Toúr De Toronto

It took 90 minutes and $50 to get to JFK. My flight was out of Newark….

Typical me. Not as bad as the time I missed my flight to Rome by two days. Or the time I ended up in Sharzah, the forgotten Emirate, instead of Abu Dahbi.

Either way, 2 hours later I was at Newark International Airport, about to board the next flight to Toronto. I’m considering this rebound a huge W, all mistakes considered.

Our Porter Airways prop-jet landed in downtown Toronto. The flight was almost empty.  It was a beautiful day for a 20-second ferry from Toronto Islands, across the Western Channel, to mainland Toronto. I never really devised a plan, just let the afternoon roll upon me. I found a bike-share on my walk towards the CN Tower, which I was assuming to be Toronto’s epicenter. I biked across the waterfront paths, at a rate of $15 for 72 hours and soon parked.  I strolled upon the Blue Jays’ stadium.  What a friendly, imperturbable and cool blue Jay is!  Ain’t nobody ruffle his feathers.   The most urbane of your primary colored birds.

Then, up to the Toronto Blue Jays’ Stadium – they play tomorrow night and all weekend vs the Cardinals. Cardinals have a crispness too, now that I ponder it. Like baby dinosaurs these birds, and how audacious to swoop and sweep around, his feathers bearing that emergency red. True survivors, how tenacious the cardinal is! Directly across the street is… The Canada National Railroad Museum! I know, just my luck.   My eye was caught by shimmering silver letters upon a big brick ware-house shaped building. The letters read S T E A M W H I S T L E B R E W I N G C O M P A N Y.

I found myself inside. I found myself sampling. I found my way up to the mezzanine, and chatting with the lovely, blonde, Canadian, acting student, bar tender. A penta-threat! Jades served me Steam Whistle samples and flirted with the notion of visiting New York. I returned the playful banter on behalf of NYC. The Canadian vixen deserved it.

Once I ran up a buzz, and got more “work” done than work done, it was off to the hotel. Shower, shave, change and to the comedy show with my business buddies, who were really drinking pals for all purposes and intents of this Toronto visit. We succeeded.

The next day I met with some tourism board executives to discuss marketing and then a sorority friend’s favorite digs for a liquid lunch. We ended up in her apartment, taking down whisky. It was noon. I love sorority girls. After another business meeting way up town, I met the family for dinner at my father’s fraternity brother’s country club. [*shoulder brush*] We over indulged in pastas and steaks. “Mustn’t we carb-load, old sports” I pondered on a bad old English accent. The pale yellow sun set and we returned to our respective rooms before the big day.

Day 1 was sunny, and hot and sweaty and such a kick! We started early morning, downtown at aboot 6:30AM. The air was crisp and electric! Everybody was scrambling. We were smashing a breakfast full of fruits, yogurt, energy bars, eggs, bread, and peanut-butter. The sun crept over us 5,256 preparing riders. We raised 20.2 million dollars for the Princess Margaret Cancer Center. Our team was just getting acquainted, most sort of knew each other from years past. I was new though.

We rode through to Hamilton in roughly 4.5 hours. Arriving early afternoon after being chanted on by residents along the streets. They chanted and cheered in their silos of enthusiasm. They held up home made signs and belied their appreciation from the depths of their cancer ravaged hearts. Passing traffic honked in cheer. The cops intercepted vehicles at intersections, kindly keeping us in movement. Momentum is everything.

After 98 kilometers, we rolled into what seemed to be some small university. We were greeted with live music rocking the center tent, free and infinite Steam Whistle beer, yoga, food on food on food, massage tables and athletic trainers, whisky, wine, speeches chock full of inspiration, and a big open green grassy field where all 5k+ congregated for the next several hours. The energy was different from any Running of the Bulls, Carnival, or World Series I’d been to before. Sobering. Lighter, nicer, more wholesome and proper, it felt better in a strange, but obvious ways.

The crowd kept until aboot the 2nd period of LA vs NY’s Game 2, Stanley Cup Finals. Riders, ages 14-86 years peddled the day away. Bed times varied, clearing completely before midnight. The atmosphere revived at dawn after a long night of clean-up and set-up by the volunteers. The second ride was under an overcast, cooler and more refreshing than yesterday’s blaze. We stopped about every 20km to refill on water. There was a few medical tents with all the resources you’d find in a high school nurse’s office. Plus, sponsored food and snacks, unlimited. There were some serious potholes to avoid in this second day, and amazing hills to fly down with exhilarating speed. I capped at 71km/ hour in my downhill. I was with my new girlfriend, Leanna, for most of Day 2’s ride. Most riders were not hot women, but with more than five thousand people, there was plenty of talent to recruit. Some married, some single, most flirtatious and fun. They were the sexy, athletic type too. Great legs, sun-kissed skin, strong core, super flexible. And what releases endorphins more naturally and in excess than intense exercise?

From med-school students to MEC managers, your Canadian gal’s aren’t just sweeter than the syrup, but pretty quick whited and rascally adventurous. At least the ones I spent the 72-hour Ontario-journey with.

I thought the mileage would be more difficult, but the conversation, people, energy, food, and general fun kept the mind far above matter.

Toúr De Toronto 2014