By Pico Triano
Photos Pico Triano and Shawn Whitelaw
After graduating from high school, the job market wasn't very good and I cycled a lot of miles looking for work. It was great training for someone wanting to go travelling by bike but opportunities to do so were few and far between. Lean on funds and short of equipment doesn't make for a lot of touring.
Good things come to those who wait. Just the chance I was waiting for came along. My parents didn't see it as the ideal trip but it was perfect for my purposes. Church singles weekend in Toronto. I lived near Niagara Falls. I group of friends living in an apartment there invited me to stay with them and eat their grub. That meant I didn't need camping gear. I only needed to bring clothes and some food to keep me fuelled along the way.
Funny thing about people who don't see the dream like a future bicycle tourist. My parents didn't really believe I was actually going to go through with the trip until the evening before, when I was packing for it. They did their best to talk me out of riding. After all Cleason one of the other local men was driving up anyway. I refused to be swayed promising that I would give them a quick call when I had safely arrived.
I started off making one minor mistake that Friday morning. I dressing in short and a t shirt. This was still spring and I about froze to death before the sun warmed things up enough. I followed what is now known as Regional Road 20 through to Hamilton. I was on the other side of Smithville before I stopped shivering. In Hamilton I descended the Niagara Escarpment crossed the lift bridge beside the Burlington Skyway and followed Highway 2 all the way to Toronto. If I remember correctly, my destination was an apartment on Kipling which was easy enough to find.
I ran into one mechanical issue on my route. One of the fasteners holding my rear rack worked its way loose. I stopped at a garage along the way where I was able to borrow a screwdriver to set it right. I only had a really small suitcase strapped to containing all my gear. Not well equipped but good enough for this trip.
My bike was a recovered Canadian Tire ten speed I called the beast. I had one of those peg driven odometers attached to the front fork. When I arrived, I'd travelled 72 miles. I was disappointed. Early in the week on Monday I'd revisited all the local employment centres. First stop was Welland, then Niagara Falls, then St. Catharines and I made a final stop to apply for a job in Jordan. After that job hunting run I'd travelled 73 miles. Doing less mileage on my first trip didn't sit well with me. To rectify that I visited High Park. I'd arrived early in the afternoon so I had plenty of time. My new one day cycling record finished at 80 miles. That was easier for me to digest.
This was a modest start touring but it was just a beginning. I was given a ride home after the weekend. Not because I couldn't do it but because there was a certain young lady I wanted to spend more time with at the time.