East Coast Tour 2015 – Notes from the Road #6

The Otesha guide to spending a night in a police station.

By Elyssia Sasaki

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Don’t get too worked up by the title, mom, I promise you we didn’t do anything wrong. But, of course, when the going gets tough, you must adapt to whatever life throws you. And for myself and miss Kristen, this meant rides in cars from strangers, after hour dealings with mechanics and eventually finding ourselves in the doorstep of the Kentville police.

However we should probably retrace and begin where every good story seems to start- at the beginning.
The morning of October 7th was riddled with mystery and anticipation. The sky was thick with fog, a slight morning frost on the grass outside the Saint James presbytarian church that had graciously hosted us the night previous. This morning, however, had a feeling of something intangible.

Perhaps it was because it was the morning of our 100km cycle.

Our longest trek to date as Otesha team members. Our paniers packed with the necessary trailmix and hummus we would need to fuel ourselves we set off into the morning mist.

Ten flat kilometres. Ten more kilometres of rolling hills. A brief rest overlooking the Schubie river. And then rolling on towards the halfway mark of Kennetcook. However, 5 kilometres away from our midday rest, climbing up the biggest hill we had encountered so far, Jessica and I heard a gut wrenching crunch from Kristen’s bike.

Her chain jumped off her de-railer(the bit that changes your gears) and decided to hop into her back wheel, with it took four of her spokes, rendering her bike useless.

Defeated. Downtrodden. These are probably the most accurate discriptors of our immediate reactions. The 236 had claimed another bicycle as its own. It was 2pm. The Autumn Sun and foliage seemed to mock us, as it danced around us so carefree, so beautiful.

There’s only so long you can sit on the side of the road feeling sorry for yourself. And after a petit pity party, we started making phone calls. We called the lead crew to see if they had any suggestions. We called close-by family and friends. We even called bike shops to see if they could get us in later that day, and if they knew anyone with a truck who could pick us up from this rural purgatory. I even called my Grandparents in Dartmouth to see if they knew anyone close by with a truck who could give us a ride.
This is one of the things I love about small town communities. Someone always knows someone who can help out in times of need. And for my grandfather, it was his buddy Marty, who had a van that could get us to the closest bike shop in Kentville.

Jessica rode on with Andrea and Natasha as Kristen and I waited for my grandfather and Marty to come pick us up. The drive from Dartmouth took them some time but before we knew it we were on our way to the Valley Stove and Cycle. At 4:15. And they closed at 5:00. And we had to travel a good 60 kilometres.

So now, after waiting for so long, we were in a race against time. We sped past our fellow teammates in Marty’s van, witnessing the countryside As if it were through the windows of a time machine.

We arrive at Valley Stove and Cycle with moments to spare. The mechanic , Doug, took one look at Kristen’s tire and said that it could be fixed… for tomorrow. Of course. He wasn’t some bicycle wizard who could wave a magic wand and perfectly tune up this decrepit wheel. But his acceptance of the bike and his willingness to work on it to get us moving again as soon as possible was a different (and, in my opinion, better) kind of magic all together.

He even agreed to tune up my bike. I swear, he is the closest to superhuman that one can get!

So here we are in Kentville. Two girls. Four paniers. Two tents. Two backpacks . One tarp. And no bikes.
We decide, after a brief game of phone tag with some neighbouring friends that we would tent somewhere in Kentville. Not wanting to get in trouble with local authorities, we wandered over to the local police station to ask if there was anywhere within walking distance where we could set up our tents and avoid any trouble.

This is how we met Sergent Dunfee.

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After listening to our story, as weird as it may have been, he was incredibly understanding. He proceeded to offer us the lobby of the police station as our camping grounds for the night, complete with ensuite washroom, and total security for all our belongings. I am reminded in this moment of a proverb I once saw written on the walls of a bathroom stall: it’s not the world that is small; it is the family that is large. And both Kristen and I feel incredibly accepted into the community of Kentville, as if we were one of their own. People continue to amaze me with their kindness and generosity. And help is always available to those who ask for it.

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