Jackson Parr is riding his bike from Milwaukee, Wis., to the 2012 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, set for Aug. 18-19 in Burlington, Vt.
Day 5: Lake Whittaker, ON -> Cayuga, ON
Distance: 64.32 miles
Time: 3 hours, 59 minutes
Average Speed: 16.1 mph
The threat of rain was imminent on my tent roof trying to sleep the night before. Yet I woke up to clear and cool skies and, much to my content, a strong tailwind to push me straight east. I got an early start and had finished my first leg before the sun was beginning to heat up. This was the first day that I realized the mileage from the past few days was adding up. My muscles felt far from fresh but within the first hour I began to find my legs and kept a faster pace than expected with the aid of a powerful tailwind.
As the wind blew stronger, clouds moved in faster and I found myself 20 miles from my next campsite as the weather began to reign. I pulled over to a gas station and after some comments on my accent, the attendant confidently stated that the worst of the storm had passed. While it still looked less than favorable outside, I trusted the rural local and rolled out, hoping to hammer the pace for just one more hour to get to my destination.
Not two miles from the gas station the sky turned ugly and I wondered whether the gas station woman was feeling bad for rushed judgment. With 12 miles to go, a cellphone without service and lightning striking in the surrounding fields, I decided to trade the use of rain gear for arriving at my destination as soon as possible. Besides, I could not have gotten any wetter.
It took much to mentally focus on holding my line as trucks sped by and my trailer was acting up behind me. Eventually I crossed the steel bridge into town and met some other cyclists from Boston who decided to wait out the rain. It was a good choice as the sky cleared as soon as I unclipped. I arrived and set up camp in the early afternoon, giving me time to dry my gear and prepare for the following day. Yoga by the sunset over the Grand River capped another long day. I was ready to leave the Canadian country the next day – my stash of Canadian cash wouldn’t allow for much more anyway
Day 6: Cayuga, ON -> Lockport, NY
Distance: 72 miles
After losing my Garmin watch/heart rate monitor at a campsite, my distances will have to become approximate as the deeper data is lost altogether. With a faulty odometer attached to my bike, it makes tracking my progress throughout the day rather difficult.
Following two days of extreme weather conditions, I was happy to wake up to mild and dry temperatures and a tailwind pushing me towards the United States border. But upon checking my wallet, I realized that these 40 miles would have to be done on less than five dollars. Pulling up to the first gas station I saw, I figured I needed to get the highest calorie intake to provide the energy to get me to the border without bonking. Two honey buns later and I was set to roll, hoping they would last to the land of the American dollar.
By late morning, I could see the mist from the Niagara Falls rising and I sped through the suburban area to the great falls surprised to see what appeared as a theme park on the Canadian side of the falls. Between Dracula’s Castle and Planet Hollywood, the thousands of tourists stared as my trailer and I navigated the maze to the falls.
Being alone on a ride like this has its advantages. I can go at my own pace, catch up on audiobooks and keep my day moving forward without restraint of being a tourist. I have no one to take pictures or ride the Maid of the Mist through the falls with. Arriving at the world wonder, I took some pictures, patted myself on the back and continued back to the United States, stopping at Starbucks to treat myself on making it through Ontario.
My destination was 30 miles further and when I arrived, I found the campsite had just closed. After an unanswered phone call to the number taped on the door, I was forced to continue rolling east, finding a campsite ten miles down the road. With cool temperatures and the wind to my back, I was happy to cut into my mileage the next day, making the trek to Rochester the shortest day of my journey.