By Emma Buchanan
Hello out there world!
It’s Otesha’s 2015 Pedal to Plate Tour coming at you with our first update. We’ve been without internet for our first two days of tour (ahhh panic!!! … only kind of), but now that we have it, we want to share our journey thus far in the GTA with you.
This blog post must be predicated by one thing: this weekend, there were heat warnings for southern Ontario. If you know southern Ontario, and if you know Toronto, you know that it’s hot here in the summer already. And with heat warnings on top of the already hot weather, we didn’t know what to expect.
Our first morning this past Saturday took place at Wychwood Farmers’ Market in Toronto. Eight happy tour members showed up and got to know each other, while learning some bike safety and maintenance with Sohel from Charlie’s Freewheels. They do some great work giving youth free access to bikes and bike maintenance & safety workshops. Check ‘em out: http://www.charliesfreewheels.ca/. We ate a delicious lunch of mushroom stir fry made by our fab food coordinator Ash and headed out of the city (oh, after repairing one of the loudest tire pops I’ve ever heard).
Our first destination was Round the Bend Farm – straight up Jane St. We hit Jane with our trusty vehicle support behind us. For clarification, Otesha hasn’t had vehicle support on a tour for several years now. We decided to add it in on this Pedal to Plate Tour to be as safe as possible, as the roads north of Toronto can be gravelly and nearly impossible to pull trailers on, and also so that our Food Coordinators can participate in activities and not be expected to bike 30-50 km a day and prepare the team’s food. So, back to Jane St. We headed out in a line of 6 riders while our car support full of food and bike gear took the lane behind us with the 4-way flashers on. Although it’s my second bike tour with Otesha, it’s still a magical and powerful image for me to look back and see a line of yellow and orange clad riders behind me, all taking up their rightful space on the road. It was an even more powerful image knowing that we were on a 4-lane road in Toronto. Two of our tour members from Toronto noted that they had always wanted to bike up-town, or out of the city, but felt so overwhelmed by the traffic that they have never done it – it seemed like an impossible feat in their mind. I guess all you need is some people power.
After being separated many times by the seemingly hundreds of stop lights on Jane St, we managed to hone our group-riding-with-a-car skills. The heat beat down us, at up to 38 degrees Celcius with the humidity (!!!), and we could really feel it in our heads when we stopped at all those stop lights. We heard many a honk from passersby, a few friendly and musical and several…not so friendly. But, we took our time, found a miraculously shady spot with picnic benches in the desert that is Jane St. suburban industrial development land, and drank a lotta water. I’m happy to say that a safe (albeit challenging) ride was had by all and we made it to Round the Bend farm 45 km later.
Upon our arrival, there was one thing everyone wanted: to not be hot. Our hosts weren’t able to provide us with showers and without a lake in sight, so we did some serious mulling over ways to get cool. And then, the perfect idea presented itself: did they have a hose? I ran up to Brian, our host farmer, and asked. He grabbed it right away, telling us it would be cool, coming from a well 142 ft. down. And let me tell you, I don’t know if we’ve ever felt anything that glorious. All of us pranced in the misty hose like kids, washing away the smog, sprawl and business of downtown Toronto and opening up the possibility of our week pedaling for our plates.