I feel like I have been 47 years old for more than a year already but that number has been reached just today. It was at least October of 2013, since I first started referring to my upcoming January 2014 birthday as my 47th. I was months into the year still asking myself how old I was, my first instinct always being to say “47”. I don’t know why but it seems I was in a hurry to get to number 47. I hope it was for a good reason. As the old saw goes, time will tell. But I choose to see it as a good omen. Regardless of what the outcome may be, I have great anticipation for 2015. And I see reasons to be positive about the year that is to come as it’s dawn breaks upon us.
Like you, my year has had its ups and downs. Some of the downs have been unique and challenging. Some of the ups rank among the biggest ups of my life. It would be easy to dwell on the negatives. Many of us do. We concern ourselves so much with the things that haven’t gone according to plan. We focus so much on the grey that we often forget to look at the brighter side of things. We forget, to our detriment, those people and things in our lives that bring light, and we forget the courage and the strength that we used to get back up when we were down. Those are good things, too. Like so many people, I’ve often been guilty of this type of attitude, but I am changing that. So, in a year with it’s fair share of tumult, I am going to focus on some things from the past year that hold meaning for me, events that contribute to my hopefulness for 2015.
It was a pretty vanilla start to the year. We had Blackout Newfoundland, lots of snow, and temperatures and wind as cold and as biting as those thrown out by Satan’s wings at the heart of the Inferno. I had my 47th, I mean 46th, birthday dinner at Donovan’s Irving, because it was the only place in town that had electricity and was serving cooked food. Eventually, the hellish cold of winter passed and what passes for spring in Newfoundland arrived. It was then that I bought my new bike. I have had a long love affair with cycling. There have been times where I have gone without cycling for extended periods but the past 5 years or so I have been very dedicated to it and plan to keep that going as long as I am able to.
Spring came and went and then June-tober arrived. I managed a few good rides on my bike but the first truly great ride would come in July. July was one of the best months of weather I can recall in all the years I have lived in Newfoundland. So I packed up my car full of bike and camping gear and headed to the west coast. I parked my car with new friends Gus and Beryl Adams in Deer Lake and headed off to L’Anse-aux-Meadows. It was an incredible ride. It was about midday on day 3 that I had a moment of cycling bliss that will stay with me forever. I found myself riding in what I can only refer to as “The Zone.” It was a period of over an hour where I rode effortlessly regardless of terrain. Up, down, it didn’t matter. I was riding in top gear the whole time, speed increasing as I climbed grades rather than decreasing. Legs turning and churning, putting kilometer after kilometer behind me, and the tension and effort changed only the slightest. An incredible experience that only served to confirm my belief that I was born to ride a bike. The rest of the journey was filled with joyous moments and before I knew it I was at my destination. 5 days of riding to cover 460 kilometers. Not bad. And it was all trouble free, right until the moment of my triumphal arrival at the shores of the sea at L’Anse-aux-Meadows when I promptly tipped to the side and I, bike and all, fell over. Smooth move Ex-Lax. Regardless, it was at this point, lying on the road bleeding from scrapes incurred in the inglorious topple that the seeds for The VeloTramp Project were germinated.
With my appetite for adventure temporarily sated I set my eyes upon another prize: a new camera. I had been wanting to change cameras for a while. I had become aware of the newer compact systems cameras now available on the marketplace. These cameras do not have mirrors and thus they are much smaller and lighter than the dSLR that I had been using. I remember the overcast September day well. I marched (more like skulked) into Henry’s and confidently (timidly) placed all of my old Nikon gear on the counter to see what I could get in trade. I was more than pleasantly surprised. To make a long story short,I got much more for my gear than I ever dreamed and at the end of our transaction I found myself holding on tightly to a brand new Fuji X-E2 camera. I had tried some others before the Fuji but when I placed my hands on that Fuji? Man! Those other cameras were immediately forgotten. You can read more here if you are interested. After trading for the new camera all that remained was to take it for a good test run. A large part of the reason I desired this compact and lightweight yet powerful camera was to carry it with me on bike rides. Well then, what better place to take it than beautiful Cape Breton Island. And holy wow folks. If there is any place more beautiful than Cape Breton Island in autumn, especially the Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Highlands National Park, I have yet to see it.
So, in a moment of temporary madness I started a Gofundme account with the intention of raising money to pay for a cycling trip to Cape Breton and the VeloTramp was born. I have to admit that I was going through a very weird time in my life when I started it, but if I had been of a more sound mind, I probably wouldn’t have done it. So maybe it was a more sound mind that started it than I thought at the time. I dunno. Anyway, I started the campaign, got some contributors (thank you all), bought a plane ticket with some air miles and headed off mad as a hatter to Cape Breton.
It was everything I could have dreamed of in a bike trip. It was challenging, rewarding, and incredibly beautiful. The trip has been well documented with both writing and photos and you can go to pierretrowbridge.com if you want to see and read more about it (You should. There’s some good stuff there). And while the land itself was incredible, it was no match for the wonderful people I met along the way. Particularly my friends the MacDougall’s in Sydney. I could write a book about Keith, Janice, and Lyndon, the family of my great friend, Sandy Currie, whom I met while teaching English in Korea, and never scratch the surface of how wonderful and amazing these people are. The same goes for their many friends and family that I had the great privilege of meeting during my time there. It is you, my friends, who were the greatest reward of the trip.
So that’s a brief look back at my 2014. 2015 is now well under way and birthday number 47, the one that I seemed to be in a big hurry to get to, is on the horizon. As I said at the outset, I am entering this new year with a great deal of anticipation. I have already begun preparing for a new VeloTramp journey that I hope will take place by April. I’m not sure where that trip will be yet, but I will be sure to let you all know when I do, and maybe a few of you will join me at pierretrowbridge.com and follow along and enjoy the stories and pictures that go along with the ride.
Have a great 2015 everybody. Ride on.