride?
A Gios Compact H.T. It’s sexy.

What are you looking forward to the most on the ride?
I’m totally looking forward to not working. I’m treating this as a holiday as well as a sweet challenge.

Is there anything specific which gives you reservations about the ride?
Hills, Hills, Hills. They scare me. The problem with biking in Toronto is that it is really flat. I have to get out of the city more in the coming months to train on some bigger hills.

How is participating in this ride going to effect your chain smoking?
Good question. Smoking is the least healthy part of of my life. I’m going to quit in a month. BOOM! April 30th is the goal.

Based on your own decision making process, how would you pitch Ride for Africycle 4.0 to another prospective rider?
My internal decision process was, “F–it dude, let’s go biking.” Maybe I’d try that.

When are you coming to town to ride?
Hopefully sooner then later. It all depends on the next time I have a couple days off in a row and can figure out how to get my bike up there.

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Home Sweet Home

Northumberland Sunrise Rotary

Well, we finally arrived back in Peterborough on Sunday afternoon, somewhere around 3:00 PM after a long and at times difficult climb up the hills from Port Hope.  The last two days of the ride were very enjoyable, as we made our way from Kingston to Peterborough, fighting our way through a steady headwind coming off the lake.  We had many different Rotarians join us for various stages of the ride, some new faces and some familiar ones that joined us last year.  Pictured here are several folks from the Northumberland Sunrise Rotary Club who joined us for the ride from Brighton to Port Hope, and were kind enough to donate $3000 to Africycle.  Ben was really excited about finally getting to take a massive novelty cheque to the bank, so we’ll have to find out how that went.

All told, the Ride was a massive success.  The countless hours that went into planning the trip by so many people has once again been worth it.  It’s amazing what a bunch of people can do when the put their minds and hearts to it.  Everyone who had a hand in this year, whether it was riding, donating time and money, cooking, driving a bus, carrying gear, fixing bikes, praying for safety – you all helped contribute and you all deserve massive amounts of thanks.

Our fund raising goal was $30,000.  We don’t yet have a final tally for you, but we’ll post it when it comes in.  From what I’ve heard though, we’re very close to that goal!

Aside from some sore muscles and a few aches along the way, we were once again spared any major incidents.  Jordon’s 3 rules of cycling – 1) Look Good, 2) Go Fast and 3) Safety First! proved to be useful as this group of good looking, fast and steady, and safe riders once again completed a circuit of Lake Ontario.  At the end of it, the little computer on my bike said we did 1025 km.  I did a few extra from time to time, missing turns, chasing down those who missed turns, or turning around to check something out on the side of the road that I missed the first time by.  It’s amazing what a bunch of people riding bikes for a little over 1000 km can accomplish.  Along the way new friendships were built, old friendships were made deeper, and many a laugh was had.  It was truly the highlight of my summer, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Plans are in the works for next year’s ride, so stay tuned.

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Ride Update | Four

More updates from the road, through the eyes and texting skills of Mike Siddall:

July 9
We rode from our wonderful rest stop at Fair Haven State park, through to Westcott state park.  Another beautiful park, with some pretty killer accomodations.  The ride was fairly mild today, so the riders took their time getting there and once they arrived, everyone made haste to the beach.  After an afternoon of beach/swimming/volleyball, it was another fun night of games and good times.

July 10
The shortest day of the tour, we traveled from Westcott, back into our Canadian homeland . . . by way of Kingston.  The whole team made their way to the Wolfe Island ferry, where we got to experience what is like to put a 17 000LB bus on a small ferry.  Feeling that boat go up or down a couple feet was unnerving, though seeing the 10 feet hanging off the back over the water had to take the cake.  Kudos to Dave Barber on the bus driving skills today.

We had a nice lunch on the island and then made our way to Kingston, where Ben made arrangements for us to be a part of the busker festival here in Kingston.  Thousands of people were out in the city centre, so we got a chance to connect with folks, sell some t-shirts and had a great dinner all togther at a resturant downtown.

The riding today was amazing, the weather was gorgeous and we all really enjoyed the relaxed pace of the day.

Tommorow we make our way to Presquille prov park, then it’s the truly unfortunate end of what has been, an absolutely incredible adventure.


Camp site at Westcott


bus on the ferry

riders enjoying the ride

crossing the border into Canada

lunch activity at selkirk shores, a handstand competition. Carlo won.

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Ride Update | Three


Mike Siddall came through with a massive update today. Enjoy:

Sunday July 5
Four Mile State Park

What an amazing day! We rode from Hamilton through to Four Mile State Park, near Niagara falls. The riders got a great chance to ride along the lake in St. Catharine’s/ Niagara and all had no problems through the border along to the camp site.

The support team, also had no problems at the border and were amazed by the courtesy and graciousness that has been extended by everyone we’ve met along the journey so far. Our American friends, can get a pretty bad wrap from time to time, but judging by what we’ve seen here so far. Everyone has been so helpful and willing to chat with you about just about anything.

The campsite and the ride were amazing today. We had great weather, just warm enough to get some nice sun and not too warm to be killer to ride in. The highlight of this leg, would have to be those couple of riders who got a little lost along the way, realizing they were lost by recognizing the Rainbow Bridge they were supposed to be on in the distance . . . and later learning the Rainbow was neither the one they were on, or the one they were looking at.

This is the beauty of the ride, even though you may get a little lost along the way, everyone made it safely and happily arrived at camp, to their first Carl Nielson (Camp Chef) specialty, a crowd-pleaser, as always.


Monday July 6
Webster Family Park

The century day.  The ride has featured a day wherein the riders experience the thrill (aka agony) of a 100 mile trek in a day.  In this case, the day happened to also be our first day of rain.  The ride itself was a good one, with plenty of good experiences along the way, including supporting one another through minor injuries, finding a lost cat and pushing through to the finish of such a long ride.

The day was capped off with a big rainstorm that soaked camp just before the riders arrived, and again just after dinner.  This made life a little more challenging for the support crew, but gave me a good chance to use my tarp hanging/tree climbing skills.  All in all, it was another great day.


Tuesday July 7
Fair Haven

A solid ride yet again, though for some, it was a bit distracting on account of the many flat tires.  If you need a flat changed, like an Indy car pit stop, Sheila is your gal.  All around the riders are in good spirits, enjoying the many sights throughout the area.

Rochester was an interesting adventure for many, most notably, Andy Guthrie.  There was poor Andy, alone and lost riding along 104.  When, all of a sudden, there is the Africycle bus!  ‘Yes, the support crew can stop and help me’ he thinks.  ‘I’ll wave them down and they can tell me where I need to go’.  ‘Hey!!’ Andy waves . . .’ HEY!’ . . .’ Good job buddy’ waves back the support crew as they jovially drive by thinking to themselves, ‘Andy Guthrie, he’s such a good guy!  I’m so proud of him.’.

We won’t repeat what Andy was thinking at this moment, on account of the small children.  However, in a twist of fate that only the Ride for Africycle could offer, along came Sheila and others to guide Andy along in their ride through the rain, headed for the next stop  on this amazing adventure.


Wed July 8, 2009
Rest Day:

The tour has been going so well, everyone has been working so hard, that a rest day was all too welcome.  After the stormy night in Webster, with plenty of wet (clothes, bike seats, tents and socks) and a long few days of riding, a good ‘sleep in’ day was had by all.

We have spent the day lounging, playing games and eating lots of good food.  The weather is fairly cool, but Fair Haven is beautiful, so it’s a nice balance.  It’s a good day to just enjoy each others company and tell stories from the journey so far.  Right Carlo?!

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Ride Update | Malawi


As Ride for Africycle 3.0 continues to wind its way around Lake Ontario (The Ride is presently somewhere in the vicinity of Rochester NY), the international installment of Ride for Africycle, that being, Ride for Africycle Malawi, has come to a close.

Ride for Africycle Malawi consisted of one fellow. Jonny Perrot.  He rode from his house in Zomba, and rounded the base of Malawi’s largest mountain.  Jonny sent me an email, which I have reposted here . . . and a video of his trip, you’ll have to get past the excessive wind noise in some parts, but please do, this clip is so awesome!

hey man

I uploaded the vid on to to the vimeo page.
It speaks for itself.
My batteries died so I only captured day 1.
total ride distance 278km
3 days.
total raised: 680$


Jonny . . .

Ride for Africycle:Malawi from Ride For Africycle on Vimeo.

Jonny Perrot is awesome. There, I said it. Publicly.

Also, it would be foolish to mention riding bicycles in Africa and not post this epic trailer from the Zenga’s Brother’s new film. The Zenga’s are very fine friends of Africycle. Enjoy.

We’ll be back with a Ride for Africycle 3.0 update as soon as one rolls in.

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Ride Update | Two

Support Team Leader, Mike Siddall sent this through:

Thought you might enjoy some pics.  There is one from lunch yesterday by the bus, a good image from Tyrone Mills.  It was a great day, amazing night at the Raponis as I’m sure you can imagine.  They fed us like kings, and of course, everyone had a merry ol time.

Today, we awoke to the big breakfast . . . and a long day of riding.  The riders had a fairly adventurous day, most opting to wade through the Lake Ontario to navigate the Scarborough Bluffs.  Everyone arrived at Ashbridges Bay in good time, but we had a bit of a late lunch.

The late lunch, lead to a bit of a late arrival.  By that, I mean it’s 7:30 now, and about 5 riders have arrived at our Hamilton home.  It was a long day but a good one.  The weather was beautiful!

Now, we rest looking forward to another great weather day tomorrow as we head for the U.S of A.


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Ride Update | One


A quick update from Bruuks:

Ok.  A quick report on Day 1.  We arrive at around 3 PM in Whitby after an excellent day on the road.  We stopped for lunch at Tyrone Mill, and had some awesome food prepared by the support crew, and some awesome donuts and coffee supplied by the Tyrone Mill Bakery.  It is stellar.

We managed to avoid the rain all day, which was nice.  Some of us need help reading directions and maps and roadsigns.  Four of us, myself included, wound up doing an extra 10 km today, as we missed a turn.  Part of it involved a really awesome quick decent.  However, when we realized our mistake we then had a less awesome ascent to do to get back to the right road.

The Raponi household has fed us well, and we`re enjoying our evening here immensely, sipping fine wines, sitting by a campfire, playing cards, laughing, enjoying life.

Tomorrow we ride through Toronto, avoiding mounds of garbage and striking workers . . .

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Ride Jumpoff!

Friends.  It is July 3rd, 2009 . . . and Ride for Africycle 3.0 hit the road nearly two hours ago.  The bus, the riders, media and well-wishers alike descended on the front steps of Peterborough’s City Hall for a brief kick off ceremony.  Tyres were inflated, brakes dialed, carb gels loaded into pockets and peanut butter sandwiches were consumed—and with that, the riders starting riding.  It was a beautiful sight.

Today the Ride will meander along towards Whitby, site of the first nights destination, which is also one of the only indoor accommodations on the trip.  Depending on what happens with the rain today, the Riders will probably be rather stoked on being inside tonight.  Updates throughout the trip may or may not be frequent . . . it all depends on internet connections along the route.  That said, we will try our best to bring you as many updates as possible.

Thanks for checking in, If you haven’t followed the “donate” links on this site, please consider doing that now.



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The Bus


Ride for Africycle is a supported tour . . . meaning there is a vehicle which tracks the riders throughout the day, carries a bunch of things, and goes ahead of the group to set camp up each night.  Last year that support vehicle was in the form of a heavily loaded Dodge Caravan, piloted by the very gracious Famile Vanderklok.  For a seven rider tour, the Dodge Caravan served us very well.

This year, however, things are different.  With a tour of 20+ riders, you need several small vehicles or one very large vehicle to adequately transport all of the gear needed for a tour such as this.  Ride 3.0 went the very large vehicle route.  Africycle is the proud new owner of converted school bus!  This bus was not purchased specifically for The Ride, rather, its primary use is for transporting vast quantities of donated bicycles from one place to another . . . but was enlisted to be the ‘around the lake workhorse’.

This bus is also one giant rolling billboard.  Mark Yurik from Magnum Signs in Lindsay (705.878.0087) did up/applied the vinyl decals from artwork supplied by Page Design and Print. The end result came out looking rather nice.  I wish my school bus looked like this back when I was in elementary school.

It is also very important to note that this bus was (very graciously) donated to Africycle by the Rotary Club of Uxbridge.




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Ride for Africycle | Malawi



While our crew of 20+ riders are riding around The Great Lake, Ontario, Jonny Perrot will be doing a 211km solo ride through the Malawian hillsides . . . making the Ride for Africycle a truly international event.

Regular readers of our little blog, will already be familiar with Jonny, since we posted his Day in the Life photo’s a couple of weeks ago. Jonny emailed us with some more information regarding his ride, which you can read in its entirety below.  But first, Jonny’s bio:

Name: Jonny Perrott
Title: Africycle Country Director (Malawi)
Job: A little bit of everything.
Age: 22 and a 1/2
Status: Single
Height: Huge
Weight: 185lbs

My name is Jonny. I say and write the word “bike” in any given day enough times that it hurts.  Am I a cyclist, you ask? Answer: Yes, but I think of my self more like a Cyclogist.

I live on a mountain. Cool eh?  The Ride for Africycle is a thing that excites me.  What are some other things that excite me, you ask?  Answer: big fires, high speed, blueprint and technical drawings, big ideas, a good poo, cool drawings, nice people, keepin’ it real, good storytelling, jokes, adventure, music . . .

I am not going to be joining any of you in the “Ride for Africycle.”  But, I will be doing a version of the “Ride from Africycle”
my ride will be a self supported solo ride from July 3–5/2009.

Day One: Starting at the Africycle shop located in Zomba, Malawi.  I will be riding south to Mount Mulanje (Malawi’s tallest mountain)
Day Two: Riding around the mountain
Day Three: riding back to Zomba. (home) I will also be taking pictures along the way!


The picture attached is the best estimate I can get for distance. Don’t be fooled by the number of km’s . . . the roads are kinda weird here, and distances will be about 2/3 longer than they look on the map . . . and the roads will be washboard/sand.

Good Luck everyone!   I’m trying my best to join you.

Jonny Perrot

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Profile | Andy Guthrie


Next up in the Ride for Africycle Profile series is Ride Rookie, Andy Guthrie.  Within his clip, Andy talks about hills, spandex, excitement and all kinds of other stuff you’ll need to hear to believe.  Watch the edit after the jump. Riding road bicycles is a new adventure for Andy . . . it has been fun watching someone get stoked on bikes.  This is one of the neat things about Ride for Africycle, it brings people from all levels of cycling together and allows them to complete a rather wild task.  All of it, so local communities in Malawi can have access to high quality bicycles.

Ride for Africycle Profile | Andy Guthrie from Ride For Africycle on Vimeo.

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Profile | Mike Siddall


Ride 3.0 support team member, Michael Siddall talks about Ride for Africycle. Michael is a nice fellow, who also serves as Board Chairperson for Africycle. Right at this very moment he is figuring out how to replace a rear window in an 11 year old School Bus. He’ll get it dialed. (but only if we all believe in him at the same time, ready . . . believe!)

Ride for Africycle Profile | Mike Siddall from Ride For Africycle on Vimeo.

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Profile | The Hub


Last Thursday Andy and I made a short trip to Uxbridge, Ontario — on official Africycle business.  We happened to have some cameras in the car so we shot a couple of things.  Here is a quick little edit of a Puppy and Ted Webb, Ride for Africycle Rider, and Manager of The Hub Bike Shop . . . Talking about Africycle and The Hub Bike Shop.

Has anyone else had experience with Vimeo cutting off the last few seconds of your edit?

The Hub from Ride For Africycle on Vimeo.

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Day in the Life


Jonny Perrot is a good dude.  I first met him in Uxbridge, Ontario some years ago.  He was riding art bikes in a parade through the city streets with some Winking Circle alumni.  Afterward, a number of us went to the Huizenga farm, Jonny included.  Jonny was asked if he was available to hang out the following day.  His response: “Let me check my list”.  At this point he pulled from his pocket a document consisting of multiple sheets of loose leaf 8.5″ x 11″ paper, scrawled with a dizzying array of entries.  This was Jonny’s “to-do” list.  It would appear, he was indeed busy the next day.  His agenda included, “building a Hang Glider” and my personal favorite “install 2nd engine into Ford Escort Station Wagon”.  Awesome.

These days Jonny is in Malawi, overseeing Africycle operations.  We asked him to photoblog his day in Malawi.  This is what he sent.  Enjoy!

This is my clever system of waking myself up 2 phones 2 ringers 2 times then music plays from the computer. today was tarzan boy.


Everyone should use clip-less pedals. They are the best. I change my shoes a few times in a day.




I wash these every day. Something about water bottles they just get so nasty.


Checking email in the morning today for some reason took 40 mins before I got what I wanted.


This is mike. I see him every day. He works where I live.


Today I had to bring a wheel on the ride.


This is my back pack I wear sometimes.


After a ride to work (40ish mins) I meet with this dude every Tuesday.  He is the manager of grace orphan care. We talk about ideas.


This is just some of the junk that I carry in my pockets. It’s all super cool stuff.


This is Lunch


View of shop from my desk. After lunch.


I drew this during lunch break.


Warn parts.


This saw made me swear.


These are Bamboo sticks getting delivered.


I cut up a local bike. This one was donated to Africycle for scientific research. shown in picture are the metal pieces of the Bamboo frame I am contructing.


Cutting bamboo is fun thing to do.


This is a bit of bamboo that I filed inside and out to fit on a bamboo bike that I am working on that uses all local parts.




This is my bike it’s a trooper. It is an old Mongoose 700c frame, it has neat parts, strong wheels and other cool parts.  Maybe just one of the only machines that deserves a name.


I see this view a lot.


These Mini Busses are evil.


This is our staff riding home at the end of the day. We race!


View of town.


I found these people on the ride home.


At home listening to music and checking emails.


Visit me on Facebook. I’m on every day except weekends.


The power went out for 2 hours.  This is normal for a Tuesday night . . . and almost every other night.




This is Paul . . . he’s cool I live in his house.


Before bed tea.


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An Update


An update, really?  Yes.  This is an update.  The truth is we have been busy riding bikes and making plans to ride bikes around Lake Ontario, that things like blog posts keep getting pushed down the priority list.  If you are an avid reader of this site, you will see that 90% of our blog posts start off with the requisite “sorry, we haven’t posted anything in a while”.  Why should this post be any different?

That being said, things are progressing along with both Africycle and Ride for Africycle.  Rider registration for Ride 3.0 is officially closed!  Our final rider tally is somewhere between 8 and 136, but is mostly likely around 24. Check the Rider Page to see who has committed themselves to the trip.

We had our first rider meeting this past Sunday and it was a good chance to ask and answer questions and get to know one another.  When things like meetings and such start to happen, the excitement level slowly builds.  More and more details begin to fall into place and it becomes clear to all involved that in 8 weeks time, each of us will be riding away from Peterborough, not to see it again for at least 1000km.  It is a beautiful thought.  Of course, we do this because we believe in the work being done in Malawi by Africycle, and we stand behind that work by raising money and awareness for Africycle, but there is something else.  Riding bicycles is a wonderful thing.  I am not talking about cycling or touring or anything connected to fashion, gear, or performance.  I am talking about bicycle riding.  The act of moving your pedals around and around whilst looking at stuff you wouldn’t see if traveling by car.  Simple.

Riders.  Look forward to it.

As for Africycle . . . they are working on some really big things.  Truly.  More details on that when they are ready for public consumption

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