Day Nine: The End

I left the Tour du Canada this morning. I’m exhausted and have been terrified. I’m so sad to be disappointing you folks who have been cheering me on. I’ve failed as a cyclist, at least as far as what it takes to ride across the country. I know, though, that I haven’t failed as a person.

I went to bed last night extremely tired. Before I dropped myself into the tent, I managed to leave my mess kit’s cutlery somewhere and my next day’s clothes piled in some unknown location. In the morning, I was just as exhausted and couldn’t conceive of riding 90 k today. I’d tossed and turned since the wee hours and went to breakfast depressed. My body was making the decision for me: I’m simply not strong enough to do this right now.

I’m so afraid of the fast traffic that’s been whizzing by me a couple of metres away. And when there’s a drop off to the right, I worry about falling down the slope. So I’ve been riding too close to the white line. The bottom line – I’ve been riding too close to the cars. I’m not a safe cyclist.

I don’t know how to control my bicycle at low speeds on angled slopes. Yesterday I missed one of these downward ramps, lowered my head and started crying. “I don’t know how to do this,” I told my companions. And then I blasted myself: “Bruce, you should be far stronger mentally.”

I should be this, I should be that. I’m quite a mess right now. I want to find a hole and crawl into it. I don’t want to be with people, which is so unlike me. But strangely … I’m writing you.

It was so hard to say goodbye to everyone this morning. So many people to thank for helping me. I started crying again … and I’m doing it again right now. I tell myself that with my Buddhist training I should be better than this, but it’s not working out.

So now … the rest of my life. I know I can’t wallow in this. There is much I need to contribute to this world. But right here and right now, at the Travelodge in Abbotsford, B.C., I’m deeply down.

After the cyclists left this morning, I knocked on the door of the campground manager, looking for advice about how to get my bike and me home. Judy and Bernie were so kind as they helped this rattled tourist find solutions. They listened without judgment. They gave me coffee. And throughout the hour I sat in the living room, their dog C.C. licked my legs. Judy said she’d never seen him do that before so that’s a very welcome plus.

I suppose this post sounds too dreary. Oh well. It’s what I have right now. I arrive home late Monday night. It’s up to me to push myself out into the world on Tuesday. I will do that.

39 thoughts on “Day Nine: The End

  1. Bruce, I am sad to read of you pulling out. I tried to post several days ago and it didn’t work my naivitae I’d say.
    Ya know, when I rode up the Coquihalla, I couldn’t even keep my shoes clipped in I was so exhausted I hadda stop and sit on the guard rail every 200 meters.
    Day 5 I sat in the truck. I was physically and mentally a wreck. I didn’t sleep the night before.
    I was terrified about throwing in the towel for that day but I did.
    Perhaps the tour organizer will let you ride next year? More training, join a cycling group?
    I’m sad with you brother.
    But wow what an experience you had dealing with tons of emotions. Certainly this was all for a very great reason. I wish you the best moving forward. You’ll find your path Keep the faith,

    John

    • How very kind of you to write me, John. Thank you. To hear of your intense struggles on the Coquihalla somehow helped me feel better about myself.

      Ride on, my friend. The north awaits you.

      Bruce

  2. Hi Bruce,
    You tried; the vast majority wouldn’t. Be very proud of that.
    I marvel at the perception of dogs.
    Safe trip home. We’ll see you soon.

    Jeff

  3. Bruce – so sorry to hear you left the Tour, but you have to do what is best for you! It’s better to be safe than living in fear or worse. Take care – don’t beat yourself up! That Tour is a tough challenge. You’ll bounce back.

  4. Bruce, you are a star and leaving the Tour doesn’t change that!!!! Remember who you are and your gifts to the people around you!!!! Sending love…

    • Thank you, Adele, for loving me. I am a star, not in the sense of being any better than other people, but in my shining. The light will return.

      I love you,

      Bruce

  5. Mr Kerr
    I am Josh’s mom and I want you to know that we are so very proud of you. Don’t look at what you didn’t accomplish look at what you did. Look at how far you travelled and the fears you faced. You made it nine more days than most ever would have. You got up when you fell down and you kept trying. There is no shame in admitting you are human and it’s time to pull out of the tour. Each and every decision we make in life takes us down a new path. Perhaps you will join a cycling group to hone your skills and try again someday. Maybe you’ll meet new people as you share your story. We couldn’t be more proud of you and can’t even imagine how much courage that must have taken to get up and go each day. You are truly an inspiration! I hope that someday you are able to look back on these days with fondness. Safe travels.

    • Dear Sue and Josh,

      Thank you for your marvelous support. I started crying again when I heard your words. I have never been so scared for such a long time. I don’t believe I’ve ever shaken so much.

      My decision to quit will indeed set me on a new, as yet unknown, path. I expect to have many more years to live. I intend to inspire and contribute.

      Thank you for seeing who I am.

      Bruce

  6. This is not a failure! what an adventure to plan, and enjoy the process. Trying is the best thing ever! you did well to get that far! you went you explored! So very awesome! You should be proud for wanting to even attempt what only a few others would even think about! you had a dream and you went big! Good for you! be kind to yourself..there is no disappointment!

    • Thank you, Donna. It’s true that I ventured down a road that many folks wouldn’t have travelled.

      And I feel brave in admitting to all of you how scared I’ve been. Plus I just spent an hour at breakfast opening conversations with five people. Good for me.

  7. Bruce, you gave it a try and it didn’t work out. Please don’t hang your head in shame.
    Look at all you have accomplished so far in your life. Just one of your big accomplishments was as a teacher of the blind and how many friendships you made (including me!).
    Let’s get together at Mei’s when you return.

    • Thank you, Mary. In the past few days I’ve hung my head a lot. In my better moments, I’ve lifted up. I need to keep doing this.

      It’s true that I’ve contributed to many people in my life. I intend to keep doing that.

      Yes, let’s go to Mai’s soon.

      I love you,

      Bruce

  8. oh that is a marvelous day then! you are so very brave! check that one off the bucket list, enjoy the journey home and carry on! it is pretty remarkable when you think about it 🙂 . Do what you love, always and you will be forever moving forward doing awesome things! what a journey.

  9. You are still an inspiration. Thank you for being honest and human. And despite not finishing, you still accomplished so much. Plus, the silver lining may be that I know 26+27 students who will be happy to have you back, celebrating and water balloon fighting this week! Look forward to your next adventure!

  10. It’s not whether you completed the journey but that you started it and ended it as it needed to be. Be kind to yourself!

  11. Despite my many conflicting thoughts, Chris, I ended the Tour as I needed to. My fear was making me unsafe, to myself and others. And I’m still very tired about 42 hours after completing Friday’s ride.

    I do indeed need to honour myself.

    • Thank you, Janice. Of the 20 riders, I think I was the most out of my comfort zone. On the bike, I was doing new things … and not succeeding. I dove into fear every day, especially with the cars whizzing by.

      I’m glad I inspired you. Maybe, when I calm down, I’ll get that I inspired myself.

      Bruce

  12. What an inspiration you have been to so many of us. So many have enjoyed reading your blogs of this trip. You are an amazing writer. Ralph and I have driven from Calgary to Abbotsford through the mountains and the scenery is fantastic but Ralph can attest to the fact I was petrified driving those long uphill and steep downhill roads and this is in a vehicle so I could feel for you doing some of this on a bicycle.Find a cycling group here in Southwestern Ontario and cycle this great province of Ontario to hone your cycling skills and enjoy the beautiful scenery that Ontario has to offer. We, all your friends in Belmont are looking forward to your return. What an inspiration you are to us and to all the students that love you

    • Thank you, Tina, for admitting that you too have been petrified on steep roads. We are a human family and we need to cherish our vulnerabilities.

      I’m trying to let it in that I inspire people. Guess I associate inspiration with great success. But looking my frailties straight in the eye, letting the feelings come, and still saying “Hi Bruce” is a good thing for folks to see.

  13. Bruce;
    You tried something that I (and many others) will never attempt to do in this trip we call life.
    That is fantastic, but you are certainly correct in pulling out, when you realized you had gone beyond your limits.
    All the best for you !!
    Doug C

    • Thank you, Doug, for understanding my decision to quit. I was way out of my league – to some extent with fitness, to a great extent with bike-handling skills, and hugely in my ability to control my fear. And I salute myself for being out there on the road.

  14. Sorry to hear it has ended Bruce. Now you know what it’s all about though – leave no stone unturned. If you never tried you would never know and always wonder.

  15. Well, Lance, I definitely turned over some stones. I discovered that I can survive through massive fear and a lack of bike-handling skills.

    Somehow, this (mis)adventure has opened me further. I await the next movement towards the unknown.

    I’m sorry that I won’t see you folks in Drumheller.

  16. I think it is truly amazing you had the courage to start on this journey, I can’t even imagine the emotions you went through. So brave to know when it was time to leave the tour, cherish all the people you met along the way. Everything for a reason, you will have so much more to share with people about your adventure. Looking forward to seeing you when you get home. Safe travels:)

    • Thank you, Nicole. It did take courage to start out. I didn’t realize I’d be this unskilled, tired and scared. Although I’m dreary in the head right now, I’m beginning to look in the mirror and smile.

      In life, I do cherish the people along the way. I know I’ll do that till the day I die.

      I need a massage! See you at home.

  17. oh no mr.kerr so sorry to here this what happend you are so awesome and good at biking you could of done it but you tried and thats all that matters . sincerly makenna .

  18. Thank you for being so kind to me, Makenna. You’re a good person.

    I’m sad, especially about disappointing you kids. I’ll see you tomorrow for the potluck and play afternoon.

    Mr. Kerr

    • really thats going to be fun . . . ill also see you again yay !!! you didn’t disapoint us you did whats best for you

  19. I am so proud of YOU!!! It takes a real wisdom and maturity to quit something that is not working for you!!! You are my inspiration!!! Thank you for quiting which you thought was the best!!! You are my role model!!!! SO whenever something seems just too much for me, I too definitely will quit and find what is right for me!!! So Want to come to Cuiba to visit now and play! I love you!!!! Your friend! Maria

  20. You’re right, Kyrsten. I did my best. The fact that my best wasn’t good enough doesn’t say anything about me as a person. Thank you for caring about me.

    Mr. Kerr

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