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The group in front of Pitches Store in Ophir: Justin, me, Casey, Paul, Michael, and Adriena. Photo by Casey Hatfield-Chiotti.

It’s late afternoon before we reach Pitches Store in Ophir. Pealing myself off my bike, I check the bikes odometer: 49.7km.—which doesn’t seem like a terrible lot until you realize that none of it was on asphalt roads but rather rock and gravel and dirt. But we’ve made it, and with nary a flat or breakdown of any kind.

Colleen Hurd who, with her husband David, owns Pitches, shows us to our rooms. I am conflicted: Do I want to run a hot bath and just soak for an hour before dinner or get a cold beer from the little bar and sit outside basking in the last of the day’s sunshine? Justin decides the issue for me by banging on my door. “Let’s go have a beer!” he says.

Justin steals a couple of homemade ginger cookies from the breakfast room and Colleen brings us frosty Emerson pale ales and we spread out on the wooden table in front of Pitches, talking over the day and enjoying the late afternoon sunshine, the first we’ve seen in three days.

I’ll tell you what: a cold beer late in the afternoon always tastes good but when you’ve started the day in damn near freezing temperatures and biked 50km over an old rail trail and now you’re with friends sorting out the day, retelling stories of who did what where, it’s as fine an end to the day as I can imagine. So memorable in fact that, just before the sun sets behind the trees on the other side of the road, I suggest to Casey that we use her tripod to set up a group shot. Something informal, I suggest. Just have everyone stand wherever they want.

We look ridiculous, I suppose. Still in our sweaty cycling clothes for the most part: Casey in her gray leggings and orange shoes, Justin with his sweat pants pulled up almost to his knees, and me in my blue cycling shirt and flip-flops. We set the timer and lean or sprawl, happy but exhausted, against the front of the old store. Later that evening when I look at the shot on my computer, it makes me smile. It’s a simple photo of an afternoon, a day, a place in time (“Pitches Store, Ophir, May 2014”) that we’ll all fondly remember.


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