July 26

July 29th, 2007

The storm overnight wrecked havoc throughout Winnipeg, but the sun was shining on me today. My Mom decided to take a break from her regular duties so she could get a head start on the laundry that has been piling up. Without her with us, we had to call upon a special guest navigator. Who better to ask than the one and only Gene Edwards. Thankfully there is no relation to Matt Edwards! Gene is my Mom’s cousin and a Winnipeg native.

 

While we were on our way to the starting point for the day, I gave a quick interview for one of the top local radio stations. Based on the honks, I think a lot of people heard it.

 

When I started skating today, I never would have guessed that I would experience many ‘firsts’ as I came across the city. Randy had told his skate club about me and asked if anyone else would like to come out today. Although most people were at work, Randy and Bernie joined me making it my first time skating with a small group. Randy and Bernies’ wives stopped by briefly to wish us well. They are bladers, as well, and would have loved to join us, but unfortunately had to get to work.

 

Our escort through Winnipeg was scheduled to meet us at 9:30 am. It was a later start than normal since I only had to go through town and no further. After all, I could use a break. We waited patiently for the Police to arrive so we could get rolling. It was just before 9:30 when an officer showed up. When I saw her approaching, my first reaction was that this was a joke. She coasted up to us in the parking lot on her bicycle! I could just picture it… we roll up to an intersection and she stops traffic for us with her bike and whistle. Fortunately, she told us right away that 2 officers on motor bikes and one in a cruiser were all on their way to help out. This was going to be quite the convoy through the city! It was the first time that a bicycle cop was involved in my escort, too. It really looked amazing with the 3 of us skating and the bicycle in the lead. The motor bikes were instrumental in shutting down intersections so we could blade through with no interruptions. And the cruiser behind the RV was just added insurance that there were no incidences. All in all, it was one of the best escorts yet.

 

With so many people involved today, it was hard for the public not to notice us. There were a lot of friendly honks, cheers and clapping. I was afraid that we may delay the traffic, but it seemed to work flawlessly… until public transit got into the equation. There were 3 lanes on the road: left lane, middle lane, and the right lane which was mainly for parking meters. We stayed in the middle lane except when we needed to turn left. At one point, I heard a low rumble to my right. I glance around to see a city bus come barreling up beside me. He had a stop to make at that moment, so we were able to keep in front of him. I wasn’t too sure how the police would like to handle this situation because I knew the bus would be coming up shortly. Sure enough, he came up beside us again but had another stop to make. This time, I watched over my shoulder as the RV approached the bus from behind. I saw the bus drivers arm come firing out the window as if to signal that he was about to merge in front of my Dad. I know transit typically has the right of way, but surely this driver realizes what’s going on! At second glance, the driver wasn’t signaling at all. clutched in his hand was a bill that he was trying to hand off to my guest navigator. Mark this down as another first! A hand off donation from a public transit driver. Very cool.

 

It took us under an hour to work our way across Winnipeg and end at Boston Pizza on Portage Ave. When we rolled in, a few neighboring businesses came out to chat and donate. City TV/Breakfast Television showed up within minutes of my arrival for an interview. If you look way back in my journal to the days of my training, I used to skate past the Breakfast Television studio in Vancouver every morning. So now that Winnipeg BT is having me on, hopefully BT Vancouver will hop on board!

 

I had a nice unexpected lunch with my police escort team in the restaurant and had a chance to meet Andrew from BP head office. With less than 20 km completed, my skating was already done! Talk about a short day. Now I have some time to catch up on the website, do some laundry, get groceries and run other errands. If all I had to do was rollerblade everyday, this trip would be a breeze. But all this extra work makes me realize that blading is the easy part of my day.

 

Lisa Hrytsak, reporter for Global TV, swung by the house we’re staying at to get some more footage and ask a few more questions. I don’t think my Mom was too thrilled to see herself on the 6 o’clock news, but it was definitely good exposure to be on Global.

 

We then headed back to Boston Pizza at 6:30 where we were met by Ashley from head office. Randy, his family, Bernie and his wife all showed up to provide some additional support. With a big grin on his face, Randy said to me, “Check this out,” as he flashed a band-aid covered hand and leg at me. After we parted ways earlier in the day, Randy headed home on his blades but had a little run in with a patch of gravel. It looks like the gravel won. Actually, he didn’t look too bad, but road rash can be a real pain.

 

Tomorrow I’m off towards Portage La Prairie. The temperature should be pretty good, so I’m looking forward to continuing across Manitoba.

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