July 29th, Day 41: London, Ontario to Brantford, Ontario: 70 miles, 799 ft. ascent

Today was a Flatterday Saturday. Although we had headwinds again (!) they were nowhere near as soul destroying as yesterday, and we managed to hook on to the Davey Train once more, so knocked out the 70 miles at 17.4 mph to be at Brantford by 12.15 in time for a relaxed lunch with adult beverage on the hotel terrace. 

On extended trips like this one there are many opportunities for people to describe scenery to me. This proves to be an incredibly difficult thing to do. It’s relatively straightforward to describe what the scenery actually is, but much harder to describe why it is beautiful or to differentiate it from other notionally similar scenery.

This problem was wonderfully illustrated by my co-rider on a Lands End To John o’Groats ride back in 2012.

We were crossing an extended series of Welsh valleys and my captain, Guy, observed that they were all stunningly beautiful. As a Yorkshireman, he is very much of the view that actions speak louder than words. However he decided to go for it and described the first valley as “beautiful green fields dotted with beautiful white sheep with a backdrop of beautiful mountains.” Each valley that we crossed elicited a grunt of admiration from Guy and finally he commented that they are all stunning but each in their own unique way. So I asked him to describe the next one. After some pause for thought he admitted “Well, it’s sort of beautiful green fields dotted with beautiful white sheep with a backdrop of beautiful mountains.”

Chris’ perspective of:

Fields Sheep Mountains
A black square A black square A blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn

This difficulty is encapsulated in phrases like ‘Every picture is worth a thousand words’, and if you ever listen to the audio describe feed for a video it’s painfully clear how little information can be delivered audibly per frame.

Utilitarian descriptions of surroundings are of course incredibly useful – e.g. “don’t step backwards because there’s a 2ft drop behind you”, or “Your burger is at 1pm, your fries are at 7pm and your salad is now mostly on the table.” But conveying aesthetics such as why one particular shade of white is better than another is much harder, let alone trying to explain why one particular composition of landscape is just so uniquely perfect. 

I don’t have a pithy end to this post, so here is some random eye candy from the ride so far...

Hay bales and beautiful sky between Ludington and Mt. Pleasant
about 40 people stand around a grey van with suitcases
Everyone ready for 'the load' at Mt. Pleasant. Chris is in the middle!
"Sorry...can we take a photo?!" The border guard get us to pose for a group mugshot at the Canadian Border
A tractor raided off the ground on a metal pole
Machinery as art? Tracey Emin eat your heart out.