Day 32: Thunder Bay to Nipigon
(106 km, 19.7km/hr average speed, 5:22:09)
Today I cycled along the Courage Highway.
It’s an apt name for this stretch of road; for the 100km between Thunder Bay and Nipigon this is the only road connecting eastern and western Canada. Even though these aren’t all that many folks who live round here, the stretch is heavy in traffic (by Canadian standards) and that means trucks.
After 30km we stopped to have the usual munchies for Second Breakfast. I took the opportunity to attach my helmet mirror. I hadn’t already attached it because I was convinced that it was so flimsy it would snap off straight away and I was reasonably convinced it wouldn’t be any help anyway. I was wrong. This mirror is fabulous. Thinking about it now.. Why do I have 3 mirrors in my car if they aren’t helpful? Drivers could, I’m sure, just listen out for vehicles and swivel round while zigzagging into the gravel. But a mirror is a fine thing. Yes it looks incredibly naff, but I reckon any appendage that increases your likelihood of staying alive is automatically exempt from fashion laws. I can now see the traffic that is about to swoop past me. Brilliant.
The courage highway has been named in honour of Terry Fox. Terry Fox was a young man who lost a leg in his battle against cancer. Determined to save others from the suffering that he had experienced, Fox set off to run across Canada in order to raise money to find a cure for cancer. At first people didn’t believe that he would do it. But he kept running, and kept running – 26 miles a day he ran his “marathon of hope.”
“Dreams are made if people only try,” he said.
Fox succeeded in running across 5 provinces. He was forced to give up 3339 miles into his journey because of reoccurring cancer. His final mile is marked by a post on the courage highway, just outside Thunder Bay.
The Wanderers and I took a detour of the highway to visit the Terry Fox memorial. A stand of him running stands atop a map of Canada chiselled into the grey stone. A Canadian flag flaps overhead. A dad and his two sons pose for a self-timer photograph. The view looks out over the expanse of Lake Superior.
Thinking about the achievements of Terry Fox kept me cycling today. Before his death at the tender age of 23, Fox was showered with honours. He was voted Canadians greatest athlete and made a Companion of the Order of Canada (something like a knighthood). Perhaps though his greatest achievement was not that he ran 3,339 miles, or that he raised millions of dollars for cancer research. Perhaps his greatest achievement is that he has inspired a nation and given those who hear his story what they need to continue: courage.