I am flossing sand and grit out of my teeth today.
On rainy days, the water spraying off the wheel of the rider in front spits off their rear wheel, into a perfect ariel arc and down directly onto the face of the rider behind them – and today I am tasting the road in more ways than one.
On our teams first riding day of the Tour de Rock, a 97 km journey from Port Alice, north to Port Hardy and then south to Port McNeil, the weather is leaking liquid sunshine and I have had a taste of the North Island in a way I hadn’t anticipated.
I am not complaining, my body aches, and I came as close to bonking from exhaustion as I have ever come following a hilly exit from Port Alice – but I am genuinely excited to see what the next town round the corner brings.
Following an inspiring evening in Port Alice where a local dinner auction in a town of approximately 800 raised more than $10,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society, we rode north to Port Hardy to a head shave fundraiser where ten men and women of all ages including young teenage girls, several of whom raised thousands of dollars a piece to get their head shaved welcomed us and proved once again there is nothing like small town hospitality.
I am quickly learning that there are few stronger bonds than when a small community rallies around a cause the believe in – and on this day I am proud to say their cause was Tour de Rock. While I was there as a witness, I was treated like I had lived their all my life.
Past tour riders tell us that regardless of how difficult the actual ride is, it is often the last thing you remember about your experience on tour. The community and people you meet stand at the forefront, and despite being only hours removed from the ride, I know now they are right.
If every trip brings us the welcome that these three small communities brought, riding a bike and flossing grit out of my teeth is a small price to pay.
Arnold Lim is the media rider for Black Press on the 2013 Tour de Rock. Follow him on twitter @arnoldlimphoto.