The mist is lifting slowly, I can see the way ahead
And I’ve left behind the emptiness that once defined my life…
It’s time for a more upbeat post. I’m sat here in Ajax, Ontario enjoying spending yet more time with my extended family. David and Pat feel like family, there’s a closeness and warmth here that makes me feel safe and secure. I’m happy, I really am happy. My guardian Angel left last week to continue her own journey, and while I found the parting extremely painful, I was so glad to see how she had grown in our week together. I have no doubt she will work out some of her own problems and my one wish is to see her reach full potential. You have a very special gift AJ, please make the most of it. I miss you.
My own recovery is a slow affair. The shoulder is taking a long time to heal and I’m still unable to use the arm (don’t let the picture below fool you). I do now have some painkillers that take the edge off, so I am getting relief, just not enough. So all this time is giving me a chance to catch up on jobs I’ve been putting off, like re-indexing my (over 6,000) photos after a hard drive failure. This was a disaster and I’m still recovering many of my early images, so I can put together the books I keep talking about. These will be completed while here in Toronto, so it’s something for my many followers to look forward to.
Speaking of my followers, I’d like to thank many of you. I have some really good friends and I have many others who regularly post on my Facebook page, wishing me well. After the trials I’ve been through, the friends I really value are those who listened to what was said and respected my need to sort myself out. You gave me time and space without intruding. This must have been incredibly difficult for many of you as I truly know how much you care, but it means so much to me that you respected my wishes and I know you were always there if I needed you. I love you all.
I returned to Toronto because it seemed wise to have friends and family around me and it is one of the cities I most enjoy here in Canada. It just feels right to be here, so I’ll be using this as a base to go further afield and explore. I don’t think I could ever give up my cycling, after all I truly believe it is keeping me alive, but I could easily settle here and use it as a base to continue touring. Food for thought as I try and change the future I had mapped out for myself.
So I’m in a much better frame of mind. I’m doing things I enjoy and I’m happy. Thank you all for supporting me, it has been by far one of the most difficult periods in my life and I’ve come through it, with your help and kindness. The journey continues…
As I watched the Bay of Fundy water back up under leaden skies in Saint John, I reflected on how perfectly it echoed my present situation. I’m struggling and have decided not to try and hide it. It’s a mixture of feelings, but being in constant pain and discomfort, not having slept for more than a few fleeting hours each night for over a month is taking it’s toll on an already depressed body and mind. The nausea is affecting my appetite, too. Maybe meeting up with my stuff again (bike and tent) will help, at least that’s my hope.
It’s going to be a while though as somehow I’ve ended up back in Montreal heading for Toronto. From there I’ll head down to New York where I’m due to pick up the bike. I somehow have to hang around until the middle of October to allow my injuries to get to a point I can (hopefully) use the arm and it’s also when I meet my bike again. I desperately need help with accommodation on this part of the trip as I cannot save money by camping until I get my bike and kit back, please message me if you can help.
No plan, I’m at an absolute rock bottom. So sorry for telling you this, but I’m tired of trying to pretend everything is OK.
Sometimes an event happens that changes the way you see the world. I’ve had a few on this trip; probably the most dramatic being holding a dying boy in my arms. Has it made me stronger? I’m not so sure. I know from my last accident in the Pamirs that I don’t handle time off the bike well, and now as then there is the dramatic decline in my health, both physical (fcuk you Jaques Anderson) and possibly more worryingly, the mental challenge I face. But amongst all this, at my very lowest ebb, I have been dragged back from the edge.
I have met a young lady who has put my own difficulties into a fresh perspective and made me once more question myself. Her name is Hilke.
These are her own words:
“Traveling alone, especially if you are doing it in an unusual way, puts one in a position where one meets many people. The ones who like a good story but who would dread to go on an expedition like yours; and those who are on an expedition of their own. Mine is to find myself. Usually I do look for myself by bike, but due to an injured muscle that was not an option. So I ended up going to Canada without it. Within a few days, maybe even before starting to go on the lookout, I have met a number of truly interesting people. Derek is one of them.
There are good days, and there are bad days. Everybody knows it. But what most people don’t know – luckily – is that there are days beyond that limited range of good and bad. Days when getting up is not just asking for too much, but even just inconceivable. Crawling back into your shell, or bed, or whatever, curling up and forgetting about the world sounds easy in comparison. Days when you reach not only the point of giving it up, but also the point where even giving it up is… whatever.
And after a while, you’ll find, that beyond the point of hanging on, trying not to give up or the realm of even caring about it, there is more to come. There actually is a point beyond it all and then you have to go on. The sun will go up and it will go down, whether you are in a state of mind to appreciate it or not. Sometimes it will get better, but sometimes it is pretty damn certain that it will not. And you never know what point you are really at, until you reach it.
Having a bad day, however, is only part of it. People are another part of it, especially the ones who don’t understand at all, or, maybe even worse, the ones who think they understand, and subsequently try to make you ‘feel better’. A bad day is a bad day. Period. If you don’t like it, get yourself a tampon and stuff it. Then there are those people who run when the shitty times really start. Those who cannot deal with the place or the situation you are in, with the decisions you make. A bad day, singular or plural, is a bad day, and you do what you have to, to not have to do it.
Derek is having a couple (or more) of bad days, and, unfortunately, “whatever” is not interesting enough to post for several days after another. But he’ll be back when he’s ready for it. Don’t panic, don’t run for the hills just yet, and most of all, don’t do anything crazy to make him feel ‘better’. Bear with him. That is, if you can. And do not be afraid.”
A fellow traveler.
I hope by the time I see my bike again I have worked up the will to ride it. It will not be for a while and my immediate concern is to stop losing weight, and with the courage displayed by Hilke to try to stop feeling sorry for myself.
On Sunday I had the opportunity to thank the guys at Velo Plein Air for fixing up my bike, by photographing an event organised to raise funds for a local hospice, the Maison Marie-Élisabeth in Rimouski. It would be interesting to return to what effectively started my professional photographic career, and although I no longer had my selection of professional cameras and lenses, it would be an interesting challenge, particularly as it was forecast rain all day.
Jean picked me up a little after 7 a.m. and we drove up to the shop to prepare the bus and trailer. Jean’s job was to be backup mechanic, food stop and sag wagon and I was along for the ride to capture the event. Sign on started shortly after we arrived, with people arriving steadily over the next hour or so.
I’ve photographed and taken part in many of these events myself and it felt good to be amongst so many cyclists, checking out the bikes and taking in the atmosphere. If I’m honest, I miss this part of the sport.
Today would not be a race though, the idea being to complete the 40 km’s of off-road riding as a group. Once the pre-ride talk was finished, we made our way around to the hospice and a chance for the riders to see who they were raising funds for.
As it is French that was spoken I couldn’t follow what was being said, but I think the pictures capture what it was all about.
And then under darkening skies it was time for the event to get under-way as the riders made their way to the start.
We drove out of Rimouski to our first meeting place where we would set up a feeding station for the riders, a trail coming through the woods and crossing the main road. I wandered down the trail to find a suitable spot to get my pictures, something I was well practised in. You could hear the riders approaching by the noise of the off-road buggy’s that were acting as safety vehicles.
Given that my camera kit was now far removed from what I would use (given the chance) I was fairly pleased at what could be achieved with a cheap lens in very low light, and while not very sharp, the images were usable for the most part.
The rain by now was fairly heavy and my refusal to capture the riders out from the trail made photography difficult in the extreme, but both they and me were having fun!
Once the riders had all come through, we were off again to the next feed stop, on occasion following the riders along the short road sections and trails. I was also able to snatch some pictures from the comfort of the bus.
Once out in the open it became easier to capture the riders, though I had to keep drying off the camera and lens in the pouring rain. How I longed for my (waterproof) pro kit again.
We had a full supply of sandwiches, energy bars, water and chocolate milk to offer the riders at the lunch stop, where the whole group came back together.
As always seems to be the case, the rain got heavier as the event neared it’s end. It was however still relatively warm and Hans chose to go topless. There was no end of opportunities to capture the riders on the superb forest trails and I was enjoying immensely my return to this kind of photography.
At the finish the riders arrived in small groups, obviously split up on this last leg by the torrential rain. That they were still able to raise smiles for me was wonderful to see and ensured I also stayed photographing until the last rider had come in.
Then it was time to get some hot food, before lining up the riders in the still pouring rain for one last shot, a group photo. I was later told by Martin, the boss at Velo Plein Air that this event would raise $10,000 for the hospice. Well done everyone for a great days riding in what was not great weather, I only wish I could have joined you!
Finally it was time to pack away the bus and head home for some much needed rest. It had been a very long, but very enjoyable day, which the weather couldn’t spoil.
Please note: All the images from today will be available to download for free on the VPA website.
After my last post you’d be forgiven for thinking that all is doom and gloom, but this is not so. I have been given the opportunity to ‘give something back’ to the people of Rimouski, firstly by using my photographic skills at a cycle event this weekend (I will photograph the competitors and then give the images away free) and secondly by giving a presentation on my journey to a children’s school. I’m excited about both.
My wounds are slowly healing, in particular in regards to the skin loss where now only my two palms and elbow require dressings. The most worrying injuries are my left elbow, where the very deep wounds are not healing well, and of course the previously dislocated shoulder, which is still acutely painful. Even the emotional wounds are healing, but that is thanks to all the support from you guys. What really made me take stock was the comment from Ruth who has seen me during some of my darkest moments and knows me better than most, take a look for yourselves in the above comments section and you’ll understand what I mean.
So where were we before my accident? Oh yes, in my last episode I had just left Graeme and family in Ottawa and had crossed the river at Cumberland into Quebec, making my way to Montreal. Along the way I had rain the first day necessitating a cold night, then breaking camp the next morning had me packing everything away wet – my least favourite activity! I was soon to see the sun again and by the time I reached the small (but historic) town of Oka, just 40 km from Montreal, we were back to glorious sunshine and clear blue skies.
Once more I’d contacted Warmshower hosts and in Montreal I stayed with a wonderful couple, Gilles and Claude, along with their son and a couple of huge cats. Claude was a vet with a difference, running her business and her passion together – she is “A Vet on a Bike”
Although I didn’t linger long in Montreal, I did find enough to keep any photographer happy and this was without even exploring the city centre. What I did discover was a comprehensive network of cycle paths, some lovely parks and as you would expect, stunning bridges. Here’s a selection from the many images I snapped:
I would have liked more time, but needed to start making my way east and complete the Canadian leg of my journey. Little was I to know that my progress would come to a dramatic halt some days later. As it was, Gilles kindly rode out with me to pick up the trail I would take on leaving Montreal. Not only had Gilles and Claude looked after me so well, they had put me in touch with friends I would stay with later that evening.
I followed the cycle trail all the way to Saint-Joachim-de-shefford, a mixture of tarmac, dirt trail and even long grass through the countryside heading east. For the most part I was following the Route Verte, part of a 4,900 km network of cycle trails inaugurated in 2007 in the province of Quebec. It was quiet and relaxing riding, being kept away from traffic and winding it’s way through some beautiful countryside. Just before reaching my destination I entered the Parc National de la Yamaska and was given a ticket allowing me free access through, providing I could cover the short distance to the exit in the next 40 minutes, which was all the free time I was allowed. I made it comfortably.
My hosts really did live “in the sticks”, a lovely home off the beaten track where the cycle trail ran through. We shared tales of our travels and I discovered how this lovely couple met each other. Georges was keen to point out that although they still wished to do more touring, he now wanted the comfort of a nice room and clean bed each night, which I fully understood. They have both done their fair share of “roughing it” many times. Me, well sometimes I long for solitude, but nothing beats being in the company of such wonderful people and sharing stories.
Packed with a lunch bag and refreshed from a good nights sleep, I set off the next morning, this time heading north to Quebec, by way of Drummondville (lunch stop) and then Trois-Rivieres. I can’t remember where I stopped (camped overnight) though, so perhaps these photos will help identify my route:
And I really should know where this is, but again cannot remember the name of the village:
And finally I also stopped here to buy provisions just before camping:
I’m usually able to recall my journey by looking at the photos and the gps route, but I cleared the gps prior to arriving in Quebec to make space for more waypoints and so much has happened lately I cannot recall the details. If I have missed mentioning someone along the way, please forgive me and send me a message.
And that’s it for now. In my next blog we’ll come up to date and I’ll speak about another great host in Quebec who opened up his home to me. More soon…
My enforced stay in Rimouski and an attack on my honesty has led me to re-evaluate my trip and this whole ‘celebrity status’ I have acquired, which was never of my own choosing. I came out of Asia looking forward to getting back to being able to talk in my own mother tongue and spending time being with people I could share tales of my travels with. It was all going so well…
Now I have been called a cheat and a fraud, told my cancer is not real and taken back to a period of my life I thought I had left behind. When my wife died in 2009 I had sunk into a deep depression and my life became a living nightmare for the next three years, involving drugs, attempts at suicide, and most hurtfully, the loss of good friends. In seeking help (from Christian counselling) my childhood was brought back to me (for the first time) and it was all too much, I fell apart. I did things I’m ashamed of and as time passed I hoped they would remain buried.
Throughout this period only a few stayed with me, remaining loyal friends. They saw my battle with both my cancer and depression, even assisting me to get help and much needed counselling. On one occasion I was whisked away to Spain after being collected from the cancer clinic by a small group of these friends, enjoying my first holiday. It was a welcome break from my living hell.
When I began this trip I spoke about leaving behind my ‘demons’ and finding myself again, in the hope I could put it all behind me. See: What’s it all about?
I thought I had succeeded. Now I’m being asked to give access to my past (and in particular my doctors) so that I can “clear my name.” Well I’m sorry, I’m not interested in clearing my name. Those I care about and who care about me know the truth. I will not re-visit my past for any reason, because I’ve worked too hard to come to terms with it, and yes, I have skeletons which must remain hidden. If some journalist seeks to expose them I would simply ask why, am I such a bad person? Can you not respect my wishes?
There are followers of this blog who have ridden bicycles with me when I have been having treatment, even going to the Alps with me. At times I was pretty sick. I’m called a liar for my story about riding 100 miles out of the saddle due to just having had Brachytherapy and being unable to sit, because to my accuser, it is impossible. Well there have been many times I’ve achieved the impossible, but on this occasion I had a team around me training for The Race Against Time and some are now following this blog, maybe they will comment?
Being called a liar hurts and by refusing to give him what he wants I’m leaving myself wide open. Well so be it. Truth is it may well not be too long before there is absolutely no doubt. I’m not sure exactly what I’m supposed to be gaining, sympathy, money, whatever. So I will make changes that ensure I gain absolutely nothing from my illnesses. From this point forward I will not discuss either my cancer or my depression, both of which I’m accused of faking. I will simply become another cyclist travelling around the world, which in itself is quite a feat.
I’m stepping off the media merry-go-round and getting back to what I do best, cycling. It is becoming harder and this is spoken about in my blog frequently, but it seems my accuser never bothered to read it. The longing for solitude again is growing, because I never have been happy being cast as a hero. I simply wanted to help others. Now (well when I’ve recovered) I’ll slide back into the shadows and enjoy the journey once more.
But if my accuser thinks he’s having it all his own way, I’m afraid not. Here is his document, which he didn’t even have the decency to send to me and the reason why my reply is so public. My responses are in red.
Doubts about the history of Derek Boocock
1 For lung cancer, the chances of life most of the time are valued at a maximum of 6 months, he traveled to 20 months.
A simple search on the internet and my own personal hero’s give testimony that this is not always the case. And it’s now 21 months.
At my first meeting on Tuesday 12 August, he also told me he had metastases that his cancer was also reported in the bones and teeth that sometimes break when he sketched too hard food! Following his accident Rimouski, he added that his cancer was now made in his brain. So he claims to have 4 types of cancer and all terminal.
The key phrase here is “had” not “has” – I do not claim to have all these cancers and certainly not bone or brain cancer (to my knowledge) at this time. Poor teeth is a side effect of Chemotherapy.
2 If retired Army, in principle he is entitled to a pension. As he told the military mechanic Rimouski Jean Madore, he would only have 9 years in the army therefore not eligible … It is not possible to know if he really has been military, it is a status that attracts people’s sympathy. Checks are to be made. His LinkedIn profile says nothing about it.
Why would a simple Linked in profile have details of my Army career – the profile has VERY little info, because it was hardly used, see the number of contacts. My Army number is 24449037. I joined the 4/7th Royal Dragoon Guards in 1977 and served until 1986. Here is a link to one of my best Army buddies – we were both scout leaders.
I’m also in email contact with other regimental friends. Emails available if required.
And I’m pretty sure I get some kind of pension – but did I not say I very likely would not be around to draw it!
3 And he said that the cost of his cancer treatments have ruined before he left and he still has more money (other than 5000 pounds). According to what I know (check), England health services are covered by the state. But it may have passed through the private or that cancer treatments are not covered by the state, to check.
It is true that not all treatments are available on our NHS. This is why I went private.
But do not forget that he wrote on his website and in the media that when diagnosing terminal cancer in October 2012, he refused treatment and went cycling. So if it had debt of its treatment, they went back to the days when he was treated for his prostate cancer.
And I have spoken about this many times. My debts went back a good few years.
4 Before his trip, he was unemployed or self-employed instead. Internet (forum discussions bike UK), it says that he lost his job in computer it may be there in 2009 and he was happy nonetheless. ”Aim the 53-year-old train IT support worker says:” It’s the best thing That ever Happened Because It kicked me Into action. I Had to make a new career. “ Photographer scoops prizes in first year in new job http://www.cravenherald.co.uk/jobs/jobs_news/4528927.___Losing_my_job_was_the_best_thing_that_happened_to_me___/ There is no mention of his prostate cancer at the time.
Wrong I’m afraid. Different journalists will print different details and in this article they do speak about both mine and Caroline’s cancers. This article was written in 2009, which is a full three years before I even contemplated my cycling journey:
Oh and I was made redundant in 2008 not 2009. I took a lot of time off to go to treatment clinics and know there is at least one of my co-workers following this blog who can verify this. (Hi Jean).
Then he was on his own photographer for wedding photos. His company was Distinct Images (address: 40 Broadfield Close, Bradford, BD4 9SJ) http://www.freeindex.co.uk/profile(distinct-images)_137413.htm ”Distinct Images is managed by Derek Boocock and his image-have-been published in national magazines Regularly”
Err yes, I was a professional photographer…
It was also a company multi level network (Network million kg). Derek Boocock auf Pinterest (can not open my office link) de.pinterest.com/derekbb/ Derek Boocock | Self Employed Network Marketing Entrepreneur and Professional Photographer. Derek … Boocock. Life Quotes / von Derek Boocock.
Yes I dipped my toe in Multi-Level Marketing, and like everything I try to do to the best of my ability, I was very good at it. I can’t see where that is leading either…
It has three Facebook accounts. One of them is personal and not related to his journey. We see that Facebook friends are often connected to the Network Marketing or an environment where several autonomous workers earn very modest incomes. So as a professional who likes to make photographs bike photographer, he did not let his starting job and go around the world by bike as he says.
Hmm, I can provide proof of the sales of my photographic kit, (one buyer even follows my blog) along with my car and the house. It doesn’t take a genius to see I have only what possessions I’m travelling with. Of course I try to do work (and have done so) to supplement my funds during my travels.
5 In his interview for The Sun and also on his blog I think he said he was in severe depression following the death of his girlfriend (actually my wife of more than 20 years!) and also his cancer to him. And when he decided to leave for the world tour, his idea was clear and he fully recovered from his depression overnight. Is it possible to recover as quickly from severe depression? By cons, this depression has led him to mention the MIND foundation on his business card and internet and attract people with a public cause and not personal site.
People with depression need a focus to help them recover – I had a focus. Of course I support MIND, it is a mental health charity. But it is in the background and ALL funds donated are paid directly to the charity – nothing to me. In all my fundraising activities you will see this is a common theme.
6 I found his home address in England, it does not seem to be a house there (Google Street) just apartments. So he has not sold his house as he says, unless his address photographer is different from home address to check if it actually sold!
The address is 40 Broadfield Close, Tong Street, Bradford BD4 9SJ. Do a simple google search and you will see when the house was sold by me to number 38, my neighbor. I will try and contact him to ask for a photograph of legal documents to prove the sale. Many of the houses in this Close are indeed Housing Association flats, but not mine or my neighbor’s.
7 During my journey with him, he told me he was working on publishing a book. When one is terminally ill, it’s not the kind of project that starts, especially since we can die suddenly and no one will care for the publication.
What utter rubbish. Surely if you believe your time is short, then you want to leave something behind. In my case that is both a book and my story (including photographs), told through my comprehensive blog.
His blog is still very far behind its actual course, it may take longer to write his book for his blog. Yet it is supposed to live on donations from people who follow him on the net, so why not maintain its site.
I do my best to keep up and is this not yet more proof that I’m not looking to make lot’s of money from my cycling trip?
He told me he was interested in writing and publishing for local magazines outdoor when I told him that one of my friends who is a journalist could not come ride with us. Here two projects with financial interests that do not go in the same direction as the message he must live his dream (for him round the world by bike) before I die!
Yes, and more proof (if needed) – I prefer to earn my own money to pay for my onward travels. I ask for help only when I need it.
8 He often talks about the cause of cancer and depression which particularly which is also mentioned on his business card MIND foundation. The internet address of the foundation is not put on his business card. The link of the MIND foundation to give the MIND foundation of UK mental health and which is registered as a recruiter: https://www.justgiving.com/DereksBikeTrip is present on its website but not on the page Home and you must go to the tabs to find him. People feel they give to this foundation but it probably gives him more directly to the foundation by clicking on the links to its homepage. He has also received 12 donations worth £ 253.11! The latest donation of May 2014.
I outline the causes I support and tell people if they want to help how to donate. I do not chase people for donations – if however they want to give, the link is there. I reiterate the funds are paid directly to the charity, nothing to me.
However, this is the principal cause that promotes and that’s what attracts people to his cause…
It is not, nor ever has been the principle cause and I’m pretty sure many of my followers will tell you they have never even visited the MIND page. No, what attracts people to my cause is that I promote not giving up, be it to any kind of serious illness (including both depression and cancer) and that people should try to be positive in the face of adversity – that has always been my message and always will be.
He often speaks in the media and on his card business it gives more opportunities for people he meets. So people probably overlook his site but donations do not go to MIND. Here is his business card:
My business card speaks for what I am about – that I wish to help and inspire others. Is that wrong?
9 While riding with him, I told him about the virtues of certain anti-cancer foods and especially Dr. Béliveau special secret recipes and instead I received directly from him when my mother was in the fight for his cancer. Facts from several foods that liquid concentrates could not interfere in meals due to the large volume. I told him clearly that Dr. B. has evidence of many cancer patients who have stretched their life for many years eating only these concentrates. He has not really shown interest because it was complicated to do by bike, he asked me to send him e-mail recipes. I did not respond and I let him get back to me about it for testing.
I kindly showed an interest and you did not respond. Please explain this? What I will say is that I personally do not hold great stead in chasing off-beat cures, even if there is irrefutable evidence that they work. I have been offered chances of such many times. If I wanted to do so then I would have chosen something else other than cycling around the world.
Since meeting and my accompanying Quebec La Pocatière, he never gave me new, despite all I have done for him to make it known and to find somewhere to stay.
I found this man warm and very friendly. I find it hard to comprehend why he did not share his doubts with me and give me the opportunity to answer him face to face and I cannot understand this underhand duplicity. Is it simply because he feels I ignored him? If so I’m terribly sorry, my accident happened.
10-There is no medical evidence with him or online demonstrating his cancer.
The only time he spoke to me with proof is in the interview with the guy from the Sun, where he said he had with him an X-ray of his lungs affected by cancer and taken in its accident in Asia where he was hospitalized for a face to face with a 4×4. When donations from people because we are in terminal cancer was seen, I think we should have more evidences. It has in fact no evidence on him or online demonstrating his condition of terminal cancer. We can not trace the name of the doctor who made the diagnosis.
You cannot hide on the Internet. There are many links to forums and groups I have been a part of that discusses both my illnesses. I was the organizer of one of the biggest Sportives in the UK and stepped down in 2010 because of my illness. Anyone that knows me will tell you it had to be something very major for me to let go of my own event! Do a search, or if you are too lazy, here is one link:
11-I read the first few pages of his blog when he left in November 2012, it does not read any mention of his terminal cancer.
Taken directly from my blog: “This trip has been an incredibly difficult journey for me, of which I have described the physical aspects pretty well in my blog, but only shown brief glimpses of the real battle that was going on. Initially I didn’t even mention my cancer or the real illness – my depression. Believing I had to concentrate fully on the cycling and engage people with how fascinating this aspect was, that became my main focus when writing the blog. Yes the cycling is what most people want to hear about, so why bother with anything else?”
It’s probably (probably? Have you done ANY research at all?) true that he lost his wife and that he also was treated for prostate cancer, I read on forums of UK bike. But you can not see anywhere that is diagnosed with terminal cancer and no formal proof is provided.
12-He said Tuesday night or Wednesday morning (the day I accompanied him) that since I met, he had received several donations and he knew it was because of me. It came from the website vmqca.qc.ca and also my Facebook friends. If he really saw the gifts and people like me who help taking a day off, why would it not transparent with me and said that since the two reports in Quebec (The Sun and Radio-Canada) my meeting helped him raise $ xxx. No thanks, no figures, no news. It is true that I have asked him several questions, he may doubt me.
Is that what this is about, because you didn’t receive a personal “thank you”? Lot’s of people help me and I try to thank them, often through my blog. But sometimes I just say a general thanks to all. As I hadn’t even written about our meeting yet, of course you weren’t mentioned. Well now you are Jaques Anderson.
Doubts about his health, his performances, his words …
1 He said in an interview with The Sun he had 89 of VO2max (which number caratérise cardiorespiratory capacity of athletes who practice aerobic sports). I challenge him by saying that Miguel Endurain (5 times winner of the Tour de France) was ranked among the tops in the world and he had 88 He may have 89 VO2 max but practically very unlikely.
And in this I will hold up my hand and admit I was mistaken about the figure. Not out of deception but a genuine mistake.
2 During the interview he also said that his prostate cancer in 2005 prevented him from making a career as a professional cyclist, yet he was 49 years old at the time. There are few riders who are or start a cycling career 49 years! Furthermore, in the article mentioned above, he says he lost his job in computer science in 2009!
That is the most absurd claim – I have followed cycling most all of my life and I know what it takes to be a professional cyclist and that the professional career is (usually) a short one. I was never even close to being a professional and would never say I was, certainly not at that age (49) when no cyclist can compete at top level. I even told him I was only an average road racer and it was my climbing prowess (when I was fully fit) which enabled me to train with much better cyclists than myself. I was a decent amateur in my chosen field, endurance cycling, particularly charity events (Leeds-Paris-Leeds in 4 days, John O’Groats 1,000 miles in 5 days – these events are verifiable) and spoke about this. Also again 2008 was the year I lost my job and 2009 the year my wife died.
3 At the end of the bike course is with me, he told me he was a huge hunger because if I was in zone 1 heart rate (I had a bike 20lbs without charge while that with his luggage as he says weighs 65kg), had him in zone 4 (the heart rate zones are based on percentages of the maximum frequency of a person. 5 There are multiple areas by 10%, the area 1 is 50 to 60%, the area 2 of 60 to 70%, etc.). At first, I did not challenge his false claim, since he could not be in zone 4 in chatting all along the route, it is not possible to speak in zone 4!
What I said was I could not have ridden any harder! It was easy for him, it wasn’t for me and I put in a LOT of effort to maintain a pace I was certainly not comfortable with and I told him this. When I finally finished the day at Claude’s I was exhausted.
He said in an interview that he was a bike trainer before you travel, so he must know what the heart rate zones and it was certainly not in Zone 4 during our journey, especially the only indicator of the intensity of the area to an observer is the frequency of breathing. With just one efficient lung, he should breathe more rapidly than normal.
Which I did. Why else then would he ask me if I was OK on numerous occasions?
I remember the other time a non-loaded cyclist rode with me out of Winnipeg, he was much kinder in his pace yet still I struggled. Read my blog.
4 At the beginning of our day to ride together, he asked me how I did Km max standing on my pedals. I told about 20km. He told me he made a run of 100 miles (160km) as it had just been put needles into the prostate and could not sit down. Yes it is possible to ride 160km standing on the pedals, but it’s highly unlikely!
Ha ha, contact ANY of the 2005 Race Against Time people (I can give an email address) and they will verify I did do this. In 2005 I was, as I said above, a decent cyclist. I was also stupidly stubborn and would not accept what the doctors told me.
5 He said that at the beginning of his journey, he often was 200km but now he was no longer capable of over 100km. (in the same time – an important omission!) Yet to get Qc St-Roch of Alder was 130km. I told him that it did not make sense. He never said he was finished and exhausted, I even found at the end of the flat, it was still running at the same rate as the average of 20km / h we had before.
As above I could not have ridden any harder – I made the effort to keep up but had I been riding solo would have ridden more comfortably – i.e. slower.
It is not possible to live his daily journey on his blog, so no way to see the progression of his cancer vs distance.
Proof that you do not read my blog. There are many entries which speak about the daily distance and how it is getting more difficult for me – as this is a common theme. Here is just one:
According to my friend who hosted the Pocatière, he left La Pocatière in Trois Pistoles Thursday, which is a day of 128km. Yet he told me that he was traveling over 100km, he paid several days later and that his recovery was very slow. So he typed two days online 130 km, contrary to what he says!
What I say openly on my blog and what I discussed was that initially I could complete the daily distance with ease in 5 to 7 hours. Now my days (and certainly if 100 km or over) can take 10 hours or more.
6 It is not possible to see its log of trips made each day on its website (number of miles and duration). So it is not possible to see if the cancer progresses by analyzing commuting (distance, average speed, etc.). While riding with him, I asked him how he can separate the facts km on his bike and those made by car (sometimes he gets carried) as it tries to make a guiness record around the world. He did not answer my question.
Actually I did. I’m not trying for any records (can’t even think of one) but do remember telling him that to be called an “official” round the world cyclist you have to CYCLE at least 24,000 miles. I distinctly remember telling him I had only a few thousand to go and that cars, trains, buses etc. do not count. I also wrote this only recently on my blog.
He also said in an interview that at first he was often 200km a day and there is no longer possible. If this is true, why the information is not available. His scorecard shows no movement in Canada. It is unlikely that he be awarded Guinness records for his world tour since the mileage is not really verifiable (bike vs car).
What’s this with Guinness records? I don’t seek a record (and could NEVER obtain one) and as I discussed with him, you have to cycle 24,000 miles. I don’t need it verifying, I’ll know when I’ve passed that mark. He’s making me out to be chasing some kind of record – I’m simply wanting to keep cycling. Who cares how many miles? If someone wants to see where I’ve been, read my blog and click on the route map – which admittedly is not always kept up to date. It’s not that important to me.
6 He said in an interview with the Sun that he never ate in restaurants and living with only $ 5 a day and he also mentions on its website.
“I’m Attempting to cross Canada and America on” Goodwill “due to HAVING run out of funds. Donating just $ 5 means clustering I can continue for another day. ”
In fact, he told me that in Canada, he lived on $ 10 a day and that is the country where it cost him the most expensive.
This is true. What’s the point you are making? Canada is more expensive.
His recent accident before arriving in Rimouski!
He posted on FB that he fell in biking down a steep hill and that his tire exploded.
No, what I wrote was that my front tire exploded and I was thrown onto the road, scraping down it for what seemed like eternity. The bike shop can validate the unusually long tear in the inner tube.
He went to the hospital and said he dislocated clavicle and humerus broken ..
No I didn’t. I was told initially there were cracks. Later x-rays proved chips of bone with tendons attached had been dislodged by my dislocated shoulder.
If as he told me he has cancer of the bone to the point where it breaks teeth while eating hard food, why he did not more members broken after falling more than 80 km / h? In addition, his health is supposedly very weak, how can he recover with injuries as important?
Once again he is changing what I discussed, as he has done many times. Chemotherapy is the cause for poor teeth. As for why weren’t my injuries more severe, well I think they were bad enough but yes I could also have been killed. Who chooses? All I know is me and Jean went back to the crash site and saw that my major skin loss was due to skidding along the tarmac for many yards and my glasses saved my face, except for where my left eyebrow is still attached to them (kept as a memento). I’m told it will be months and not weeks before my shoulder heals, so I don’t think I got off lightly.
If he really has widespread cancer in his words, it is expected to stop its journey or go to his son who lives in San Francisco (he really has a son at this point).
No details will be given about my sons, (I have two) it is not relevant and very private. I will ride my bike until I no longer can and even then I will probably try an electric assisted bike to help me continue. I have posted this previously in my blog.
But I knew the military mechanic Rimouski using it locally, he wants to continue his journey by car because it has a high pass with a journalist friend of New Brunswick interview.
Don’t understand this. I want to continue by bike, but need time to heal – which I have to take. As for Jack, I consider him a friend and if possible will give him an interview. There will be no mention of either of my illnesses, past or present and not just to him, but now anyone else. I’m not hiding, simply changing my trip to be about the cycling, for which I hope no one can criticise me.
I learned from the media that his visit to the hospital in Rimouski was free and he did not have insurance (eg Blue Cross). By contacting medical personnel (emergency physicians and nurses) of the hospital, it would be interesting to know more about his condition of health, cancer and vital signs should be observed that link. He told the hospital he did not have insurance because he was not insurable because of his terminal cancer. Yet after checks on UK sites, I saw that it is possible to take out insurance as long as the care required are not related to cancer.
Which surely proves why I did not take out insurance?
According to the SQ, even if his story is false, it is not punishable by law because it does not directly solicit people, they are the ones who come to him. But it uses the media extensively by passing and his adventures. He also gives his business card that clearly invites to give.
No – it does not even remotely mention giving, nor has it ever done so.
He asks for donations to people and now he uses the health care system at no charge.
If I receive free medical treatment, then I’ll gratefully accept it. As I understand it, there will be some charges that my friends will meet.
Yes it is noble to go around the world by bike but the question to ask is whether people would give so much to the cause if they knew he was not suffering from a terminal cancer or if they would be in either “probably” about it ..
I think people are supporting my message and want me to continue. You are putting too much emphasis on my cancer. Let’s see if my followers abandon me.
I’m not saying it is not suffering from terminal cancer but has provided no evidence of the disease and in this case it be doubted. Its many forms of cancer (prostate, metastases, lung, bone and brain now) are contrary to the feats he manages to make his bike. The fact that many of his comments are unlikely and exaggerated his former jobs, leads me to believe that his story of terminal cancer is not true!
I’m not understanding this “contrary to the feats he manages to make his bike” as I do nothing even remotely out of the ordinary. My average speed on an average day is 16 kph if no hills are involved, often slower around the 10 kph mark. That’s not a feat, it’s a struggle, but one I still enjoy else I would not continue. Yes I can ride at 20 kph if I have to, but it is neither good or wise to push myself more than the odd occasion as I will pay for it. Give me one example of “exaggerated his former jobs” as I cannot see I have done this – I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in my working life and have made no bold claims. And who gave you this idea I have brain cancer? I don’t (to my knowledge) and without being tested I also don’t think I have bone cancer. That was in the past but once again you are mixing what was said to you.
As regards asking for money, there is a button on my website stating that donating just $5 means I can continue another day. It is a request for help, pure and simple. Small donations are made from people who follow my blog and there have been some larger donations from friends and family. It is entirely voluntary. This is not related to my cancer and the message automatically logged with every donation is:
“To inspire others to not give up!”
That has always been my message. It will continue to be.
In conclusion I wish only that you had honestly written our discussions as happened. The changes you have made are slight and even given our different languages I believe deliberate, which have the desired effect of skewing what was actually said to fit in with this documents premise.
I ask readers to make up their own minds. The fact that I will not give names of doctors or clinics is explained at the beginning of this document and I would plead with those (close) friends who know why to respect my privacy and not discuss this, but by all means make comments, whether they are helpful to me or not. It is not satisfactory for many and I know this will lead to doubts, therefore I’m happy to just be another cyclist travelling around the world and will (very reluctantly) make changes on my site to reflect this. As I said above, you only have to be patient and wait for the truth…
I’m not going to devote any more time to answering this person, but while preparing a presentation for a school I realised the biggest argument has been completely missed. When a cyclist does what I am doing, attempt to ride around the world, he will get fitter and stronger as his body changes to cope with the cycling. I have logged in my blog from the very start my progress and the opposite is happening with me. I also speak about my breathing difficulties in the Pamir’s and the serious problems I had in Cambodia.
I have dramatically slowed down, I need to take much more rest and I need a lot more sleep. I’m still having a constant battle with my weight (the loss) and instead of getting stronger, I’m getting weaker. So my question is very simple:
If I’m not ill, then why am I not getting fitter and stronger as would happen to anyone else?
I’m done explaining myself.
After my recent accident, it seems prudent to post an update on my blog to go along with my recent Facebook updates. This update will include help for journalists wanting a quick way to get up to speed on my story, so no apologies for repeating what many of you already know. Wifi here is very intermittent and slow, hence why I seem to disappear from time to time. Anyway here is the tale:
On Friday 15th August, while just 20 km from Rimouski (coming from Riviere du Loup) I approached the long steep downhill section of road on route 132. It was a very fast downhill and having had no previous problems on hills like this I let the bike pick up speed. I was soon travelling well in excess of 80 kph when with the sound like a gun going off my front tire exploded and I was thrown onto the road, scraping down it for what seemed like eternity.
It took a few minutes for someone to stop and an ambulance was called. No painkillers could be given to me and my injuries were causing me serious pain – I’m no wimp when it comes to pain but this was simply unbearable. At the hospital I begged for painkillers, but again was denied until they had fully examined me – fair enough but I was lucid enough to tell them where I had pain and where I had none and just wanted something to help me. It was a long time before I was finally given something, but not enough to make me even remotely comfortable.
A dislocated shoulder, at least two cracked bones, many inches of missing skin which the tarmac had scraped off me and facial injuries which required stitches, as did a wound on my left elbow. The hospital was unable to get clear x-rays of my injuries because I was in too much pain for them to move me about enough to take them. I couldn’t understand why they could not just sedate me and get the x-rays, but hey, I got the distinct impression it wasn’t important after they found out I had no medical insurance.
So the doctor told me I had ‘probably’ at least two cracked bones in my arm, but couldn’t tell if my shoulder was broken. I was informed their was no point in referring me to an orthopaedic surgeon (again I have no insurance) and any injuries were most likely best left to heal themselves, even though it’s still not known what those injuries are. If I didn’t have other health issues I would not have accepted this, but as it happens, I really couldn’t care less.
Their was a really nice guy working in the hospital called Jean-Claude who helped me out when the hospital told me I was being discharged to the Repit du Passant (a place like a hostel for reformed criminals) at 11:00 pm that same night. I was incredulous, my wounds had barely been patched up, I was still in agonising pain, nauseous, and they wanted rid of me. I explained to Jean-Claude that I was in no condition to go anywhere at least until the morning and he managed to secure me a bed for the night.
Next morning I was taken to the Repit du Passant hostel, only to be told I had to go back to the hospital until 4:00 pm. I duly did so and later that afternoon a taxi was called to take me back to the hostel. It did not go well there. Firstly the rules stated I had to take a shower, not something I could do with all my new dressings. Then I was asked to wear their pyjamas. While attempting to change into them I was told I had to go back again to emergency because they could not look after my needs. This was a joke, but definitely not a funny one. So back to the hospital, sit around for a good while before Jean-Claude told me I could go to the Centre de prevention du suicide, which seemed very apt because at this point suicide was certainly running through my head, I’d had more than enough and was still in excruciating pain.
The people at the crisis centre were wonderful and for the very first time since I had entered Rimouski I actually felt like a real human being. I posted my predicament on Facebook and offers of help have been coming in, I need no proof of the good people in this world, they are all around. A guy called Jean Madore has been my legs on the ground here, co-ordinating the social media and being my main point of contact. Without his help I dread to think what would have happened and he continues to be at my side on a daily basis. Ex-military, so nothing more needs to be said.
Is being sorted better than it was before and once again, Jean is taking care of this. It will be many weeks before I am well enough to cycle again, so our current thinking is for me to try and continue my journey without the bike while my injuries heal. I will then get the bike sent on to a location ahead of me that fits in with being able to ride again. So if anyone out there wants to accompany me on my journey via public transport, or even better by car, to help me reach St. John’s, Newfoundland, I would be more than happy to have some company.
The journey continues
Of course it does. What else is there for me? Until such a time as I fall in love for the very last time, then I want to help not only myself, but everyone else who is battling against adversity. I too take inspiration from others, yet I’m well aware of my responsibility to continue to inspire my followers, new and old. And besides, I’m also ex-military and we don’t know how to give up do we?
A brief recap on my story
I’m putting this here for you new journalists, it should help you with background.
I first encountered cancer at the age of 14, when a growth the size of a pea was causing pain in my left leg. By the time it was operated on, it was the size of a large orange. The doctors told my mother it would be best if I had my leg removed, to stop any chance of the disease spreading. She begged them not to and was told I would probably have to wear a leg brace for the rest of my life, due to the amount of bone removed. Just 16 months later I ran my first marathon for charity around the local sports track. Sorry doctors, you were wrong!
One of eight (actually since cycling across Canada I have learned at the age of 58 it is now nine) children, I was brought up in care due to my father leaving when I was a small child and my mother not being able to have us all home at the same time. We took it in turns to return home.
I grew up an angry child with issues and joined the Army at 21 years old, to try and sort myself out. It worked for me and I got to travel around the world, the die was cast. I served for nine years, had some of the happiest times in my life and finally found what I loved most – being in the outdoors. I would continue on to work (and play) in this field for many years.
By the time I was diagnosed in 2005 with prostate cancer, I had been cycling for many years, both mountain bikes and road racing. My best performances had always been in endurance type events or sportives and I have cycling to thank for my cancer being discovered. It was a difficult time for me as I refused to really give up a sport I’m passionate about and while still undergoing treatment, I rode ‘The Race Against Time’ which is a charity event that cycles the 1,000 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats in Britain. Nothing special, until that is you know we did it in just five days. Cancer had become a big part of my life and would continue to be so for many years.
In 2007 my wife Caroline was diagnosed with breast cancer and had it removed. Her cancer returned in 2009, when she was told she had 12 to 18 months to live. She died just nine short weeks later. It was not enough time for me to say goodbye and I fell into a deep depression, refusing to acknowledge my own illness. When given the news in October 2012 that my own cancer was now terminal, a huge weight was lifted from me and my depression was gone. I now had a focus, I would make something of whatever time I had left and taking inspiration from my own hero, Jane Tomlinson, (a mother of two from Yorkshire told she had just six months to live – she survived for seven more years) I would not accept the 12 month death sentence handed down to me.
It was an easy decision to set off around the world on a bicycle. I had already planned to do an across America trip in 2005, when plans got put on hold due to my illness. Now it was my illness that made the decision immediate. It took just three weeks to sell up, pay my debts and leave the UK. The adventure would begin.
So here we are 21 months and 33 countries later. I’ve crossed 4 continents (Europe, Africa, Asia and North America) and cycled roughly 36,000 km (which is approx 22,370 miles) so only another 1,630 miles and I have officially become a ’round the world’ cyclist.
There’s more information in my blog and you can search by using the categories box, for example to see just my posts about Canada select it from the drop down list. However a good place to start would be by watching the excellent video made in Vietnam – I think they told my story very well. You’ll find the link on my about me page.
I’m always available to answer questions. Please email me, or contact me on my Facebook page as I’m more than aware that I cannot help others if I don’t help you.
This last few weeks has seen me spending more time with both friends and family, to the point where I almost forgot what camping was like, that is until these last few nights when it rained quite a bit and I was re-introduced to the joys of packing away a wet tent. It’s so hot and humid during the day, so when it rains it is some relief, but I wish the timing was a little better! Anyway I’m now in Quebec City, clean and cosy with another kind friend I’ve been introduced to.
Now, where were we? Oh yes, I’d just left Toronto in the van with David heading for his home in Ajax. It seemed strange to give up my two wheels for four, but in truth this was just another part of my resting up and would mean I could spend more time with my new family, David and his lovely wife, Pat.
There was more than just a passing resemblance between myself and David (poor soul!) and it was even more interesting looking at our family tree, which I now have a copy of and will (when time allows) study it a little more closely. I was very sad to leave and despite the fact I try not to get emotional, I think it showed.
However the show must go on and I’m already well behind in terms of getting to the Blue Ridge Parkway in a reasonable timescale (in the fall), so maybe I will need to ‘cheat’ a little with the cycling and accept offers of lifts occasionally.
My next (indoor) stop was with Tim and Jackie, another Warmshower couple who were kind enough to take me on a whirlwind tour of the city late into the evening. I think I am very lucky to be meeting such wonderful people and making friends, as I’ve said before, it would not be possible to continue without all of you.
Now something for the photographers out there. Can you pass by hay bails without thinking up a picture? I can’t. So here I tried to make up a composition and I’m really not sure if it worked, so I did a close up too.
After Kingston I camped in Smiths Falls, right alongside the canal lock house. I had gone to the campsite just across the road and they wanted 33 dollars, but were kind enough to tell me the lock house charged just 5, and that included a key to the washroom. You could only camp if you were on a boat, walking, or cycling. I had no problem accepting that.
I had never heard of a Bascule Bridge, so was really surprised when I learned about this one just next to my campsite. According to it’s history, it’s an early example of a Scherzer rolling bascule bridge built in 1912 to carry the Canadian Northern Railway line across the Rideau Canal. It combines the balanced counterweight of a conventional bascule bridge, with a unique rolling lift motion that all but eliminates friction. Still in use until 1978, it was designated a National Historic Site in 1983.
It was a nice quiet spot and with a few boat people nearby, I was able to take the bike and explore the town while leaving behind my tent. It also meant I got a reasonable nights sleep.
Next morning I made an early start to cover the 102 km to Orleans in Ottawa. Graeme and family were away on vacation at Cape Cod, but had kindly agreed to let me have the house to myself until their return. It would be a great opportunity to do something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, transcribe some of my audio recordings for my book into written words. Also it was a good time to get the bike into the bike shop and fix up the wheels which however much I straightened, kept coming loose. Job done.
Another kindness was being invited for dinner with Graeme’s neighbours, who had been advised I would be turning up. Then it was time for chaos, as the whole family returned from their vacation. It was pretty special spending time with the children and having Graeme and Louise spoil me, I just wish I could have stayed longer.
We managed to do a tour of Ottawa before the rain had us breaking for cover, so here’s a few of the images from our walkaround:
And so it was time to return to my travels. Graeme took me in the car to the ferry at Cumberland so I could get across the river and into Quebec and I said my farewell. While I was happy to be back on the bike, a part of me was left behind. Maybe one day before it is too late I will find what I am looking for.
The storm clouds were gathering overhead as I made my way across the river and sure enough, by the time I was once more in the saddle the rain started. Not that it bothered me, I’m more than accustomed to cycling in a downpour.
In front of me a two day ride into Montreal and a night of camping in a wet field, but again I’m accustomed to that too.
So that’s it for now, I’m getting closer to catching up and will post another update soon. Stay tuned…
The sound of more than six million cubic feet (168,000 m3) of water per minute falling over Horseshoe Falls was deafening, with the mist filling the air leaving the sidewalks (and me) covered in a thin film of water. It was awe inspiring and yet another of my ‘must see’ sights was crossed off my list, as I reflected on just how far I’ve come. I thought followers might enjoy the background information I discovered and have included it here:
Niagara Falls is the collective name for the three waterfalls (Horseshoe Falls, America Falls, Bridal Veil Falls) that straddle the border between Canada and America, more specifically, between the province of Ontario and the state of New York.
The Horseshoe Falls lie mostly on the Canadian side and is the most powerful waterfall in North America, measured by both height (a vertical drop of about 188 feet (57 m) and flow rate. The international boundary line between Canada and America was originally drawn through Horseshoe Falls in 1819, but the boundary has long been in dispute due to natural erosion, which occurs at a rate of one foot (0.30 m) per year. This means that in approximately 50,000 years time the remaining 20 miles (32 km) to Lake Erie will have been undermined and the falls will cease to exist.
America Falls are entirely on the American side, along with Bridal Veil Falls which are separated by Luna Island, a small area used as a viewing platform to view the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls.
In the 1880s, the Niagara River became the first waterway in North America harnessed for large-scale generation of hydroelectricity. The Canadians and Americans have their own power plants on the river and today they collectively produce 4.4 gigawatts of electricity, which goes some way to providing the needs of both Ontario and New York.
My original plan was to take a ride on “the maid of the mist” and see the falls up close, but I declined for two main reasons – firstly because with the water caused by the mist photography would have been unwise and secondly, spectators were packed like sardines on the boat decks, not my thing at all. Without doubt the best photos are taken from dry (or slightly wet) land anyway.
Accommodation options were scarce in Niagara Falls due to the high prices, so I reluctantly booked into the Hostelling International Niagara Falls Youth Hostel. Reluctantly, because in Canada they bear no resemblance to hostel prices charged in other countries and along with most campsites (who charge a cyclist with tent the same as a large RV or camper van) I think it is very poor value. However I had no other option and on the positive side, it did give me the chance to do washing and charge up my electronics.
Moving on, I decided to take the scenic route to Toronto, going by way of Niagara-on-the-Lake and Burlington. Following the shore of Lake Ontario, the weather was kind and the scenery worth the extra mileage. Just outside of St. Catharines I came across a rusty old wreck that used to be a restaurant in Montreal, before unpaid bills led to it being towed to it’s current location.
My progress was halted for a short time when I decided to go over the Burlington Canal lift bridge, the 6th bridge to cross the canal since 1832. It has a vertical lift of 110 feet, a span of 380 feet and when I arrived was being raised to allow a police boat to go underneath.
I have included an archive photograph of the bridge, as it was not possible for me to show it in profile from my location on the road.
I stayed overnight in Oakville with a friend who moved out to Canada from my home town, and even cycled in the same club, the Huddersfield Star Wheelers. Jon has been following my blog and when he realised I was coming through Ontario threw open an invitation to me. It was lovely to share some time together.
My next stop would be the short ride to Toronto and a stay with another blog follower I’d been looking forward to meeting for quite some time, Mike Yealland, who was a good friend of my Boocock family out here in Ontario. It was a nice period for me, as not having to camp for the last week meant I was getting a proper rest period.
I liked Toronto and Mike made sure I got the tour, organising my 3rd cousin (David Boocock) and colleague Jim to take me around while he prepared for the evenings entertainment, a BBQ for about 20 friends who were coming over on the Friday night. I loved the tour, in particular the area around the Distillery District where we enjoyed a snack and coffee from the rather unique café.
The red brick buildings (and architecture) reminded me of England, where they can be seen in many of our old towns and cities, but here in Canada they are very unique.
Then there were the more modern buildings, like the R C Harris Water Treatment Plant constructed in the 1930′s which was declared a national historic civil engineering site in 1992.
Our next port of call were the Scarborough Bluffs, named by the wife of the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada. The bluffs reminded her of the limestone cliffs in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, and share the same fate – they are eroding at a rapid rate.
It had been pretty special meeting one of my relatives here in Canada and we would meet up again the following evening, as Mike was arranging another BBQ for friends who were following my trip. David would then take me on towards Ajax to meet other family members the next morning.
Mike (and Vasta) had been wonderful hosts and it had been a chance to really wind down and relax, while meeting some of their friends. I was a little sad when it came time for me to leave and this always seems to be the case when I have been so well looked after.
At the moment I feel good and I’m managing to keep my weight stable, thanks to my good friends. Although the cycling is getting more difficult, taking the extra rest time is paying off. I’m not on any kind of schedule any more and this is taking a lot of pressure off me, I just need to keep moving when I’m ready.
So it’s on to Ajax and a stay with David and Pat, I’ll tell you about that in my next blog. More soon…
Memories. I’m finding it hard to remember things and when I speak about this to the many friends I meet on my travels I get told everyone has problems as they get older, but I’m now pretty certain this is not just old age creeping up on me and besides, I’m still very much a youngster. I cannot remember where I stopped along the way from Chicago, so I’m relying on photos I’ve taken to help me along with looking at my Warmshower messages to see if I was hosted. This is rather distressing, I just cannot recall my progress and so it is becoming all the more important that I catch up with my blog. My plan then is to use Facebook to fill in the gaps – I’ll post where I am every time I get net access in future.
I know I bitch and moan, but it’s important my friends (and followers) know just how much I care about them and telling you I have serious problems will go some way to explaining my forgetfulness. It’s not just the odd occasion, recalling where I stayed (or who I met) only a week ago is really difficult for me and I’d especially like to apologise to those Warmshower hosts who waited patiently for feedback from me, if you are still waiting then please send me a reminder – thanks.
My brief sojourn into America ended as I crossed the border back into Canada at the Detroit – Windsor tunnel. The ride from Chicago should have seen the wind at my back, but once again this did not happen and I’m getting used to the weird weather that seems to be happening at the moment. People I speak to say the seasons are out of alignment due to global warming and I have to agree, everywhere I’m travelling it’s the same story, the weather is just so unpredictable.
Arriving in Detroit with time to spare, I had a look around and took in some of the sights. The city is recovering from being declared bankrupt in December 2013 and cycling through the outskirts into the centre, it was evident that here was a city with huge problems and not somewhere I’d ever consider cycling at night. The largest city on the America/Canada border, it is trying to re-invent itself as an entertainment hub in the 21st century with the opening of casinos, stadiums, and a river-front revitalization project.
The Hart Plaza seemed to be the most interesting place to be, as not only did it give a good view of the city, it was also where I found a series of large sculptures. The sculpture pictured above consists of two 59-foot high stainless steel arcs encircled by split boulders supporting a bronze relief of scenes from Detroit’s labor history.
The huge building (Renaissance Center) housing the offices of General Motors impressed, but even before reading the plaque detailing the history, my favourite sculpture was Ed Dwight’s The Gateway to Freedom, which I found profoundly moving.
If I’m really honest though, Detroit is a city I’d like to come back to (in say 10 years) and see how it’s developed as I believe it has a tremendous potential. It won’t happen, but I hope I’m right.
I met up with Robert, my host from Windsor just outside the tunnel on the Detroit side and we had a uneventful trip through both the tunnel and customs. I was thankful to have a nice female officer on duty, who once establishing I had already visited Canada sent us on our way without any further ado, which was most unexpected according to Robert.
Windsor was a nice rest stop and I was well looked after by my hosts, who also took time out to show me around (taking me to the beach for sunset was pretty special) and then ride out with me when I left, (both riding recumbents) which was really kind of them. Thanks guys.
I’ll never tire of seeing spectacular sunsets, and though the clouds never really cleared (and it rained most of my time here) I was still able to capture a few nice shots of the beach.
I had really wanted to get on my way, but another friend following my blog persuaded me to stay an extra day (in another part of Windsor) and I’m glad I did. Lynn lost her husband to cancer the same time as I lost my wife Caroline, so I know the difficult journey she has come through and I think we were able to help each other. She really is an amazing woman who puts her faith first and is not afraid to speak out, something which is not easy in today’s “politically correct” society. She is also a keen blogger: Life with Lynnie
So as the sun came out I got to see much more of Windsor on Lynn’s guided tour, which I’ll share below.
Lynn was as surprised as I was by my knowledge of the exhibits we visited, which I was able to describe in high detail on the day. Since I have been able to recall my childhood only recently, the memories of building Airfix models and finding out their history has strangely stayed with me and this is the first time it’s proved useful. The Spirit of Windsor locomotive, which is a 4-6-2 class steam engine was built in 1911 for the Canadian Pacific Railway and retired some 50 years later in 1961.
The highlight of course was the aircraft and none so more than the “guardian of the skies,” a Supermarine Spitfire on display. Without Reginald J Mitchell’s design, it’s almost certain Britain would have lost control of the skies in WWII. Sadly another legendary aircraft, the Lancaster bomber was not on it’s usual display.
Huge bridges are a feature of North America I also enjoy, and I only wish I’d had time to organise a boat trip on the Detroit river to get up close, but sadly this was not really feasible. It’s amazing that steam ships are still making this journey, though they are more modern versions than the steam paddlers of years gone by.
Another highlight of my tour around Windsor was being taken for a “fish fry” meal and meeting Lynn’s friend Ann, a lovely lady who also hails from the UK. As my time in Windsor came to and end, I was captured on camera riding out of the city – I’m just off centre cycling on the road in the picture below:
Excitement in me was growing though, because very soon now I would be meeting up with relatives (and Boocock’s) I didn’t even know about until recently, and to find family on this journey would be more than I ever expected.
I’ll tell you about this in my next blog, coming soon…