We had another pretty busy day today so we got packed up and checked out of the hotel nice and early. Our first stop of the day was a stop in at Kitchener City Hall for a visit with the Mayor. Despite some minor parking difficulties, we made it up to the Mayor’s office in time and had a very productive meeting. One of the most interesting parts about this meeting was that, as I suspected, Kitchener has found that as they develop more accessible bus routes throughout their community, the disabled ridership has consistently gone up, which has lightened the load on the overburdened Mobility Plus service. This meeting confirmed my belief that by implementing small changes to accessible transportation there can be some really impressive improvements as several interconnected services share the brunt of the work load rather than one service attempting to brunt it all alone.
After the meeting, which ran much longer than I had expected, we made our way down the road to the Delta Hotel for the local Kitchener Rotary Club lunch. A good friend of mine, Todd, heard I was in Kitchener and invited us to the dinner the night before. I was so excited to have the opportunity to speak with some Rotarians about what I’m up to and hopefully get some support along the way. As always, the Rotarians were quite welcoming and offered a tremendous meal. After lunch I had a chance to make a mini-presentation to the group and they were quite receptive. One of the Rotarians came and talked to me afterward, explaining how he had spent 3 months in a chair once because of an injury and knew exactly what I was talking about. Apparently, Kitchener recently attempted to cut funding to the accessible transportation system and this Rotarian was quick to raise hell–he could not comprehend how they would even CONSIDER removing funds from an already underfunded and dysfunctional system.
With full stomachs and warmed hearts, we took to the road once again, making our way toward Guelph. Today was absolutely miserable out–it rained the entire way and was so cold I had to use gloves for the first time. After riding for about half an hour I finally broke down and busted out the orange poncho–my pants were getting dangerously wet. To make matters worst, every once and a while the wind would pick up and whip over the fields, blasting the rain right up under my hood. Luckily, we made a better choice of roads this time around and chose Fountain Street, which has some beautiful paved shoulders!
Today was also the start of something bizarre…and surprisingly dangerous. People outside of Kitchener were apparently in a bit of a hurry today and began passing us on the shoulder when we were on the road. While this may seem safer than passing us on the left hand side, not ONLY is it illegal but it would also take me completely by surprise, leaving me boxed in between oncoming traffic on my left and a passing car on the right. I’m not sure what we’re going to do to stop this yet, but I’m going to put my thinking cap on tonight because it’s way, way, way dangerous having people whizzing past me on both sides, especially when I’m not expecting it.
Although we made a great choice on roads in Fountain Street, our navigator-y skills kind of blew up in our faces when we turned on to Fife Road. At first, I was so excited, knowing that Fife Road signified the last 7km of our trek–soon I would be warm and dry! My upbeat attitude came crashing down about 5 minutes into the road–turns out Fife Road isn’t paved! Not only is it a dirt road, it also sports some nasty pot holes…pot holes that become mud covered quicksand pits in the rain that are impressively difficult to spot. So this went on for quite a while, probably half way down the road, when finally the road was paved. But wait! Mercy was not smiling down on us today. Just as we get on the pavement we notice a sign that states “Rough Road Ahead.”
Anyway, the rain decided to really pick up for the last part of the trip, although it wasn’t so bad because it made for some great photos for the local paper who came out to see us entering Guelph.
Tomorrow we have a pretty hectic day–I’m presenting at Centennial High School bright and early, followed by a chat with the Mayor of Guelph. I’m pretty excited and looking forward to visit Alex’s old high school (for those who aren’t keeping track, Alex is our sponsorship rep who is currently in Malaysia) and I’m curious to hear more about accessible transportation here in Guelph.
More to come tomorrow, welcome to Guelph!