Johno wrapped up

That was a good sleep. Someone keyed open the door to our locked referee’s room in the middle of the night, then scrammed when they saw us in our sleeping bags. Nothing else came of it.

At five the racket from the rink had died down and when I stuck my head out volunteers were cleaning up and people were leaving.

We packed up and retrieved the bikes, then went for a triple breakfast at the same old McDonald’s. If Sweet-Sixteen was around she didn’t show her face.

I had hand-writing to catch up on in the Moleskine and Johno grabbed Sayonara [James A. Mitchener] off me after re-reading the comics five or six times.

The delay was due to a few things, otherwise it could’ve been a good early start. For one there’s a hospital in Clarenville and the next one is Gander which is too far. The knee issue with Johno was reaching crisis proportions and the last thing we needed were two busted knee caps in the middle of Terra Nova National Park. Church was another reason: You sin a bit, you worship a bit, it all evens out.

I’d said to Johno at some point [and my buddy AJ once, on the way downtown] “don’t worry, God kills those he loves, so we’ve got tons of time to straighten ourselves out.”

At eight we went up to a grocery store across the street and shortly after that we hit up New Life Christian Center. There were ten or so misfits in attendance and a handful of kids but the worship leader, God bless him, though he was at Woodstock. After another thirty minutes of racket a guy who was replacing the pastor that week came up and talked a bit, even made Johno and I wave since we’d never been here before. The sermon was probably good but I’m not sure ’cause I kept nodding off, for which I blame cancer and bad music and hard linoleum flooring. The smart thing in here woudl’ve been to forward a prayer about Johno’s knees but of course we forgot.

After that it was the hospital which was busy enough for such a small place. I was thinking about the bikes all alone outside with all our worldly goods on them and left Johno to do the waiting.
The afternoon was spent bumming around, reading, eating and killing time at Canadian Tyre. My mind’s mind had already turned to contingency plans in case Johno’s part in the play got kyboshed or even just delayed a day or two.

At one point I went to see where he was at and found him walking behind a nurse from one room to another.

We gave each other one of those awkward grins that go hand in hand with hospital atmosphere and he said he’d already had shots and was going in for X-rays. Sounded damn pleasant to me.

In total he was gone for five hours.

We met at the bikes. I’d been out for a stroll and he had just got out, his knees wrapped up in wide tensure bandages as if they needed complete refurbishing.

“So…” He said, “Not good. Doctor said I’ve got something called Irritable Knee Syndrome.”

Oh yes. Irritable Knee Syndrome. These Newfie doctors. “He said I’ve got to rest up for least four days and then see how it is. I might need surgery for it.”

Needles to say it was the first thing we’d feared and the last we’d expected. If anything, even after Whistler, I’d been convince that if there was any going down to be done it would be up to me. It’s not like I’d done much training for this trip.

I’d been reflecting hard all afternoon and so had he. We avoided the necessary outcome [splitting up] for few minutes and just talked about causes.

Maybe walking around in the Stan for seven months with all kinds of crap on my back had actually worked in my favour. It was just a surprise. A few times I’d managed to get into a gym there and get on a stationary bike, and I did a lot of running up the hill to the observation post, but other than that, most of what we did in the Stan was walk around, and that slowly, so we wouldn’t hurt ourselves by twisting knees in irrigated fields with a 150 lbs on our backs.

Now Johno is a racer. That’s what he does. He’s used to these crazy carbon-fibre, super-duper high end space-bikes that weigh less than a bottle of milk. Going on heavy steel frames like this with all our baggage, and having not trained for it much, was probably what did him in.

I also had private ideas about clipless pedals [pedals you clip into with your biking shoe] being bad and had refused to get some for myself. But to each his own. Whatever it was, for now, Johno’s game was over, and here we were in Clarenville just burning up daylight.

“Okay. I’ve been thinking a bit about back-up plans.” I said.

There was really only one thing to do. Johno would have to grab the bus back to St John’s with his bike and hang out at the uni and recover while I continued through NL. There is a ferry that goes [only seasonally] from Argentia, a two day ride from St John’s, to North Sydney NS. The ferry we had planned to take was the one on the other side of southern NL at Port Aux Basque, but both boats end up in the same place. The idea was that to bike properly accross Canada [because how often do we do this? – we might as well do it right] we had to go to Port Aux Basques.

But if Johno hung out in SJ for a few nights it would give me the time needed and then some, to execute the desired route [because for me it was not an option -with or without Johno I had to do the whole trip]. At that point he could make the ride to Argentia and decide if his knees were healed enough.

So that’s what we decide on.

Now if you ever go to NL, don’t count on a Greyhound, because, as I found out the hard way once, there are none.

There is only one coach company in NL called DRL and quality is great but it still feels a bit wild-west -ish. You don’t buy tickets, just pay the driver in cash. The coach runs every day from SJ to PAB [Port Aux Basques, and vice versa, making 25 stops at various towns. Since we were still close to SJ the coach hadn’t come yet. There were a few errands to run, and gear to transfer between bikes and from a girl at Walmart we heard that the bus would be coming in at 1900, stopping at the Irving truck stop like they always do. Perfect timing.

I’d already decided to make up lost time and carry on a bit that night. Among other gear that I got from Johno was the frame pump and trip computer.

The Last Supper was fish and chips at the Irving Restaurant.

Outside I stopped for a sec and talked to a guy who said he’d gone accross Canada like this after he graduated, but he’d had less stuff than we. The prairies were hell apparently.

Then Johno and I just stood there till the bus pulled up a few minutes later.

My only concern at this point was if the bus driver would allow a bike in the bagage compartment without being boxed up. There are a lot of companies out there that don’t allow it, but that’s the good thing about a little company like DRL on the Rock: Flexibility guaranteed.

“Okay-” I said to Johno. There was the obligatory hug – very fast and manly I promise – no bro-mance here. “Get better. Get better. I’ll see you in a bit. We can relay through the parents. Or just email, whatever.”

“Leave a message on my phone. I’ll check it at night.”

I was ready to go and didn’t wait to see if the bike got on okay. These things work themselves out. The light in the sky was gathering in the soft clouds with that special brilliance it has before slowly beginning to fade.

I got on the bike, waved and took off down the road, solo. A new game had started.

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