Friday, September 9, 2011

Ride for Africycle 5.0 Day Four: Part Two

Pulling out of Oswego we were warmer, we could feel the coffee and tasty food racing through our veins, and most importantly we were for the most part much drier. It was still raining of course but we had also left behind the sketchier part of the road work.

Our next destination was the little town of Wolcott. We visited Wolcott last year for Lunch and there's a little park down the hill from the main street with a covered shelter - perfect for our needs. Wolcott has a strong sense of history about it - you can feel that as you ride in. I didn't really get a sense of that last time I was there so I took this blurry rain-soaked image of a little information board the locals have put up. (If you click twice on the image you'll eventually get a version that you can read!)

The rain was bucketing down as we glided down the steep hill into the park and the welcome sight of Ben's car and the Bus was truly awesome. Even better was the sight and smell of barbequing burgers! There's not much better than hot food when you're cold and soaked although I'd say that the smiles and good vibes from the riders and support crew was just as awesome as when we took turns standing by the barbeque to get the warm drafts from it. This was truly a day to remember. The ride really came together for me in that little town in Upper New York State. A bunch of people taking care of each other, supporting each other, and having a really good time no matter what. Oh and before I forget - here's the waterfall right next to where we ate.

Leaving the relative dryness of the shelter was a bit of a challenge but we found our pace and working together we struck out for the town of Webster where we were planning on staying in Webster Park a facility dedicated to providing shelter for campers, people passing through, cyclists and whomever else. Ben and Dave Barber and Jerrett had thrown out the option of staying indoors and we knew that Webster Park had buildings that they rented out. We learned later that apparently they had nothing of the sort available to us and that we would be obliged to camp out. Not a big deal but not the very best option.

Ben went ahead and then wandered through the town of Webster asking people if they knew of somewhere indoors where the cycling team and support crew could cook some food and sleep for the night. Somewhere along the line Ben ran into someone who suggested trying the firehall. Journeys are made of moments and this is one moment that will stay with us all for a long time. Ben and his Dad went by the Webster firehall and were welcomed in no uncertain terms to encourage the team to make their way and bed down for the evening.

We didn't know about all of this until we had found our way into Webster, a truly lovely town with that fascinating mix that so many upper New York State towns have of the beautifully maintained (or restored) clapboard house with a big old front porch and massive gardens, side-by-side with a little mall or an auto shop.

On the ride into Webster itself, the team somehow got split up into little groups but we eventually found each other and rode up somewhat curious to see what Ben had lined up for us. At first sight and thought, a firehall seems like an improbable place to spend a night. I mean would you?! But these guys were so welcoming and genuinely warm. They really respected what we had ridden through and what we were trying to achieve and it showed in the way they opened the facility up to us, encouraging us to use their showers, to help ourselves to their clean towels, to use the kitchen, and to set up our sleeping bags in their conference room.

Once we had set up our sleeping situations, Jerrett got onto the matter of dinner and of course we were really hungry and thirsty. It couldn't come fast enough!!! Our bikes were stored in a garage area of the firehall. We were given a complete and very thorough tour of the entire Hall which is an incredible state-of-the-art facility. It has everything you can imagine in terms of creature comforts which makes sense if you think about the the brave guys who head out on the trucks to face danger without really thinking of themselves.

"Sleeping quarters (Image Ed Kwaka)"]

"The Voss boys getting the tour! (Image Ed Kwaka)"

"Inside the fire-engine bays (Image Ed Kwaka)"

"Heart and soul"

After the tour we gathered around the maps for tomorrow and looked at some possible routes - a long day ahead of us - 160 km. Hopefully a lot drier!!!

Here's looking at tomorrow!


To see more and read more of Chief Akins and the amazing guys at Webster Fire check out their webpage right here.

The generosity and kindness of the men in Northeast Joint Fire District Enderlin Station completely underscores the pride, generosity, and care that firefighters around the World are renowned for.

Thanks for taking such good care of us Boys!

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