October 22, 2007 GMT
Diamonds in a gold mine

Having crashed in Newfoundland, and again in Nova Scotia, I now stood in South Porcupine, Ontario; beside my bike looking at the wrecked rear wheel axle that undoubtedly is the result of these two previous accidents. I am talking to the owner of the motel, and waiting for Rick to pass by. He said he would check that I was ok at the Bon Aire Motel in Timmins, but like I said, I never made it that far. While we talk Rick passes by but by the time I see him he is dead opposite and my yell and wave go unheard and unseen.

That evening I remove the rear wheel and survey the wreckage that was once spacer, shield and bearing. The rear tyre is also badly worn due to the scrubbing it took. I phone a local motorcycle shop the next morning and find that they can pick up the wheel and fix it, then Rick calls, he is checking around to find me, and advises me to go to the dealers in Timmins. He says he will call in to see me, but he and his wife, Jana, are going on a veterans rally over the immanent weekend.

Danni, the motel owner and her husband are gong in to Timmins that morning and offer to drop me and my wheel off at the motorcycle dealers, J&B Cycle and Marine. I also take my laptop with the parts catalogue on, and Tim and I sort out which parts are required. Unfortunately the weekend will hold up the work, but will give time for some of the parts to arrive.
I walk back through Timmins across the park and catch the bus back to the motel.
Since I will be here for a few days I take the opportunity to do a few jobs that I have not had time to do. The most important is to check out the fuel cap lock which has been getting more difficult to open over the past few weeks. After a clean up and greasing it works just fine. The other important task is to do some washing!!

Later that evening Dan, the mechanic from J&B, stopped by, he was off to fix someoneís hot tub, I have no idea how that fits into their mix of motorcycles, quad bikes, snowmobiles, and speedboats, but it does somewhere.
After a lazy, wet weekend, I call the workshop to find that the tyre has not arrived but everything else is; apart from the bearing shield which we knew we couldnít get in time. Not such a problem except that my room is already reserved and there are no more available. Timmins is the worlds largest goldmine Iím told. There are many hundreds of kilometres of roads beneath us serving the gold mine. The amount of gold to rock is such that when the price of gold falls below a certain level, work stops and people are made redundant. Currently gold prices are high and miners, mechanics, service companies and health and safety experts (who were the ones who booked my room due to a recent mine death!!), this means that during the week many of the hotels and motels are full.
Rick phones and learns of my problem, then offers to pick me up in his van and take me to the Bel Aire. Danni and her husband say itís fine to leave the bike outside my room until the wheel is ready, I really donít know what I would have done if they hadnít said that.

We check with J&B and they are certain that everything will be ready tomorrow, Tuesday. Rick drives me across the road to the Bel Aire and I check at the desk for a room, yes one is available. Returning to tell Rick that I can get one, he looks at me and says that he would like to offer me a room at his house, I am embarrassed at his generosity, and accept; it will be good to get to know a Canadian family.
We drive to his house and I meet Jana, his wife, who has just returned home after working in a bakery since early morning, his crazy cat and gentle 3 legged dog who lost an augument with a snow plough.

Canadian houses mostly have basements, an excellent design feature in my opinion, and Rick has converted his basement into a bedroom for his son, an extra bathroom and a lounge. Later I meet his daughter and friends, they are curious about England and I wish I could whisk them home to show them around.
Jana and Rick prepare a chicken dinner for me and I sit happily talking with them through the evening. We then retire to Rickís garage to down a few beers and have a smoke. Jana goes to bed early as she has to be up at 3.00am.

Rick tells me something of his childhood in Newfoundland, and all I can says is I was appalled at the treatment he received from his father. How he has managed to rise above his early life and raise such a normal and pleasant family is a tribute to him, his strength of character and his wife, and I regard it as a privilege to have been accepted into his circle of friends.
The next day we pick up the wheel and return to the motel at South Porcupine. It is raining. Normally it takes only minutes to refit the rear wheel, but for some reasons I find it difficult to get it into place. Maybe itís the weakness still in my shoulder from my recent crash. Rick pitches in to help despite the fact that he too suffers pains in his body due to a serious crash many years ago. Eventually everything goes into place and I follow Rick back to his house. Another lovely meal and then we retire to the garage to remount my panniers and luggage. Jana patches my front fairing with red tape, which makes it look far better, and Rick donates some hose clamps to hold my panniers on more securely. Rick and I talk long into the night, and after another comfortable nights sleep I breakfast and mount up to continue my journey. Rick is my guide out of town and we bid each other farewell several miles up the road. I feel privileged to have been allowed to have spent time with this man and his family and wish them well for the future, but now I have to see how quickly I can cross the prairie, because autumn is on its way, and I already know that I cannot get to Dawson City and back through the Rocky Mountains before the snow starts closing the mountain passes.

Posted by Derek Fairless at October 22, 2007 04:38 AM GMT

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