Last fall Troy Henikoff and his daughter made the trip from Evanston to Toronto where she was going to begin her first year of college—on a bicycle built for two! To even think of undertaking such a trip on a bike indicates they are a “cycling” family AND they are not afraid of a challenge. At the April 21 Evanston Bicycle Club virtual meeting they reported that the trip was a success, after they overcame a few unplanned challenges along the way.
Troy is an avid cyclist, clocking up to 8,000 miles per year and has previous experience touring on a two person, or tandem bicycle, with either his wife or daughter as the stoker. Daughter Carlin is also a cycling enthusiast having ridden bike since she was 5 years old. When the idea to ride to Toronto on a tandem was floated, Troy knew he was in shape to do the 550 mile bike ride, but was not so sure about Carlin. But she undertook a training program and on the appointed day she declared herself ready to ride.
The trip started out quietly enough, with them rolling out from Evanston heading north to Milwaukee, Wisconsin on their 18 year old Co-Motion tandem equipped with couplers, rim brakes, wireless shiftiers, rear panniers, a frame bag, and a blue tooth music system between them. They rode on a combination of low traffic roads and trails across some amazing scenery. It was after they crossed Lake Michigan via ferry to Muskegon and started riding across the state of Michigan where the first trouble began. The tandem bike developed a mechanical problem and became hard to steer. They found a local bike shop in Flint, Michigan where it was determined it was not a simple issue to correct. They were away from home stranded with a bike that had a broken steerer tube!
Fortunately, the owner of the bike shop was skilled at brazing and had a frame building shop in his home. Overnight he repaired the steerer tube and after the staff reassembled the bike the next morning they were ready to roll again but by this time it was around noon. But this unplanned delay resulted in their second problem—they were behind schedule and had to ride like crazy to make it to the ferry and across into Canada before nightfall. Putting their heads down they sped along until they ran into their next problem, Carlin's student visa.
Apparently, a student visa is required for a U.S. resident to attend school in Canada and they planned to pick up this document when they crossed the border. But the small border crossing they arrived at did not have a printer, so could not produce the visa. After some negotiation, the border agent allowed them to proceed with the understanding they would obtain the visa the next day at another location which had a printer. Problem three resolved, temporarily.
The rest of the trip was back on plan—they met up with Carlin’s mother who transported her college goods in their car. All three visited Niagara Falls (where they obtained the required student visa), enjoyed an air and water show that happened to be taking place in Toronto, checked into the University of Toronto, and Carlin settled into college life. She reports that she is enjoying college.
Any journey has its risks but traveling on a bicycle also has rewards--the opportunity to be in the great outdoors and experiencing the country at the human speed of a bike. In this case, a father and daughter overcame unexpected drama and got to spend 6-1/2 days of quality time together and live to talk about it. A triumph anyway you look at it.
Sharon Kaminecki and others comment on adventures in bicycling and other stories