2012.03.07 The Epic Bicycle Trip

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Last week I wrote about the birthday party of my friend, John. As introductions were being made, one of the nieces asked John, “Did he go on the epic bike trip with you?”

She was referring to our mutual friend, Rich, but my introduction was soon to come. I’m the one who pedaled a couple of thousand miles with John in the summer of 1975.

I didn’t do well at relating old stories to the nieces. Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking.… I mentioned something about John eating an entire pie, but he missed the connection. John thought I was referring to our stop at Helen’s Restaurant in Maine.

I was once told by a truck driver to eat there and it was a good recommendation, but I was referring to a pie that John ate all by himself on Prince Edward Island. I stayed at our camp reading “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” while John pedaled off to visit the former home of L.M. Montgomery, the author of “Anne of Green Gables.” 

I think John encountered a bake sale on the way back to camp and he returned with a pie. I didn’t want any of it. Maybe I thought I had been eating too much junk food, but thinking back more than 36 years, I don’t recall what we did eat. It must have been the most bland of diets.

As John pointed out to his guests at the party, the trip started from Northampton, Mass., where we visited another college friend. Soon John and I embarked by bicycle for a two-day trip to Montréal.

“Did it take two days?” I asked John. I wasn’t sure at the time, but it came back to me later along with a lot of other details. All these years later, it’s just a series of highlights from a grand adventure.

It must have been a three-day trip. It’s a 300-mile journey to Montréal and I had my first flat tire on the first day out. We visited a bike shop in Brattleboro. We spent the first night by pulling off to the side of the road into the trees.

It’s all coming back. I can still feel the exhilaration of the first morning of the trip as I got out of the tent and gazed off over the Connecticut River that was mostly lost in heavy mist.

From Massachusetts into Vermont. New Hampshire across the river. Heading north to Canada. We used the bathroom at the state capitol in Montpelier. We looked across Lake Champlain, made it through customs and finally arrived at the Jaques Cartier Bridge. There’s a narrow pedestrian walkway where we rode our bikes at sunset. I remember looking down at the St. Lawrence River far below and wondering if I might lose my balance with my heavily loaded bike. It would have been an unfortunate way to start off what John’s niece called “the epic bike trip.”

Maybe we should meet again with John’s relatives and run through the details. At the time, I didn’t recall the day we politely responded to a woman who was sitting out on her steps in Montréal, just a few blocks from where my friend lived.

We spoke for a while and she invited us in to see something. We walked through an area heavy with junk and debris and into her kitchen. I’m sure by now we must have realized that she was not a mentally stable person, and when she reached up into a kitchen cabinet and brought out a gun, John and I made a very hasty departure and avoided that block of the city for the remainder of our visit. I need to trade notes with John on that one. I wonder if he remembers it the same way.

If I were to characterize the trip to his nieces, I would have to speak of our camping spots. We seemed to have some libertarian view that no one should have to pay money to sleep in a tent—libertarian not as in Ron Paul but as in cheapskate—and we camped most anywhere that we, hopefully, wouldn’t be spotted. We slept a night in a burned-out house. We had many nights on beaches. We went into parks and set up the tent in areas that weren’t for camping. We slept on park picnic tables. We were caught once and had to move into an official spot and pay.

It was a remarkably cheap trip, but youth hostel stays cost only five bucks a night back then.

Sometime, John and I need to get out the maps and run through this adventure once again. It really was epic.

  • Homecoming Court
    HOMECOMING—One senior candidate will be chosen Morenci’s fall homecoming queen during half-time ceremonies Friday at the football field. In the back row are seniors Mikayla Price, who will be escorted by Mason Vaughn; Madison Bachman, escorted by Kiegan Merillat, and Mikayla Reinke, escorted by Griffin Grieder. Senior Ariana Roseman is absent from the photo. Her escort is Garrett Smith. In the front is sophomore Abbie White, who will be escorted by Ryder Price; junior Madysen Schmitz, escorted by Harley McCaskey and freshman Madison Keller, escorted by Jarett Cook.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016