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Day 6: Montreal and Over 750 KM Down!

Hawkesbury to Montreal

Distance: 120 KM biked 

Time Spent Biking: 7 hours

Total KM Biked: 756 KM in 6 days

Last day of riding before my first rest day! You can probably tell how grumpy I am in the video that the weather wasn't great in the morning - all I want is a nice shower, a hot plate of carbs, and a massage. A big thank you to Cam Lalonde from Hawkesbury for taking me in, appreciate your support for the ride and your kindness to a complete stranger!

I'm also on a tight timeline - I was invited to speak at Music for Mosul, an event to raise awareness of the current crisis in Mosul, Iraq where ISIS and Iraqi forces are engaged in brutal combat. Please take some time to read about the situation here

Meant to say 110 KM left - I wish it was 110 KM in total.

Finally the rain stopped, and I managed to get going on the country roads that lead to Montreal. 120 KM after a week of non-stop biking is brutal, but the thought of getting to rest a little tomorrow helped me keep going.

Common Question: You mentioned that you often eat at gas stations during the ride - what do you eat there?

With the ride, it's a matter of eat-what-you-can-get. There's huge chunks of the route where I don't see any towns or any places to stop to eat, so gas stations are often the only choice. As for healthy options, there's really two different camps on eating when doing endurance trips.

The first is that food is something that should be enjoyed, with taste being a factor in choosing what you eat. The second is that food should be thrown into your mouth as fast and as often as possible in order to stop your body from breaking down.

You can probably guess which camp I'm a part of from the video below. 

 Remember learning about Oka in Grade 10 history, really cool to see it in person.

Remember learning about Oka in Grade 10 history, really cool to see it in person.

The ride was going great, but about 90 KM in the rain decided to make a comeback - I got caught in a really ugly place.

Thankfully though, a local Montreal resident named Fournier saw me - when he heard about what I was doing, he invited me into his home and we talked about the project, his life, and a bit about how I was going to manage to get to downtown Montreal in this weather (it really didn't seem likely at the time). After 30 minutes, the rain did let up a little, so I thanked Fournier for the invitation and continued on my way!

Quick side note, it really is amazing how many people are helping me during this ride. People are opening up their homes, offering food and donations, and it's really encouraging to see.

Eventually I arrived in Montreal, quickly took a shower and changed, and then sprinted across downtown to get to the Music for Mosul event.

The event was awesome - we got to hear authentic Iraqi music, and proceeds from the show went directly to the UNHCR. I also had the pleasure of presenting Canadians for Syria and fielding questions about Ride for Refugees - everyone was incredibly supportive (some people thought I was also crazy, but in a good way?). Thank you very much Juanita and her team for organizing the event and for the invitation!

 Thank you Juanita!

Thank you Juanita!

 Some art that I saw in Montreal when I was coming back from the event - there's a lot of attention given to the crisis in Montreal.

Some art that I saw in Montreal when I was coming back from the event - there's a lot of attention given to the crisis in Montreal.

And just like that, the first leg of Ride for Refugees is done! Over 750 KM done in 6 days, and I'm really feeling the physical and mental exhaustion. Hope that my rest day tomorrow gives me a chance to catch up on emails and everything else - after I reach the Atlantic Ocean, I'm promising myself that I'll sleep for a day.

Also, if you haven't already, please consider donating! Even if it's only a small contribution of $10 or $25, we need your support to be able to sponsor the Beshmaf family. Check out our Facebook post that gives some background on the family and their story. If it resonates with you and you'd like to become a sponsor, please donate here! Thank you :) 

Day 5: Les Aventures de Victor

Ottawa to Hawkesbury

Distance: 134 KM biked 

Time Spent Biking: 9 hours

Total KM Biked: 636 KM in 5 days

A huge thank you to Srijan and the entire Walia family for taking me in. Amazing food, amazing hospitality, and it was really nice to see a familiar face after being on the road for a bit.

Late night chapati with paneer never tasted so good <3 

Meeting with MP John McKay was great! Really appreciate his support for the project, and even though it's only been 5 days, it was nice to hear about how ol' Scarborough is doing.

See you later Ontario! Time to remember how to speak French. 

Spoke too soon - road closures added about 10 KM to my ride. All smiles though, today's a beautiful day for riding. 

After biking in Quebec for most of the day, I crossed back into Ontario to spend the night in Hawkesbury. Cam Lalonde was extremely generous to take me in, and I completely collapsed as soon as I got into bed. Another great day :) 

Day 4: Mr. Lal Heads to Ottawa

Brockville to Ottawa

Distance: 114 KM biked 

Time Spent Biking: 7 hours

Total KM Biked: 502 KM

First off, thank you so much to Josh and Ellie Bennett from Brockville for being willing to take me in, give me a delicious dinner and breakfast, and help me get a great night's sleep. I really appreciate your kindness towards a stranger like me - hope we can run into each other again someday! 

Biking non-stop is absolutely exhausting. Especially with the heat today, I really had to push myself to stop thinking about the sun and concentrate on pedaling. The roads to Ottawa were flat but really isolated - I ran into only a handful of people during the whole day. 

Some More Common Questions

1) Do you do anything while biking for 8-10 hours each day?

Podcasts podcasts podcasts. I listen to a bunch of different podcasts in one ear when I'm in a low-traffic place - my favourites are Radiolab, Revisionist History, and Freakonomics, and they make the KMs go a little faster.

Otherwise, I think about life! In a sense, it's really therapeutic to be doing something difficult, where everyone would understand if you gave up or took a break, and just putting your head down and pedaling. It might sound a little crazy, but the physical exhaustion and constant battles are the best part of this entire trip.

2) What are you eating? 

Apart from protein bars, energy gels, protein bars, energy gels, and more protein bars (yes I have a problem) I try to find a place to grab a quick snack or lunch along the route. Today, that quick snack was a gas station, and I got to use the old I-am-biking-far-so-I-can-eat-a-Snickers line. For lunch, I was lucky enough to run into an amazing sandwich shop - that poor Chicken BLT was helpless. 

3) How do you get water if you're biking through the countryside?

Great question! I actually stop at random houses and just knock on the door. As soon as people hear about the journey, they're more than willing to fill up my bottles with ice cold water, and also are always interested in having a quick conversation about the cause. Without people's generosity, this trip wouldn't be possible. 

Today was hot, exhausting, but great. I managed to roll into Ottawa around 5 PM, and was really glad to get a few hours to catch up on work and the news. I'm staying with my friend Srijan and his amazingly nice family - I'll be thanking them in tomorrow's blog! 

Thank you for all the support guys. Just know that when I'm feeling tired and get a message from one of my friends, saying that they believe in the cause and are going to help bring the Beshmaf family to Canada, it really helps me to keep going. 

Victor

Day 3: The Return of the Legs

Picton to Brockville

Distance: 152 KM biked 

Time Spent Biking: 10 hours

This ride was amazing - 150 KM was grueling, and I only made it to my host at 8 PM even after leaving at 7 AM, but the views were gorgeous. 

IMG_7474.JPG

Pretty much all of today was biking on the side of roads - I tried to use the cars going by at 100 KM/H as motivation.

How-To: Endurance Bike Ride Nutrition Essentials

After an extremely long day and over 10 hours on the road, I finally made it into Brockville. Today was definitely encouraging, and I feel great for the rest of the trip!

Day 2: Wanted, Two New Legs

Cobourg to Picton

Distance: 105 KM biked 

Time Spent Biking: 8 hours

Day 2! I'll go through this day pretty quickly - I honestly think that Day 3's blog will be way more entertaining. Today, the main issue was heat: it got up to 36 degrees with the humidity, which definitely made things a bit dangerous on the road.

 Thank you Madison and the Hathaway family for taking me in! I really appreciate the food, donation, hospitality, and Game of Thrones discussions.

Thank you Madison and the Hathaway family for taking me in! I really appreciate the food, donation, hospitality, and Game of Thrones discussions.

 Looked on Kijiji but sadly no one was selling new legs in the area.

Looked on Kijiji but sadly no one was selling new legs in the area.

Today was definitely a brutal day, and my body's still adjusting to the non-stop cardio. Here are a few things I've learned so far: 

1) Stay thirsty my friends. 

It's ridiculous how much water you have to drink while biking in this weather. I kept track of exactly how much fluid I drank on Day 3, and it came to 16.5 litres. In a single day.

 Conveniently my hand is now shaped to fit my handlebars.&nbsp;

Conveniently my hand is now shaped to fit my handlebars. 

2) Think your legs will hurt the most? Think again.

I'd actually say that my fingers and wrists hurt more. My left hand is permanently in Captain Hook mode, and using a knife and fork is really awkward. 

3) Biking far is really hard. 

This is probably the most fun part. It's crazy to be pedaling 8-10 hours in a day, but I want to see how far I can push myself (without going overboard, I know Mom I know). I'll have a number of days coming up in the ride that are shorter though, so I'll make sure to take time to play it safe and not push myself too hard. 

4) Expect very different trails.

My day today went from lakeside trails to busy roadways to dirt paths in the middle of the forest. It's tough to expect what you're going to get in some areas, but my bike is holding up so far!

After a grueling day, I made it into Picton where a wonderful local named Cindy was kind enough to take me in. Thank you Cindy for the warm bed and amazing food! Really appreciate your kindness.

Thanks for reading! We're almost at $10,000 in donations - if you want to get involved in sponsoring a Syrian refugee family, please consider donating. 

See you tomorrow! 

Victor

Day 1: Growing Pains

Managed to get through the first day of the biking trip! Here are the route details: 

Toronto to Cobourg

Distance: 131 KM biked 

Time Spent Biking: Around 8 hours (Google maps led me astray, see below)

Overview: Today was a great first day, although the weather wasn't ideal - the headwind and rain made the ride a lot tougher. I took a route along Lake Ontario, which made for some really good views but pretty bad exposure to the elements. 

The start of the day was great - I went over my list and checked it twice, and loaded everything onto my bike. Riding with that load is really different than regular biking (sharp turns = falling to your death) so it definitely took some getting used to.

 The set-up: somehow managed to get 25 days worth of things and 80 days worth of granola bars onto this bike.&nbsp;

The set-up: somehow managed to get 25 days worth of things and 80 days worth of granola bars onto this bike. 

 Very weird way to start off the day - but glad that crazy people still get recognized.&nbsp;

Very weird way to start off the day - but glad that crazy people still get recognized. 

I started off the ride biking with my mom, who kept me company for the first 20 KM. We biked through Toronto and stopped for lunch past Pickering, and it was really nice to spend some time with my main lady before I headed off for the entire adventure. 

 Reaching Lakeshore with the boss.&nbsp;

Reaching Lakeshore with the boss. 

 Romantic sandwich lunch to say goodbye.

Romantic sandwich lunch to say goodbye.

The conditions were crazy in some places. Even in Toronto, some areas of the route were flooded - guess it was my fault for leaving Toronto during MONSOON SEASON APPARENTLY. But, at the end of the day, the water only slowed things down a bit. 

 It turns out that pavement is one of those things that you don’t appreciate until it’s gone. The trail I took went from a paved bike path, to a forest trail, to a narrow bike shoulder on the side of a regular road.

It turns out that pavement is one of those things that you don’t appreciate until it’s gone. The trail I took went from a paved bike path, to a forest trail, to a narrow bike shoulder on the side of a regular road.

The Google Maps Story

I'll admit, Google Maps is pretty great - it was really helpful in planning my route. Just to make sure, however, I cross-referenced Google with the official maps outlining the Waterfront Trail - what I'm following for the first part of my route. 

A few hours into the trip, the Waterfront Trail signs suddenly stopped, and the road became a lot less welcoming: 

 Please don't do this to me Google Maps.

Please don't do this to me Google Maps.

 WHAT DID I JUST SAY GOOGLE MAPS

WHAT DID I JUST SAY GOOGLE MAPS

After circling around, I ran into two other bikers who said that they had the exact same problem - apparently that section of the trail had been closed, and the only way to get around was to go on a sideroad right beside the 401. Lost a bit of time on this, but hey, that's life. 

 Ran out of water at one point, but ran into this country bar in the middle of nowhere - never been so happy to hear country music in my life.&nbsp;

Ran out of water at one point, but ran into this country bar in the middle of nowhere - never been so happy to hear country music in my life. 

After an absolutely exhausting first day, my cramping legs and I arrived at my first host's location - will thank Madison and her family for their hospitality in my next post! This trip is going to be absolutely grueling, but one way or another, I'll make it - may have to buy a motorcycle at some point though :) 

Thanks for reading, and please, please donate here if you haven't already! All proceeds will go towards sponsoring the Beshmaf family, a family of five from Aleppo, Syria that is trying to come to Canada.

Victor