After a quick stop at Jesse and Angela’s house, I hit the road Tuesday morning. Luckily, I beat most of the Minneapolis traffic, but that set me up for the evening rush hour in Chicago. It’s amazing how much more patient one becomes when they’re not in a hurry to get anywhere.
Once I made it through Chicago, I trucked on to Michigan where I stopped at the welcome center and a random Plant Fitness along the way. By the time I was done with my workout and shower it was about 9 PM EST, so I decided to drive for another hour and spend the night at a rest area in Battle Creek, MI.
The next morning, I left around 7:30 and got into Detroit mid-morning. I had little trouble or wait at the border, and gladly got to bring my peanut butter into the country. The instantaneous differences caught me off guard. Everything is written in French and English, speed limits are in km/h, and gas prices are for a liter, rather than a gallon. I had to call home and exclaim that I was going 100 … kilometers per hour that is.
I arrived at Dawn’s around noon and met her children (both human and animal). We later had lunch at The Green Frog Tearoom, which was oddly busy for a Wednesday afternoon. We stopped by the grocery store on the way home, and I was (not so) surprised to see Maple Cheerios. Only in Canada, eh?
Thursday I was able to ride at a local track called The 15 Practice Track. It was a small track, but fun none the less! Afterwards, I prepped my bike until sunset and prepared to move into Gopher Dunes the next morning.
Though they advertise move in at 9 AM, there was no need to be there that early. I got everything set up, finished my bike work, and had time to spare. Dawn and I checked in around 3 PM to get her mechanic’s pass and confirm my race registration. Afterwards, I walked the track and underestimated how difficult it would become. Dinner and an early bedtime soon followed in preparation for the first race of the series.
Saturday morning, I woke up early enough to make coffee and oatmeal and go for a warm up run. A girl named Isabelle parked next to me, so I asked if she wanted to go to the riders’ meeting together. She and her dad were very nice, but we couldn’t talk much since they speak French. She ended up going 1-2 for second overall; something I can strive for!
It was difficult to learn the track, make suspension changes, and make passes in the four laps of practice that we got. However, I made a couple changes that were beneficial afterwards. In the first moto, I got a terrible hole shot and fought to make my way up to 11th place. By the time I passed the slower girls, the girls my speed were too far ahead of me to catch up. In the second moto, I had a third-place start, but went off the track in the fourth corner. I fell back to 11th place, but made a few passes up to 8th despite a fall on the third lap. 11-8 set me up for 9th overall. Not a terrible start to the series, but I know I can do better than 9th and strive to do so this weekend.
Sunday, I finished bike maintenance and watched some of the amateur races at Gopher Dunes. The track was completely opposite on Sunday, much harder packed and choppy. It was definitely less difficult than it was on Saturday, but that’s to be expected for the pro race. I then decided to drive up to Ottawa to practice at Sand Del Lee on Monday. I made it to Kingston, ON before stopping for the night at an ONRoute (a rest area type of place).
The next morning, I decided to give Tim Horton’s a try. Let’s just say their coffee isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. However, I didn’t try their donuts, so maybe that’s where I went wrong.
On the way up to Sand Del Lee, I stopped at Jones Falls Locks, which is a part of the lock and dam system that starts in Ottawa. I then made a quick stop at a Walmart to pick up groceries and arrived at the track around 10 AM. I got to ride all day and figured out some suspension settings that will be beneficial for the weekend.
After practice, the staff was nice enough to let me wash my bike and air filters, as well as cook dinner before leaving. I spent the evening walking around Andrew Haydon Park, which overlooks the Ottawa River. This concluded the first seven days of my trip to Canada. I’m ready for week two of traveling and the second race of the Rockstar Triple Crown Series at Sand Del Lee.