- COVID panic? Keep calm and carry on with bike tour planning
- It’s not about where we travel but why
- What the heck is bike touring anyway? It’s an experience
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Kindness comes in a bucket of ice and jug of water
- ConnecTour Chronicles: One man’s gear is another man’s gold
- ConnecTour Chronicles: A brush with heat stroke and then hypothermia
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Content to live with old mining town’s ghosts
- ConnectTour Chronicles: Highlights, lowlights and lessons learned so far
- ConnecTour Chronicles: An artistic treasure trove in a former biker bar
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Even in Banff, COVID-19 has left its mark
- ConnecTour Chronicles: A life-saving gift for our son-in-law
- ConnecTour Chronicles: A pool party on the Prairies
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Antique store owner revives memories
- A sudden, frightening crash sidelines one of our cyclists
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Out of the blue, an army on the prowl
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Cheap rural living brings brewery dream to life
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Warmshowers hosts have equally warm spirits
- ConnecTour Chronicles: A bicycle clinic that started with a bang
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Lodges hanging on by a thin fishing line
- ConnecTour Chronicles: A private fantasy world, rich in local and family history
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Reckless drivers are the scourge of cyclists
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Calgary bike trails a bridge between city and nature
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Wawa’s loyal support keeps country store going strong
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Learning to roll with one of this tour’s unexpected twists
- Amish follow a humble path to a simpler way of life
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Scaring away a middle-of-the-night invader
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Traumatic accident led former nurse to artistic success
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Ottawa family is all-in on car-free, cycling lifestyle
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Good luck dodging bad weather finally runs out
- Charlottetown’s heritage homes have a champion
- Proud captain sails to Canada’s other ‘distinct society’: Newfoundland
- War, tragedy, and a Broadway hit all part of Gander’s celebrated past
- Cycling tour across Canada ends in St. John’s, N.L.
- Cross-country cyclists welcomed by St. John’s deputy mayor
- Second World War attack helped shape Bell Island’s history
Lisa Montforton is part of a group of Canadians who call themselves ConnecTour. Starting on May 28 in Kelowna, B.C. (B.C. travel restrictions derailed a planned start in Victoria), they hope to make an 8,000-km journey across the country, discovering how the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped our lives and our sense of community. Watch for her reports on Troy Media’s ConnecTour Chronicles. More information on the tour is available at ConnecTour.ca.
Rolling into the Grist Mill Campground on a blistering 30C-plus day after a 76-km day on our bikes, we were ready to find a place to cool down, camp for the night and rest with a light dinner and a few cold ones.
As we have quickly learned on this trip, the serendipity soon begins.
The campground just on the edge of Keremeos, B.C., is adorable as campgrounds go, set alongside a fast-moving river amid the trees, a beautiful perennial garden and an historic grist mill onsite.
Chris Mathieson, the facility manager, greeted us and chatted us up, wanting to know what we were doing loaded down with all that gear. We told him about ConnecTour and what we’re all about – riding at the speed of life and meeting everyday Canadians along the way.
Across from our campsite sat a tall, gangly young man named Scott. It turned out Scott had been homeless for 10 years and was trying to find some sense of normalcy after the hardship, drug addiction and other obstacles life had thrown at him.
He wore his heart on the sleeve of what he called his “wizard” jacket. He was working for the campground to pay for his site. He and Chris had worked out a deal.
Scott ambled over to say hi and talk with us. His “war” stories from being homeless and addicted on the streets of East Vancouver came up.
Fellow rider Andrew Hawse – who signed on to do the whole distance with us across Canada – identified and bonded with Scott instantly. They had a lot in common but were also worlds apart in terms of where they were in life at the moment.
It seemed Scott had few belongings to his name, save his meagre camping gear and his “rock fridge” on the bank of the river to keep his food cold.
Andrew, embarking on his first-ever bike-packing tour, met us with a kitted out bike weighing above 250 pounds. We marvelled at how he made it through even his first day under a searing sun.
It quickly became apparent Andrew would need to unload a hefty amount of gear if he wanted to enjoy (and survive) the first of many hilly terrains to come on our 110-day journey. We were to begin our next multi-climb leg into Osoyoos – never mind the prediction of a scorching 38C day.
Over a beverage at the picnic table, it was decided that Andrew could hand off his multiple T-shirts, heavy hiking boots, a massive tarp, a super-long and heavy laundry line, a headlamp and a classic Stanley mug – among the ultimately 30-pounds-plus of gear – to our campsite neighbour Scott.
The handoff began, as Andrew began making the hard decisions of what to give up so he could ride joyfully.
“It reminded me that it’s better to give than to receive. It felt good. His life on the streets taught him how to use all these things.”
“Scott was like ‘Wow,’” says Andrew. In particular, he appreciated the tarp for sun protection and it went up immediately.
As we packed up early the next morning, Scott sat and watched us go and we said our goodbyes. We have no idea what he was thinking about this serendipitous moment and coming away with a stash of newfound necessities.
What I was thinking is something about the delightful lightness of being. Travelling on a bike – effectively our mobile home for the summer – and giving and receiving serendipitous gifts.
Travel Like This editor Lisa Monforton is an award-winning Calgary-based travel writer. Follow @lisamonforton on Instagram and Twitter.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the authors’ alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.
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